'We're trying to get families away from the gadgets at home'
WHEN he was a kid, fishing was embedded into Allan Ahmat's life early on.
Shortly after his family moved from the Torres Strait Islands, his father would take him out to catch a feed of fish for his family, friends and neighbours.
They're memories he recalls fondly, and now he is eager to share his experience with the next generation of anglers.
"We used to go in open back trucks, travel down to Cape Palmerston and up north of the O'Connell and go as a big group,” Mr Ahmat said.
"It was just brilliant, there were an abundance of fish everywhere. Not a fish was wasted, it was shared around families and friends.
"Sometimes you'd come back with a bag of fish and someone else wouldn't be so lucky. Most of my time coming home on Sunday nights (was spent) driving around the streets sharing our catch.”
Now the chairman of the Mackay and Districts Amateur Fishing Clubs Association, Mr Ahmat is determined to usher in the next generation of anglers to ensure the sport's sustainability.
When he was first involved with the various clubs in the Mackay region, up to 100 participants would compete in fishing competitions.
But until recently, the sector suffered a dip in attendances.
"This happened when the mines came in. What happened was the lifestyle of living in Mackay went to shift work,” Mr Ahmat said.
"Everyone is working around the clock, with guys going out to the mines chasing big dollars. That really threw a lot of people away.
"Nowadays there are a lot of people who don't like that lifestyle, they like the old fashion way.”
The time is nigh to rejuvenate the recreational fishing scene, and Mr Ahmat has noticed a steady increase.
While it may not be as vibrant as yesteryear, clubs are beginning to attract younger members.
But they need more to continue its rise back to prominence.
In an era dominated by technology, Mr Ahmat said it was important to steer the next generation away from the television and Xbox and experience the pristine environment and resources available in Mackay.
He said it was the emerging brigade of anglers that would steer the direction of fishing in the region.
"All the time we have to promote our sport. The only way we're going to promote our sport is by pushing juniors through; teaching them how to do it so they can pass it on and keep the interest going,” Mr Ahmat said.
"Most of the kids coming out these days are looking anaemic - as if they haven't had a touch of sunshine.
"We're trying to get families out there, away from the gadgets at home, to enjoy it and reap the benefits.
"You're seeing different country, and it's beautiful. To see what we've got here in ... Mackay is unbelievable and it's not getting fully utilised.”
To get involved with a club suited to your ability, get in touch with tackle stores in the region.
Making memories, not "remembering levels on a game”
NEVER keen to sit still, the young Ahmat family packed up and took to the open road.
The contingent of fishing enthusiasts recently returned from their travels around Australia, hitting hotspots across the country.
Kadyn, 11, and Bailey, 9, represent the small group of junior anglers turning away from the Xbox and spending their days under the sun and on the water.
While video games may simulate adventures, they pale in comparison to the experiences and memories made with a rod in hand.
"Going out with your family like that, you're getting to know your family. Instead of someone sitting in this room or that room, we all go out together and spend that time 100 per cent together,” the boys' mother Renae Ahmat said.
"We're teaching our kids to go out and have fun, so when they have kids and take them camping and fishing, they're going to be thinking that's just normal life.”
"It was the trip of a lifetime,” father Chris Ahmat continued. "These kids have made memories they'll never forget.”
The young brothers have been fishing since they were five years old, and are members with Magpies Fishing Club.
A rare catch, the oldest brother was ecstatic with his efforts.
"We went to Tully River, it was in the rainforest and we went to this place where there were rocks and rafting near a waterfall. I cast there ... then I pulled in and we took a picture of it and let it go,” Kadyn said.
"It's fun, I love working the lure and catching fish ... you're not just remembering levels on games.”
Mackay and District Amateur Fishing Clubs' Association affiliated clubs
- Cub Crew Incorporated
- Mackay Game Fishing Club Inc
- Mackay Post Office A F Club
- Mackay Trailer Boat Fishing Club
- Magpies Fishing Club
- Mt Pleasant Fishing and Social Club Inc
- Racecourse Light Gear Fishing Club
- Riverview Deep Sea Fishing Club Inc
- Waterpark Light Gear F C Inc