Aircrewman by day, champion fisherman by nature

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author)

Location(s): Eungella Dam, Qld, Kinchant Dam, Qld

Topic(s): Fishing

Petty Officer Aircrewman Liam Carruthers, right, and his Australian Fishing Championships XVI partner, Angler Mark Healy, with the 2020 championship trophy. (photo: )
Petty Officer Aircrewman Liam Carruthers, right, and his Australian Fishing Championships XVI partner, Angler Mark Healy, with the 2020 championship trophy.

While fishing is often regarded as a relaxing pastime, this wasn’t the case for Petty Officer Aircrewman Liam Carruthers when he went into the Australian Fishing Championships XVI competition.

The Australian Fishing Championships is a tournament series that provides a neutral arena for Australia’s top bream anglers to compete against Australia’s top bass anglers.

The competition was held at Eungella Dam and Kinchant Dam in Mackay, Queensland, and the sought after species were the sooty grunter and the iconic Australian sport fish - the barramundi.

As neither team specialise in these species, it ultimately tests the diversity of all anglers involved to adjust to different conditions and environments and to try and catch the longest four-fish bag for each species over two separate competition days.

“In this series the pressure was really on,” Petty Officer Carruthers said.

“In addition to returning as the two-time champion, I was also teamed up with the Australian Fishing Championships’ newest rookie Angler Mark Healy, so there was a lot of responsibility for me put our team on the fish and coach Mark through the species which he had never caught before,” he said.

Petty Officer Carruthers currently works as a Qualified Aircrewman Instructor (QAI) on the Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters at 725 Squadron.

This role entails instructing students in the fundamentals of Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti Surface Warfare, Airborne Gunnery, Search and Rescue techniques and Petty Officer Carruthers believes this experience gives him the tactical and professional edge.

“It was my third win, but I can assure you it did not come easy.

“I really believe the key Navy signature behaviours instilled in me give me a significant advantage, while the high operational tempo experienced in performing my role as an Aircrewman Instructor (QAI) allows me to perform optimally in high-pressure situations.”

When Petty Officer Carruthers transferred category from Aviation Technician Aircraft to Aircrewman, he also transferred his passion for football to fishing.

“I was a keen AFL player for the Albatross Demons. I enjoyed the sport and was super competitive, but when I made the call to transfer to this category, I knew it would come at the cost of needing to reduce the risk of injuring myself, so I subsequently decided not to play AFL anymore.

“At the time I fished for a hobby, and was introduced to the concept of tournament fishing not long after transferring.

“This gave me an outlet for my competitive drive in an environment which had minimal risk to physical injury,” he said.

“This passion soon became an obsession and before I knew it, I spent every single moment outside of work fishing - trying to perfect multiple techniques.

“This led to qualifying for the Australian Bream Grand Final in 2015, which was my first opportunity in a grand final, and I was fortunate enough to come out on top and subsequently qualify for the Australian Fishing Championships.

Fast forward to today and now holding that trophy up for the third time is an amazing feeling and an accomplishment I am super proud of,” Petty Officer Carruthers said.

The Navy Aircrewman is the first angler to ever be crowned AFC champion three times in a row and says his success can be attributed to the support of his wife and family, 725 Squadron, the Fleet Air Arm, and the Royal Australian Navy for giving him opportunities to compete.

The Australian Fishing Championships Series XVI series featuring Petty Officer Carruthers’ win aired on Channel 10 Bold on the June long weekend, but you can still catch it on the Australian Fishing Championships YouTube page.