‘…if you’re not on top of them, you won’t get a bite - while a boat 100 metres away is loading up’
The Hiwi the Kiwi Goes Fishing programme, which teaches young students about fishing and sustainability, as well as safety and conservation, visited its 1000th school last month.
important to note the water temperatures and general weather conditions that determine when these fish come and go.
One such factor is the influx of squid inshore as the water temperatures cool down. This can have an effect on everything from large game fish (i.e. marlin, tuna and broadbill) to smaller predators such as snapper and kingfish.
So when squid start to show, one of the simplest tactics involves changing to squid baits and, in the case of lure fishing, moving to more squid-like patterns and colours, such as brown, pink, white and lumo. Simply having a packet of squid bait available will often put better quality fish in the boat.
Seasonally, fish can be found in different areas. This is especially the case with kingfish. Over the summer months kingfish are found all over shallow harbours, estuaries and rocky headlands. In winter they all but disappear from these areas, but can be found on the deeper offshore reefs, where they are able to be targeted with deep-fished live baits and jigs. In spring they tend to get active and move around a lot more and will often school up in large numbers. Then they can be targeted with most common techniques and are more inclined to take surface lures.
Understanding fish movements is an important weapon to have in your arsenal of fishing tricks, because finding the fish can be one of the toughest parts of securing a feed. For example, it is common knowledge that snapper school up in spring prior to spawning in various parts of the country. These pre-spawning
snapper are often found in large numbers, feeding ravenously in deeper water, close to spawning grounds. So find the areas where they are congregating, and the fishing can be mind-blowing. You need decent electronics to find these sometimes tightly-packed schools; if you’re not on top of them, you won’t get a bite – while a boat 100 metres away is loading up.
When game fishing, use the sea surface temperature charts to work out the best places to search for marlin and tuna, and then look in those areas for deep contours, depth changes or structure, and you will have shortened the odds of finding fish.
One of my favourite tactics involves deploying different techniques for a variety species, and finding out which fish are biting. Many a day has been saved by putting a live bait down on a sinker, resulting in a good feed of john dory.
The programme, delivered by ‘The Minstrels’ – Mark and Chrissy de Lacy – was developed in conjunction with the NZ Sport Fishing Council and visited its first school in September 2009.
The 90-minute performance by the Minstrels is part of a full classroom work unit developed by teachers that raises a wide variety of issues using song, dance and humour. Each school is left with a Hiwi the Kiwi book and CD containing relevant material and the songs.
Originally the programme was developed around fishing sustainability and water safety, but has developed well beyond that to include respect for the environment and dealing with birds when on the water.
This latest aspect has been done with the help from Southern Seabird Solutions and Forest & Bird, with Dr Emma Cronin prominent in developing the material.
Mark Delacy says the evolution of the programme has also been guided by the students themselves, who are the true stars of the show – ‘we only facilitate it’.
The messages it contains is reflected in the students’ writing, where the importance of caring for the catch, returning small and the biggest fish to the water with care, as well as water safety are highlighted.
At each show Mark looks for what he calls ‘beacons’ – one or two students who shine when called up on stage.
“They often steal the show, and our interaction with them is what makes each session different as well as rewarding for us,” Mark says.
While there is a serious message conveyed, it is done with humour. Mark has introduced the concept of ‘kissing’ a fish when it is put back, something the kids find ‘yukky’.
“We show them the cover of a recent NZ Fishing News, where television host Nicky Sinden is seen on the cover ‘kissing’ a fish – it gets a huge response.
The show is well supported by the recreational fishing industry. For example, Kilwell Sports puts up a new fishing rod and reel for each school to be used as a writing incentive. And this magazine is proud to be playing its part too, publishing the Hiwi the Kiwi page each month. It contains a selection of the student’s written work, as well as providing a subscription for the school’s library.
Further support has been offered by various people associated
with the sport-fishing fraternity, who host the Minstrels as they travel around the country.
Mark says the programme’s momentum shows little sign of slowing down, and that they have been back several times to a number of schools, where they are often greeted as long-lost friends.
The Minstrels say as soon as they walk into a school, they get a ‘feel’ for it from the warmth of the welcome and the demeanour of the students – and the ‘best’ schools are not always those with a high decile rating. While reluctant to name any particular ones, he says a couple stick in his mind – Peterhead School in Flaxmere and Awapuni Primary in particular, describing the latter as an ‘oasis of education’.
“This is not a high-decile school, but does have a fantastic vibe about it.”
In 2013 they introduced a variation of the Hiwi the Kiwi Goes Fishing show aimed at intermediate-schoolaged students, and that is gaining in popularity as well.
“Schools are bombarded by a number of people offering education shows and performances. We are grateful for the great support shown to Hiwi the Kiwi and the messages our programme conveys.”
So look out for the Minstrels and Hiwi the Kiwi – they may well be visiting your school soon! - Grant Dixon