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Long-time fisherman shares tales of the high sea

Posted: 12am 13 Jun 2019

John Savige thinks he's got the best office in the world, especially when the weather's good.

He’s been a trawler fisherman for 45 years, enjoying some spectacular sunrises and big catches in that time, but also weathering some dangerous storms.

“We’ve been caught up in some serious storms, with 60 knot winds. That’s pretty scary, but they don’t last long,” John says.

He remembers the big waves breaking over the boat, and the occasional sunken vessel, but laughs and he says he was younger then. When the prawns and fish are there — the crew just has to head out

The Bribie-Island based fisherman says, for him, it began with his father who realised it was his calling after a chance meeting.

“My father was working as a logger at Scarborough, back in the day, and met a guy with a net boat who invited him to go fishing and he loved it,” John explains

Three generations of the Savige family have now worked in the industry with John and his three sons following suit.

“I’ve been fishing for a long time … it was a good lifestyle in the day. Just the feeling of being your own boss. It’s getting tougher with government changes, the paperwork is tough,” he says.

The hours are long, they usually head out around 6 pm and return at 7 am, but if the prawns are still there, they will be working later into the day, sometimes straight for 24 hours.

“If you’re doing what you love, it’s nothing,” John says.

His vessel, named KCD after the original owner’s daughters, is used to catch mostly prawns until the beginning of May each year, when the focus turns to tailor and sea mullet.

John says fishing days are more physically demanding than trawling days, as six people race to bring in 20 tonne of mullet as fast as they can so they manage to catch the fish coming in behind them.

He supplies the family seafood business, mullet to Supafin in Brisbane, but also tries to support local outlets as much as possible, providing seafood and bait.

John has seen many changes in his time, including tighter regulations and warmer sea temperatures which have brought king salmon into the bay and more barramundi to the Caboolture River.

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