The Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc) has been in existence since early 1952, firstly as an association with several other clubs, then from 1957 as a club in its own right. Although the club magazine "Reel Talk" has been printed on a monthly basis almost without a break, no official history book recording the club activities has been, to my knowledge, recorded and preserved. Indeed early club general meeting minute books have not been located.
When Club President Derry Barber requested me to write a short history of the club, which would be reproduced in printed form for presentation to new club members, my first thought was that it would be a "piece of cake," but the more I researched, the more difficult it proved to be. It became a case of "where do I stop." The club has a number of activities, each one as equally important as the others and these activities are recorded progressively in over 400 copies of the Reel Talk which have been printed.
I could have interviewed foundation and early club members still living, but after forty years their re-collections of historical events of the club would be dimmed and human nature being what it is, particularly among fishermen, about stories of individual incidents would tend to be embellished and colourful. I therefore decided to use details recorded in the many copies of Reel Talk as the basis of fact this condensed history. Doubtless some members would say I should have included "this" or "that" in my presentation, but I feel reasonably sure that the contents of these pages will provide sufficient proof to club members, old and new, that they belong to a club rich in amateur fishing history in Western Australia, and a club which has produced many records and champion competitors locally, intra-state and nationally.
Club Member/Researcher, 1994
To Bert "Panther" Payne (deceased) for the large number or Reel Talk copies dating back to the early days of the club.
To Bill Utting and Jim Strong for an appreciable number of Reel Talk copies from the 1960s and 1970s, which both helped to fill the gaps of some missing issues and allowed me to have two copies of some issues
To the many club members, past and present, in whose company I have attended many club activities during the past twenty five year and which I have created the "atmosphere" in my mind of the events and assisted in my research.
The Surf Casting & Angling Association of W.A. had its beginning in 1952 when half a dozen rod and reel enthusiasts sat on a beach together waiting for the fish to bite and telling fishing stories and before the evening was over, a club had been formed. Among the early members were the following:-
Gordon Hume. A man of great ability who did most of the spade work on the original constitution and was a tower of strength in those early days in the position of club secretary. Others were Dudley Brown, Noel Knight, Vic Davis and Lloyd Dunn who later took over the job of secretary
There were others of course, who may consider themselves to be foundation members but no record of the full membership list has been located.
The early club general meetings were held on the premises of Aussie Cycles in Wellington Street, Perth. Records of the early meetings and association activities have not been located. The June 1953 copy of Reel Talk is the earliest record found by the researcher.
The location for general club meeting has changed many times over the years of the club's existence. Research has found details of the following general meeting venues:-
During the latter part of the 1950s the popularity of Angling clubs developed and the Surf Casting and Angling Association included clubs around the State of West Australia. Known affiliate clubs were located at Bunbury, Pinjarra and Harvey. Donations were received from Geraldton Angling Club for copies of the association magazine Reel Talk. There were other angling clubs in existence who were not affiliated with the association. From 15th June 1956 the association name was changed to "The Drycasting and Angling Association of Western Australia." A name change occurred again in March 1957 and the club as we know it today became "Surf Casting and Angling Club."
As the economic situation in the population improved towards the end of the 1950s so did the popularity of fishing and angling clubs with a subsequent rapid increase in club memberships. SCAC enjoyed this increase and club membership increased rapidly. In the 1958/59 club year membership reached just over one hundred members. Numbers kept rising to what appears to be the peak in 1971 with a total of 164 members. Numbers were fairly steady for some years. Each year won a few or lost a few. In August 1977 a resolution was passed with the necessary two thirds majority allowing females be accepted as junior and senior members. Although, except for a few instances, female members did not dramatically change the course or events in the club, there began a slow decline in membership numbers. The entry of female members of course does not indicate it was the only reason for the decline in numbers. Depending on the time of the year, family groups have been at times very evident at club activities. Apart from an advertisement in the Yellow Pages, the main method of recruitment for the club was by word of mouth by enthusiastic members. In 1993 in view of the low membership figure with the subsequent drop in club finances it has been necessary to mount a concerted membership recruiting drive.
Practically from the beginning of its life, social functions of various kinds were part and parcel of the comradeship and togetherness enjoyed by club members. These happy events were slotted into the yearly calendar along with the general meetings, fishing and drycasting.
The main social event of the club year has been the annual dinner-dance-trophy presentation night held in June of each year, and the location of this function has varied a number of times. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was conducted as a formal dinner occasion, with the male members attending in their best suit or tuxedo, the ladies looking very elegant in their evening gowns. Changes in attitude to formal dress has seen members attending the function in a more informal and comfortable clothing style.
Other social activities saw a strong attendance of members at picnics in the hills preceded by a car rally, picnics at coastal spots such as Yanchep, with the days activities consisting of athletic events, fun drycasting using light gear and occasionally a cricket match. With over one hundred club members on the roll, good attendances ensured these picnic days were quite successful.
The annual children's Christmas party was always very popular with the very young family members and there was seldom any difficulty finding a portly club member prepared to were the red suit for the occasion.
Annual general and December meetings have invariably finished earlier than usual, tables set up and laden with large amounts of attractive and tasty food supplied by each club member and then quickly devoured. At times, there was not enough left for even one "doggy bag."
On occasions, field day officers have attempted to foster togetherness on field days by having a barbecue later on the Saturday evening of the field day. At times this has been quite successful, but generally these days, those attending the field day have tended to remain in their own particular group and party on rather than travel to a central point for the activity. Garden Island in the early days provided some merry evenings in the Long Hut and Rottnest Island also when the club was fortunate enough to have the use of the block house at West End.
In recent years a "games" night has been held at the Wanneroo "ranch" owned by a club member family. As with most clubs of all kinds, raffles have been conducted. All these activities are a necessary method of raising revenue for the club and it is difficult to see how a club could remain financial without this type of activity.
In any club, association, sporting body or organisation where you have members from all walks of life, there will be at times a member or members who, for any one of a number of reasons, will deliberately take an action which is detrimental to the smooth running of the club as a whole, or against another member and the action is against the club rules or constitution. Surf Casting and Angling Club has been relatively free of such actions, with only a few individual cases to be dealt with by committee and members. On one occasion however, which arose in the late 1970s, a group of a dozen or so members wrongly caused a major "bubble" in the club management, were subsequently "carpeted" to the members at an extraordinary general meeting. As a result, these members left the club and formed a new club of their own. The affair was unfortunate, to say the least.
Besides the general meetings of the club, the main line of communication between the club management committee and members has been the Reel Talk magazine. Apart from one or two very short periods of time, the Reel Talk has been faithfully prepared, printed and posted by a succession of devoted club members. The layout and format has remained much the same over the years and its content has been basically normal club activity, monthly reports plus a great variety of articles on many subjects submitted by club members The size of the pages in the magazine has varied a few times, these changes being caused by such things as postal charge variations, a change in normal page size in industry, or availability of paper and cover material, with cost effectiveness being a major consideration. Reproduction for many years was by Gestetner duplicating machine and in later years by photocopying machine.
The very early copies of the then Association were made up of one or more foolscap size pages printed sideways and folded. The front page of some issues was an application form for club membership. The fees then were Nomination Fee 2/6d (25 cents) Yearly subscription 1.1.0 ($2.10)
Page one of the magazine has nearly always listed the committee position, home address and telephone number of all committee members giving a further line of communication between members
The souvenir issue of Reel Talk was printed in June 1954 and contained 24 pages.
For some time during the 1980s, there was a move towards members vehicles being fitted with CB radios to be used on field day weekends and week long safari. The idea being, that vehicles moving in convoy on highways could relay information along the line of vehicles. On the beaches when members were scattered over long distances, information on fishing conditions, dangerous situations and emergencies could be relayed. For this sort of activity, regular training and instruction is necessary for a successful network to operate. This training did not occur and apart for some minor successes the idea gradually faded and only a small number of vehicles are fitted with CB radios and contact is generally made on a one to one basis
At club monthly general meetings, business and reports of activities relating to the club and its members are dealt with. When this has been completed, an instruction period is presented by a visiting speaker or one of the club members. A wide range of subjects have been presented over the year, subjects which are often necessary but always informative and interesting.
General meetings during the 1963/64 club year attracted attendances by club members as follows: average attendance fifty, maximum attendance seventy. The general meeting night October 1987 was given the name "Nostalgia Night." To this meeting were invited many of the fishermen who had been members of the club in previous years. The night was a great success and many tales were told by these previous members of life as a member of a fishing club in the "old days."
As with all sporting clubs an appreciable amount of equipment is purchased or donated by club members over the years. The recording and annual check or stocktake of all the club property tends to become lax or completely forgotten and many items become forgotten about, or are not returned by members when they are used on a monthly basis, many items have become "lost, stolen or strayed." Some of the items which have disappeared are as follows:
Club tent and frame. Used monthly during 1960s and 1970s. Probably deteriorated and dumped or written off.
Club Banner. Always erected in front of the club tent along with a blackboard recording details of fish "bags" weighed in.
Metal road sign posts. Used to guide members to difficult to find or to new field day locations
Brass registration discs on a board. Issued to members at "sign on" and handed in at "weigh in." The main purpose being to check if everyone had returned and members were not lost or involved in an accident.
Club camera. Apparently gave up the ghost in the 1970s.
Club photo album. Probably sitting in the wardrobe of an ex-member, completely forgotten. The album contains invaluable photographic records of club activities.
Movie camera. Purchased in December 1981 by the club committee for $50. Main purpose was to film drycasters with a view to improving casting techniques.
The assets register of the club should be closely monitored and checked each year.
One item which can not be misplaced is the valuable asset of the club house at Kalbarri. The purchase of this property was the result of an immense amount of hard and difficult negotiation and work by dedicated club members. In September 1976, all papers were signed and the club became the owner of Lot 273, Mallard Street, Kalbarri. Many members took out debenture certificates in multiples of ten dollars to assist in paying off the cost of the property. With very active committees and property officers, the club paid off the purchase price in nine years. This effort would be a credit to any club. Over the years, working bees have been organised to upgrade the building, such as re-roofing, painting, refurnishing etc., with bought and donated materials and equipment. The latest major facelift to the property was completed just prior to Christmas 1992.
Since 1976, on several occasions, discussion has taken place in the club as to whether the club should keep the property or sell it. The considered lack of a good financial return on its sale has ensured that the club still has this asset.
When the Surf casting and Angling Association, later re-organised and renamed Surf Casting and Angling Club became firmly established and membership showed a strong, steady increase1 the spirit of competition also became stronger. The club became a very trophy oriented club. There has always been a "pot" taken from field day participation fees for the successful anglers. Trophy presentation at the annual club dinner covers an extensive range of competition too extensive to list here except for several of the major awards:-
Ken Matthews Trophy. Commenced in 1955. Originally competed for on field days only, over six month periods. A silver rose bowl first won by A Tickle. The trophy is still competed for today.
Field Day Competition now covering fourteen sections.
Open Competition now covering fifteen sections.
Sportsman of the Year Award. The structure of this award has varied over the years.
Drycasting Competition covering different drycasting sections.
Club Man of the Year Award. A very prestigious award for the winner.
A number of A.A.A. annual competitions are hotly contested by SCAC members with regular and outstanding success. These are:
State Drycasting Championships
State Rock and Beach Championships
State Estuary Championships
At the national level, members of the SCAC have completed. in teams and individual events at the National Titles which are held every four years in a different state each time. This club had produced national drycasting champions, both male and female and also had members in successful teams events in seniors, ladies and junior events.
Considering the number of members of the public who fish during the year either regularly or only occasionally, it is unfortunate that the members of SCAC who win state and national awards do not receive the publicity that champions in other more colourful sports are accorded.
In everyday life over the past forty years, clothing styles worn by people in all walks of life has changed considerably. This attitude of style change has also occurred in SCAC. In the late 1950s, through a bulk purchase, most club members bought and wore a club blazer which was worn to most club and A.A.A. activities. It was considered the right thing to do to wear your club blazer, many of which were liberally adorned with the owners metal name plate, plus badges such as game fishing or 3 to 1 ratio captures. Other "jewels" indicated you had attended state or national competitions, and so on. Blazers gradually disappeared, except for national title competitions team members. In recent years, t-shirts and wind cheater type jackets, in the club colours have been the vogue.
On the beach when fishing, members wear clothing that pleases their individual taste and is also compatible with the prevailing weather conditions. Waders, spray jackets and beanies for winter and shorts, shirt with a sun hat in the summer.
Some members joined the Surf Casting and Angling Club purely to go fishing with a group on an organised basis. Others joined to participate in all the activities available. Over the four decades of the club existence, fishing field days generally have had a greater attendance by numbers than the other club activities. Fishing field days can be broken down to two distinctive eras, as follows:-
It could be argued that these were the real "happy days" when those members attending the field days enjoyed "togetherness." Many times, a tray top truck was hired to carry members and gear, plus some conventional vehicles to assist in the transport. In the main, members traveled three or four in each conventional vehicle, crammed with gear, to the end of the bitumen or gravel road where the overnight camp was set up. Fishing boundaries were usually "as far as you are able to walk and return." If the fishing was good, you had the extra weight of fish to carry back.
Portable freezers were practically non-existent and many ingenious contraptions were used to store the fish caught.
A favourite location during the late 1950s and early 1960s was Garden Island (up to six times a year). There are many hilarious tales of the trip from Rockingham and return in the pre-historic ferry, and the nights spent in the Long Hut or at the Guns on the island
Rottnest was always popular. For some years the club chartered the work boat Pata Rei, which had a tendency to batter its way through the waves instead of over them
The location of many of the land based field days were to places close to Perth, which are now covered with hundred of houses forming part of the suburban sprawl. When the location was a hundred kilometres or more from Perth, one felt at times like an intrepid explorer from the last century.
With the advent of cheaper and more easily available four wheel drive vehicles, a very noticeable change occurred on field days. Signing on locations were much further afield. Members tended to sign on and drove away individually or in small groups, not to be seen again until the time for the weigh in. Fishing boundaries which used to be a kilometer or so in each direction gradually expanded to up to fifty kilometres in each direction. A greater range of beach was able to be fished, with often good bags of fish being caught, but the togetherness of previous years tended to be reduced.
The numbers of club members attending field days has varied considerably over the four decades of the club existence. Inclement weather has always had an effect, no matter what the club strength. During the 1950s, as the club was building in numerical strength, twenty to twenty five members on a field day was quite a good attendance. During the 1960s, when membership was well over one hundred, a field day attendance of fifty plus was often recorded, particularly to new locations which had proven to be "hot spots." When women were allowed to join the club, a percentage of diehard "guys only" members drifted away from the club. Ironically the number of women members attending field days on a regular basis was not great, but there was a definite decline in overall attendances and by the end of the 1980s some field days attracted only four, five or six members. Club membership has shown a steady decline, but apart for some favourite locations, the percentage of members attending field days has been lower than in previous years.
On field day trips, fish captures have gone from one extreme to the other. Some field days have only returned ten kilograms or less, whereas during the heady days of the big salmon runs up the coast, or a trip to a new venue in "tiger country," or to Rottnest, have resulted in up to six hundred kilos of fish being caught. Captures of two hundred kilos were common.
In recent years, the pressure on fish stocks within 150 kilometres north and south of Perth has been particularly heavy and except for occasional patches of good fishing, large catches are a thing of the past and it has been found necessary to go further afield for a field day to be successful. The influence of catching fish in the almost "gamefishing" category has, at times, had an influence on the attitude of members towards chasing what are now officially classed as Bread and Butter species. Conservation of fish stocks has been steadily playing a big role in the past ten to fifteen years. Bag limits on an ever increasing number of species have been brought in by the SCAC, A.A.A. and the Government Fisheries Department. It is possible that more restrictions will further limit fish captures in the future. Many areas along the coast, particularly in the south west of the state, which were regularly used by club fishermen have also been closed off, again with possible further extensions in the future.
Every year in Western Australia, up to twenty people lose their lives while fishing from the shore. Surf casters has been very lucky in this respect, but there have been some very close calls. Over the years, the club has drawn up a number of rules with the idea of preventing tragedy, but it is necessary for members to be regularly reminded of these rules. Some of these rules are:
When fishing on reef, wetsuits, not waders, to be worn.
The buddy system to operate, no matter where you fish.
When fishing on reef, juniors to be accompanied by father or a senior club member
Knowledge of first aid in case of accident. Knowledge to cover a wide range of injuries.
Appropriate footwear when standing on slippery rocks.
Some of these rules have had extensive articles written on them and reproduced in Reel Talk.
In November 1966 the Rottnest Island Board offered SCAC a wartime concrete block house on Bare Hill (Ricey) for our own use. Club members donated equipment of different types to furnish the hut which was regularly used by club members both on field day weekends and other times. Vandalism was a regular problem and repairs to the heavy steel door and the hut furnishings was an ongoing chore. During the 1980s, the hut was not used for over a year and the condition of the hut and surrounds became dilapidated. One weekend, some members on a field day decided to use the hut and found on their arrival a patch of bare ground. The island board had bulldozed and carted away the lot. Fortunately the fishing club which had the use of the large concrete block house at West End allowed us to use this hut on a regular basis and over a long number of years it was host to many weekends of tired but happy club members.
Alas, in 1990 the island board lowered the boom on people camping out or using the huts around the island and it is now necessary to accommodate ourselves in the main island settlement area and travel back and forwards to the fishing areas
Club policy has been to have at least one new location included in each years field days, and so there are not many places within 500 kilometres of Perth which have not been fished on field days. Following are listed field day locations used by the club since 1953, many places are repeated once or twice each year.
This activity is a major importance in an angling club, but particularly so in the Surf Casting and Angling Club. Drycasting on an oval is the place where new members are taught and so develop their casting skills for maximum benefit when fishing the beach. Right from the early days of the club drycasting has been practiced. For a number of years, rods, reels and lines of the different breaking strains used at drycasting were those used by the members when fishing. Much resistance was put up against specialised equipment being used only for drycasting, but as the years passed and rods were developed using new materials and the standard and different makes of reels improved, the inevitable happened and so today, drycasting equipment is in the high-tech category. A far cry from the days of rangoon and split cane rods, drum reels and overhead reels, old fashioned sinkers and heavy lines.
A casting tournament conducted by the club in October 1953 turned out to be one of the best and most successful activities up to that time. Fifteen members took part and many onlookers showed keen interest. As a result of the interest shown, it was decided to make it a monthly event. Standard fishing gear was used, using a 3¼ ounce sinker, the top cast was 125 yards. Using a 2½ ounce sinker, the top cast was 122 yards. Members using rangoon cane rods were casting around 95 yards.
For an unknown period, drycasting was conducted at the University of WA rear oval, then during the 1960s until the move to Dianella, drycasting was conducted on the Floreat Oval and then at the present location.
Surf Casting and Angling Club has produced many champions in drycasting. Men, women, juniors, singly or as members of competition teams have been both prominent or at the top of the ladder both in state and national competitions. It would not be fair to try and name these members as some may be left off the list, but some of these successful members are still very active members of the club. Club members are regularly urged to participate in drycasting practice and events, and various handicapping methods have been used over the years in an attempt to ensure that the not so successful casters have an opportunity to shine with their efforts. In November 1983 a casting instructor was appointed and assigned to assist new members or less skilful members in improving their style and technique.
In an attempt to attract new members during the middle 1980s, casting clinics were held on public ovals. These clinics were successful in a minor way, but much work is required and sound publicity necessary for the event to be really successful.
Monthly drycasting results published in Reel Talk issues are at times quite voluminous. Most results show details related to the points system operating each year with handicap allowances affecting most scores. Some years, distances cast are not shown. To give an indication of the casting distances achieved, one or two results are shown for each year where the details are available.
The late 1990s saw an update of the club's Constitution, Bylaws and Procedures including management folders for each committee officer containing all relevant requirements to fulfil said duties. This now places the Surf Casting & Angling Club (Inc) in a strong position, to carry on the tradition and continue the fun, fellowship, companionship in the sport of fishing & drycasting, whilst supporting conservation and the continuation and enjoyment of fishing for both ourselves our children and our grandchildren.
Copyright © 2001 Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.)
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