Staunch Kayak fishing advocate, educator and journalist, Derek Steele, takes our first Lucky 7 Interview for 2014.
1. What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Derek Steele, also known as ‘Paffoh’, ‘Paf’ or these days ‘Paf Daddy’. Currently living In Canberra but born and bred South Coast N.S.W (Shoalhaven Heads).
2. What part do you play in the fishing community today?
Apart from being a staunch recreational fishing advocate I guess I fit the bill for a number of roles. My contribution to kayak fishing journalism with both online content and print media is probably first and foremost, mostly through Yak Fisher Magazine and Kayak Fishing Adventures (www.kfa.net.au). This allows me to educate readers of both print and online media on all facets of kayak fishing from paddle selection, choosing a kayak down to angling advice. It also provides me with the ability to use cutting edge products on a day to day basis and provide feedback to potential customers and companies.
My sponsored angler status relates to my position as Australian Pro Staff member for Bending Branches paddles, along with being a Hobie Fishing Dealer Team member for Wetspot Watersports and newly appointed field staff member for Austackle . Being an avid tournament angler I am humbled by my association with these brands through international pathways and local support. I like to think of myself as an ambassador for the sport of kayak fishing, being bipartisan to the sports growing niches and its weekend warrior trends.
3. What was it that really got you into fishing and how old were you?
Being brought up in the Heads had three bonuses, they were fishing the Shoalhaven, Greenwell Point or 7 Mile Beach. I was pretty young back then but have fond memories of chasing estuary species like Flathead with my Pop and Father. Pop lost his leg to a motorcycle accident so I was always amazed that he could still launch and retrieve a boat with his disability. Hearing stories about monster Flathead being eaten by bigger Flathead boat side obviously helped .
When we relocated to Canberra Dad dragged me around the traps chasing Trout all whilst continuing to explore further south coast action around the Ulladulla and Moruya areas (Think Burrill/Congo). Seeing Flathead noggins the size of council shovels nailed to trees like trophies caused me to beat my chest a bit. It was pretty ingrained in me from a young age that fishing soothes the soul and is a pastime worth sharing. Father to son, father to son and since the birth of mine, father to son again.
4. What is your greatest fishing memory?
Picking one example is a pretty hard task, there has been so many over the years. When I was growing up we had some German family friends who built an authentic Chalet near Jindabyne. As a family we used to visit them quite a bit and they had this amazing stream running behind their property. Dad and Claus used to come home with a feed of Trout most days or even some eel. I still remember my first Trout on lure, a red and black Celta retrieved in gin clear water. Seeing this magnificent species follow and swallow your lure with its flash of white mouth was a real rush, especially running back to display my catch.
In years more recent myself and a bunch of mates fished a certain South Coast hotspot for Snapper from our kayaks. I was running late so arrived a few hours after they did. I started trolling out to the bombie and got a hit so hard the kayak tilted and the 2500 smashed into free spool. We fished for hours without much luck so I trolled back to the scene of the crime and hooked up, nearly got spooled on 8lb, and landed my PB 83.5cm Snapper less than 100m from shore.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to work closer with the tackle industry and I have some exciting things happening at the moment that relate. It would also be great to be living down the coast again bringing up my kids in the same environment I was, but career opportunities for the better half’s future just aren’t around. Realistically I would like to do more travelling while the kids are young and introduce them to the finer points of fishing (Camping and relaxing). I have been saving for a boat for awhile so can see a natural progression to a way I can involve the whole family with fishing (Even if it clocks 90kmph).
6. What’s top of the “bucket list”?
Top is definitely big sea runners from Tasmania. I couldn’t think of anything better than walking a river at the right time of year and hooking into one of these beasts. Some of the photos I have seen over the years only hype that funk, especially when you throw in the possibility of convict style escapees.
We have family who live opposite Ansons bay and just outside of St Helens but alas we haven’t been there for years. Last time I fished it was out of the Father-in-law’s Canoe for a few Whiting and badly sun burned legs. Now I am more battle hardy it would be great to return to chase obese Bream.
Closely following all this but in a northerly direction is the entire Bass to Barra trail with family in tow. Some of my favourite fishing authors have penned enough info on these destinations to see me true for weeks on end. Lastly during a Bream tournament in QLD I lost about nine SX 40’s to unknown fish after the turn of the tide. I was deep in a Mangrove channel and was mesmerised at what was going on with the slack, little did I know I was suffering a ‘Jack attack’. Would be great to seek revenge and pull one or two, take a quality photo and then release (After extracting my lures from its gob).
7. Who do you look up to in the fishing community?
There are a number of authors and fishing journalists that I used to follow religiously and would kill to have a beer with, mainly Phillip Weigall for his passion for Trout and exploration and Andrew McGovern for his local knowledge and journalistic nous. Steve Fields gets an honourable mention with his contribution to promoting kayak tournament angling in Australia, also Rob Maya for his efforts in growing Yak Fisher Magazine nationwide (Best of luck for the future buddy).
To sum up with modesty also plays a big part in who I respect and who gets my goat, luckily I have some great mates who are humble yet extremely gifted anglers who are always up for sharing information. Special mentions to yakking brethren Craig ‘450’ Coughlan from Custom Lure Art, Jason ‘Squidder’ Price and Carl ‘Cid’ Dubois for all the support over the years.