Commodores Notes


Recovery and Training boat

THE END OF AN ERA. Our last full time professional fisherman, Warren Norton hasn’t renewed his commercial fishing icence and has retired. He is selling his pro boat but is buying a smaller boat for recreational fishing. I was going to do a story on him and asked him for a few details but instead he wrote the whole thing for me which was very much appreciated. 

This is it:

For those who wonder where the fish have gone.
In the beginning, 1965, the number of fish in the ocean and under the Lorne Pier was phenomenal.
From the age of ten I spent many hours diving and foraging in-between the timber pillars under the lower landing of the Pier. The timber moved and bent with the coming and going of the boats. The cranes roared into action as the Couta boats returned for the day or escaped the incoming weather. Overhead you had to duck the coco-nut hemp ropes, connected to boats laying in the water waiting to embark on (night spurts) to finish their daily limit of 20 bins of fish.
The confines of the Lorne Pier protected me from the Great Whites, that used to circle, attracted by multiple barley trails played down from out to sea to the home Port.
I remember cleaning Couta all the way home at night, in the summer, the boat (Vanessa) aglow with phosphorus, no needs for lights or torches.
In the early days, attracted by the gut trails, fish such was Mullet, Salmon, Trevally, Trumpeter, Kingfish, Garfish and Squid were always under the Pier in great numbers.
By the time I was 18 I had caught 100 tonne of fish, with my father Frank, one of six Norton brothers (Frank, Cyril, Bob, Arthur, Rusty and Will) who fished from Lorne at some stage.
Over 100 fishermen would go on to fish from the Lorne Pier all supporting the co-op.
While my father kept fishing I moved to Melbourne. Over the next five years I completed:

  • A three year secondary physical education degree
  • One year a diploma of education for teaching
  • Acquired an open water SCUBA diving certification (FAUI)
  • Completed five specialist diving courses
  • Obtained a sub aqua bronze
  • Became a dive master
  • Completed a level 1 instructor course
  • Became a level 2 instructor 1981 (FAUI)
  • Ran cave diving courses in Mt Gambier, SA
  • Because of all the sea time acquired with my father, I completed a Coxswain course certificate
  • Completed a Master Skippers ticket in 1982

Over the next 20 years I taught at secondary schools in Melton, Hoppers Crossing and Belmont High, whilst also running a successful diving business. In the pool two nights a week, every week, completing ocean work at Queenscliff. On all weekends my partner and I, using various dive boats, certified over 5000 divers over 25 years, 2000 hours diving and 3000 hours skippering various boats.
Every September school holidays we would take 12 certified divers to Wayo Island, Fiji, diving right beside the famous blue lagoon.
In my absence from Lorne, my father had retired from fishing aged 59, selling his Couta boat after catching over 1000 tonne of fish (Couta, Shark, Snapper, Crayfish and Flathead) over a 35 year period. Not a bad effort for a man whose father worked horses and drays from a humble beginning in Lorne bringing up seven children.
Frank also spent five years in the army during the Second World War in the infantry between the ages of 20-25.
After leaving Melbourne and returning to Lorne after teaching, I acquired a limited access commercial fishing licence to once again follow my roots into semi-retirement.
Who would’ve thought that the Lorne Pier boating facilities would be gone and government support for fishing would be non-existent. Acquiring a new boat and tractor, I would have to work from the beach to try and earn a living. After fishing for a short period of time, it was very evident that the Lorne fishery and Bass Strait has taken a big hit over the years. We must remember that over 60 years, the 100 plus fishermen in Lorne caught over 20,000 tonne of fish with support, after the war for a co-op, Pier, cranes and ongoing care from parts and harbours. Today this support does not exist.
The government focus today is very much supporting the amateur fish lobby. Fisheries have not run boats at sea for compliance for 20 years since the advent of mobile phones. I have not been checked at sea in that time and research into fish has stopped along the coast because the government already now what the results would be.
The Eastern Zone Crayfish Industry from Apollo Bay to the end of Wilsons Promontory, is on the brink of collapse. The two bag limit needs to drop to one cray and the zone needs a five year break to recover. The Hooker divers have killed the inshore breeding ground. Unfortunately the fishing ground is now being dominated by non-targeted species, creating havoc. The bottom fish, Seven Gill sharks, Carpet sharks, Stingrays, Skates and Gernards, their numbers are ballooning.
Many mid-water fish, Squid, Cuttlefish, Pilchard, White Bait are being carved up by Seals and Dolphins, whose numbers are in the billions around the world. Whale numbers are higher than ever and they’re eating a huge amount of krill.
The government these days has shifted their focus to the amateur lobby, no longer supporting the primary industry of commercial fishing. You do not need an amateur fishing licence over the age of 60, all boating ramps are free to use in Victoria and no catch numbers are required even though there are bag limits. This sounds great but the average non fishing Australian will be paying twice over for fish within the next 10 years compared to meat. Add to this the fish will be imported, frozen or compromised in some serious way or another.
In retirement I will now fish out my days as an amatory fisherman, content that I have had a red hot crack in an industry that has probably been poorly managed from government even going back 100 years in this country.
I hope we can be kind and respectful to the ocean going forward as it has been very kind to me.
Special thanks to Rose Riberu for helping me in my fishing exploits. Rose the woman, their girl a gift from the Gods.


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A young Warren with his late father Frank

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Warren heading out on one of his many SCUBA diving trips. 


Warren and Frank cleaning Couta in their boat next to the Lorne Pier

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Warren’s tractor and boat


Well Autumn is nearly over and other than the blocking high pressure system that gave us easterlies for two weeks recently, it’s been a ripper. We are all set up at the clubhouse for winter with plenty of gas heaters and marquees with walls, so it will be cosy and warm. We are still running our happy hours on Wednesday and Friday nights with the traditional seafood raffle and free sausage sizzle every Friday. The seafood raffles are going gangbusters with our member's generosity never ceasing to amaze me. This year we will donate well over $30,000 back into our local community. Don’t forget our facilities are available to members for weddings, parties or anything. 


Our Autumn sunrises are as good as they get anywhere on the planet. Photo by Linda Rothel. 


Sunday 9th June which is on the Kings Birthday Long Weekend. Judging starts at 5pm. It’s on again and it’s the real deal. Anyone can be the official World Champion. 
All you have to do is, be a member and arrive before 5pm with your best sausage roll. 
You only need one sausage roll to enter but we encourage everyone to bring a heap so we can feed the hungry hoards. 
We will also have prizes for best novelty, biggest and smallest. 

Sausage roll


Sunday 19th May 2024. The comp runs from 6am until the deadline of 12.30pm. Weigh-in starts at midday. It’s free to enter for members and all competitors get a free mixed grill lunch. Prizes are awarded for first, second and third in both the junior and senior categories. Juniors must be under the age of 18. You can only weigh in one fish each, so anyone can win on the day, and it’s environmentally friendly. Come and have a crack. It’s great fun. 


This is Will Hall from Cambridge, England with his first-ever fish caught in Australia and it was a double header snapper. 


Sunday 9th June 2024. The comp runs from 6am until the deadline of 12.30pm. Weigh-in starts at midday. It’s free to enter for members and all competitors get a free roast lunch. Prizes are awarded for first, second and third in both the junior and senior categories. Juniors must be under the age of 18. You can only weigh in one fish each, so anyone can win on the day, and it’s environmentally friendly. Come and have a crack. It’s great fun.   


Carolyn Griffiths with a couple of nice snapper she caught here the other day. 


Several times each year we take out groups of school students fishing off the pier and get the local Fisheries Officers involved. We all have breakfast at Lorne Central and a Fishery Officer speaks to the students followed by a Q&A. The students are always interested and ask plenty of questions. We own 20 rods all with new top quality reels which we supply to the school for these outings along with bait and tackle. If any juniors out there would like to fish in our comps they are welcome to use them. 

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Some of the local students listening to the Fisheries presentation

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Braving the elements out fishing off our magnificent pier


Our new Life Member and local legend Leon Armistead has just undergone major surgery on his head. Leon had skin cancer removed from the top of his head recently but they found that it had spread into his skull. He then had to endure a 9 hour operation to remove a section of his skull and would you believe they transplanted a muscle into the hole and covered it all with skin grafts in a separate operation. Being  a tough old bloke he recovered quickly and is now out of hospital and back home. I know a few people with muscle where their brain should be. Now I can add Leon to that list. 


Leon only days after the operation when I visited him in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. 


We had a nice surprise last Friday night when the Trigg’s paid us a visit. They are a wonderful local family who unfortunately for us have moved to Melbourne to live. Their daughter Remy has just moved back to Lorne so with a bit of luck we might start to see a bit more of them. 

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Jamie and Tansi with their two daughters Sienna and Remi. The girls got the job of tearing and mixing the raffle tickets. 



Recently a group of 14 blokes, which included almost half of our committee, went on a week long 4x4 expedition around the Victorian High Country. It was a sensational trip with extremely steep and difficult terrain, but with perfect weather and organised down to the smallest detail by our Group Leader, Clive Goldsworthy, it was probably our best trip ever. We spent our first night with fellow committee member Brian Taylor and his lovely wife Tanya at their holiday house in Walhalla. We set up camp in their yard and had a great night sitting around their campfire enjoying their hospitality with a couple of refreshments. 
Early the next morning, our adventure began with tough off-road driving and bush camping for the next 6 days. We got lucky with the weather and had no wind or clouds for the entire trip. The scenery was spectacular with beautiful views at every turn. 
The highest we got to over the next week was 1750 metres and the highlight of the trip was conquering the Blue Rag Range Track, which is one of the highest tracks in Australia. It is regarded as the toughest and steepest track in Australia with it being very narrow with huge drop offs on both sides down to the valleys below. It was scary but the 360 degree views at the top made it all worthwhile.  

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Just finished brecky and warming up by the fire before starting another days adventure

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We had one of these every night to keep warm and for cooking. The only problem with campfires is that they make your stubby evaporate

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We had magnificent views like this every day


We’ve just had a run of calm weather so the conditions for boat fishing has been perfect. Plenty of good eating size Snapper around with bag limits being achieved by some. They aren’t huge but there’s been a few around the 50cm mark. Plenty of School and Gummy Sharks are being caught and we’ve been catching a lot of undersized Schoolies which is a good sign. 
King George Whiting are still around but not in huge numbers. Plenty of Flathead about with some nice sized ones being landed. Lots of Salmon in close near the Cumberland and Wye River. The Mackerel, Yakkas and Couta have thinned out but there’s still a few about.  

The pier is still performing well with reports of good numbers of Salmon, Trevally, Mullet and Snapper. The odd King George Whiting and Calamari. 


Glenn Monaghan with a nice snapper he caught the other day


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Jason will be open on weekends until the end of this month then taking a short winter break in June. 

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This is Jason and Di’s beautiful new daughter Gru


The bus is currently operating on Friday and Saturday evenings. We still need volunteers to drive it so if you can help please let Ian Hutchinson know.

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Our new range of merchandise is now available to purchase at the club house, whilst stock lasts. Our new 2024 colour range is available in long and short-sleeved t-shirts, hoodies, caps, stubby holders and an exclusive first time ever cotton sock and new black smart polo.  Stock is selling very fast, so get in quick to avoid disappointment. XL short sleeve t-shirts are being re-ordered and will be back in stock soon, terracotta currently available. Don't forget our merchandise deals, stubby holders $10 each or if purchased with a can of beer or UDL only $15, socks $15 a pair or 3 pairs for $40. Limited stock. 

2023 Merch Tops





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