From Illegal Casino to Legendary Lakes Entrance Fishing Vessel

Casino hull on arrival in Lakes Entrance. Image - Mitchelson collection.

Date of Event: 1940s - 1970s

Vessel type: Fishing boat

Location: Lakes Entrance

Suggested title: From Illegal Casino to Legendary Lakes Entrance Fishing Vessel


Commercial fishing entered a new phase when Kevin and Frank Mitchelson transported a half-planked casino hull to Lakes Entrance, transforming it into the most recognised Victorian fishing vessel of its time. Contracted to supply anchovies for Peck’s, the brothers named their vessel Anchovette after the famous fish paste.

Flying after the fish:
The Mitchelsons employed light aircraft to spot shoals of fish. A purse-seiner, Anchovette carried up to 80 tons.

Local attraction:
Awash with salmon and drawing excited crowds, Anchovette unloaded amid the din of ice-crushing machinery and shimmering scales. Wicker baskets, each holding half a ton, transferred catches to waiting trucks.

At the cutting edge:
Researching tuna fishing for Australian Fisheries and accidentally catching shark, the Mitchelsons developed a technique that changed shark-fishing forever.

More Than a Fishing Boat:
Dramatic rescues at sea or hosting Blessings of the Fleet; it was all in a day’s work for the Anchovette.

Interesting anecdote

Melbourne underworld spawns fishing legend:
1940s Melbourne underworld figure Henry ‘King Midas’ Stokes planned to thwart the law with a sumptuous floating casino operating outside the three-mile limit. Stokes’ sudden death left his partly-built dream in tatters until pioneering Lakes Entrance fishermen, brothers Kevin and Frank Mitchelson recognised its potential.

Anchovette - the completed hull is launched. Image - Mitchelson collection

Iconic Peck's Anchovette Paste jars. Image - Mitchelson collection.

Frank Mitchelson surrounded by salmon. Image - Mitchelson collection.

Newspaper cuttings of Mitchelson Bros and the Anchovette. Melbourne Herald.

Blessing of the Fleet aboard Anchovette. Image - Mitchelson collection.

Anchovette (Kevin Mitchelson) being unloaded at Hancock's Wharf. Image - Hancock collection.

Acknowledgement of services to Fisheries Dept. Image -  Mitchelson collection.

Newspaper cutting about Frank & Kevin Mitchelson. Weekend Age.


Please briefly note any objects (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the story

  • A number of general images of the vessel.
  • Net needles made by Frank Mitchelson.
  • Peck's Paste jars.
  • Business related items, eg letterhead.
  • Propellor from spotting plane.
  • Assorted certificates, documents and newspaper clippings.
  • Documentation showing Mitchelson family connection to Lt John Shortland of the First Fleet.

Name of person submitting the story

Joy Mitchelson


AMMC Member Institution

Lakes Entrance Regional Historical Society Inc.

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