Fishing for beginners: Tips from Andrew Ettingshausen

3rd June 2021 Jessica Watson

Fishing for beginners: Tips from Andrew Ettingshausen

It’s time to step out of my comfort zone and tackle a popular boating topic that I’ve been neglecting. I love seafood of every type but sadly this love of seafood isn’t matched by an ability to catch fish. Fishing’s never been much of a strong point for me, in fact during the 210 days of my voyage around the world I caught only a single fish!

So in an effort to improve from this very low base I thought it was time to ask for help. Thankfully one of Australia’s best-known fishing identities, rugby league star, and TV host Andrew Ettingshausen offered to answer my questions and point me in the right direction.

Where do I start? Is there a fishing school I can go to, a book I should read, a video I should watch?  

Fortunately, these days’ starting out in fishing is very easy. There are hundreds of books and magazines that explain the A-Z of fishing. There is a whole world full of internet videos and posts on all Australian Species and how to catch them. And there are weekly Television shows like my Escape Fishing with ET show that takes you on a journey to some of the best fishing destinations across Australia and the Pacific. Best of all just about all Australians live close to a creek river, estuary, dam or ocean. 

What’s a good fish for beginners like me to chase? 

It's important to do some research and preparation on what fish species live close by. Once you have found out what you can catch locally you can do some more research on what knots, rigs, hooks, line, rod and reel and bait or lure you will need to stand a chance. 

Call into your local tackle shop and speak with the manager or staff about where to go and what rigs work best. You may get lucky and have a tackle store staff member give you directions to a local hot spot and explain what rig and bait will work. 

Go down to your local wharf and chat with other anglers. Watch what they do and get some tips on the right baits, line strength, and rig they are using. Fishing off a local wharf is free and this is a great place to learn the basics. 

I dragged a lure halfway across the Pacific Ocean but only caught one fish. Any ideas on what I could have been doing so badly wrong?

The oceans of the world are massive expanses of water. Many fish rely on currents, wind and water temperature to move sometimes hundreds of kilometres. When looking to catch fish in any body of water key things to look for are baitfish or small crustaceans that big predators can eat.  

A lure towed behind a yacht does catch fish but only if it's travelling past fish that can mistake the lure as a baitfish. Not all lures work well so if your lure wasn’t swimming in a way that looked real then you could easily miss out.

Do you have an absolute must-have piece of fishing equipment and why?

Besides the obvious rod, reel, line, and hooks, the most important tool I would be lost without is a pair of pliers with a cutting edge. Whenever you catch a fish you need to be able to remove the hook to release the fish. Pliers make this job easy. 

What about an all-time favourite fishing destination? Where is it and why is it a favourite? 

There are some great fishing spots in each State and Territory of Australia. A few of my favourite places in my home state of NSW are Sydney Harbour and the mid-north coast. Sydney Harbour is an amazing spot to fish because you can catch quality Kingfish right next to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. What a backdrop! 

And the coast between Coffs Harbour and South West Rocks produces some great sport fish. Whether you're fishing the river breakwall for big Mulloway or chasing Snapper on the shallow reefs, there’s fish for every angler. 

Beach Fishing is also great fun, you can catch beach worms for bait, which is challenging. 

So why is it that you don’t simply head down to the local fish shop and let someone else do the hard work? 

I love fishing, for me, it’s the excitement of the hunt. Trying to put all of the details together to work out a plan to catch a specific fish. The big plus side to this is that many of the species I target are beautiful eating. 

I like to practice catch and release, only keeping enough fish for my immediate family to eat. Releasing the fish needs to be done with care so they can swim away and create thousands more fish to chase.