FISHERMAN: Allan Cannon with the many trophies he won at the 1997 Australian Championships Fishing Convention, Rainbow Bay, Que
FISHERMAN: Allan Cannon with the many trophies he won at the 1997 Australian Championships Fishing Convention, Rainbow Bay, Que

Hook, line ? the sinker

'It is rare a sportsman can claim seven national titles in a career and for Allan Cannon to do it in so many categories at one tournament in virtually just over a week, is almost unheard of...'

MANY people have the skill to catch fish but not all have the ability to find fish.

That is a maxim that has proven itself aplenty among top-class fishers.

No risk ? Yamba angler Allan Cannon has both qualities. His ability for finding and catching is proven many times over, and there is no better proof than in his seven national titles won at the Australian Championships Fishing Convention in 1997.

The championships were at Queensland's Rainbow Bay, a beach previously unknown to him, yet he was able to find where the fish were and catch them in size and abundance.

The 1997 Australian titles were no doubt the highlight of a great fishing record.

Allan had demonstrated his ability, before and also since the championships, to be among the best in the business.

However, that feat at Rainbow Bay stands out among all who chase the national championships.

As one journalist wrote in 1997: "It is rare a sportsman can claim seven national titles in a career and for Allan Cannon to do it in so many categories at one tournament in virtually just over a week, is almost unheard of..."

In that fabulous 1997 championship, five of Allan's seven wins were individual titles and as a NSW representative he collected another two trophies in team championship events ? seven representing each State per category.

Allan John Cannon was born at Maclean hospital in 1954, the youngest of four and the lone son to Palmers Island cane farmers, Andrew (Andy) and Joyce (nee McDermid ) Cannon. His three sisters are Daphne, Jean and Helen.

Allan was always keen on fishing and gained early skills from his parents, fishing with them from the bank of the Clarence River, mainly just across the road from where he grew up at Durrington Lane, Palmers Island.

He loved catching the whiting and flathead that abounded in the Lower Clarence. Whiting to this day are his favoured table fish.

Allan's schooling began at Palmers Island Public and progressed through to Maclean High, where he gained the School Certificate in Year 10.

Main sports for him were soccer and swimming and when school was over for the day or at weekends after farm chores were done, it was fishing.

After leaving school Allan spent several months doing labouring jobs and a fair bit of that time was working on fishing boats, learning still more about this industry and the sport that has fascinated him.

"I was thinking perhaps I would be a professional fisherman or maybe a mechanic but Dad advised me to take up an apprenticeship in plumbing," Allan said.

"Yamba was booming and there was plenty of work for tradesmen. So in 1972 I signed to a four-year apprenticeship with one of the men I had done labouring for at Yamba, plumber Wayne Gregory. I was with him for most of my time but when the partnership split my indentures were transferred to another Lower Clarence plumber, Steve Baker, who was employed by Noel Farlow, for the final part of the apprenticeship.

"I worked for Steve and Noel for 12 months after coming out of my time and then in 1977 set up in business of my own and it has been that way ever since."

In the meantime Allan had met and married Coffs Harbour girl Cathy Pearce in 1976. There are five children from the marriage which has since broken up. Allan remarried a few years back, this time to Christine Swift, who had also been married before, with two sons and two daughters.

Together Allan and Christine have a son Ashley and daughter Clarissa.

The youngest of Christine's daughters, Alyce, is a student at Maclean High and a school representative rower and netballer.

Alyce and her mother each compete in fishing competitions. Both are members of the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club, while Ashley and Clarissa are members of the Yamba Nippers.

Christine works as a domestic and is a swimming coach, operating mainly at the Yamba pool.

Allan was a teenager, just 14 or 15, when in 1968 he joined the newly formed Yamba Fishing Club.

The club is one of 16 that now form the Clarence River Amateur Fishing Clubs' division, covering the Clarence River and inland to Inverell and Glen Innes.

Although Allan has won numerous Australian fishing championships over the years and also a member of teams winning State championships, surprisingly he is yet to win a State individual title in saltwater competitions.

Just the same he has been individual runner-up a number of times in various NSW categories. He has also been a prolific State representative including some years as captain of the rock and beach and the estuary teams.

While the great majority of his fishing has been in saltwater he has shown that he can fare well in freshwater competition, too. For example, seven years back he was runner-up in a big field at the NSW Freshwater championship on the Copeton Dam near Inverell. Yellowbelly and catfish were the main targets.

Christine and daughter Alyce competed, too, with Christine winning the open women's championship and Alyce, despite giving away age, taking the junior girl championship. Her brother Travis won the boys' championship.

Alyce, Travis and another brother, Trent, together won the junior teams' championship.

At the Australian AAA Saltwater championships of 1999 at Victoria's Phillip Island, Alyce, Trent and Travis were selected in the NSW squad and together won all three team events for juniors.

Travis and Troy collected individual championships in casting and rock and beach fishing.

Allan's Australian titles successes in coastal conditions began in 1983. The championships were held just up from Yamba at Ballina and Allan showed his class in winning his initial overall convention championship.

The five sections at the convention championships are estuary, combined rock and beach, off-shore, deep sea ? along with dry land casting ? which assesses both distance and accuracy.

Allan's overall win at Ballina came despite not contesting the deep sea fishing segment and missing out on an y points which may have come his way.

It was for the 1985 national championships at Bunbury in Western Australia that Allan first won selection in the NSW team and he has been a team member ever since.

At Bunbury he again performed strongly, finishing second in the overall convention championship.

He was runner-up for that overall title at two of the next three Australian conventions ? second at Port Lincoln, South Australia in 1991 and at Port Macquarie in 1993 ? before his 1997 plunder at Rainbow Bay.

There have been a number of individual section championship wins for him along the way, as well as teams sectional wins.

Allan has also taken out many Yamba club championships, particularly in rock and beach and the estuary sections. He has also been dominant in many Clarence River association championships in the same categories, as well as deep sea.

Christine also competes when she can fit in the time and has won a number of club titles.

Not only has Allan been active in the competition side of fishing. He has given super service on the organisational side at club, association and state level.

He has held the position of president of the Yamba Fishing Club. For the past 20 years he has been club treasurer and is weighmaster and captain.

Allan has been on the executive of the Clarence River Fishing Clubs' division for 15 year, serving as secretary for a number of them, and as with the Yamba club, is division weighmaster and captain.

On top of that he has been the Clarence delegate for around 15 years to the NSW Fishing Clubs' Association with most meetings held in Sydney, is a long-time State selector and for the past three years vice-president.

Allan has also served many years with the Yamba Lions Club, joining when he was in his early 20s.

For a time he was one of the hard-working members of the Yamba Sports Council under the leadership of Jim Baird. For several years he was a member of the Palmers Island Public School P & C Association, of which he is a past president.

He did play golf with The Tramps of Yamba on Thursday afternoons and in Sunday morning competitions and at one stage had his handicap down to 12.

"I suppose you could say I have enjoyed everything I have been associated with and I particularly love fishing," Allan said.

"Fishing is relaxing, a great pastime, there is great mateship and of course there is the final reward of good fish to eat."

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