Elderly Man Searches For Fishing Friend After Losing Longtime Partner

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Widowed Man Finds Fishing Friend
Mati Batsinilas/Facebook

A widowed Australian, Ray Johnstone, lost his fishing partner in a devastating car accident a few years ago. Afterward, he looked for a new partner online, in a post that went viral. Soon enough, Johnstone received enough requests to fill his datebook forever. However, his new fishing partner came from the strangest place…

Ray, The Fishing Enthusiast

Ray Johnstone Mati Batsinila
News Corp Australia

Ray Johnstone is an elderly widow from Adelaide, Australia, who loves fishing. Unfortunately, his longtime fishing partner, and dear friend, passed away in a car crash several years ago. As the years passed, the man found himself missing the open seas and, more importantly, friendship. So, he decided to go onto Gumtree, an Australian online board not unlike CraigsList, and post an ad for a new fishing partner.

Johnstone’s post read, “My name is Ray Johnstone. Australian. I’m a widowed pensioner who is looking for a fishing mate. My previous mate is now deceased. I am a land-based fisherman. I have all the gear for all types of fish that is required for land-based fishing. What I want is a fishing mate in a similar position to myself who also wants someone to go fishing with.”

The elderly man had no idea if he would receive any answers. Instead, within a short time, over 55,000 fishing friends responded to Johnstone! He could not believe his luck! Johnstone’s post went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and people all over the world rooted for him, hoping he’d find his new fishing companion.

New Partner, New Adventure

Widowed Man Finds Fishing Friend
Mati Batsinilas/Facebook

After the story went viral, local news, including local paper the Courier Mail, agencies also wrote about Johnstone’s touching request. That’s where Mati Batsinila, a 22-year-old carpenter from Brisbane, first heard the man’s story. Afterward, he reached out, commenting on the Mail‘s story, “You’ve probably found your fishing buddy, and you probably don’t need me. But if you see this message, I’m more than happy to take you on a trip to Queensland.”

The next morning, the Mail‘s story had thousands of comments. Still, the paper took it upon themselves to put Johnstone and Batsinila in touch. And the rest, really, is history. Batsinilas was more than happy to pay for the costs of the old man’s trip, including a ticket for his grandson as well. Batsinilas said, “I haven’t looked at the fees, to be honest. I just paid for everything. It doesn’t bother me.”

And so, just a few days later, the new fishing friends left on their first adventure together. At 5am, they sailed for Stradbroke Island, which is 45 minutes away from Queensland coast. Batsinalis owns the boat they used. While out on the blue sea, the duo caught “whiting, squid and an 84 cm mulloway.” Johnstone told the Courier Mail, “It was a really good day. The highlight was being taken out fishing in the morning.”

Afterward, the great day continued: Johnstone joined Batsinalis and his family for lunch. There, the two got to know each other, forming a lifelong friendship.

“The Smile On Ray’s Face”

Ray Johnstone Mati Batsinila
Mati Batsinilas/Facebook

Of course, the Mail asked Batsinalis why the Australian would do such a great deed. “The idea of this trip, it wasn’t just about fishing. It was about getting him up here to bring a smile on his face. It wasn’t until this trip that I realized how cool it is to see the smile on Ray’s face. He was very shocked, but he reckons he feels about 30 years younger. He still can’t get over it.”

Batsinalis continued, “I did it out of good will. Honestly, it touched me. I come from a family of four boys, and we love fishing. We do it all the time. If something was to happen to us and our old man was left on his own, that’s just awful. There’s no way I would want that to happen to my old mate or my grandfather.”