Casting off

HIS syndicated newspaper columns, magazine spreads and regular television hosting gigs have turned him into a household name among Australia’s fishing community.

But it was right here in these pages that Rob Paxevanos got his start in the media game with a weekly column that first appeared in The Queanbeyan Age 15 years ago.

Then a civil engineer working in Queanbeyan, Paxevanos was driven to turn his hand to writing in a bid to address a dearth of fishing coverage in the local media.

But while fishing had always been in the now 44-year-old’s blood, journalism was another story altogether.  

“The average person who finished high school was probably a better writer than I was,” Paxevanos admits. “The writing came hard for me.

“English was a second language for my dad and I only just passed [English] at school…so when I started writing for The Age it would take me two to three days to write and proof read a single column.

“Now that same job takes a couple of hours. But I always had that Aussie attitude to give something a go and it was my passion for fishing that got me through it.

“I think if there’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll always find a way to talk about it, or film it or write about it.”

And write about it he did. Over 1500 of Paxevanos’ articles on every aspect of fishing imaginable have since hit the pages of Fairfax newspapers around NSW.

A lifelong fisherman, Paxevanos was introduced to the sport at the age of three. His first fish? A Redfin caught with his grandfather in Victoria.

Since then, he’s gone on to turn his passion into a full-time career as a fishing instructor, newspaper columnist, author and long-time television presenter on Fishing Australia.

He’s also the face of numerous instructional fishing DVDs and earlier this year released his first book, Australian Fishing Basics, based on his four decades of personal experience.

Today, Paxevanos is one of any number of columnists and TV presenters catering to an ever-growing market of serious sports fishermen as well as weekend fishos.

But such was not always the case as he recalls the battle fought to force fishing into the mainstream when it came to media coverage.

“I used to have to get up at 6am to watch Rex Hunt on TV,” Paxevanos recalls. “That was really the first Aussie fishing program.

 “Now there’s a dozen or so shows out there which is testament to the popularity of fishing. I was lucky [Fishing Australia] was one of the early shows to get established so I do feel like I was a big part of that [surge in interest].”

While his love of fishing, and extensive media commitments, have taken him to some of Australia’s most exotic locations, it’s the rivers and lakes of southern NSW that have formed the core of his experience.

And he said Queanbeyan – within a couple of hours of the trout of the Snowy Mountains, the beaches of the South Coast and everything in between – was the perfect base of operations to take in just about every type of fishing.

“In terms of proximity to Queanbeyan, the jewel in the crown is probably Googong,” he said. “It’s not necessarily that easy to catch fish there but it’s a beautiful environment.

“The Queanbeyan River itself has reasonable fishing and the Murray Cod and Golden Perch are making a comeback as the carp slowly get weeded out.

“But you’ve got lots of little nooks and crannies like Captains Flat Dam around; little places in and around Queanbeyan that you can visit. There are definitely some surprising places for fishing in this region.” 

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