Monday, December 6, 2010


Fishing is a primeval human activity. I have yet to meet the person who shows no thrill in catching their first fish, even if it is only a small herring or cock-a-bully. I began fishing for "mountain trout" or kokopu in the creeks around Whangarei harbour using cotton and a bent pin with worms for bait. My Maori friend, Johnny Pitman, and I would fill our pockets with fish and then liberate them into cow water troffs. I remember a scolding from my Aunt Shirley after she found four week old fish in the pockets of my shorts.

There were many trips sea fishing on Whangarei harbour with my father, Herbie, and Grandad Bill using hand lines to catch snapper, kahawai and kingfish. Nets were used for piper, flounder and grey mullet. Johnny and I would have most fun netting ourselves sometimes catching a stingray in the net. That was a scary thrill like capturing a fearsome taniwha.

Ever since I have fished whenever the opportunity arose in the mountain rivers and on the nearest sea coast. Fishing for me now is less a sport than simply a pragmatic process of food gathering. It is a game of cat and mouse with a creature I need/want to eat. It's a life or death struggle for the fish.

My fishing gear is minimalistic, weatherbeaten and only just adequate for the job and let's me down sometimes. This slightly increases the odds for the fish. Not for me the sportsmen who spend a small fortune on the latest tackle and designer clothing to look right for the event. Sport shops are full of fancy stuff designed to catch fishermen more than fish. My gear proves that fish can be caught on the simplest of gear. It is more being in the right place at the right time. When the fish are hungry they'll take any thing that looks edible.

My gratitude is to the NZ environment for the fish we have plus the progress the authorities are making in managing fish stocks for all. Despite all the controversies and problems we've had in the past, there are signs of a growing maturity in our attitude to fish resources. In the next few years with more marine reserves and better fisheries management our children should enjoy good fishing as much as my generation have.

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