This weeks Lucky 7 is with Rod Harrison – “Rod Harrison is the quintessential Australian who’s battled the world’s great fresh and saltwater gamefish on lure and fly.”
1. What’s your name and where are you from?
Rod Harrison, originally from the Monaro region of NSW.
2. What part do you play in the fishing community today?
In supporting what’s been a wonderful lifestyle I’ve been involved in many facets of fishing. These include writer, editor, presenter, tackle designer and paid consultant to American fly companies that have included Sage, Scientific Anglers and Rio.
At the coalface I’ve been involved in fishing travel pretty much since day one – Lord Howe, Top End, PNG, as a deckhand, skipper and guide.
The last six years have been spent as a full time guide on Lake Awoonga during which time I’ve written four books (Barra, Native Fish, Queensland Dams and Braids – which have become authorities in their fields.)
3. What was it that really got you into fishing and how old were you?
The eldest in a dirt poor family, as a ten year old I fished and shot rabbits for take home meat.
School hols spent on Sydney Harbour, jumping ferries and fishing wharfs, put some salt in my veins.
My years as a shearer along the inland rivers cemented that love.
Between family responsibilities, the next twenty – spent as a frontline cop – provided the wherewithal to expanded horizons, salt and fresh, lure and fly.
By that time I was pretty much hooked and confident enough to quit the law in 1982 and go fishing full-time.
4. What is your greatest fishing memory?
A couple I’m proud about includes being the first Australian to take a billfish on fly and the tarpon, bonefish and permit on trebles.
Two that really stick happened while fishing with cherished friends;
Windy bitch of a day in the Keys. Overcast sky to boot. Lefty and Flip were kind enough to give me the only shot for the day….a bubble trail out there, 80ft with a strong side wind. The fish ate and went ballistic…not far short of a hundred pounds…but a screw fell out of the reel seat and I spent the fight with the fly reel dangling by a few threads.
Fishing Port Stephens with Jack. Paul Whelan driving. On a high, the previous day we’d tagged a 100kg striped marlin boat side about 5mins after it ate my fly.
I was up again and pinned a blue that Whelan – no better judge – put it at better than 200kgs…..after a few experiences with blue marlin I can say that there are no lucky windows…those fish are earned – not talking bait or lure, but fly.
It took nearly a thousand yards in a couple of big opening runs. Five hours later I got more than half the fly line back on the reel and the fish is hanging dead in the water.
Sharkey is ready with the gaff and I’m thinking about burning my fly rods when through with that baby.
Suddenly there’s a loud craaack. The friggin’ fly rod had ruptured – the butt section of Jack’s three piece 15wt. It had delaminated under the constant pressure on a fulcrum point.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As a successful author who likes to go fishing.
My writing has moved somewhat from the fishing media. I’m confident my first novel (www.saurian.com.au) will sell here and the states.
6. What’s top of the fishing “bucket list”?
No single species, though later this year I will be tarpon fishing (the Great Danes, not our Chihuahua, grin).
There’s a bass and barra trip in PNG that currently has me busy tying flies. I’ll get to have a shot at a blue marlin while I’m up there…or whatever else comes up on the teasers….but having said all that, as a seventy year old, I’m just as content watching a rod by an outback river for a yellowbelly nibble.
7. Who do you look up to in the fishing community?
Ron Calcutt, who took the time to teach me the writer craft and how to get the pictures in focus.
Jack Erskine who taught me how to rig and fight fish.
Don McPherson who knew – and shared – more about fishing lines than anyone.
Lefty Kreh, flyfishing’s greatest, for sharing so much of his wonderful life with me.
Johnny Mitchell, fishing guide, filmmaker and innovator. My pick amongst the great all round anglers ‘under forty.’