‘…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.

NZ Fishing News - - Reader's Story - Images: Sam Moss­man Image: Sam Moss­man

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

Pre-spawn snap­per are of­ten found in large num­bers, feed­ing ravenously in deeper wa­ter close to spawn­ing grounds.

If a school of ka­hawai starts busting up on the sur­face and you have a light cast­ing setup rigged with a small metal jig, you can quickly take ad­van­tage.

Many a day has been saved by putting a live­bait down on a sinker, re­sult­ing in a good feed of john dory.

Mrs and Mrs Min­strel – Mark and Chrissy de Lacy – brought the Hiwi the Kiwi Goes Fish­ing mes­sage to its 1000th school last month.

It is the stu­dents who are of­ten the stars of the show. The Min­strel in­ter­acts with a young Have­lock North Pri­mary stu­dent dur­ing the 1000th show.

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