Hailing from Sydney, Greg Seeto is a photographer, journalist, and talented angler best known as the creative and innovative source of imagery on the popular website, lureandfly. In what can only be termed as game changing, Greg’s photographic skills have brought forth a portfolio of images unlike any in the sport. Greg has fished the tournament circuit for the past five years, and has numerous top ten finishes to his name. An advocate for involving youth in outdoor pursuits, Greg can often be found fishing with his family.
What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?
I’m what I refer to as a “late onset angler”, only coming to the fishing lifestyle five or six years ago. With this in mind, I feel honoured and humbled, and somewhat of an imposter, to be interviewed by The Milkcrate Magazine, alongside the other veterans of this sport.
Unlike other anglers, I don’t have a lifetime of experiences to draw on, and I can only recount disappointing, unsuccessful, childhood fishing adventures, marred by a lack of experienced mentors and memorable catches.
To be honest, fishing for the Seeto Brothers, was a “rebound” activity when our days of Hardcore 4x4ing literally came to a crashing halt one Sunday afternoon on a rock ledge on some isolated forest track. Because all activities undertaken by my brothers and I are never pursued in half measures, writing off two cars that day created a pretty big void in our lives.
My approach to life has always been about “ just giving it a go.” So, when I saw the weigh in of a local tournament one weekend, and thought it looked interesting, I jumped into the deep end, paid my membership to the tournament association, and was fishing one of the very next events as a Co-angler on someone else’s boat. I had no gear and no idea, but I figured what better way to learn than from an experienced Pro. I’ve been on an obsessive and steep learning curve ever since.
My exposure to kayak angling is even more recent. I only got my Hobie Mirage Outfitter tandem kayak in March of 2011. I started photographing local kayak tournaments here in Australia in 2010, and quickly saw kayak angling as an accessible option for a quick and easy getaway for a spot of fishing.
In my boat I can cover a lot of water and very quickly, which presents many great fishing opportunities, but I had often felt restricted in being able to head out for a quick fish before or after work, and to cover skinny water easily.
Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?
The trip was more memorable than the fish. The fish was a small Australian Bass no bigger than 20cm long caught on a topwater lure. The trip was the very first that I made with my brothers, Ian and Chris, and our friend, Josh Carpenter, after getting the kayaks. We planned to do a series of kayak stories for our website lureandfly.com called “Urban Fishing.”
The idea was to use the kayaks to access water that is in close proximity to urban and suburban areas. Areas that are driven or walked past each day, but ignored and seldom fished. Little back creeks behind the suburban sprawl, canal and drain systems that snake their way through Sydney’s inner suburbs, that kind of thing. We figured that if it’s hard to get to, not many people will be willing to do it, and the fishing should be good…
This maiden trip, we dragged 3 Hobie Pro Anglers and a Mirage Outfitter behind backyards and through a bush access track for 45 minutes to access some great looking bass water. The fishing wasn’t spectacular, but that first adventure was.
You are known for your skilled approach to photography. In particular, your images of anglers draw from the subject a true representation of human emotion, and your use of wide angle lenses offer the viewer a unique perspective into the sport. The end result is a portfolio of pictures that truly transcends the genre of fishing photography. Explain to us the creative processes that go into the crafting of your images.
Frankly, there’s only one thing better than a good fishy tale, and that’s a good fishy photo…
As anglers that predominately fish “catch and release,” the photo is not only documentary to our adventures and captures, but the trophy as well. So, since the early days of lureandfly.com, a major focus for me has been to capture as many of our angling adventures from behind the lens.
Although I’ve always been exposed to photography (my father was an amateur photographer, and one of my other “non-fishing” brothers is a well respected Australian artist that uses the photographic medium), I’m not technically trained, and I’d never really been interested in the camera until I started fishing. I’m very fortunate that I’ve had some fantastic mentors. Guys like Bradley Sissins have been photographing the Australian Fishing Industry for decades, and have provided me with some great constructive feedback and advice.
These days are different. I’ve found a subject that inspires me, and at times, I’ve caught myself on fishing trips taking photos, and not fishing… My favorite lens is my ultrawide Nikon 14-24mm. I remember reading the following some years ago, and have tried to apply the principles to my photography:
“Ultrawides are not for “getting it all in.” Ultrawides are for getting yourself, and therefore the viewer, right smack into the middle of something… Ultrawides rub the viewer’s nose in your subject. Properly used, ultrawides grab your viewer and yank him into the middle of your situation”
-Ken Rockwell, kenrockwell.com
I’m still learning and constantly experimenting, and I recently added an underwater housing to my kit. Every time I pick up the camera, I like to try something new, a different perspective or angle, to give my viewers the same sense of excitement that I feel when I hear the sound of line being stripped off the reel.
What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?
A Sanitarium “Up and Go”, and a tin of diced peaches for breakfast. I’m not so much of a morning person, and silence generally prevails until the fog lifts from my mind.
Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?
In Australia, I believe Hobie as a company has made a huge investment into the future of the sport, through advertising in local fishing and travel magazines and investment into a National Tournament Circuit.
Now understandably, tournaments don’t sell kayaks, but they certainly drive awareness in the sport, and the developments and refinements to gear and techniques undoubtedly filter down to the average weekend angler.
The number of people that stop and talk to me at the service station as I refuel my boat, or by the side of the road or track as we unload the kayaks, or at the accommodation where I’m staying, to talk about fishing…it’s phenomenal!
More generally, the future of the sport is being shaped by every father and/or mother, grandfather or uncle that takes their child fishing.
Getting children into fishing is another of my passions. There is no more satisfying endeavor than taking a child and helping them to catch fish. Unlike me, my children have grown up around boats, kayaks and fishing rods. They each have their own tackle trays, and as with all anglers, are starting to refine their own tastes when it comes to collecting tackle. I’ve fished tournaments with my 11 year old daughter, and my family spends countless hours with me on fishing road trips. The lessons they learn now will shape them as anglers into the future.
With your brothers, Ian and Chris, and your mate Josh Carpenter, you have created a fantastic online repository of your fishing adventures. Dubbed lureandfly.com, the website features well crafted narratives, photography galleries, and product reviews. Tell us about the decision to create such a media outlet.
I think if you asked the four of us about our desired outcomes for the site when we started, they’d all be slightly different, with a common underlying theme – sharing information, whilst growing and improving Australian fishing, and doing what all fishermen do, tell stories…
As late onset anglers, we each spent countless hours “ravenously scouring” the internet for information relevant to Australian species and conditions. Unfortunately, much of the information available was on sites specific to US Species. Alternatively, much of the local information was on internet forums, where the topics would turn into biased discussions about brands, or worst still – shrouded in secrecy, shared only amongst cliques with “secret handshakes” and passwords.
Around this time, I became fascinated with the quality of “Fly Fishing” media, particularly being produced in North America. Video content produced by the World Angling crew, casting at Permit and Tarpon, and online Fly Fishing Magazines like Catch and This is Fly. At that time, there was absolutely none of this caliber of content that satisfied my interests in light tackle fishing, be it for Australian species or International ones.
At the same time, Josh was listening to podcasts of US BASS radio shows and quickly realized the amount of information he could soak up was a lot more than he could read (or find to be read). He rang me one day and explained how great it would be to produce an audio podcast, interviewing the top anglers from our local tournament scene. I told him I’d been thinking of doing something with Ian and Chris to satisfy my media interests. Although we’ve never got around to producing the podcasts, the rest is history, and in October 2010, we launched lureandfly.com, the online home to share our fishing stories.
The strength of lureandfly.com is in the early realisation that we each have slightly different strengths and interests. Josh lives and breathes fishing. A service engineer for Daiwa by day, and fishing writer by night, he’s our resident reel expert and has a focus of adapting US and Japanese fishing techniques to our Australian light tackle situations. Chris is a self confessed “lure junkie” and budding fishing film maker. Ian uses his qualifications as both an automotive mechanic and a marine mechanic and is the lureandfly.com resident DIY and maintenance guy. Me, I’m into fishing rods, and taking pictures…
Our aim is to present that information with integrity, in a manner that is visually stimulating, be that in the form of photos or video. By sharing our experiences, the hope is that our readers can choose to take or leave the information, without the need to read between the lines.
With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?
Sustainability. Personally, I predominately practice catch and release fishing techniques, but pass no judgement on those that take a feed of fish for the table. However, I believe that the continued education and policing of bag limits is essential to sustaining healthy fisheries for our children.
Sustainability extends beyond this though. Minimizing our impact on the environment and waterways that we fish is imperative. There’s nothing worse than fishing a remote and seemingly pristine location, only to peddle around the corner and find evidence of previous fishing activities. In reality, we each need to take responsibility for ourselves.
Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?
Barring money, logistics and the crocodiles, Black Bass in Papua New Guinea. I did a trip there with my brother Chris in 2011, and catching Black Bass is the highlight of my fishing career to date. We loaned two inflatable Hobie i12S kayaks for the trip, but, because of the crocs, were advised against bringing them.
Those Black Bass are unforgiving, rampaging brutes that will pull a 4.5m aluminum boat sideways on one of their runs. Landing one out of a boat is frantic, adrenaline pumping fun – just imagine doing it in a kayak!
We plan to head back there again later this year, accessing water much higher up in the system. I’m led to believe that we should be safe from the crocs, and that this dream kayak angling trip may become a reality.
What’s in your milk crate?
A box of lures and my camera gear. These days I travel with at least 1 camera body, a bag of lenses and my underwater housing.
In your writings, you have stated that fishing rods are your weakness. Tell us about the etiology of this affliction, and of your route to coping with said diagnosis.
In the early days of my fishing career, I was introduced to the Japanese spec. high-end, “enthusiast” light tackle, produced by the Daiwa Brand. Much of this gear in the Daiwa “Heartland-Z” and “Battler” range still has an almost cult following today, and there is a very healthy second hand and collector market for this gear.
I stumbled on a local store one day that had a quiver of these rods, brand new (very rare), stashed at the back of the store. I purchased all 5 of them that day, and so began my obsession. I still scour the forums for these rods when they come up for sale, but unlike others, I don’t buy them to collect, but to use them. My collection of light tackle fishing rods is pushing well over 40.
These days, I’m supported by Daiwa Australia – a fortunate outcome given my “affliction”. This association has given me an even deeper insight into the technology and development that goes into producing a fishing rod.
I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to test much of this gear at the prototype stage, well before it’s ever released into the market. What fascinates and impresses me most about the Daiwa Brand, is that much of the technology developed for their high end, top of the range fishing rods, eventually filters down and is used in mid range and low end gear. The perfect example is the recently released Daiwa Black Label Series. These rods use the same blank technology as the high-end Steez rods. Combined with slightly cheaper components, they represent great value for money.
The thing that surprises me still, with light tackle fishing, and I’m talking line classes of 2-20 lb, is that many anglers still place little importance on the fishing rod they are using. They’ll spend $500-$1000 on a state of the art, high-end reel, and “chuck” it on any old rod. What I’ve learned from my association with Daiwa is that the rod does most of the work in fighting the fish, and that any reel with a half decent drag will do the job. Choosing the right rod with the right action for the application is 80% of the battle.
Tell us about your best day on the water.
It was actually an hour one evening on the water with my seven year old son, Tom, fishing the upper reaches of the Shoalhaven River on the South Coast of NSW, with small surface lures.
Tom hadn’t added the Australian Bass to his catch list yet, and was keen as mustard. We were making our casts tight to the edges, and there was no shortage of swirls and boils by the little bass, as we worked our lures back to the kayak. This was adequate to keep him amused, and the fact that he managed to catch seven fish was a bonus.
The highlight was when he hooked two fish on the one lure! Quite frankly it was probably the worst cast he made for the evening, over the top of a tree, and the lure plopped into the water on the other side.
The first fish struck as soon as the lure hit the water, and while he was “tea-bagging” the fish as we tried to figure out how we were going to retrieve it, a second boil under the lure resulted in the second hookup!
It made for a classic Father-Son moment…
Those of you who have children will understand what I mean when I say I was more excited about that catch than if it had have been my own.
What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?
As a “newbie”, I’m not sure that I’m qualified yet to define the kayak fishing lifestyle. I’d like to think that my contribution has been through my documentation of the lifestyle from behind the camera lens.
For me, at present, it represents good company, and sneaky fishing sessions in some obscure but very local waterways. On another level, I’m heavily exposed to the Australian Kayak Tournament scene. My impressions are of a strong camaraderie and an eagerness and a willingness to share information about developments in gear and techniques.
Tell us a story, any story.
My first kayak fishing tournament saw me, quite naively, put everything on the line and paddlel about 8 kilometers to a set of oyster racks that I like to fish. This particular waterway is heavily influenced by big tides and strong currents, and being very open, it’s also susceptible to strong winds.
The trip in the morning was a relatively easy 40 minute paddle with the current, and when I arrived at the spot and was greeted by fish slurping, and prawns skipping on the surface, I thought I’d made the right decision. Unfortunately, I was busted off early by two good fish, before the bite shut down. Two and a bit hours into the fishing time, the wind came up, and I realized I’d have to leave and make the long paddle back into the current and a fifty km/h head wind. The return paddle took me two hours and forty minutes. I was exhausted, had fished no more than a couple of hours, and quickly understood that I still have so much to learn…
You have written of the fishing trips that you have taken with your children. Among the younger generations, the prevalence and popularity of outdoor pursuits has often been reported to be on the decline. How can we, as kayak anglers, get more youth involved in the sport?
People often say to me “you’re lucky that your children share your passion for fishing,” but in reality, I’ve worked hard to instil those shared interests in them.
What usually follows this statement is the question, “how do I get my children involved”?
“Take them fishing”, I say.
Your biggest enemies when it comes to fishing with kids are short attention spans and boredom. Choose a target species that you feel you have a good chance of catching at that time of the year.
Surface fishing is a fun easy option, that’s both visual and exciting, so even if they’re not catching, the swirls and boils behind the lure should be entertaining.
When my children were younger, and I’d take them fishing, I’d leave my fishing rods at home, devoting the time to assisting them. I’d either cast for them or guide them through the process, then allow them to retrieve their lure. It’s important to talk to them and explain what you’re doing, why you are casting in a particular area – you’d be surprised how quickly they pick up on the concepts, and how quickly they’ll be constructively injecting their own opinions.
I think it’s important to give them their own gear as well. My kids each have their own tackle trays that they store their lures in. They quickly develop a liking for particular lures and colours as we all do, and if they have the confidence in a particular lure, just because it’s bright pink, then they’ll more than likely catch fish on it.
Case in point was in preparation for a recent tournament. My four year old son, Ben, collected a small tray full of his favorite lures, and packaged them with my gear. When I quizzed him about this, he said to me “Dad, you can share my lures, they catch fish…”
What does the future hold for you?
2012 will see the Hobie World Fishing Championships move to the USA, after a successful, inaugural tournament in Australia in 2011. I’ll be working hard at qualification to this event to represent Australia, but if this doesn’t happen, I’d love to get there to cover it from a media perspective.