Gone Fishing with Jonno: Join the Fishcare program

Call for volunteers: Fishcare program Jervis Bay region team leader Steve Johnson is seeking younger fishos to join the program.

Call for volunteers: Fishcare program Jervis Bay region team leader Steve Johnson is seeking younger fishos to join the program.

The flathead have just started to come on the chew in the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers.  We have been catching good numbers of them while targeting estuary perch around the Nowra Bridge using the ProLure grubs in the motor oil colour.  The perch are sitting on the bottom so you’ll to fish a bit heavier jig head as normal and use a slow retrieve, bouncing the plastic along the structure below.  There has been also reports of flatties being caught around the eastern end of Pig Island.  

Over the coming weeks I’m going to do some articles about where the money raised from the Recreational Fishing Fee, more commonly known as the fishing licence, goes.   All the money raised through the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee is placed into the Recreational Fishing Trusts and spent on improving recreational fishing in NSW. These trusts are regulated by law and overseen by two committees made up of recreational fishers - one for salt water and one for fresh water. 

One of the flagship programs funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts is the DPI Fishcare program.  This program is one of the most successful volunteer programs in NSW and is central to the success of many of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) recreational fishing education programs, such as the Kids Fishing Workshops.

Now if you have a passion for fishing and want to share with others, why not think about becoming a Fishcare volunteer?  The Jervis Bay Region Fishcare Team already has a group of dedicated volunteers, but we could always use the extra hands.  It would be great to have some younger fishos involved in the program, other than having to be over 18 years old, there’s no barrier to being involved in the program.  I’ve been a Fishcare volunteer now for over 10 years and really enjoy speaking with the community about responsible and sustainable fishing, particularly teaching kids how to fish as part of the NSW DPI’s Kids Fishing Workshop Program.

Funded from the recreational fishing trusts, the NSW Fishcare Volunteer Program continues to expand, boasting volunteers in many inland and coastal areas around the state. There are now some 250 volunteers in the program, with 42 residing south of Sydney.

Volunteers get to talk to anglers about fishing rules, responsible fishing and help in a range of activities, such as fishing workshops, angling competitions, fishing events, community events, and in school as part of the Get Hooked Program.

Experienced volunteers can also get involved in assisting DPI Education Officers with distribution of material, catch and release kits and information in relation to responsible fishing.  To undertake on-water advisory work, all volunteers must pass additional training requirements, such as Elements of Shipboard Safety and Safe Work training.

You can apply to become a Fishcare volunteer if you have a keen interest in fish, fishing and the conservation of our fish resources and habitat and are 18 years or over.  Volunteers range in age from students to retirees, and come from a great range of backgrounds and are expected to give approximately one day per month to assist the program.  It is important to point out that Fishcare volunteers are there to educate the community about responsible and sustainable fishing and do not have any enforcement powers.

Training to become a Fishcare volunteer involves an initial two-day training weekend undertaken at a nominated regional location in NSW. DPI and TAFE NSW will present and undertake workshops, involving lessons relating to conservation, research, compliance, fish species identification and legislation. At the end of Day 2, you'll take part in a communication skills workshop based on approaching anglers and working with the public.

You'll then undertake a three-month mentoring period with your regional Education Officer and Fishcare leaders, such as myself whereby you'll be skilled into field activities and events within the program, such as fishing workshops, field days, school incursions and excursions, research programs, habitat restoration and water advisory.

At the completion of the mentoring period you will receive your yearly accreditation for the program. This is renewed every 12 months based on participation, knowledge and leadership.

If you’re interested in becoming a Fishcare volunteer you can jump on the DPI website and download a nomination form or contact our local DPI Education Officer Stephen Thurstan on 0447219618 or Dee Payne on 0408437547.

Gone Fishing with Jonno is keen to hear from our readers about what you would like us to write about.  Let us know on our Facebook site www.facebook.com/Gone-Fishing-with-Jonno.