Fishing as therapy for kids with medical conditions

Fishing as Therapy for Young Jessie Lawrence

Young Jesse Lawrence was diagnosed with the eye condition Keratoconus at age eight.

He was looking down the barrel of a significant eye operation – so we thought a fishing trip chasing big barra might take his mind off it.

Keratoconus is when the cornea is an odd shape which has rendered him nearly blind.

To see Jesse must use really thick contact lens that are really hard to get in.

Not to mention expensive ($900) and not covered by medicare rebates.

His parents Rebecca and Jason reckon he’s a little legend for persevering and putting them in everyday.

At the start it would take over an hour to get them in, taking courage and perseverance. Sometimes they would break. A very costly exercise.

So with Jesse being an avid angler, they used fishing gear to reward his efforts.

When he got the contacts in place in five attempts or less, he got to choose something out of the “fishing bag”. When he got them in first go on both eyes – they got him a new fishing rod!

Fishing as therapy to cope with uncertainty around a medical condition.

I first met Jesse as he is a member of the Cardwell sportfishing club.

Jesse’s enthusiasm for life and courage facing life head on was an inspiration.

So we took him fishing earlier this year to see if we could match or beat his barra PB of 70 cm.



How fishing as therapy works...

It helps focus your attention on the present moment.

You have to be so attuned to the environment it can take your mind off the day to day.

First up collecting bait.

While I prefer to use lures, it's always handy to have a back up plan.

And hunting down bait in the shallows is a perfect example of fishing as therapy. You need FOCUS.


Collecting bait with a cast net

Collecting bait is the first order of the day. We really wanted to try and beat Jesse's PB barra 70

Trolling on the big girls

Prior to filming the trip, Jesse was preparing for a big eye operation: a corneal transplant.

It's one of the reasons we wanted to get him out fishing.

Fishing as therapy is another way to say - get their mind off it!

Sadly the weather to our trip did not play the game with a ton of rain.

The resultant fresh streaming down the channel sent a lot of the big fish packing.

Enter those livies we caught earlier.


Trolling on the big barra

We tried trolling on the big girls but the water was fresh from all the rain and not ideal. So we pulled the pin to try for some schoolies.

Fishing as Therapy; Fish on... problems forgotten!

With the big girls not playing the game we hit the snags with the livies for some school size barra action.

Jesse proved to be a top class angler!

Certainly knew how to use his new fishing rod!


Fishing as therapy for kids with medical conditions

Jesse knows his stuff once the fish is on. I was really impressed with his angling skills.

Fishing can be used as therapy to get kids minds off their troubles

While we didn't manage to beat Jessie's PB, a few school size barra in the boat made the trip a great way to get Jesse's mind of his up coming operation.


Post script on Jesse's Op.

On the 15th February Jesse went into surgery. So far the operation has been a success.

You can follow his progress on this Facebook page: Jesse's Keratoconus


Fishing as therapy helping kids recover

Jessie cheeky as ever in recovery! We are happy to announce it is looking good so far. Well done Champ.

If you'd like to learn more about this debilitating condition or donate for further research, please visit Keratoconus Australia.

If you're new to fishing or would like to take up the sport with your kids, here are some resources you might find helpful!


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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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