AGRONOMIST consultant Dale Mott and his team The Sultans of Sea were thrilled to be last year's winners of the Bayer Big Fish Challenge for the third year in a row.
With applications now open to register a team for the 2022 challenge, Mr Mott is advocating for anyone who fishes to get a team together and get in on the action.
The challenge sees a set of 33 species of fish from all around the country being nominated and teams try to catch as many fish from that list as they can during the year.
Bayer then donates one dollar per centimetre of the largest fish per type caught by each team to the Bayer AgSpirit Fund.
Five winners from around the country are selected based on the teams which catch the most species of fish and raise the most money.
They then nominate two members from their team to fly to Tasmania, to Currawong Lakes, a fly fishing retreat, where they hold a fish off for the fisherman of the year.
Mr Mott who is the captain of The Sultans of Sea, along with his team members John King, Ashley Newton, Garry Varcoe, Matt Giolmore and Ben Strautins, last year raised $1900 and caught 23 or the 33 species of fish nominated.
A history of fishing led Mr Mott to be involved in the challenge, growing up in Dumbleyung in the Wheatbelt, he was a member of the town's fishing club and president there for 10 years.
"I have only been in Esperance for the past 10 years, my family has been fairly into it, so I was introduced from a very young age, so when the option was to move closer to the coast I had to grab it," Mr Mott said
"Because we had the fishing club we would try to organise three to four major trips for the year which would entail a week or 10 days away and then we'd go to all points of the compass really.
"Which is a little bit different now down in Esperance, I've got the luxury of going whenever the weather is alright on weekends."
When a local Bayer representative told him about the challenge and broader meaning behind it to support farmers who may need a mental reprieve, he was keen to get involved.
"It's got a pretty good back story behind it, so I was more than happy to jump on board," Mr Mott said.
"We're fishing anyway, so being a part of a national competition that helps raise awareness for mental health, that really sits well with me given what my position is and what I do."
Last year the challenge raised $30,000 and had 460 participants across 158 teams.
This year they are hoping to raise $45,000.
Often on the road talking to farmers and people in regional communities, Mr Mott has seen the effects of mental health first-hand and, as a third-time winner, he has become an ambassador of the program.
"It's a bit like cancer, everyone knows someone who has been touched by mental health issues and, well, life's not easy," he said.
"Farming is one of those industries where the highs are high but the lows are really low, so I feel in my position, being an ambassador for the Bayer Big Fish program and the Fly program I try to lighten to those conversations with growers and the general public really and make sure everyone is ticking along alright."
Mr Mott said that generally "male species" tend to not talk as much about what is going on, especially back in the day, but feels it's important to check in on people.
"You know guys that are struggling from what you hear around the bush, so it's just about having a conversation to make sure they are ticking along alright," he said.
"Where we can we try and offer them a trip if we are going to go out east, to go for a beach camp or something, just to break that relentless work life and try and make it more enjoyable."
Through his job as an agronomy consultant, he has spoken to many people who are passionate fishermen despite their often inland location.
The challenge has become so rewarding for Mr Hott, in a variety of ways and making it easy to become an ambassador for mental health.
"It's quite easy to add it into your portfolio and just be aware I suppose on a day-to-day basis if you can," he said.
Registrations for new individuals or teams are open for the 2022 Bayer Big Fish Challenge.
Bayer is encouraging farmers, growers and any other interested individuals across rural Australia to register on the dedicated Bayer Big Fish Challenge app.
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