Mick’s hooked on life

PASSION: Mick Wilkinson prefers the more gentlemanly sports - angling and eight ball - and is equally passionate about both. Photo: Morgan Hancock
PASSION: Mick Wilkinson prefers the more gentlemanly sports - angling and eight ball - and is equally passionate about both. Photo: Morgan Hancock

Mick, let's go back in time you mentioned in your sporting highlights about your love for fishing. What are your memories of your first time when you went fishing?

I was nine years old which is just over 70 years ago, and it was off the Hopkins bridge.

I never had a flash fishing line as my parents never had much money. I had an old rod and a wooden floater.

A bloke who was fishing there gave me six worms. I ended up catching a bream. It measured two pounds in the old weight.

We were living in Raglan Parade at the time. I rushed home on my bike to show mum and dad. I was hooked on fishing after catching that bream.

I'll never forget my parents always told me I had to be home from fishing before dark.

One evening I was having a bit of luck catching a few fish. I would have been about 12 years old.

The next minute I looked up and it was dark.

I rode the bike home and our house was in total darkness.

I knocked on the front door and there was no answer.

I went out to the back shed and opened the door.

The next minute a person jumped out at me with a white sheet on the them.

It was dad.

He scared the living death out of me.

I made sure I was always home from fishing before dark after that night.

Have you been involved in any fishing clubs?

I've been a member of three angling clubs - Warrnambool, Allansford and Curdie Vale. I'm still a member at Curdie Vale. 

Over the years I've competed in lots of fishing tournaments from Nelson to Boggy Creek to Yambuk to the Fitzroy River. I still go to various tournaments today.

The sad thing is a lot of my old fishing mates are now dead.

What's the biggest fish that you've caught?

I caught a bream which was four pounds five ounces in the old measurements in the Hopkins and another day in 1992, I caught a perch which was the same weight in the Hopkins.

I've caught lots of good-sized fish over the years but the biggest would have to be an 11-pound mulloway in the Hopkins and one bigger - it weighted in at 15 pounds three ounces.

It was another mulloway and I caught it at Nelson.

I've got a little boat which I call Zoot Zoot. I've had it since 1989 and I often go out fishing - it might be twice a week when the weather suits.

Mick, you said you left school at the end of form three. Where did you go to work?

I had various jobs but the main one was with Ernie Harris. He was a builder in Warrnambool.

I was a plasterer and did a lot of concreting.

I've got arthritis in both my knees from my days working. I've had my left knee operated on but it still gives me a bit of bother.

I've learned that you’ve just got to take up with the pain as there are lots of people in worse shape then me. I’ll be 81 years old in November so I'm still going pretty good for my age.

I was lucky that I had a wake up call regarding me health in 1989.

What do you mean you had a wake up call in 1989?

I had been smoking and drinking a lot from a young age.

Yeah it was in 1989. I was crook after a few solid sessions on the grog so I decided to have a break from it.

The next week I gave away the smokes because I was still not the best.

Plasterers would often have a cigarette in their mouth when I was working in the trade. I was smoking more than 20 a day. I just quit.

It's the best decision I've made to give away the grog and the smoke. I reckon if I never gave them away I would not be here today.

My mum only got to 45 before she died and dad got to 59 so I'm going all right in getting to 80.

Have you played any other sports?

I played a bit of school footy and cricket at CBC  but I was not much good.

It would have been in the late 1960s that I played carpet bowls for the Warrnambool Angling Club in competitions against Koroit, Warrnambool Bowls Club, City Memorial Bowls Club and Brierly every Thursday night.

I then got involved with playing eight ball in the Warrnambool Eight Ball Association.

I started playing down at the old Commercial Hotel in Warrnambool where the Whalers Hotel is now – so you know that's a long time ago. I'm a life member of the association.

We play every Tuesday night. There's ten sides in division one and ten in division two. I play for Maceys Massive in division one.

We've never won a division one premiership, but won a few in division two.

I've been fortunate to have won numerous individual awards over the years.

Eight ball is a great game – your always learning.

The association, which is made up of local hotels and clubs, is always looking for new players.

I've met some really lovely people through playing eight ball – one of those was Jerry West. Jerry, who was in our side playing for Maceys passed away a couple of weeks ago with cancer.

I had visited him in hospital a couple of days before he died in my role with St Joseph's Church.

I've been visiting sick and elderly people at South West Healthcare Warrnambool and Mercy Place for more than five years.

I've found visiting the people is very rewarding.