After 56 years, the Port Lincoln Anglers Club recently made the tough decision to fold.
The club was for a long time a fixture of the Port Lincoln fishing community, but found it difficult to get going once more after Covid.
President Heather Hampel said the club was deeply saddened it had come to the point where it had to close.
As other clubs across the community are struggling with numbers, Ms Hampel said the decision to fold was “a sign of the times”.
“I think Covid has done a lot of damage to clubs. We had to close, and then when you could first reopen, people were reluctant to go back into those settings,” she said.
“Once people get out of something, it’s sort of hard to get back into it.
“A lot of the club members were getting older with not many young ones coming up to take over so the membership numbers kept shrinking.”
The club was formed in 1967 when the first meeting was held on Monday, February 20, 1967 and commenced at 8pm.
The meeting was held at 43 Liverpool Street – the home of Mr Ted Lovegrove – where the Coles car park now sits.
Another meeting was held on Friday, April 7 at Mr Lovegrove’s home to form the club, by electing officials and adopting a constitution.
Its first outing was held on Sunday, April 30, 1967 – a family day at Sleaford where members fished from The Point to Millers Rock.
Foundation member – and life member – Leon Paterson said his biggest memory was the people he fished with over the years.
“It was a pleasure going fishing with all of the people you met during the time you were fishing,” he said.
Mr Paterson said when the club first started it had a strong membership base and was a popular recreational and social activity.
“It was something that was recreational and everyone got together not only for the fishing but the social outings, barbecues, and gatherings.”
Ms Hampel said Port Lincoln Anglers Club was a very special place, “it was like a big family”.
“We used to meet and fish, but then we would always have a barbecue afterwards, and we always had social nights throughout the year as well,” she said.
“We would have a Christmas party, and a presentation night.”
The club was based on the Port Lincoln foreshore until 2001, when the clubrooms were demolished as part of an upgrade of the foreshore.
It moved into its Kemp Avenue clubrooms in 2002, where it was based for the last 21 years.
The club was associated with the Australian Anglers Association (AAA) and the South Australian Piscatorial Council.
Port Lincoln hosted the Australian Anglers Association Championships on four occasions – 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2023.
In each of those years, Port Lincoln anglers did very well.
The AAA competitions gave members the opportunity to fish in other regions across the state, competing against members from other clubs and making friends along the way.
“We got to know people in other clubs around the state, and we’ve got some really good friends we have made over the years since we had been doing that,” Ms Hampel said.
She said being a part of the state association meant members from the club could also fish in the national conventions as part of the South Australian state team.
“We would go and fish interstate, and have met people from all over the country fishing in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania as part of the state team.”
From 2012 the club was also involved in the national Pirtek Challenge competition which raises money for prostate cancer.
“We all got involved with that, we would go out for breakfast and then go out fishing for the national competition,” Ms Hampel said.
“Port Lincoln did fairly well out of that. We won the South Australian section three years in a row.”
The club also held sinker making days and burley marking days – a fun activity with skills that could be learnt – and club members also volunteered to help students from Port Lincoln High School learn to fish.
Port Lincoln Anglers Club life members:
1981 – Geoff Merchant*
1992 – Leon Paterson
1992 – Pat Prow*
1993 – Bill Klaebe
1993 – Keith Parker*
1999 – Tom Tierney
2010 – Julie Cook
2011 – Heather Hampel
2016 – Annette Brasington
2019 – John Peters
2019 – Donna Peters
2022 – Wayne Bockman
* denotes deceased
Many of these life members held a number of roles on the committee, including Julie Cook, who was named as the club’s first female president in 1997.