Tue. May 28th, 2024

Bryant has fished at 1,800 locations around Sydney Harbour. Now he’s sharing his tips with seniors

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May18,2024
Key Points
  • Originally from Hong Kong, Bryant Wong has been fishing around Sydney Harbour for 24 years.
  • He now guides senior members of the Chinese community to the best fishing spots.
  • Wong has documented 1,800 different fishing spots.
Bryant Wong, 41, migrated to Australia from Hong Kong 24 years ago and said he immediately began exploring areas in and around Sydney Harbour for fishing spots. To date, he said he had fished at around 1,800 locations.
The owner of a Hong Kong-style restaurant in the north-west Sydney suburb of Carlingford said he now leads tours of the spots for senior members of the Chinese community to, “share the experience and joy of fishing”.
Since he began the tours in 2017, he said he had introduced more than 100 people to various fishing spots as well as coaching them in successful catching techniques, sustainability and safety.

Wong, whose family were involved with island tourism back in Hong Kong, said his interest in fishing began at age six.

The happiness of not knowing what fish you’ll catch, that sense of surprise, is like opening a present, and it fascinated me.

Bryant Wong

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Wong mentioned that during the ‘explosive water’ period (the time between day and night, when it’s just getting dark), there would be especially large fish, ensuring a good catch. Credit: SBS

‘Explore every corner of the Harbour’

Wong said he had been drawn to Sydney Harbour from his very first visit to Australia in 1998.
In the years since, he’s stuck to a promise he made to himself to explore “every corner” of the harbour for good fishing spots and set off on trains and buses and later, on foot, by bike, climbing hills and wading in water.
“Back then (before the pandemic), I almost completed (the dream), visiting over 1,000 fishing spots,” he said.

During the pandemic in 2022, with more free time, Wong said he was determined to finish his plan to document the 1,800 locations he had discovered around the Harbour.

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Wong was passionate about fishing, to the extent that he even skipped school to fish all night in Manly. Credit: SBS

‘Here, only my footprints exist’

He said each fishing spot had its charm. He recalled one of the hidden fishing spots.

I discovered a new world, untouched by anyone else. I was the first to go there, and the level of excitement was indescribable.

Bryant Wong

Wong mentioned that reaching this fishing spot required a 1.5-hour walk and even climbing a 50-degree slope. He carried his bike and fishing gear, enduring hardships to get there.
“You can tell if someone has been here by looking at the traces in the soil,” he said.
“Here, only my footprints exist.”

After visiting each fishing spot, Wong said he would record his journey on a map on his phone, marking the spot with a heart emoji.

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Wong said fishing in Sydney was easy because there was abundant fish and multiple locations Credit: SBS

“I don’t usually share these secluded fishing spots; I want to preserve the dedication and uniqueness of being the only one to visit,” he said.

“If these places are discovered and become popular fishing spots, it could potentially disrupt the peaceful environment … You can’t guarantee that everyone will have a sense of public responsibility. I don’t want to pollute these places.”

‘Fishing is very hard to fail at unless you’re unlucky’

Wong said Australia’s environment and ecology ensured mostly good catches.
Fishing in Sydney was easy because there was abundant fish and multiple locations, he said.
Wong said that not all fish caught are allowed to be consumed. There are strict around which fish can be eaten and which must be released back into the water, so Wong advised fishers to familiarise themselves with these before setting out.
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One of Wong’s fishing companions shows off a record catch. Credit: Bryant Wong

Sharing the joy of fishing

In 2017, he said he decided to start sharing his know-how and local knowledge with senior members of the Chinese community.

Fishing with the elderly allows me to fulfill their wishes and contribute to society in my own way.

Bryant Wong

He said he had so far introduced more than 100 people to various fishing spots as well as coached them in techniques and safety.
Wong mentioned people found him through word of mouth, asking him to take senior members of their families to different piers and boat harbours to fish, hoping to spread the skills and joy of fishing to more people in the community.

He said he believed fishing was suitable for all ages, and it could also cultivate qualities such as perseverance, making it a good activity for seniors.

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Wong on a fishing trip with senior members of his community. Credit: Bryant Wong

“Fishing requires a lot of perseverance. You have to get up around 5.30am in the morning to set out, and you also need to prepare a lot of equipment,” he said.

“Sometimes, you even have to walk on rocky roads, which requires a certain level of physical fitness.”
He only takes one or two seniors fishing at a time and chooses relatively easy-to-reach fishing spots. So far, his oldest fishing companion was 94.

During the fishing process, he teaches fishing techniques and takes videos for post-fishing review and exchange. Afterwards, the participants can better grasp the techniques and gradually explore more hard-to-reach fishing spots.

Seeing the excitement of the elderly when they catch their first fish … the happiness in their eyes. When you see them happy, you’ll be happy, and you’ll be more than willing to continue (teaching them to fish).

Bryant Wong

Not only coaching them in techniques, Wong also shares the joy in the other ways.
“I would bring the fish back to my restaurant to steam it and offer it for free to the elderly,” he said.

“Sometimes, I give the fish to my employees to take home and share with their families.”

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Wong says he enjoys seeing the smiles on the faces of the senior members of his community during fishing trips. Credit: Bryant Wong

Safety comes first

Wong stressed that was the most important aspect of fishing and that adequate information gathering should be done beforehand.
He said he made sure that his senior companions were equipped with essential items such as headlamps, anti-slip spiked shoes, and life jackets, among others.
One of Wong’s regular fishing companions, Kong-Wing Tsang, 64, has been going fishing with Wong for almost three years and said their first fishing trip was a very happy memory for him.
“The first time I went fishing with him, when I was putting on a life jacket, he (Bryant) said my and immediately gave me (the correct) one,” he said.
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Tsang has been learning to fish with Bryant Wong for the past three years. Credit: SBS

‘Novices learning fishing need experienced guides’

Wong said over the years, those interested in his fishing course had got “younger and younger”. Nowadays, people aged in their 20s and 30s regularly joined in, he said.
He said fishing in Australia didn’t require the long waiting times typical of traditional fishing.

Instead, he said he easily taught new fishing methods to participants such as “rock fishing”, where, with proper preparation and bait placement, fish would continuously bite.

As times change, fish are actually becoming smarter. Fish evolve, and so must humans.

Bryant Wong

In addition to basic safety awareness, novices needed to learn about choosing the correct thickness of the fishing line, the size of the float, how to read tides, currents, weather, and wind direction, and even the habits of fish, “as every step was interconnected”, he said.
Wong mentioned that even a single hair falling into the water could be sensed by fish. Therefore, every step needed to be extremely delicate.

“Fish’s lateral lines can sense vibrations from 50-100 metres away. Subtle sounds and light can also have an impact,” he said.

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Wong emphasised the importance of having a mentor to guide beginners. Credit: SBS

‘Stubbornness has driven me through 24 years’

Wong said he was a problem-solver and stubborn when it came to fishing.
“So, I’ve been figuring things out on my own, and it took me 24 years to get to where I am now. I think it’s this stubbornness that has driven me through those 24 years,” he said.

“I believe it’s the passion that comes after perseverance. Because, like everyone else, I used to struggle to catch fish. How could I love it then? It’s only after mastering the skills and experiencing success that I started to enjoy it more and more, even to the point of becoming deeply immersed in it.”

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Wong visited the SBS Sydney studio to be interviewed. Credit: SBS

Now, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.

Bryant Wong

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Bryant has fished at 1,800 locations around Sydney Harbour. Now he’s sharing his tips with seniors”
  1. It’s inspiring to see Bryant Wong generously sharing his wealth of fishing knowledge with the senior members of the Chinese community. His passion for fishing and dedication to teaching others is truly commendable.

  2. Could you please provide more details on the specific fishing techniques Bryant Wong teaches to the senior members of the Chinese community?

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