By JURIS GRANEY
POLICE fear a fisherman who went missing near Angourie on Thursday has drowned as an intensive air, sea and land search was scaled down yesterday.
The well-respected rock fisherman, whose name has not yet been released, disappeared from the popular One Man's Bluff fishing spot on Thursday afternoon. The 70-year-old man's wife contacted police at 4.30pm after her husband had failed to return home from a fishing excursion.
The man left his Yamba home at 6.30am, parking his white Toyota four-wheel-drive at the Mara Creek picnic area before trekking three kilometres to the rocky platform.
When police arrived on the rocks, they found some fishing equipment but no other sign of the man.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was immediately called in to conduct various sweeps over the area.
However, failing light forced the helicopter back to Lismore 90 minutes later and the man hunt to be scaled down.
The man's 4WD was left in the carpark overnight just in case he had become lost in the thick coastal scrub.
The car was still there, complete with a small teddy bear on the driver's side dash, when the search recommenced at 7am yesterday.
Local SES members, Waterways, water police, four police divers and a police helicopter from Sydney, were all called in to assist with the search.
An exhausted Coffs/Clarence acting chief inspector Stuart Taylor said they had done all they could to find the man after calling off yesterday's search at midday.
"We have had all the resources possible to find the missing man but unfortunately the search has been fruitless," Insp Taylor said.
"At this stage we are unsure of what has happened.
"The seas were not rough yesterday so we believe the man may have simply fallen (into the water).
"We do not believe the man was wearing a Personal Flotation Device."
It is understood the man was fishing alone on the rocky outcrop when he went missing.
Insp Taylor said the search would resume at first light today with the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club also taking part to try and search around the craggy shoreline in their inflatable rubber boats.
The Yamba Fishing Club, which is holding a fishing competition set to attract 100 fishermen today, has also been briefed on the incident and asked to contact police if they see anything unusual.
Police are asking for anyone who saw an elderly man fishing at One Man's Bluff on Thursday to contact them.