Richards hooked after 36 years of Gone Fishin'
CONTENT contributors have been the lifeblood of The Daily Examiner's rich 161-year newspaper but fishing expert Dick Richards has outlasted the lot.
Going on 36 years as a writer for the weekly fishing page, among other things, Richards is easily the newspaper's longest serving contributor.
"As far as our fishing column is concerned, an awful lot of tide has flowed under the bridge," Richards said.
"I took over the writing of the column some time in 1984 and I am proud to say that I have never missed an edition."
While the fishing page existed before Richards made it his own, he has shaped it into something the community loves and anticipates in each week's edition.
"The column was then in existence, but what prompted me to take it over was apparent inconsistencies as anglers stories were being left out. The one which remains in my mind was the big snapper being taken at Lawrence," he said.
Another element of the fishing page that has kept Richards going is the annual competition, with many fond memories to recall over the years.
"Almost every year, there has been a sponsor for the fish of the year, or rather it should be the fisherman of the year, drawn from all of the anglers who weighed in during the year," he said,
"I can remember the first winner after I took over. He was a young bloke working at the Maclean Post Office who had weighed in a bream of about 500g. His prize was week's holiday courtesy of the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau.
"Since then, the prizes have varied from a boat, motor and trailer to the value of $4,000, to $500 of fishing gear, all provided by sponsors."
Richards thanked those who have been involved in one way or another over the years, stating that it wouldn't have been possible without them.
"With the support of a circle of very supportive weigh-in stations, several of whom have been with us all those years, we have continued to provide fishing news every week," he said.
"We've managed to make it through floods, storms and lately, epidemics."
Richards has always given good advice as to where the bet fishing has been had, but he said there were some locations he simply couldn't disclose.
"To the best of my ability, all the reports in the paper have been accurate, although many anglers are reluctant to identify their secret spots," he said.
"My reply has always been that when the report appears, 'it is almost a week after the catch made and at least half a tide circle'."
While consistently writing about fishing throughout the Clarence Valley, Richards has also been involved in the industry from a business standpoint.
"My wife and I came to Yamba in 1974 after buying the business then known as Yamba Boat Hire, now the Yamba Bait Place," he said.
"This business carried everything from hiring boats, to a range of groceries, ice, meat petrol and oil plus fishing tackle and bait.
"There was no other general store or tackle place further west on Yamba Rd."
Long before his move into the industry, fishing was already ingrained in his life from a young age.
"I always had an interest in fishing. One of my early family pictures is of me, at about three-years-old (I'm now 90) at Lake Macquarie with a little mullet in each hand and another 'stuck in my gob'," he said.
"Later on, I was a member of the St George and Sutherland Shire Anglers Club and was runner up in several state offshore fishing comps."
Throughout his time, Richards has seen just how important fishing is to the region, not only as a sport, but as a likelihood to many as well.
"No matter how preferences move, fishing will always be a key element of the economic health of the Clarence Valley, especially the Lower Clarence area," he said.
"I have made many friends in this field, and total strangers will often stop me in the street and pass on a tip on fishing news and catches."
Richards is sad to see the print product go, but knows just how resilient the industry can be.
"In my seventy two years in journalism, I have seen many industry changes. I started work as a copy boy on the Sydney Sun in 1949 and managed to come out at the other end still in one piece," he said.
"My current health is good, but while muscular strength severely limits my fishing activity, it does not restrict my ability to collect information and pass it on to other anglers and visitors for their enjoyment.
"Digital access to the fishing report opens up new fields, but with the help of the weigh-in stations we will continue to provide an accurate overview of the local area."