Our history

ANSA originated as result of fishing developments following the war, an increasing number of anglers started using modern tackle mainly baitcasting rods and reels imported from the U.S., for bass, barramundi and for surfcasting. Developments are reflected clearly in magazines of the period. (Outdoors was first published in 1948, Anglers Digest in 1950).

There was an increasing recognition that the sporting value of many Australian species was not reflected in existing organisations.

From 1960 forward, a number of people had thought of the idea of a new sportfishing organisation. I do not know who was "first" to think of it but I do know that it was discussed for quite a few years by Sydney anglers and people such as myself - a country boy. I can put a finger on one such discussion, held on the roadside just south of Kiama, between myself, Jack Erskine and Ed Pratt. That was January 1964 during my first round Australia trip. I had started my exploration of Australian fishing on July 1 1963. The next couple of years, after repeated visits , I had realised that North Queensland offered the most potential for a fishing future. Others such as George Bransford had decided the same way.

I built my home in Cardwell in 1966, with the bricklaying being done by my friend Ed Pratt, who had moved north to Cairns about the same time. The ANSA concept was understood by a number of Cairns anglers, and I believe its success came because it reflected what was happening to Australian fishing. It could not have succeeded otherwise.

In February 1967 we formed the "Australian National Sportfishing Association" at a meeting in the old hall at Yorkey's Knob, just north of Cairns.

Within a few months a constitution had been drawn up and an account opened in the Cairns branch of the Bank of NSW in the name of the "Australian National Sportfishing Association" It is worth a mention that the late Wal Hardy was patron of that initial organisation.

Dick Lewers recorded that the NSW group "got the message" of the Cairns movement and responded by forming what was then the NSW division of ANSA on Saturday August 12 1967.

Three months later, in November 1967, Jack Erskine and Clyde Kelton with three NSW sportfishermen from Wollongong, John Kettle, Peter Fuller, and Bill Ferguson visited North Queensland in a light plane. Discussions took place with the Cairns group and the accepted name of ANSA was endorsed by both groups. However, it had already become clear that the NSW fraternity would not accept the Cairns constitution. Then, as now, State Divisions (branches) were more representative of regional interests. Accordingly, the Cairns ANSA group met on February 7 1968 and became instead the Cairns Sportfishing Club.

At this time there was no Queensland Division as such, however Dick Lewers and the National Organisation have always recognised that the Cairns Sportfishing Club has the unique distinction of being the first ANSA club.

The first NSW ANSA club was the St.George Sportfishing club, which had its first general meeting on November 13 1968. On December 13 1969 the first official body was formed as the "Australian National Sportfishing Association". The original A.N.S.A. badge design was selected from a competition published in "AUSTRALIAN SPORTFISHING", Summer edition 1969. The winning design was submitted by John Renolds, Liverpool, NSW.

It was agreed to form the first record chart from the then existing Queensland and N.S.W. record charts. ANSA's first official Queensland division was formed on August 5 1970 with only three clubs - Cairns, Maryborough, and Cardwell, with a State total of 150 members.

So far as ANSA goes, the story since has been one of steady growth. We now have more than 200 clubs Nation wide. We are represented on every State fishing council, at Federal level, and on IGFA. Looking back we can see that the hassles over constitutions and rules, even point scores, were part of the process of developing sportfishing on a truly representative and wholly Australian basis.

One of the nicest thoughts is that many of those people who contributed to the forming of the association are still with us today.

Vic McCristal

The above talk was given by Vic at a Queensland State wide meeting held in in Cairns, (1988).