Rockhampton local Nathan Johnston has taken a new business venture and launched a fishing business, Rise Environmental and Guiding Services.
Rockhampton local Nathan Johnston has taken a new business venture and launched a fishing business, Rise Environmental and Guiding Services. Allan Reinikka ROK180419afishing

NEW BUSINESS: From writing report cards to fishing

NATHAN Johnston has swapped a suits for a fishing shirts but his new role is not a complete 360 from his previous occupation.

Nathan launched his own fishing business this month, Rise Environmental and Guiding Services.

He had working in aquatic resource management and sciences as the Executive Officer at the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health before leaving the company in February.

The Rockhampton local had been in that particular industry for 20 years and decided it was time he reeled in his other passion.

"I have always loved fishing, being local I have always fished in the river and local surrounds every weekend,” Nathan said.

"I have grown to understand the system and know it well enough to start the charters.

Dr Eva Abal of the independent science panel and Fitzroy Partnership executive officer Nathan Johnston.
Dr Eva Abal of the independent science panel and Fitzroy Partnership executive officer Nathan Johnston. Geordi Offord

"I thought now is a good as time as any.

"I think we all need to challenge ourselves and take yourself out of the comfort zone.

"There is nothing wrong with failure but if you are not willing to try and give it a go you will never succeed.”

He was also enticed by Rockhampton Regional Council's work through Advance Rockhampton as they have promoted the region and quality of fishing.

The net free zones have also created the channel for new fishing businesses.

"The fish are a lot more reliable in terms of clients being able to catch them.... it provides some longer term certainty and more abundant fish,” Nathan said.

"You can't go out there and be guaranteed to catch one, particularly if you are not in the know, but a lot more people are catching fish more regularly.

Rockhampton local Nathan Johnston has taken a new business venture and launched a fishing business, RISE Environmental and Guiding Services.
Rockhampton local Nathan Johnston has taken a new business venture and launched a fishing business, RISE Environmental and Guiding Services. Allan Reinikka ROK180419afishing

The fish in the Fitzroy are more of your larger "trophy” scale fish.

You are more likely to catch a big fish than you are lots of fish.

This week for example Nathan had a client reel in a 85cm king threadfin and last weekend, a 1.32m barramundi.

Nathan has also partnered his business with John Haenke of Guided Fishing Downunder who moved to the Beef and self-proclaimed Barra capital in May last year.

The partnership has helped a lot as John is a veteran in the industry and he was doing guided fishing in Hervey Bay before he moved.

"Doing that has taken a bit of the risk out of it and having Johns mentorship has been useful as well,” Nathan said.

"It's been a real benefit to work together.”

With a background in non-for-profit organisation, Nathan has followed this through to his new business.

Fitzroy Partnership for River Health Executive Officer, Nathan Johnston at the annoucement of the 2016 health report.    Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Fitzroy Partnership for River Health Executive Officer, Nathan Johnston at the annoucement of the 2016 health report. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK240616criver3

He has established the Arowana initiative, which is focused on gaining a better understanding of the ancient freshwater bony fish of the family Osteoglossidae, also known as bonytongues, in order to maintain healthy wild populations of all Arowana and their associated habitat to ensure the long term survival of these ancient fish

Australia has two species of these fish - the northern and southern saratoga. The Fitzroy Basin holds the only native wild population of southern saratoga (Scleropages Leichartdi) found on the planet. The southern saratoga and the aquatic ecosystems they depend upon will be the focus of the first phase of the Arowana Initiative, Nathan explained.

Nathan has pledged to donate 10 per cent of his fishing and environmental advisory work towards the cause.

He also offers outback tours chasing the Saratoga, which compliments against the estuary tours.

"Someone can come catch a king threadfin and barramundi and then go out and catch a saratoga,” he said.

Executive Officer Fitzroy Partnership for River Health,  Nathan Johnston, with a salinity meter available at the FBA for members of the public to come in and  test the salinity of water.   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Executive Officer Fitzroy Partnership for River Health, Nathan Johnston, with a salinity meter available at the FBA for members of the public to come in and test the salinity of water. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK311013cwater2

He also will continue to do environmental advisory work through water way monitoring advice, report cards and fishway water quality monitoring.

This will help to be reliable work when the weather isn't good for charters.

"Keeps that skillset sharp and something I can do when the charters don't come through,” Nathan said.

Rise Environmental and Guiding Services aren't the only new business.

The Fitzroy River has become quite the coup recently as a number of new fishing businesses have started up.

At least six new fishing charter and cruise businesses have launched in the last few years.

Over at the islands Keppel Explorer is a new an island hopping explorer boat tour business that began this month. The Morning Bulletin will run a feature on this business in the next few weeks.

Back at the Fitzroy River is Craig Roberston with his Reel Fishing and River Cruises CQ in August.

The new businesses joined Yeppoon-based Double Threat Charters (2017), Hooked Fishing charters who opened in 2016 and were looking to get a second boat this year and Big Fella Sport Fishing, launched 2016.

Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll said the influx of the new water-based businesses was very encouraging for the local and regional tourism industry, providing an opportunity for visitors to experience not just fishing, but cruising and sightseeing.

"Each of these businesses have focused on their own style and very different vessels which provides a complementary range of experiences from casting a line to learning about the natural environment,” Ms Carroll said.

RISE ENVIRONMENTAL AND GUIDING SERVICE

  • Environmental advisory services with specialist guided fishing experiences
  • Tours include: Fitzroy Outback Southern Saratoga Charters day and overnight, Fitzroy Delta King Thready/Barra Charters and Fitzroy Grand Slam - Toga | King | Barra
  • Phone Nathan on 0400 221 1055
  • www.riseguidance.com