Martin Exel

My first memory of fishing was when I was around 4 years old, fishing with my Dad off a wharf in Dunedin, New Zealand. We didn’t own any rods, or fancy fishing gear in those days, it was all done with a simple handline, hook and sinker, with a bit of squid for bait… Back to basics! We’d caught a small local fish called a spotty.  It was lying on the wharf with the hook out having just landed it when a seagull swooped in and scored it for dinner! Some of my happiest memories were the days of learning how to fish with my father, and the adventures to the outdoors together that entailed. We were never particularly successful at catching fish in the start, but always had a ball. 

Fishing is part of my being. It’s the time when I completely remove myself from the daily hassles, and focus on the environment and really be aware of how awesome nature, and fish, can be. I am passionate about ensuring there are sustainable fisheries for the future, through great management, science, and conservation, and am also fortunate enough to be able to work in commercial fisheries, as well as fish for recreation and enjoyment. The added challenge of competition trout and bream fishing is another level of passion again, and drives my desire to understand better what makes fish tick; why they bite sometimes and not others, and what new techniques or technology others are using. I have found that competition fishing is the best way for me to learn more about ‘how to fish’ from the many really great anglers I get to meet in those competitions.

Most of all though, my continued passion comes from being able to fish with mates, and people who have the same passion, and explore new parts of the world while doing it. That’s why fishing is so exciting for me. Spending time exploring new challenges and fishing opportunities; teaching others how to fish, or taking people to new areas to explore, is really the pinnacle… Especially when things all come together, and we catch fish, have a ball together and relax and appreciate the amazing world that we live in.     

I love all types of fishing… Fly fishing for trout in remote areas of the Tasmanian highlands, or New Zealand back country rivers would have to be my number one pick for fishing passion but, a very close second is casting hard bodied lures on light tackle to trout and bream in Australia and New Zealand. I also really enjoy different types of fishing for different reasons, such as bottom bouncing for a feed of Tasmanian Trumpeter, Blue-eye, or Flathead; jigging for squid, having pitched battles with larger tropical fish such as when casting 150 – 200 gram stick baits and poppers for 20 – 40 kilo dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, and giant trevally in the Coral Sea and Papua New Guinea and so much more… Any chance to fish, I’m there!

One of my greatest achievements to date is without doubt the birth of my son. Liam is now 25 years old and going great, despite all those times I dragged him out to beaches, lakes, rivers, and estuaries, or out in the boat to get some offshore fish! I think I may have fished too much with him when he was younger, as he prefers driving the boat to casting a lure these days, but we still have the benefit of those amazing times together, enjoying the outdoors, and the ability to reflect on the great bond between father and son. From a fishing perspective, winning the inaugural Tasmanian Trout Classics Team of the Year in 2014 was definitely a pinnacle.  My fishing partner, Laurie Harrison, and I managed to come 4th, 2nd and 1st in each of the three rounds of the competition and were stoked to be up on the podium holding that ‘TOY’ trophy standing beside people including Steersy and Coxy, who we’ve looked up to for years!