05 October 2012

The Compleat Angler - ACT Style

It’s amazing to think that in the 1960s it was possible for a keen Canberra angler to fish for trout in the deep pools just below the spillway of the Cotter Dam, with water thundering down the face of the dam barely a few steps away.

The 1960s and 1970s were the glory days for fishing devotee, Edward (Ted) Gooch, and he frequented any local spot where trout and other freshwater fish could be found. Ted often fished below the Cotter Dam and at many other locations in the Canberra region.

newscuttings about local fishing conditions from Ted Gooch's collection

On weekends during the designated fishing season and during summer holidays Ted could often be found fishing along some remote river or stream in the ACT or in nearby NSW locations. A fishing trip would also involve close observation of native wildlife and vegetation. Sometimes family accompanied him on his outings, but often fishing was a solitary pastime for Ted. 

A typical Sunday excursion might involve packing a simple picnic lunch (perhaps cheese sandwiches, some fruit, and a plastic bottle of cordial or water), loading up the family station wagon, and heading off on bone-jarring dirt roads to a prized fishing spot. Often the spot was on private land, past numerous farm gates, with access politely arranged beforehand via exchange of letters in the post. Ted Gooch took his passion for angling seriously.

Ted Gooch's hand-drawn illustratons and descriptions of fishing flies

The ACT Heritage Library has recently acquired a small but fine collection of fishing records and ephemera compiled by Ted Gooch over a period of approximately 20 years. Ted started fishing in the ACT in 1964 and his collection provides a rare glimpse of an angler’s life at that time.

Ted’s collection includes: his records of fish caught from 1964 onwards; fine pencil sketches of insects, birds, knots and fishing flies; fishing-related newspaper clippings; letters, brochures and other ephemera.

A description of the collection can be found on the Libraries ACT website.

Ted Gooch's daughters Pam Garfoot (left) and Elizabeth Conway (right) show his collection to ACT Heritage Library staff