What a whopper! Norwich fisherman lands in Australian record books
- Credit: Supplied
From landing perch from the River Wensum to becoming a fishing phenomenon Down Under – former Norwich man Julian De Marco has a remarkable story to tell.
Being bumped by feisty bronze whaler sharks, having encounters with humpback whales and being stalked by a large tiger shark are among the experiences he has encountered when scouring the water for prize catches.
Mr De Marco – now a record-breaker in Australia – embarked on his journey there in 2013 having already mastered the art of angling through Central and South America, fishing the murky depths of the Amazon River.
His love for the water began in home comforts, regularly visiting coastal shore fishing hotspots Weybourne and Cley.
Mr De Marco, who used to live in College Road and attended Norwich School, said: 'I used to fish as a kid for little perch and stuff in the rivers when I was a kid and I used to fish for tuna out of my uncle's boat in Italy in the summer so those probably got me into it.'
Since arriving in Australia, Mr De Marco's fishing techniques have taken him off the shore and onto the water in the form of kayak fishing.
'A large part of the reason I went to Oz was for the fishing. I'd never fished out of a kayak before Australia,' he said. 'Where I fish, this is between a mile to four miles offshore. I'm fishing for big fish out of a small bit of plastic so you can feel quite exposed sometimes.
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'I've had big sharks nudge and follow me, whales jump right next to me and 30mph winds suddenly appear out of nowhere so you can get humbled quite quickly out there.'
Since the 27-year-old started kayak fishing, he has achieved unprecedented success in the water, catching fish weighing as much as 250lbs and encountering life-changing experiences with the Southern Ocean's sealife.
'My most memorable fishing experience has to be when I heard my rod go off behind me and as I looked, my other rod went off and I saw not one but two sailfish jumping behind me and I realized that I was connected to them both.
'I've also had some great experiences with whales. Humpback whales have often approached me. They presumably think I'm a bit crazy so they come to see what I'm up to.
'I've had a minke whale follow me around like a 7m dog. It kept appearing in front of me and watching me as I went past. Making eye contact with a whale only a few feet away is always an incredible experience you never forget.'
Mr De Marco currently lives on Ningaloo Reef with his girlfriend Amy, also from Norwich, where he teaches kayak fishing techniques to newcomers.
'If you want to catch big fish you have to realise that there is a lot of water between them and so you have to be dedicated and put in a lot of hours in the right place at the right time.'
Into the record books
Since starting offshore kayak fishing at the beginning 2015, Mr De Marco has managed to pull in some prize catches that has been placed in Australia's record books.
In August last year, he managed to capture a sailfish weighing between approximately 30 kilos (66lbs), becoming the first ever person to capture a sailfish from a kayak in the process.
'After finishing my daily duties, I decided to make the most of the good fishing conditions, and went out in search of a catch.'
Shortly before moving to Ningaloo, Mr De Marco had fought and lost an 80kg Black Marlin and was eager to try and find another significant catch.
'I was hooked up to two Sailfish and although one of them wrestled themselves free of the hook, I successfully managed to keep the other line tight and couldn't believe my luck when I picked up the rod which and saw the sailfish still connected.'
'After a few tense moments with the huge fish next to the kayak, I managed to grab its bill and slid it onto my lap for a few quick photos before swimming it next to the kayak and watching it swim away.'
Julian's accomplishment was well acknowledged in Australia, making the press and etching his name into Western Australia fishing records .
To catch a Sailfish from a Kayak and to this date be the only person is something I'm really proud of. I fished hard for 7 months to get it and it was a major relief when I secured the catch.'
Mr De Marco's biggest catch from a boat was a 250lb Blue marlin caught in November that weighed twice his own body weight.