Hunter Gatherer with Rohan Anderson – The River Life

by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 31st August 2011

Today Rohan takes us out onto the river, catching trout and yabbies and taking some time to think about where our meals are really coming from. Be sure to visit Rohan’s blog, Whole Larder Love – it is a wealth of inspiration and information with many more of his amazing photos too. – Jenny x

I was raised on river frontage as a kid, a life altering experience in many ways. It’s not like I was some kind of Tom Sawyer or anything, but I did develop a strong affection for the wet stuff, still or flowing, all sweet. In Victoria we have plenty of rivers and lakes, unfortunately many of the rivers are in poor health due to agriculture, industry or over use. I went fishing on a local lake recently and was blown away by the mess left behind by anglers. I literally scratch my head in disbelief and no, I don’t have nits. Hello guys, it’s simple to follow some basic principles- take only what you need, leave the place clean and follow the government laws, laws that are in place to manage the resource for future generations. Now that’s not too hard right?

My childhood river wasn’t wide, extremely deep or magnificent in any way, it was a modest stream and beautiful in her own unique way. It was plenty large enough to house wild trout, eels, muscles and the coveted fresh water crayfish. My older brother and I would often hit the river early in the morning or late in the afternoon. When it was in season we’d catch a few big crayfish and set up a camp fire and boil them in a billy until they were glowing a fire red. That amazing taste of the river still resonates strong in my mind.

As the years rolled on I still went fishing, honing the techniques of various forms of fishing and eventually ending up favouring the fly rod. These days I’ll get out on a local lake with my Dad, or fish the rocky gorges of my secret river; madly waving my fly rod in the air in the hope of bagging something fresh and wonderful to cook. When I get really inclined I’ll pack up the Jeep and head west for some estuary river fishing. There are so many options; it’s a great way to get fresh natural raised fish. Not only for the meat but the experience of being out amongst it, on the water, the water that gives us so much life, such an integral part of our food system. Much respect to our rivers.

Living in the country has the added benefit of local knowledge. We have friends with large dams stocked with Trout and wild Redfin (English Perch) and Yabbies by the bucket load. We’ll spend a few days diligently re-setting the opera house nets with bait and collecting the catch for a cook up on the weekend. Yabbying is a southern Australian tradition, that goes back even before the Ugg boot was invented. In America they call them crawfish, either way they make a great social meal, with everyone picking from large plate of cooked red yabbies on the table, peeling feverishly and dipping in the garlic butter sauce before it’s gone for good.

And then there’s the trout. It’s a challenge trying to fool them with a man made fly at the end of a fly line, impersonating some macro-invertebrate, in the hope that some hungry trout will strike allowing us to eat the fruits of the river. I think if you’re going to eat meat then you’ve got to work for it, get out in it and acquire it yourself. If we all followed that rule then I think most people would give up eating meat and they’d probably be more vegetarians, and we’d have a healthier environment!


by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 31st August 2011


  • Anna 4 years ago

    I’m really enjoying these guest posts and have been reading your blog Rohan. Very inspiring and I’m now hoping to turn the current herb garden into a fully fledged veggie garden this summer in our wee inner city apartment courtyard. I’m also enjoying the Gippsland/B-town reference, having grown up on a farm on Lake Wellington and going to art school in Ballarat.

  • Margie 4 years ago

    gah! your fish pictures are beautiful! I am an aspirational fisher-person only… have rods, not got them wet yet… But you’re egging me on with these posts… I totally agree with your views on the eating of meat. Nice one tiger.

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