Fishing guide Mark Saxon has a been a fisherman all his life and has developed his passion into a fulltime business – Castaway Estuary Fishing Charters.
Mark grew up in Ulladulla and started working as a commercial fisherman in 1981 at the age of 16.
After 20 years, Mark and his family relocated inland to Howlong on the banks of the Murray River. “After holidaying in Port Macquarie one year, we decided to stay and made the move in 2004.”
Mark completed his training through the Australian Maritime and Fishing Association, obtaining a Master Class 4 and 5 Fishing Vessel licence, as well as a Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 qualification.
“In a job like mine you need the ability to talk to people from all walks of life, to be able to teach and make people smile. Being able to help people catch fish is important too!”
The best part of Mark’s day is seeing families enjoying catching a few fish, laughing together and picking up new skills. “Landing the first fish of the day is always a relief!” Mark said.
Mark’s role includes teaching people how to find fish, as well as fishing techniques including both Fly and Lure. He teaches people the importance of safe boating and looking after the marine environment.
When Mark and his fishing clients see plastic in the water, they always stop to pick it up, and if they hook a tree or the bankside, they retrieve the line to keep the environment safe for marine life.
“It’s important to clean up after yourself and never discard any line in the water, as it is definitely a threat to our sea life, fish, turtles and birds. Sadly, I’ve seen a few local pelicans tangled in fishing line,” Mark said.
“Litter from anywhere can end up in our waterways, and I think floods can wash a lot from the shorelines. Recently I’ve seen community members cleaning up ramps, break walls and rock ledges, so it’s good to see that people are beginning to understand the damage that discarded plastic and line causes.”
Mark also practices sustainable fishing methods and is part of the tagging program for our region’s Mulloway.
His clients take some fish home to enjoy, but release what they don’t need. “We don’t keep big female Flathead, as they are breeders. We get a quick pic, and then put them back in the water.”
Mark writes for NSW Fishing Monthly and Fishing World magazines and builds custom fishing rods on request. He and his wife have a business making and selling a fish attractant product called “Sax Scent”.
For a commercial or recreational fisherman, the weather is the biggest challenge. It can be very uncomfortable to sit in heavy rain and new fishos find it tough to fish in the wind.
“Nature is the boss out there. My job is to keep the clients motivated, no matter what, because the catch of the day might be just one bite away!”
4:30am An early start to check the boat, load the fishing gear, food and drinks and review the weather for our fishing session.
5:50am Pick up my clients from their homes or accommodation.
6:00am Introductions and safety talk; launch the boat and get ready for our trip on the water.
6:30am The standard trip is five hours. I teach and guide the anglers and take plenty of pictures.
11:30am Head back to the ramp, put boat on trailer, clean the fish and drop clients back home.
1:00pm In the holiday period I have another five hour afternoon trip, so I grab a quick bite to eat and repair any gear, then repeat the process.
6:30pm After dropping off my clients, I refuel for tomorrow’s trip, head home to wash the boat, clean the gear and prepare for the next day.
7:30pm Answer phone messages and emails. Update my social media pages for Castaway and Sax Scent.
8:00pm Relax, have dinner and talk fishing with my wife!