Pat Washington passed away recently as a result of a two year battle with lung cancer.
Pat was a former member of the Victorian Fly Fishers’ Association (VFFA), past president of Bairnsdale Fly Fishers Club, chairman of VRFish for an unprecedented 10 years, and a representative of Australia in the World Fly Fishing Championships held in Italy.
Pat distinguished himself whilst he served as chairman of VRFish. Among his many achievements were some really big wins for fishermen:-
- Reintroduction of the trout season. In 1970, the Fisheries Department announced a “temporary” 12 month removal of all restrictions on trout fishing including the traditional season. Many attempts were made to reintroduce the season over the years but all attempts fell on deaf Department ears. Then, at the 1996 Annual VFFA dinner, Pat Washington announced to all that a reintroduction of the season had been agreed to on that very day. This announcement was met with wild applause by the VFFA members who had been lobbying for it for many years. Pat helped push this change through with the support of the then minister but against strong opposition from some in the Department.
- Introduction of the General Angling Licence. Up until this time, the only angling licence in Victoria was imposed upon inland fishers. Pat led the charge to impose a licence on all anglers and insisted that the money go directly into fishing and not find it way into consolidated revenue.
- Buyout of commercial fishermen. Pat was also instrumental in persuading the state government to buy out professional fishing licences in Port Phillip and some other estuaries in Victoria. He was also part of the successful push to get rid of scallop dredging in Port Phillip.
These are some of his major achievements but there were lots of other benefits to fishermen. He, together with Ray Page (CEO) ruled over VRFish and were often referred to as the “Pat and Ray Show”. They achieved a lot and anglers in Victoria will be forever in his debt.
Pat was a keen flyfisherman and a good fly tier. He fished many countries including New Zealand, Italy, USA and others. He will be sadly missed by his mates.
His funeral will be held in Bairnsdale at 1pm next Monday 15 April.