My life just passed by – seconds from near death

My name is Steven Armour of Perth, I am 50 years old and as an experienced fisherman as I may have thought, a few simple mistakes nearly cost me my life.

The fishing story I’m about to share will hopefully encourage fellow fishers to reconsider the choices and decisions they make when heading out for a day’s fishing.

I've learnt the hard way and it all began on WA’s south coast on Saturday 22nd April 2018.

A few simple mistakes nearly cost me my life!

My friends and I were fishing from high rock as we call it, a well-known fishing spot in Wyadup, enjoying the morning so far. I had fished this spot many times and felt confident in my ability to cast from the rocks. We all called out to one another each set of big waves to make sure we were all accounted for and ensured we were moving away from the waves as they hit the rocks. This was an approach I'd used often after losing a cousin in this spot many years earlier.

As I was casting my line and chatting to the others, suddenly a big wave came surging towards us. It literally came out of nowhere and my eyes were on the water watching this wave develop into a ball of water towering higher than the rock we were standing on. We all called out to one another and started to hurry inland, scurrying over the rocks to get to higher ground.

None of us could have braced enough to stay on the rocks in the seconds to follow.

Fortunately for the four people I was fishing with, they were able to scramble to high enough ground just in time and managed to save some of our gear. For me this was not the case.

I didn’t get off the rocks quick enough... My heavy wet weather pants and connected boots and hi vis jacket certainly didn’t help the situation however the PDF lifejacket I was wearing was still secured tightly and in my opinion probably saved me... Under water and barrel rolled backward about 15 metres into a crevice of salty pool water I laid. Wet, cut, torn clothing and my rod and reel broken with my esky, bait and fish gone!

Both my legs copped it really hard that day. All I could do was cover my face with my arms, hold my head tightly and hope it would finish quickly. The pictures don’t do it justice as the water that hit was possibly 3 times higher than these pics.

But I’m here to tell fellow fishers, never ever trust the water. Always be prepared for the day, never turn your back on the water, wear appropriate clothing and check the weather before-hand. If the swell or weather isn’t good, then don’t go fishing!

The Winter Salmon hunt was in my sights and I knew we could be in for some large swells given the recent weather updates however I thought we would be prepared enough. I’d put on my wet weather gear, I’d bought the bait, ice, lures and I’d fished at this spot for many years.

I’m not too proud to say that I made a mistake. My friends would have much preferred me to change plans and fish somewhere more sheltered perhaps, then to take the risk we did.

For all the years I’ve fished, I’ve never wore a lifejacket and my close friends can verify I am not a good swimmer. This trip was different; I had 4 others accompanying me who didn’t have a lot of rock fishing experience. Prior to the trip away I had explained to them some 35 years ago my family lost a Cousin at the very rocks we were heading to. He too was swept off by a wave and sadly died in the water. This was the very reason for my mind set change which made me turn around in the car park at my local tackle store, head back in and ask to purchase a lifejacket. I felt it was a good idea to set the example for new comers and take some responsibility for myself.

With previous media coverage about fishers being swept off rocks in our State and the death of my cousin whilst rock fishing, I just wanted to be safe and return home to my loved ones. I’ve learnt a few lessons from that day and I hope it helps others out there.

I wasn’t aware at the time that Recfishwest have a free loan life jacket program and from today onward I would strongly recommend anyone planning a fishing trip to consider hiring one, better yet, purchase your own, it could save your life.

Recfishwest have offered 15% off their manual and automatic Crewsaver lifejackets to all fishers that use the discount code STEVEN on the Fish and Survive Lifejacket page.

Safe fishing everyone.

Steven Armour

Perth Western Australia.

Listen to his story on ABC Radio Perth here.