An Interview with Rugby League Legend, TV presenter and all-round Fishing champion Andrew Ettingshausen.
By Shane Downey, Blade Kayak Fishing & Adventure Editor.
Andrew Ettingshausen is a former professional rugby league footballer and current TV presenter. He played first grade for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from the age of 17 in 1983, retiring at the end of the 2000 NRL season having played 328 first grade games. Since then, ‘ET’ as he is affectionately known, has forged a career on Foxtel and Channel 10 hosting his own fishing shows ‘Escape with ET’ and ‘Seafood Escape.’
‘ET’ has travelled all around Australia, trekking inland to its rivers and gorges and fishing the deep blue oceans off-shore to find the best fishing destinations. His adventures have also taken him to New Zealand, the Pacific Isles and countless islands and territories around our continent.
Andrew has just launched his new book ‘ET’s Ultimate Fishing Adventures’ which features a bunch of his favourite fishing destinations, and we caught up with the legend himself to ask a few questions about his love of kayak fishing.
Andrew’s love of fishing began when he was very young, visiting his grandparents at their tidal waterfront home in Empire Bay, on New South Wales’ Central Coast.
“My Grandfather was an avid fisherman and so by the age of 4, I was catching Bream, Flathead, Mullet and Garfish. As soon as I was big enough to row a boat I would spend every waking hour of my school holidays fishing by day and prawning at night. Besides my Grandfather my father, brother, uncle and three male cousins joined me on my childhood fishing adventures.”
“We would catch green yabbies, and cockles for bait and use fresh or live prawns to snare the biggest bream around the oyster leases. We would also target Blue Swimmer Crabs and Mud Crabs, which were great fun to catch.”
While Andrew played Rugby League growing up, fishing was always his favourite pastime. As he grew older, he spent every spare day fishing, and would head away on fishing holidays with mates each year to destinations like Weipa, PNG the NT and Great Barrier Reef.
“I started filming Escape Fishing with ET in my last (18th year) of playing Rugby League for the Cronulla Sharks. I have been filming these shows now for 18 years and we are currently filming Series 19 which is on air on Network 10 & Southern Cross at 4.30pm Saturday afternoons from February 2018,” he said.
E.T. is no stranger to yak fishing, and lists it as one of his favourite types of fishing.
“Chasing Snapper, Mulloway and Kingfish along the coastal inshore grounds out of a Kayak is always a blast. Lure fishing around the inshore reefs and hooking up to one of these powerful species is terrific fun on a kayak. It tests your fishing skills to the limit, as they don’t have too far to go to reach structure you have to work hard to get them to the kayak,” says E.T.
“My biggest fish from a Kayak was a 25kg Giant Trevally caught wide of Tweed Heads on the New South Wales /Queensland border. It took me on a 2-kilometre ride across the ocean before I finally brought it to the kayak,” he explains.
“After an intense battle I brought the fish to the net, a solid Barra well over the metre mark.”
“My best catch was stalking a big Barra at Proserpine dam just on first light in my Hobie Kayak. I spotted a big Barra working its way across a shallow weed bed towards a sandy hole. I timed my cast to land just as the fish slipped into the hole. One flick of the stick bait saw the big fish launch out and crunch the lure on the surface. It was a great visual strike and after an intense battle I brought the fish to the net, a solid fish well over the metre mark.
Kayak fishing can be a difficult task sometimes, and even the most experienced fishing enthusiast can have a rough day. Nature can be unkind, and when you’re in a kayak, it can be difficult to battle against what happens under the water. Andrew shared one of his most difficult kayak fishing experiences.
“On one kayaking adventure I took a Hobie Kayak out to High Peak Island wide of Shoal Bay in Queensland. I was looking to catch Giant Trevally on one of the rocky points where a shallow ridge of reef held loads of bait”, he says.
“I arrived right on the tide change, but as the current charged in it created a pressure wave against the reef that nearly sent me flying out of the kayak. I battled against the strong current and managed to hook up to a Spanish Mackerel on the stick bait. “
“I worked out quickly where the danger zones were, and the aim was to get long casts in towards the point while staying slightly wider and pedalling hard into the current to give me a better casting line. On one retrieve a solid GT had a swipe and on another the back of a big Trevally rose behind the lure but didn’t strike. As the current reached full steam, staying safe was on my mind so it was time to call it quits.”
‘ET’s Ultimate Fishing Adventures’ covers over 90 destinat6ions that he has fished, everywhere from New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and everywhere in between, and the book itself is as much a great insight to the areas themselves as much as the fishing itself.
One place Andrew has never been to, but is dying to get to Florida, where he said his ideal fishing trip would involve targeting the giant Tarpon. The largest Tarpon ever caught was roughly 243.84 cm long, and is one hell of a sporty fish to catch.
We all have our favourite places to fish, and when you’ve been as many places as Andrew Ettingshausen has been, there would be some standout destinations where anyone with a yak and a rod would love to call home. Andrew says that if he had to choose one place to fish for the rest of his life it would be Great Barrier Island.
“Some of my favourite Kayak Snapper and Kingfish sessions have been fishing around Great Barrier Island in New Zealand. I have never felt threatened by Sharks there so for someone who loves Kayak fishing in the salt like me this scenic wonderland is a place I could call home.”
New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island is a magnificent kayak fishing destination. Surrounded by small islands and bays there is great Snapper fishing to be had. Kingfish prowl the points and you can escape the wind and swell most days.