David Young Interviews Jacques Venter, a Drone Fishing Expert

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Have you ever heard of drone fishing?

If you’re wondering if we are literally talking about fishing with a drone, we are!

Jacques Venter is the founder of Gannet, which specializes in providing drone release systems that are commonly used for drone fishing. They also sell their own waterproof drones, as well as accessories and fishing rods.

Back in 2016, he saw a video of two guys in Australian catching tuna with a Phantom 3. He had actually just given his son a Phantom 3 for Christmas! So, he went on Google and found out that you can attach a coat hanger and a line to your drone and fish that way. But… he ended up sinking the drone after about ten times trying that method. Ironically, someone else’s Phantom 3 (coat hanger and all) washed up on the beach outside of Jacques’ house 24 hours later. At that moment, Jacques realized that this method just wasn’t going to work.

Jacques was determined to figure out how to successfully use drones for fishing – without losing any more drones to the ocean!

Luckily, Jacques’ background is in inventing and engineering. He used his knowledge and skills to come up with a plan. He hired someone else to do the electronics and Jacques did all of the mechanics. They tested it and it worked!

Within six weeks, he was selling his new invention online. So far, his company, Gannet, has exported 20,000+ drone release systems to over 100 countries.

While most people use Gannet’s drone release systems for drone fishing, customers have successfully used it for training hunting dogs, applying plant killers on weeds in inaccessible areas of New Zealand (which kill sheep if they eat them), installing radio antennas over large trees in Brazil, and even installing powerlines over the fjords in Norway!

Be sure to check out the full interview to learn more about Gannet’s innovative products and the awesome ways that they are being used!


Jacques: Uh, I’m Jacques, I’m the founder of Gannet.

David: Oh, you’re founder. Okay, great. Awesome. Um, and where you guys based out of?

Jacques: Yeah, I’m the founder and the inventor behind all the Gannet releases and also the drone.

David: Cool. That’s awesome. Um, so where are you, where are you from? You said you’re on the beach.

Jacques: Uh, I’m in [inaudible], which is on the North coast, or the dolphin coast, uh, off South Africa.

David: South Africa. Awesome. Cool. So, how did you get started with the concept for drone fishing?

Jacques: Uh, that’s back in 2016, I saw a video on YouTube of two guys in Australia, catching tuna from, uh, from a Phantom 3 at that time. And at that time, I just happened to have given my son a Phantom 3 as a birthday present. Uh, and at the time, um, Googled around and I found a coat hanger. You rig up a coat hanger underneath the drone. It’s basically just a line on the vets, fly the drone out, turn the drone around and, uh, hopefully adopted weights and did that for about 10 times. And then I sunk the drone. That was in week one. In week one I sunk my first Phantom 3. So, 24 hours later, I’m not joking, 24 hours later, somebody else’s Phantom 3 washed up on the beach in front of my house with the same coat hanger on it, same, uh, with a boat still attached. And at that point in time, I knew, coat hanger. That’s a no-no.

David: The coat hanger’s not going to work.

Jacques: Can’t work. My background is actually inventing engineering. So I come from a, at that time in 2016, I was under a restraint of trade. So I wasn’t allowed to work anywhere in the world.

David: Okay.

Jacques: [inaudible] out in the mining industry, which my background.

David: Okay.

Jacques: Um, so any case, was walking around the beach now thinking of how to get this thing to work properly. So came up with the electrical release that works. Um, I got somebody else to do the electronics and I did all the mechanics. Tested it, it worked really well, and within six weeks, I was up and running and selling online because that’s outside of the mountain mining industry. So I had my first order from Texas, literally six weeks later.

David: That’s so funny.

Jacques: And ever since then, uh, we’ve exported to, I dunno how many countries, it’s far over a hundred countries.

David: Wow.

Jacques: Um, we, uh, America is one of our biggest markets. We export a lot. We’ve done about, in excess of 20,000 drone release systems, mainly for fishing. But, uh, we do everything. Our releases have been used for, uh, training hunting dogs. So you fly the drone with the duck on it. Uh, super blank, drop a duck. And now the hunting dog was going to find it. So that’s one innovative way of using the drone. Another, um, in New Zealand by dropping, not pesticides, uh, plant killers on, um, uh, weeds, to kill weeds in inaccessible areas, uh, to save sheep because the sheep, eat these weeds and die. Uh, in Norway, we drawing, uh, lines across the fjords, uh, pilot lines, [inaudible] power line over the fjords.

David: Oh, okay, cool.

Jacques: That’s with a Mavic, believe it or not, that’s with a Mavic.

David: Wow.

Jacques: Mavic can do that. Uh, in Brazil, we’re installing, uh, radio antennas, amateur radio antennas over big trees. That’s the same story. Use a little drone to fly a line over the tree and drop it on the other side. And then you go your, and then over the tree, there you go, now you’ve got a massive antenna.

David: So really there’s all these uses popping up because, well, real quick, describe for people who may not be familiar with the concept of drone fishing or what your product does, and just give a little description of it and kind of how it works and, you know, what it does.

Jacques: Uh, okay, it started off with the Phantoms, later the Mavics, and so on and so on. So it’s, it’s making a release system, just one [inaudible] you can clip your fishing line in this one. This one is just for fishing. You clip your fishing line in this one, fly out, stop your reel, and it unclips. There we go.

David: You push a button to trigger the release?

Jacques: This is not even electric. This is just mechanical. We’ve got electric ones, as well. Many of them. Electric one. This is an electric one that goes on our Gannet drones. Well, this one is actually later mechanical, so it can have both. Um, it can automatically release, or you have a server in it, so you can press a button and it releases a load from base. So this one can actually be used, we’re flying around on the Inspire 2. We find it on covetous it’s in America for Walmart.

David: So, so with the, so with the ones that are mechanical released, how does it know, how does it know when to pop open or how does it pop open?

Jacques: You stop the line, or you stop the load.

David: Oh, it just feels the tension and it comes open.

Jacques: And you set it up to, say, you’re flying a two pound load, alright? You set it up at at least just over two pounds. So, say, two pounds and seven ounces or 10 ounces extra. Um, if you add that, basically announces that it releases. So these are extremely, extremely, really released, very accurate accurately. Um, it’s every time the same. So it’s actually very easy to do. It’s not difficult. Gotcha. That’s now this is the mechanical one, electromechanical one, this one, hasn’t got a server in it, this one’s got a server in it. So it’s got a little wire load into, and so you’ve got adjustment. You have it to be, make it tighter and tighter. And if you go over that, for instance, say, say you wanted to drop a six pack of your buddies, right. You can lower the six pack down.

David: Okay.

Jacques: Get some slack in the line, and then accelerate upwards. You pull down and you also added a little bit extra. And that’s it, simple as that. It’s really simple. Um, but I mean, our drones, you’ve got the electrical part, as well. So you can press a button or flip a switch and when you want it to drop.

David: That’s cool. So, so for the fishing component of it, people are using the drone to go visually see where the fish are, see where they want to drop their line, and then they go, and then they have it release right there and it drops down, because you were referencing, I think I saw that same video you saw where people, they flew their drone out and they found these big tuna. Right? And they dropped the, they just dropped the bait right in front of them. Is that the one you’re talking about?

Jacques: That was a viral video, that really went viral and I think it was in ’16. It went viral because it was seen as quite novel at that time. Although, before that it was really fishing with drones in Hawaii. But as far as I could trace it back, the first glass of the fish was actually based in Hawaii, but using the Phantom Visions, Phantom 2s and Phantom Visions. The first guys that I tracked down to, to do my dedicated fishing clients, that’s in Kentucky, in New Zealand, they make these, uh, uh, six wire configuration drones six motors, uh, capable of lifting up to seven kilograms. So that’s, it’s well over 10 pounds, that’s 15 pounds. Uh, and they fly out 25 hooks setups on Kentucky lines, uh, up to over half a mile into the ocean, uh, and haul out a lot of snapper on one go. A lot of snapper.

David: 25 lines at once?

Jacques: Hooks, no, 25 hooks on one line. I’ve got to check up on the drum. It’s not even a fishing line, a fishing rod. It’s a drum, it’s electrically operated. Fly it out, drop the line, and wait, they wait a certain amount of time. They’re not waiting for [inaudible]. There’s a button, which goals are all out of ocean begin. And then you go.

David: They just bring it back and just wait for the snapper to just jump on it?

Jacques: Literally. The snapper is already on it, because as I drop it, where they drop it, that’s where the fish bite.

David: Oh, right, right.

Jacques: So they can wait let’s say, let’s say they wait half an hour or one hour after the drop, then they press the button and hold it out. And whichever fish got hooked, is hooked.

David: That’s awesome.

Jacques: Now, I mean, a lot of guys are using the game fish is one thing, I mean, catching tuna from the beach, but it’s done. It’s, it’s, but not that often. Tuna is more of a deep water fish, so you don’t get it that often, but for the drone I developed, uh, the balloon rig, uh, hovering the drone over the water for an extended period of time is not really practical. I mean, the drone battery is not made for that. You know? It’s not made to hover 20 minutes hoping you’ll get a bite. So, uh, I’ve made it, I’ve designed a balloon rig that you can fly out, but mighty is on the balloon side of the rig. Uh, so you drop the line in, the balloon is at the top and your bite isn’t, you have a dog and that can be live right. Or you can have anybody who wants to here. And when the line goes down to the bottom, which can be, uh, 20 meters down, 30 meters down, it doesn’t matter. That’s where your lead is. And then comes back to your origin. Do you move forward a balloon to pop? You can see it with the balloon pops, you know, you’ve got a bite, and there you go.

David: It’s almost like a bobber, but it’s like, uh,

Jacques: Yeah, big one. Big one. In Hawaii, they very often do it with the five gallon bottles. I can, I can tell you drone fishing very far in excess of a hundred thousand people doing it globally.

David: That’s awesome. And you’ve kind of just…

Jacques: I’ve exported to virtually every country in Europe, uh, Singapore, Greenland, Iceland, um, obviously, uh, Australia, New Zealand, the whole of South America, and obviously Canada and, uh, America.

David: Yeah, that’s really cool. And so you got, when did you, how did you get drone, I mean, do you have, you own drone fishing.com, right?

Jacques: Yes.

David: That’s a pretty, that’s a pretty solid domain for what you’re doing. How did you, did somebody else already own that? Or did you, were you able to…

Jacques: No, it was owned by an Indian guy in Delhi, India, and it was up for sale. So I had to barter with him and I bartered with him and I bought it for not a cheap price. It was expensive.

David: I was about to say I bet that was a pretty, pretty, but hey, you know, it’s paying off. That’s how I found you. So, um…

Jacques: I mean, I knew the address was worth it.

David: Yeah. That’s awesome. So, you started in 2016, um, and you said you started getting sales pretty much right away. At that point, did you just have the release system or, cause it sounds like now you have like your own drone you guys make, and all that stuff, kinda walk us through how you went from that to now having all these different…

Jacques: Can I get my box of toys?

David: Sure.

Jacques: Here’s an old one. This was the first release that we made. So this one, it mounted between the two legs near the top of the body of a Phantom, and then that was at the bottom, between the legs. So, and it’s purposely so small that it avoids all the VPA sensors and so on that’s on the, on the Phantom and, uh, um, uh, a gimbal itself. So this one is that the very nicely on the Phantoms and it was very successful. This, I’m not sure how many we sold, but must be more than 5,000 of these, but this is going to pin, but it closes. So it actually locks the load. And if you do have a bird stuck on the line as you fly out, a pelican flies into your line, or alternatively, just, just the reel jams, as you fly out your reel jams, the line hooks, you can actually jerk the drone down into water, so, after that, I designed this one. Let’s see if there’s one here. No. In any case, this is a, uh, a unit, the new one, this is the Gannet X, and it’s got a little opinion that hooks the line on, and you just literally hook the line on, and as you fly out, and you align, it does get jammed, it simply hooks off. And it’s also got a server inside, press a button and it will drop the lines. So the blending turns down and the line drops. That one came later, that’s the Gannet X. And later came this one, which is again in sport, little flew on mechanical one, that you can just adjust up. So you just adjust it tighter and tighter and tighter until you get the load that you want. Here’s another one. That’s this is a Gannet X Sport. It, it combines the mechanical one. So now it’s both in one. So you’ve got the safety over the mechanical, um, plus the convenience of electrical, drop it when you want. Alright? And obviously for the Mavics. Here’s a Mavic one. So, this one is the Mavic Pro, the original Mavic Pro, and this is a newer one, so it can actually drop two eggs or two golfballs. Take two balls, and the Turkey, play golf with this…

David: Fly them out and and try to drop them in the, in the holes?

Jacques: As close as possible to the hole, yeah. You got two balls. You can, one guy can drop then you fly off the green, let second guy fly onto the green. There is another one and there’s another mechanical one for the Mavic, same. And this one fits the Mavic Pro, Mavic 2, Mavic Air, um, all of them, all of them, and also, um, uh, Autel Evo.

David: Okay. Where does it hook on, how does it attach to the Mavic, to the drone? Sorry, I’m making you go out and get all this stuff.

Jacques: I’m sorry?

David: I said, sorry, I’m making you run around and grab all this stuff.

Jacques: No. So this one just clips on there and it’s earning the dose over the ground. That’s all. And we might’ve missed said you have to be in the center of load, in the center of the lift of a drone. So between all the four products, some of these at least systems on my detail obviously drove to the back of a drone. And that’s stupid because you’re over-exerting the two back motors oversight, whichever way some of them are off to the side as well. And, uh, all of the, especially with DJI drones unlimited, [inaudible] what the maximum RPM of a motor is, and if you run out of RPMs, the front motors might be idling, but the back ones can’t carry the load and you’re going to get you in trouble. So all of these we’ve designed it. There are smack in the center of a drone and all the, uh, the sensors. You don’t want to switch or EPS to switch your gimbal for once. Don’t do it.

David: That’s awesome. How much does, so just curious, how much does one of those go for in like U.S. dollars for like the Mavic 2…

Jacques: Uh, this one, delivered from South Africa, delivered to you guys? I think it’s now $69.

David: $69?

Jacques: Yeah.

David: That’s not bad. I mean, in my opinion, no, it’s not bad. It’s not bad at all. Especially if you look at the tooling that we had to do to tool up, to do these things, we spend a lot of money on tooling to make sure that we’ve got the business in the East.

Jacques: So there’s not a lot of computers. When we started in 2006, we were alone. There was nobody else competing with us. And now if I had to take a wild guess, I’ll say there’s more than 50 companies from Greece, from, from Israel, from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, we’ve got copies in South Africa. So we’ve had for quite a few buttons on these things. I mean, the ladies, this other Chinese companies that actually we’ve been copied out exactly lists shocker. What is the price tag? Drunk fishing.com. And you got that. So you can kind of be the key people there, at least when people are searching for it. Yeah. I don’t know if you could. Well, if you look at the picture on a bag, this is our own girl. Cool. I can see the camera is not working. So the lack of minor study is not. Yeah, we can see that back there.

Jacques: Yeah. Yeah. So in any case, these are our own drones. I mean, um, that’s a full on waterproof drone. Now you can land it on a water. You can take it from water, really. It can right itself. If it falls in the water and gets washed upside down by a waste, you can press a button and it flips itself. Backgrounds really? That’s cool. Yeah. And the load carrying capacity has a lot more, I mean, a lot more, um, this little one can pick up 3.8 kilograms, but flying with a safe load of two kilograms of how much milligrams you said, um, fly, safe load with this little one is two kilograms. Okay.

Jacques: Yeah. It’s about 40 pounds. Pretty heavy. Yeah. That should be fine with then you can fly that to over 500 yachts. Wow. Awesome. Uh, the bigger brother can do 3.5 kilograms. So what is that? I think it’s almost eight pounds. Yeah. That’s a slightly bigger one than this. And I’m busy developing the smaller one. Yes. It’s a smaller one. So this one is a little bit smaller. Okay, cool. So yeah, there’s a whole product line coming. That’s really cool. Now, if you land these things on the water, it looks like they’ve got a little like capsule for the camera. Can you see under the water with the camera while you’re, you can, but it’s not, I wouldn’t say that that’s a selling point of it or not. I’m just curious. You can totally put it down on the water and look at the fish or something you can, in some places you can steer enough, it can be done, but I wouldn’t say it’s a selling point.

Jacques: That’s not what the drone is for. It’s more, just more for if you want to do a search and rescue mission in adverse waiver. If you want to fly in some severe rain with some strong in this compliant in some, some really bad window. Gotcha. Um, 30 mile an hour. Wind is not a problem for these. I start really strong. I can fly when you’re not going to fly when it’s raining and these gangs. So that’s more of a function for what camera in, in, um, in, in what conditions. Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, thanks for chatting. I don’t want to keep you too long. I know I told you and we will be about 20 minutes. I just wanted to get a rundown of kind of, I know that’s, I mean, a really, really interesting, really cool. Um, I think, you know, a lot of people are interested in drone fishing. We hear people kind of, um, when we talk to you about it, sometimes you’re like on it’s really awesome. That’s one of like the really interesting and neat uses that have come about with drones, you know, as they become a popular the last five or five or so years. So, um, I appreciate you kind of hopped on here and sharing your story and talking about what y’all are doing more than welcome.

Audrey Snow-Brine

Audrey Snow-Brine

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