Well she hit the fishing media by storm through Magazines, DVD’s and her Facebook Page “Fishingscool” as Jo Starling shared all her experiences she had learnt on her new fishing adventures. A down to earth lady that is truly happy when she is either fishing or teaching somebody how to. Hope you enjoy our Lucky 7 with Jo Starling this week.
1. What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Jo Starling. Whilst I’m now living on the far south coast of New South Wales, I grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory, where I lived for some 38 years.
2. What part do you play in the fishing community today?
Apart from being an avidly addicted member of the recreational fishing fraternity of Australia, I play the role of mentor and educator for entry level and novice anglers. I originally started with the goal of inspiring more women and children to join our sport, working to empower them to become self-sufficient in their rigging, fishing and tackle choices. I believe this will get more families fishing together, sharing quality time in the great outdoors.
The reality, however, is that I have ended working with just as many men as women and children. Does that lessen the value of my work? NEVER! I guess it turns out that just as many men are deciding later in life to take up our sport as well… and that can only be a good thing!
You’ll generally find me teaching knots and rigging and talking all things fishing at boat shows and tournaments around the country, under the guise of Fishingscool (which is also the name of my vibrant Facebook community 🙂
3. What was it that really got you into fishing and how old were you?
As a Darwin kid, I dabbled and dangled alongside mates, brothers and boyfriends on various occasions, but I wasn’t truly ‘hooked’—and I’m talking all three trebles past the barbs—until my two sisters-in-law invited me to fish as part of their all-girls barramundi tournament team, Sister Act. I confessed to being more of a dangler than an angler, to which they promptly announced, “we can fix that!”
A couple fishing trips later and I’d learnt to troll adequately enough to actually catch fish! Our first tournament together resulted in Runner-Up Champion Team trophies and an extended invitation to fish the Barra Classic and become a permanent fixture on the team.
My fate was sealed on that dastardly hot tournament, when despite searing temperatures and poor fish numbers, I realized that dragging a lure around a muddy river made me happier than I’d ever been! I resolved to get out of my advertising agency and “go fishing” within ten years.
4. What is your greatest fishing memory?
I’ve had so many! Starting so late in life means that ‘firsts’ come frequently and that thrill never wears thin! I also have so many yet to accomplish!
There are two contenders: My recent first trip to New Zealand where I chased trout for the first time is one. I’ve only been fly fishing for a couple of years and it’s all been tropical… bit flies, biggish fish. Trout was a whole new ball game: dry flies that I could barely see (dodgy eyes!), wary, battle-hardened fish and long walks. I was more than daunted!
It took me over a week to achieve my goal, but I was rewarded with a cracking brown trout, stalked and pinned on the Locky River near Queenstown. I still wear that tiny little ‘blowfly’ on my Mako cap today.
I think, however, that achievement is pipped by one of my last barra captures before I left Darwin. We had Robbie Riches, a film-maker from Perth, on board and had been battling saratoga for two days. The problem was that we were chasing barramundi! I made a call on a spot that I’d found on Google Earth some time before. It had only ever produced small fish and half-hearted bumps on previous trips, but I’d always had a good feeling about it.
I cast my Squidgy Mongrel in amongst the freshwater mangrove roots and worked it out… my second pulse after a pause resulted in an almighty whack and the surface erupted in silver scales and shattered water! The camera caught the whole thing, from cast to delighted hoots as the 84cm chunk came aboard. That fish saved the shoot and was without doubt the most satisfying fishing moment for me.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My crystal ball is a little foggy, but there are a couple of things I’m certain of: I will be firmly entrenched in my new home on the far south coast of NSW… it’s God’s country and I truly love it; and I’ll still be fishing almost every day beside my beloved husband, Steve.
With regards to my fishing career, I have a couple of irons in the fire and some exciting things coming up in the next six to twelve months. I expect I’ll be doing more public speaking and clinics… I don’t see my role changing all that much in that regard. I’ll still be passionate about opening our sport up to newcomers.
6. What’s top of the “bucket list”?
I learned something about buckets list species just last week. For the past two years, wahoo and mahi-mahi have vied for the top spot. Then, last Thursday, I landed one of each! You’d think I’d be punching the air in exhilaration, right? Sadly, we were out chasing marlin, so it was like being loaded for bear and shooting quails!
So, I still have both species at the top of my bucket list, but I’m going to put in a caveat of “on light gear”. I would rather fight the fish than my tackle!
As for species I haven’t ‘touched’ yet, I’m going to say bonefish on fly… I’ve stalked them, managed to see them, had a few shots at them… but never even looked like pinning one! I love a good challenge 😉
7. Who do you look up to in the fishing community?
Aside from the obvious being my husband, Steve Starling, there are a couple of anglers I’ve met who have inspired me in different ways.
Jason Wilhelm from Gladstone amazes me constantly with his very level-headed approach to this industry. In an arena that is filled with behind-the-scenes undermining and politics, Jason always injects reality, fairness, open-mindedness and integrity… whether in social commentary online or in his articles. Couple this with a damn-fine fishing mind and you’ve got the ingredients of a superstar public figure in the angling world.
The other chap I look up to is rod designer and builder, Ian Miller. I’m constantly inspired by his humility and creativity. It’s unusual to find field leaders who are so willing to listen and take on ideas from laypeople like Ian does. I’ve had the pleasure to fish alongside Ian and find that these traits follow through into his fishing as well, making him an absolute delight to fish with! Probably one of the funniest days I’ve had on the water!