Are Drones Taking The Fun And Skill Out Of Fishing?

One invention that anglers are starting to embrace is the Remote Piloted Aerial System (RPAS), better known as ‘drones’. John Bowie from Western Australia’s South West has been using drones for the last year or two to look for schools of fish or to discover the perfect lump of reef where fish might be hiding away.

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“We use them for two purposes — not including fun of course — we will send them along the beach 50 metres out and if you have got a bright sunny day you can look directly down and see some really incredible reef structure. “The obvious one, if you are chasing schools of tuna or salmon it is very easy to spot them from the air and it puts you straight on to the target,” he said.

Mr Bowie said using the technology had greatly improved his chances of catching a fish. “If you have got a patch of fish 200 metres south and you are fishing 200 metres north of that you are not going to get any fish, but if you know exactly where they are you are straight there.”

However, some fishing purists have lamented that the technology ruins the skill and enjoyment of fishing. “You still have to be good enough to catch the fish,” Mr Bowie said. “The old saying is that 10 per cent of the people catch 90 per cent of the fish and I do not think that has changed.”

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Scott Coghlan editor of Western Angler said while drones could help see if there are fish in the area, you still had to convince them to bite. “Spotting a fish on a drone is not going to catch you a fish. You have to know what to do then, but it can certainly help at times,” Mr Coghlan said.

“In a lot of ways it is no different to being able to find a better viewing point, like often when you are salmon fishing you will try and get up on a sand dune, a rise or a rock and have a look just so you can get a bit higher up to see the schools.” But despite the advantages that a drone can offer a fisherman, Mr Coghlan said he was not planning on using one any time soon.

“I am a bit old fashioned, I like to go sans technology and leave a bit to chance.” “I like to keep it fairly simple, but I also understand there are a lot of people who spend a lot on their boat, upwards of $100,000, so they want to get some decent electronics that are going to help them catch more fish.”

Safety Rules In Place

CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said recreational fishers were able to fly drones without an unmanned aircraft operators certificate, provided they are not paid for the work. “The safety rules are pretty simple,” Mr Gibson said. He said users must keep their drone more than 30 metres away from other people and from boats.

In controlled air space a drone must not be flown over 400 feet. “If you are not in controlled air space it is good practice to keep your drone under 400 feet in case there is any aircraft in the area. “It is a requirement not to create a hazard to an aircraft, so if you are flying your drone to look for the fish and you see an aircraft flying nearby, flying low for some reason, bring your drone down.

“And keep the drone in your line of sight at all times, which means you should not navigate using the pictures you are getting from the camera.”

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