Gone fishing: Australian pensioner finds new fishing mate - 1,600km away - after viral online ad

Pensioner Ray Johnstone and his new "fishing mate" Mati Batsinilas with their catch.
Pensioner Ray Johnstone and his new "fishing mate" Mati Batsinilas with their catch. PHOTO: MATI BATSINILAS/FACEBOOK

The Australian pensioner whose online call for a new "fishing mate" went viral has netted himself one - over 1,600km away in Brisbane.

Carpenter Mati Batsinilas, 22, was so moved by Mr Ray Johnstone's original advertisement on Gumtree that he paid for the latter's flight from Adelaide.

The unlikely pair - Mr Johnstone, a widower, is 75 - are currently on a two-day fishing trip off the coast of Queensland, the BBC reported.

Mr Batsinilas on Tuesday (Feb 7) posted several Facebook photos of him and Mr Johnstone on the trip, along with a photo of their catch: an 80cm-long mulloway fish.

They also camped overnight on North Stradbroke island, a picturesque spot popular with tourists.

"It was a really good day," Mr Johnstone told local newspaper The Courier Mail. "The highlight was being taken out fishing in the morning."


Mr Batsinilas told the paper that their second day will include some land-based fishing before Mr Johnstone heads home.

"This has been more of an adventure than a trip for Ray," he added.

During his search for a fishing partner, Mr Johnstone reportedly first posted a sign in his local shop and then on Facebook, before turning to Gumtree at the suggestion of his care nurse.

His long-time fishing buddy died a few years ago in a fishing accident.

Mr Batsinilas was among the scores of fishing enthusiasts from around the world who answered to the ad, with Mr Johnstone admitting that he had been taken aback by the response.