1882 Over a century ago, Harrys Great Grandfather Alexander Mitchelson, built himself a fishing boat and began fishing in the Gippsland Lakes catching mullet and Bream, Alexander would haul the nets by hand, this was at the beginning of the Gippsland Fishing Industry.
Harrys Great-grandfather, Grandfather and father were all fishermen and boatbuilders. Harrys father Kevin started fishing off shore at the young age of 11 to fill-in for crew that had gone to war, in the late 1930's. Kevin along with his brothers Frank and Jack caught salmon and pilchards and were sold to a cannery in Melbourne then they were shipped overseas to the troops.
Kevin and his brothers fished for many years using a timber constructed vessels beach seining and purse seining salmon, pilchards and anchovies
During Beach seining a team would row a dingy around one of the many schools of salmon that would come to Lakes Entrance and lay along the Beach, haul the nets back by hand and transfer them to the waiting salmon pens. the fish would stay alive in the pens until there was a truck available to take the fish to Melbourne. this type of fishing is still used Nation wide.
Kevin, Frank and Jack were also part of a company whom built a fish meal plant on Bullock island designed to make anchovy paste, in the
1960's the Anchovette was able to unload fresh fish direct into the plant.
The MAASBANKER and DAGERAAD were purposely built for the Lakes Entrance fish canning plant and were Launched in 1968 and 1971, Harry and his brother Ron were sent to help with the construction of the boats in between going to school and fishing, learning boat building trade. In the late 60's launching a boat of her size in a rural town was rare, with the dageraad no gone Maasbanker is one of the oldest still working boats of her construction in Lakes Entrance
Harrys father Kevin fished for an amazing 72 years, for many of those years in the Gippsland Lakes, alongside with his wife Mary, and his brother Frank and his wife Dora.
Harry and his three sibling grew up on the water having a house on Marine Parade overlooking the back water of Lakes Entrance. Harry as child used a small net with brother Ron to catch Mullet in the lake and sell them to the shops for pocket money.
Brothers Harry and Ron began team fishing in the seventies and eighty's on their two boats Maasbanker and
Daagerard Catching Salmon, Bluefin Tuna, anchovies for pecks anchovy paste and scallops.
Harry and Ron opened their processing plant in 1984 with their wives, Jennifer and Liz. the factory was designed to freeze large quantities of fish, and the two brothers got a contract to supply pilchards to Australia's largest pet food company.
They started with approx 5 staff, but when the fishing is good they now employ 30 full-time and
casual staff in Don Road Lakes Entrance.
Harry has always been a keen fish spotter, this involves training your eyes to see different shapes and patterns in the water from an aeroplane ,a technique that has been handed down the generations to Harry and his daughter Lynda,
now over 100 Years on, Harry, his children and grandchildren are continuing to grow a century old tradition.