Wheelchair Reef Fishing.

Here are just a few of the adventure sports that i have  found on the web. Wheelchair bound people really can do anything.
Checkout more at. http://www.disabledadventurers.com/
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Wheelchair tied to railing
Wheelchair tied to railing


Posted on December 19, 2011, in Disability Related Links and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Mac, I love your blog!

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