IT was a great night for the WA tackle trade at the annual Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) Gala Dinner and Awards Night at the Gold Coast last month.
A large contingent of WA fishing industry representatives made the trip to the annual AFTA show. Some were there to showcase their wares to the rest of the country, while others were there to see what’s new in recreational fishing.
The awards evening proved to be a great one for a handful of WA-based businesses.
The popular husband-and-wife pairing of Phil and Alison Gee were there to receive to awards that recognised their efforts in the Compleat Angler and Camping World Rockingham. They were thrilled to be voted best medium-size tackle store in Australia for the second time in three years. Even better, they then picked up best tackle store overall, a great achievement.
Both awards were voted on by the general public.
Australind’s Whitey’s Tackle also won best small tackle store.
Mount Pleasant-based lure supplier Richter Lures, run by Mark Richter, also took out best game fishing lure.
To cap a big night for WA, Halco Tackle legend Neil Patrick was inducted into the AFTA Hall of Fame.
The energetic 77-year-old became just the fifth person to be inducted into the AFTA Hall of Fame, following names like Rex Hunt, Bruce Alvey and John Dunphy, who are all greats of the sport in Australia.
A former shipping industry business owner, Neil was always a keen recreational fisher, but his interest really went to another level when he bought Fremantle-based Halco Tackle from its founder, Hal Cooper, in 1980. Since then, Halco has emerged from its humble origins to become a major player in international lure making, boasting some of the most well-known fishing lures around the globe.
A passionate game fisherman who loves to chase big billfish, Neil has also been a passionate advocate for recreational fishing over many years.
He’s been an extremely active member of the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA), Perth Game Fishing Club (Life Member), West Australian Game Fishing Association and Game Fishing Association of Australia, and still has a strong involvement with Keep Australia Fishing, as its founding chairman.
Indeed, Neil will be inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame later this year.
He was shocked to receive the award and was caught totally unawares when he was called to the stage while he sipped a wine at his table.
On stage, Neil spoke of his delight in seeing AFTA grow into an organisation with considerable clout that it can use to not only protect the interests of its members, but of the recreational fishing community as a whole.