This article has been used with the permission of the author, Australian fishing historian H.J. (John) McIntyre.
Previously published in the 2004 AUSTRALIAN GAMEFISHING JOURNAL by ACP Publishing Pty Ltd on behalf of THE GAME FISHING ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA INC. Written by H.J. McIntyre.
Harry Andreas- “TRANS-TASMAN PIONEER”
Among the many Australasian game fishing pioneers, one man can truly be credited with the early nurture of the sport in Australia and New Zealand.
Game fishing as a recreation activity has existed for a little over one century. Initially the sport developed in isolation in many places – particularly in the waters of Australia and New Zealand. Here there was minimal activity and interchange of ideas due to small population, well removed from the mass markets and old-world wealth of the Northern Hemisphere.
The work of pioneer US and British- based fishing writes, notably Dr Charles Frederick Holder and FG Alflalo, gradually introduced the concept of taxing one’s skills and stamina in battles with big fish to a small but influential and generally well-to-do section of the population.
Dr Holder’s major books “Big Game at Sea” 91908) and “Game Fishes of the World” (1903) became bestsellers and led to the formation of angling clubs dedicated to ethical angling with rod and reel.
It is difficult for us, from this distance in time, to conceive the difficulties that best the very early pioneer anglers. Boats can generally be described as primitive, and engines, when they existed, were small, usually low in power and very susceptible to breakdowns in saltwater environment. Much of the early activity was from dinghies or skiffs rowed by anglers or, in some locations, hired boatmen.
This then was the era in which our pioneer angler Harry Andreas obtained his skills and developed the tackle and techniques that saw him become a leading figure in the sport from 1909 until the mid-1950’s. His was a phenomenal career spent fishing in his native Australia, and in fishing at what the author Zane Grey described as the “Angler’s Eldorado”- New Zealand
MEET THE FAMILY
Ehenreich Phillip Andreas, always known as “Harry”, was born in Sydney on March 5th, 1879 – son of parents Phillip and Hannah. His father, who was of German descent, had migrated from England with his parents in the mid 1800’s.
The family conducted meat processing and retail butcher shops in George and Pitt Streets in Sydney, and had abattoirs and holding yards at Petersham. Harry’s father Phillip Andreas JR. married the Sydney born Hannah Downing in 1878 and moved to then rural suburb of Petersham- probably to be close to the abattoirs operations.
It is hard to imagine the densely populated inner-western Petersham as an area of open paddocks and scattered bush. We have to assume that the older Mr Andreas also saw the place as possessing potential for housing estates for the burgeoning Sydney population.
In 1880, both parents died within months of each other and the infant Harry and his younger brother Charles were placed in the care of relatives. Charles died in 1882, leaving young Harry the sole heir to what by now was probably a considerable fortune. The level of success the family’s investments led to the opportunity for Harry to enjoy a privileged upbringing. Harry Andreas was educated at Newington College, Stanmore, where he distinguished himself as a rifle shooting marksman of considerable skills. Apparently he competed at the famous Queen’s Rifle Shoot at Bisley, England while still at Newington, probably in 1893.
The family house, Petersham Cottage, and the adjacent land at Tavernier’s Hill belonging to the Andreas estate were transferred to the state government for the development of the selective high school Fort Street, which opened at the site in 1917, having moved from Observatory Hill near The Rocks, Sydney. The street directly behind the school grounds is named Andreas street.
Harry Andreas engaged in property development with such success he was able to describe himself from quite an early age as being of “independent means”. His wealth enabled him to travel extensively and to take part in a variety of sporting activities including yachting, golf, horse racing and, of course fishing- both salt and freshwater.
In 1902, he married Alice Burton of Sydney and maintained residences at Petersham and at Kirribilli, a Sydney Harbour suburb opposite Circular Quay that was certainly not as accessible to the city as it is today.
In 1903, the newly-wed Andreas had a house built on Olympian Parade, Leura in the Blue Mountains, some 60 miles west of Sydney, and moved there with his bride. The house burned down in 1909 and a new lavish property “Leuralla” was erected in its place. This house had a strong Californian mansion flavour and even featured a piped centrally- operated vacuum cleaning system and central heating.
The house at Leura subsequently became home to the four Andreas children, Marjorie, Phillip, Lucy and William, who had what can only be described as an idyllic upbringing.
Harry Andreas spent much time away from home travelling within Australia and abroad, and indulging in his sporting activities. He also maintained an office in Bull’s Chambers, Martin Place, Sydney, from where he conducted his business affairs.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
The first records of Harry Andreas’ fishing ventures at sea date from 1909, when he fished for yellowtail kingfish out from Russel, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, aboard dinghies rowed by sturdy hired boatmen. Apparently he travelled to these virtually untouched grounds each year thereafter, until the conflict of the Great War (World War 1) put paid to leisure travel and the use of valuable resources.
Closer to home, Mr Andrea explored the coastal waters of New South Wales and like many since, he discovered that the waters off Port Stephens were home to trophy fish. In 1912 he landed a black kingfish, now more commonly known as cobia, of 115lb (52kg) on 15 cord line close in to Point Stephens.
By any measure this was a remarkable capture, and one that would be difficult to emulate today even with vastly superior tackle techniques.
Harry Andreas had joined the New South Wales Rod Fishers Society (RFS) shortly after its formation and at around the same time the Society was closely associated with the Anglers Casting Club of NSW. The RFS, which eventually absorbed the Casting Club, became the organisation that led the sport for the next 30 years. His RFS contemporaries included Dr Mark Lidwill, who in February 1913 caught the first marlin on rod and reel in Australasian waters; Dr (later Sir) Herbert Maitland, a skilful and expert angler who ventured to sea off Sydney, Port hacking and Port Stephen from about 1906 to land tuna, kingfish and salmons; F M Harpur, captor of the first authenticated tuna landed on rod and reel; and Messrs C H Gorrick and H O Chidgey, both regarded as outstanding anglers in their day.
Dr Maitland is regarded by many of the father of game fishing in Australia. Harry Andreas was there at the beginning and as will be shown, had a large influence on the early development of game fishing in the Southern Hemisphere.
A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH
The first marlin to be caught in New Zealand was taken by Major A D Campbell of Scotland in February in 1915, a striped of 233lb (106kg). Earlier in the same week, somewhere between February 5 and 12, Mr Andreas had captured the first mako shark ever to be taken on rod and reel.
The day after the Major’s historic capture, Harry Andreas landed the second marlin to be caught in NZ from a boat shared with Major Campbell, the “Waiomo”, skippered by Mr Sid Irving. The vessel was a primitive mullet-netting boat powered by a tiny petrol start/ kerosene run converted car engine.
The internal combustion engine was almost as new as the fledging sport; so much of Mr Andreas’ angling during this period was from rowed vessels. A photograph still exists of Harry Andreas fighting a marlin at The Bay of Islands from a small rowed skiff in 1915 and it is reproduced hereabouts.
This tackle used by the pioneer anglers was as primitive as the motor launches. Reel drag was usually applied to the cord line by leather pads attached to the direct-win Nottingham pattern reels, which were invariably fitted under the rod.
Some very early US reels of both under and over- the-rod designs, such as the Vom Hofe and Coxe, were fitted with the Raybeth friction drag, an early forerunner of the star drag. These reels were rare in the Southern Hemisphere as they were extremely expensive and difficult to obtain.
Andreas had had more than his share of tackle problems, but he had an inventive and resourceful mind and as a result he registered the “Andreas Patent Drag” in 1917. The reel featured a unique combination of adjustable clutch drag, free spool and anti-reverse.
The drag was regulated by a large tension nut on the drive side of the reel. Mounted on the back plate was another nut placed in the reel in either free spool or anti-reverse. The fact that his design was granted patents in Britain and US as well as Australia and New Zealand suggests that it was indeed unique.
Manufacture of the reels by the AC Reel Co commence in Sydney in 1920, shortly after the end of World War 1, and they were marketed by a number of leading sporting goods houses.
In 1921, a catalogue introduced by the old and respected British tackle house Hardy Brothers on Alnwick showed a direct-drive, under-the rod reel named the “Tuna” with a number of features of the Andreas patent. Whether this was intentional or not others is not known, but MR Andreas instituted proceedings for breach of patent and Hardy Brothers subsequently came to a settlement.
The agreement saw the reels named “Fortuna” and as being made under license from the Andreas patent. The design carried over to a number of reels in the Hardy Brothers range of both saltwater and freshwater reels up to the outbreak of World War 2, when production ceased.
ON THE GROW
The early 1920’s were a period of growth for the saltwater sport, particularly in New Zealand where the grounds off the Bay of Islands and other North Island ports began to attract new local devotees and a fair smattering of overseas anglers.
Of the latter, many were wealthy British and US sports men who combined trout fishing at Taupo and other Locations with a tilt at the marlin – then called swordfish- at BOI in particular.
Due to the slowness of the vessels in use, most serious anglers at BOI stayed at a lodge then located at the Deepwater Cove- not far from Cape Brett and literally minutes from the marlin grounds. Harry Andreas visited each summer, staying weeks- or even months if the fishing was good.
Mr Andreas’ list of Captures over the years is staggering, but his 1925 unofficial world record mako shark of 558lb (254kg) takes some beating given the tackle, the vessel and the fearlessness of this species of shark.
In October 1924, Mr Andreas had addressed the annual meeting of the New South Wales Rod Fishers Society outlining the fishing had to be had in New Zealand and at Port Stephens NSW. HE displayed the tackle that he had used and recounted his trip with Major Campbell, captor of the first NZ marlin back in 1915.
The year 1926 was a momentous one for Mr Andreas and for game fishing in the Southern Hemisphere. He was elected Rear Commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Sydney, and he launched his new Prince class 28ft racing yacht to compete in racing events on Sydney Harbour.
He ventured as usual to Deepwater Cover for the marlin fishing, coinciding with the arrival in New Zealand of the expedition led by the world-famous novelist and angler Zane Grey. The large party was guest of the NZ government, which had been convinced of the publicity value of such a visit by the author and his party, and had provided much assistance to their endeavours.
SHADES OF GREY
Almost from the outset Zane Grey proceeded to alienate the locals with his severe criticism of their tackle, methods and facilities. Grey was no diplomat, and his hasty remarks and sometimes intemperate writing had created storms in his homeland, both the east and west coasts.
What Grey failed to recognise in New Zealand was that many of the pioneer anglers had laboured mightily with the inadequate tackle and vessels to establish a world-class fishery, in an area well removed from general access to mass markets for equipment and marine hardware.
The Grey party set up camp on Urupukapuka Island, in the Bay of Islands, in a sheltered anchorage called Otehei Bay, several miles from the Deepwater Cove Lodge.
Over a period of two months, the US angler and his fishing companion Captain Laurie Mitchell captured many fish; including Mitchell’s 976lb black marlin boated at the Cavalli Islands. This marlin remained the all-tackle record until eclipsed by the 1052lb fish caught by the US angler Alfred C Glassell Jr in 1952, off Cabo Blanco, Peru.
There is no doubt that the tackle and techniques used by the Grey party was superior in every respect. The emphasis was on trolling with teasers to raise marlin to presented baits, and the use of above-geared reels mounted on short stiff rods. Unfortunately, Grey’s attitude and carping criticism in newspapers and magazine articles, and in his books, overshadowed his success to a large degree, and in 40 years later the resentment that he caused was still in evidence in New Zealand.
Harry Andreas became a particular target for Grey’s sarcasm, and despite ample justification for retort Andreas maintained a dignified silence, content instead to enjoy his fishing away from the “three-ring circus” that the Grey Expedition had been christened by some outraged locals.
Mr Fred W Thompson, secretary of the Bay of Islands Kingfish Club (later the Bay of Islands Swordfish and Make Shark Club) was quoted in an article in “Smith’s Weekly” as saying: “Harry Andreas had excellent tackle. He was too gentlemanly a man to run down anyone’s tackle, but made appropriate suggestions if he through the tackle unsuitable. I should decidedly call him an expert in both fishing and helping others to fish. I have never heard him say an unkind word about anyone, and never heard him boast about his own undoubted prowess.”
STICKS AND STONES
In Zane Grey’s 1926 book “Angler’s Eldorado”, the author insulted Mr Andreas by implying that Andreas refused to loan a set of scales to weigh Mitchell’s big black marlin because he was jealous of the Grey party’s success and the fact that someone had caught a larger fish than he had.
Interestingly, this slur was removed from subsequent editions of the book that did so much to highlight the wonderful sport to be had in New Zealand. As shall be seen, the reason for the amended text in later editions was action on Mr Andreas’ behalf by several prominent Australian anglers. Grey certainly was a man with two sides to the coin, extolling and promoting the undoubted virtues of locations on the one side while falling out with most of the locals, and his peers, in spectacular fashion on the other. It has to be said, however, that his vivid descriptions of great battles at sea with huge fished fired the imaginations of two generations of anglers and recruited many of the now styled pioneers into the sport.
The paths of these two vastly different personalities were to converge some time later, at the newly-opened fishing waters off Bermagui, New South Wales.
The potential for game fishing, particularly for “swordfish”, at Bermagui was probably first highlighted by the commercial activities of Bill Warn. Among other professional fishing activities, Warn was described as “catching porpoises for their teeth which are used in trade in the Pacific Islands”. He reported seeing many tailing marlin around the local fishing grounds, but for a number of years hi remarks were ignored or thought to be exaggerated.
Finally the attention of a very small number of anglers was drawn to the potential at the southern port. This was a difficult time in Australia with the Great Depression biting deeply and unemployment queues growing weekly. Leisure activities were generally restricted, but there professionals and businessmen able to pursue fishing and hunting opportunities.
Harry Andreas was one of them, and his extensive experience fishing the waters of New Zealand had been unselfishly shared with his Rod Fishers Society colleagues and others.
The breakthrough came in February in33 when Mr Roy Smith of Yass, New South Wales, a fishing company with Dr Norman Little aboard Bill Warn’s “Merlin”, boasted a 262lb (119kg) black marlin while drifting off the north-eastern end of Montague Island. The tackle used consisted of a Bartleet split cane rod, 36 cord line and a seven-inch Hardy Brothers “Fortuna” reel, fitted with the Andreas patent features.
Mr Andreas shortly thereafter was present on another historic occasion, teaming up with Mr C W Wentworth of Sydney when the latter captured the first Australian striped marlin on rod and reel, again off Montague Island. This fish pulled the scales down to 230lb (105kg). The tackle, again a Hardy Brothers “Fortuna”, fitted with the Andreas patent features.
That Harry Andreas was regarded as the doyen of Australian game fishing is undoubted. He wrote a well-researched article for the then leading sporting paper “The Referee” in 1935, wherein he set out all the information and techniques that he had accumulated about big game fishing since 1909.
The newly—created Swordfish and Tunny Club of Australia, formed at Bermagui, mainly with Victorian members, was quick to install Mr Andreas to honorary life membership in recognition of his pioneering work, and his knowledge shared with all his fishing fellows. The honour of life membership had also been bestowed upon him by the Rod Fishers Society, his original club.
In February 1935, Andreas joined with Roy Smith, captor of the fish that had stated the “rush”, and Mrs Smith at Bermagui for a month of marlin fishing. Their result was 14 fish, the heaviest a black of 270lb (122kg) and the smallest a striped of 198lb (90kg)
In July, The rod Fishers Society published details of the tactics and techniques used by Mr Andreas to lure and hook marlin. The principal method expounded was “the use of small kingfish, salmon and large garfish aided by tarporinos or teasers (gaily painted pieces of wood about 15in long and 1 ¾ in diameter trolled some 50ft astern, from the end of booms projecting 8ft or sot to port and starboard)”.
On August 28, 1935, Mr Andreas again addressed the Rod Fishers Society annual meeting and illustrated his talk with lantern slides, showing in the techniques to lure marlin used by him in both Australia and NW Zealand. In an introduction to his talk, the president referred to Harry Andreas as “the doyen of big game fishing, the man who had been there at the start and who continued to fish with skill and determination”.
In January 1936, Zane Grey and his party had arrived in Australia with what can only be described as a major expedition and with attendant publicity, the likes of which had not been seen in Australia before.
His vessel “Avalon” was shipped from New Zealand: local support vessel were hired, and, due to unstinting efforts of the Melbourne based tackle dealer and angler Reg Lyne, a self-contained camp with all facilities as established on a hill above the township of Bermagui.
Much correspondence has taken place between Grey and Lyne over the preceding year or so with Grey constantly questioning the proposed arrangements. In these letters, Grey severely criticised Mr Andreas, stating that: “Andreas, without exception, is the poorest angler I ever saw. He is like the New Zealand fellow who fished alongside me, using the wrong tackle and the wrong method, and then tells their boatman “This is good enough for us!”- they cannot learn”.
As Reg Lyne was a friend of Harry Andreas, we can be sure that Grey’s comments came to Mr Andreas’ attention. Ironically, Zane Grey was made an honorary life member of the Swordfish and Tunny Club of Australia and his name appears alongside that of Andreas in all the Club’s later reports and memorabilia.
During the course of research into the life and times of Mr Harry Andreas for this article, the writer was given access by the family to a letter of apology written to Mr Andreas by Zane Grey from his fishing camp at Bateman’s Bay in March 1936. It appears that Errol Bullen and Bill Fagan, prominent anglers of the time, prevailed upon Grey to apologise for his intemperate words in “Anglers Eldorado”. Grey was not a man known for apologising to anyone for anything, so this letter, written almost grudgingly, is noteworthy for existence alone.
The letter says “Our mutual friends, Mr Bullen and Mr Fagan, have prevailed upon me to apologise for the passage in my book which offended you. I do apologise and retract the inference that I did not recognise until after the book was printed. It was a mistake to mention any name and I am sorry. But I never meant it to look that way.”
“I did not mean to single you out individually. What I meant was to get your influence in reforming certain methods used in New Zealand at that period. So I hope that you will forgive my blunder and forget it.”
Predictably, Zane Grey fell out with Reg Lyne in fine style and excluded an mention of his name and efforts on behalf of the expedition in his subsequent book “An American Angler in Australia” and in any other of his writings, much to the disgust of many in the then somewhat rarefied world of 1930’s game fishing.
INTO THE TWILIGHT
Harry Andreas continued his trips to New Zealand every year and finished consistently and well for marlin and mako sharks with a variety of companions from NZ and Australia. Camp was now established at the Otehei Lodge following the closing of the Deepwater Cover lodge in 1937. That the Otehei Lodge was situated on the site of Zane Grey’s 1926 camp must have had an irony not lost on Mr Andreas.
Some years later, Mr Andreas’ son Phillip travelled unaccompanied via ship to New Zealand to join his father during school holidays. Phillip Andreas became a fine engineer and model maker, and some of his ship models during World War 2 for identification techniques are in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
The outbreak of World War 2 and the threats posed by enemy submarines and surface raiders off the NZ coast led to the closing down of the sport until 1946. Similarly, game fishing off the east coast of Australia was curtailed for the duration.
Harry Andreas, who continued to live in his residence “Leuralla” in the NSW Blue Mountains, was one of the earl post-war returnees to the Bay of Islands. The lack of fishing effort for nearly six years had done the region no harm. Fish, particularly striped marlin, were plentiful, and despite shortages of fuel and available tackle, several bumper seasons were experienced.
He had been enrolled as an honorary life member of the Bay of Islands Swordfish and Mako Shark Club and enjoyed senior status as the most experience angler fishing the region.
Mr Andreas was by now an elderly man, but he continued to play off a low gold handicap, so obviously he was quite active. On his final visit to the Bay of Islands, his capture list reads: Make shark 156lb (71kg), mako shark 160lb (73kb), black marlin 409lb (186kg), and black marlin. The latter was the heaviest marlin that he ever caught, and all the above were taken over six days in February 1952, fishing from George Warne’s legendary vessel “Rosemary”. A fine effort for a man of 75 years.
Recording the capture of the big black marlin, the “New Zealand Herald” paid a well deserve compliment to a man “who had been fishing in Bay of Island waters since the days when the deep-sea angler went forth in a dinghy rowed by a south-hearted boatman”.
Mr Andreas continued an active, though non-fishing, life for some time after his final trip to sea of Bay of Islands. As the found of the Leura Golf Club, he was an institution in the Blue Mountains region and was as well regarded in that sport as he was in fishing circles.
E P “Harry” Andreas passed away in Bowral NSW on May 21, 1955, having established an unassailable reputation as a pioneer who had provided the vital cross-fertilisation of ideas and hard-won techniques to both sides of the Tasman Sea. He will be forever be remembered as a true trans-Tasman pioneer.
Thanks are due to the following for assistance with the preparation of this article:
Mr Andreas’ grand-daughters; Mrs Margaret Andreas Worthington, Chief Justice Elizabeth Andreas Evatt and Mrs Patricia Andreas Hill, al of Sydney. Mr Andreas’ great-grandson Will Andreas III, also of Sydney. Jeff Overington of Bacchus Marsh, Victoria – collector of fishing memorabilia. The late Bob Dunn- fishing historian. Peter Goadby of Sydney- angler, author and fishing authority.
“Harry Andreas of Leuralla” by Elizabeth Andreas Evatt
“Big Fish and Blue Water” by Peter Goadby
“Saltwater Game Fishes of the World” by Bob Dunn and Peter Goadby
“Angling in Australia” by Bob Dunn
“Australian Fishing Reels” by Bob Dunn
“Game fishing off the Australian Coast” by Athel D’Ombrain
“Fighting Fins- Big Game Fishing in New Zealand” by Neil Illingworth