Reef Fishing

Jack up the wheelchair
Jack up the wheelchair

Wheelchair users with a disability like quadriplegia find using a standard reef fishing rod difficult due to weak or no grip, poor balance, and muscle fatigue. Hauling a big fish from 80 feet below is quite a task. So my ingenious brother Gavin converted my power wheelchair into a power reef fishing rod!

Determined to get me deep sea and reef fishing again he kicked a block of wood under the back of my power wheelchair and bolted a hand line onto extended wheel studs. All I had to do was use my wheelchair forward control to lower my bait to the reef below, wait for the rod tip to bend, then hit reverse and winch even the hugest fish aboard.

Reef Fishing Wheelchair Hub Bolts

Replace wheel studs with long bolts
Replace wheel studs with long bolts

An avid fisherman before my accident and quadriplegia I was keen to get back on the water. Six of us hired the charter boat Down Under II (not wheelchair friendly) for a full day 4am-3pm of reef fishing. A combined weight of 200kg (440lb). My buddies simply lift me aboard, then my power wheelchair reef fishing rod, and throw me back in it.  An hour or two by boat from the Noosa Boardwalk and we had lines in water reef fishing.

Gavin had replaced three of the four rear wheel hub bolts on my Quickie P200 power wheelchair with longer high tensile steel bolts. Ideally you want to have these bolts pre-fitted as you see them here. Just be careful not to hit anything bending the bolts. Or do a “Sparticus” and take someones ankle out, sorry about the wall Dad and your ankle Gav.

Reef Fishing Wheelchair Rod Holder

Bolt handline onto backing nuts
Bolt handline onto backing nuts

Arriving at the reef we take the side door off the boat. Raise my powerchair rear wheels off the deck with a wooden block. And tie me to the railing with my toes hanging overboard. The pre-drilled holes in a nine inch hand line fishing reel make it quick and easy to bolt onto backing nuts flush with the wheel.

If you are not able to replace your hub bolts you could take the wheel right off. Or use a spare rim with no tyre as the reel. Just remember there is typically not much room on these boats and wasting time is wasting your money. Less messing around means more time fishing. Test your setup thoroughly before the day of your fishing charter adventure.

Attaching custom fishing rod holder to wheelchair frame
Attaching custom fishing rod holder to wheelchair frame

Our wheelchair reef fishing rod holder is an aluminum tube fixed to a block of wood. You could use poly pipe etc. Fix the rod holder onto existing holes in the wheelchair frame. That way you don’t damage or weaken the wheelchair. Bolt the rod holder on prior to boarding too.

Aim to have the reef fishing rod sitting at 45 degrees or higher so it clears the boat railing. A big fish can snap your rod if it’s resting hard on the railing. It’s important to line the rod and reel up vertically so the fishing line will feed back onto the fishing reel when winding in.

People are amazed to see me fishing this way. “It’s disability fishing on steroids.” I’m very fortunate to have my brother Gavin. He never sees me as disabled. Gavin only sees, and gives to me, ability. Thanks also to my nephew James for his support and assistance and these photos.

Wheelchair Reef Fishing Adventure

Fishing reel inline with rod holder
Fishing reel inline with rod holder

The sun rose as we crossed the Noosa River bar into a calm sea. Heaven must be a sight if it’s better than here on earth. We were all speechless with the dim glow of the sun’s first rays illuminating our smiling faces.

The days first reef fishing destination was 14 Mile Reef off Double Island Point. At a depth of 65ft I caught the second largest fish, a 4.5kg Maori Cod. I pulled him up so quickly the poor snodger had the bends. My catch was beaten only by “Lucky Fingers” my father. He landed a whopper around 11kg.

I saw on the news a few years after our trip the boat Down Under II was sold and while being taken to the new owners struck a sandbar and sank in Moreton Bay. There are many other fishing charters operating from the Noosa Marina however. Give them a call.

Things to Note Wheelchair Reef Fishing

Wheelchair tied to railing
Wheelchair tied to railing

With many thanks to my brother Gavin, disability reef fishing now has new meaning. I remember lying in hospital thinking of all the things I would never do again. I know with determination, hope and help from my friends, “where there’s a wheel there’s a way.”

The longer and wider the boat the more stable in rough conditions. Down Under II was a 28 foot catamaran, a decent size taking a maximum of 8 fishermen plus the skipper. It was still quite bouncy in my power wheelchair even at the rear of the boat where you get the smoothest ride.

Some of the guys were giving the skipper heaps because he served up cold chicken, ham, salad and fruit for lunch, “Girl food!” haha. Didn’t bother me, I had plenty of beer and was there for fish not lunch.

Where: Noosa Marina, Noosa River Boardwalk, Tewantin, QLD. Australia. http://www.noosamarina.com.au
Cost: Full day trip 8 (max) people $1200.00 or $150.00/person.
Rating: 2 star rating Nice day but not enough fish caught for the price and what sort of operation serve’s a boat full of blokes salad for lunch lol?

Kind Regards
Graham Streets

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3 thoughts on “Reef Fishing

  1. felimago

    This is amazing and good for me. I agree with you, I’m also a quadraplegic. Hope more people share their experiences, living happy. Some guys who are depress in bed thinking that the life is gone for us. Thanks and congratulations keep going on. – felimago60

  2. Kim Sanderson

    Hi Graham

    I am a female quadraplegic with arm mobility, my hands are very weak. I absolutely love fishing and have thought of nothing else from my hospital bed, throughout rehab until now. It’s been 10 months since my accident and 3 weeks before my injury I was catching Tiger Fish in Mozambique…eat your heart out. Finally an answer to my questions..thanks to your brother I can now look forward to long life of fishing and girlie lunches..haha. Let me know if you are ever in South Africa maybe we could HOOK UP!

    BEST REGARDS
    KIM SANDERSON

  3. Birdsall Fishing Products

    Your brother sounds like a genius for being able to convert a wheelchair into a powerful asset for fishing, this marine product is ingenious and I am sure that many people will be bale to benefit from this idea, so thanks for sharing!

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