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Sir Garrick Agnew


By Neil Patrick for his induction into the Cairns Game Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010
Garrick was an Olympic swimmer and a very successful business man and he approached his fishing in the same manner. He took up game fishing in the mid sixties and soon became successful and rose to the president of WA’s oldest game fishing club the PGFC.

He soon realised that his objective was Marlin even though none had been caught in WA waters on IGFA regulation tackle. He had however heard of encounters by commercial fishers and set out to start a recreational fishery for billfish on the West Coast.

He was the first person to catch a blue, black and striped marlin and was the second to catch a sailfish on IGFA regulation tackle in WA waters. Today there is a recreational marlin fishery from Fremantle in the South to the Rowley shoals in the North. Having successfully accomplished this he realised he had to get amongst the giant black marlin of Cairns.

He set about planning this trip. By this time he had had built the beautiful Raymond Hunt designed boat Pannawonica named after a very successful Iron Ore deposit found by him which is still being exported from Cape Lambert by Rio-Tinto. This trip from Fremantle to Cairns is not a walk in the park especially in the days before GPS and the much more modern electronics available today. It is 3150 n miles each way and a couple of hundred miles off half way round Australia.

He did this trip every year from 1972 to 1985 inclusive a total of 14 voyages. It is estimated he did over 350,000 nautical miles in Pannawonica.

His first trip he stopped at Lizard Island (well before it had a resort) and caught about a 900 lb fish. Peter Bristow was at Lizard at the time and he came onboard and gave him some very helpful advice. This resulted in getting rid of the fishing stool in the corner of the cockpit and getting a custom built game fishing chair and better outriggers when he reached Cairns.

Garrick drove his boat and Garrick planned the fishing. When they got a hook-up he would leave the helm and very quickly take the rod. His Mate, David Rosenbrock would take over the controls for the fight. He strongly believed that marlin fishing is very much a team effort and every member of that team had to perform very well and specialise in his job.

The time he fished the reef area was an incredible time. There were not as many small fish and a 500 lb marlin was described as a rat. There were no mobile or satellite phones, all contact between boats was basically on HF radio. All phone calls were via Townsville radio and all could hear both sides of the conversation on most frequencies. There were some very interesting or funny ones. The MARLIN DARLIN had her regular broadcast and all ears were tuned in to hear what scandal she had to broadcast.

I recall Brazzaka driving Sea Venture coming up alongside Pannawonica and blasting both Garrick’s baits with a 12 gauge shot gun and making a wry comment something along the lines of “Hi money bags those baits are not swimming too well”. Another time when Pannawonica was alongside the old wooden jetty when the Green Island ferry was offloading its passengers, crew member Graham Watkins wanted to have a leak over the side. When Garrick suggested he should think about thepublic on the jetty and use a bucket Graham immediately put a bucket over his head and continued with his business.

Garrick caught 428 marlin and weighed 22 marlin over 1000 lbs when fishing this area. Garrick has previously been inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame. His success in Cairns and Western Australia was keenly followed in WA which resulted in many of Western Australians booking trips to fish the REEF.

  • The angler who tags and releases the most billfish in Australian waters annually is awarded the Sir Garrick Agnew Trophy by the GFAA.
  • Cairns Game Fishing Hall of Fame Inductee 2010.
  • IGFA Hall of Fame inductee 2003.

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