Getting a foothold on fishing

A WINNER: Bailey Whitby is taking giant steps in life.
A WINNER: Bailey Whitby is taking giant steps in life.

Mad-keen Scone angler Bailey Whitby, this week’s Fish of the Week winner, knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity, and according to his mum Jodie, fishing’s been a huge help.

Last April, Bailey, your typically active six-year-old, nearly lost his foot after an accident on a ‘gator’, one of those buggy-type vehicles you see on Bondi Rescue.

‘‘Bailey’s foot was ‘degloved’, a medical term used to describe the way the ligament, tendon and muscle around his foot and ankle were affected,’’ Jodie recalled yesterday.

‘‘Doctors have said that Bailey is lucky to have a foot and they are amazed with his recovery.’’

Bailey spent two weeks at Randwick Hospital, and another three-and-a-half at John Hunter undergoing operations.

‘‘They took the lateral muscle off his back under his right arm and grafted it onto the foot area as ‘fill’,’’ Jodie said.

‘‘Then they took a skin graft from the top of his right thigh for the exterior.

‘‘He was in a wheelchair for a month, then on a walking frame and crutches for months after that,’’ Jodie said.

‘‘He basically had to learn how to walk again.’’

Rather than commute back and forth from Scone, the Whitbys were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House. But you can imagine how cooped up any youngster would feel in Bailey’s situation.

Not to worry though, the Whitbys are a fishing family and dad knew what to do.

Every spare moment possible, Brad organised ‘‘gate leave’’ from John Hunter and took Bailey fishing on Newcastle foreshore.

‘‘Brad would throw the wheelchair in the back of the ute and away they’d go,’’ Jodie said.

‘‘Bailey loved it because being in hospital like that trying to deal with the injury was so restrictive.

‘‘But the people from Ronald McDonald were so accommodating – I can’t talk highly enough about them.’’

The fishing didn’t stop once Bailey got home to begin the long rehab.

‘‘Every weekend Brad would take him out to Thompson’s Creek (pictured below), just up behind Scone here, and carry him and the chair out to the bank and they’d fish,’’ Jodie said.

‘‘Bailey loved it. They didn’t catch much, a carp sometimes, but it really helped.

‘‘Bailey would never have been this mad about fishing without Brad’s patience and encouragement.’’

He also insisted on getting back to school as soon as possible, even if only for a couple of hours at the start, so he could be with his mates.

‘‘He’s an inspiration,’’ Jodie said. ‘‘He watches Ifish every afternoon and he’s always saying, ‘One of these days, I’m gonna do that’,’’ Jodie said. ‘‘His dad always says, ‘Well, don’t forget who taught you how to fish, make sure you take me with ya’.’’

The old man’s just bought a new tinnie, which the kids insisted be painted fire-engine red, and it sounds like it’s going to get a hell of a workout around their favourite haunts like Soldiers Point and Fingal.

The prognosis is positive for Bailey’s long-term recovery but there’s still hard yards ahead.

Every six to eight weeks he has to go down to John Hunter for physio.

But as a reward, they call into a fishing shop on the way home for a lure or two.

None but the brave

Woolly weather will keep all but the bravest souls off the water this weekend.

Anglers have been getting a few whiting in Lake Macquarie through the week.

Salmon and tailor remain a constant in local estuaries.

Luderick are firing off the rocks, and there should be a few snapper on the go once the waves settle down.