For all ages and abil­i­ties

Hap­py­wom­e­nand young an­glers are well rep­re­sented in hun­dreds of pho­to­graphs submitted for an Es­cape com­pe­ti­tion.

The Press - Escape - - ESCAPE - Peter Shutt

Read­ers’ pho­to­graphs in the Es­cape pho­to­graph com­pe­ti­tion re­veal sig­nif­i­cantly smaller fish dur­ing the past 30 years and more women en­joy­ing fresh­wa­ter and marine fish­eries.

Your en­tries through this col­umn at­tracted hun­dreds of pho­to­graphs – each de­pict­ing a fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that proves fish­ing is an en­joy­able pas­time for peo­ple of all ages, all abil­i­ties, and pro­vides an out­door ex­pe­ri­ence of fish­eries for both the se­ri­ous and not-so-se­ri­ous an­gler.

The pho­to­graphs cov­ered ev­ery­thing from white­bait to mar­lin, and in­cluded cray­fish, bluenose, blue cod, red cod, ka­hawai, mahi-mahi, yel­lowfin tuna and her­ring.

The fresh­wa­ter re­source was the fo­cus for most an­glers and in­cluded suc­cess­ful catches by both chil­dren and adults.

Many peo­ple will say they don’t see a lot of women tak­ing part, but they are there. Many peo­ple will also say chil­dren are more in­ter­ested in throw­ing stones into the water, but, go­ing by the pho­to­graphs I re­ceived, there are a lot of very happy young an­glers out there.

While some pho­to­graphs have fea­tured mag­nif­i­cent scenery or have been ob­vi­ously en­tered by some­one with pro­fes­sional or near-pro­fes­sional cam­era skills, my fo­cus all along was to see what read­ers value as a fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

I amas­tounded by your re­sponse. The qual­ity of each pho­to­graph was al­ways go­ing to be sec­ondary to the char­ac­ter and feel­ing each pho­to­graph en­gen­dered.

So many could have won. From day one of the com­pe­ti­tion it be­came ob­vi­ous that I could not and should not de­ter­mine the win­ner.

I gave up count­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing more than 200 pho­to­graphs and sub­se­quently com­posed a file for the judges at THL (Tourism Hold­ings Ltd) in Aus­tralia, spon­sors of the prize. They were in­de­pen­dent in not know­ing any of the con­tes­tants.

Many en­trants pro­vided a brief com­men­tary on where and why the pho­to­graph had been taken. Some had very in­ter­est­ing sto­ries to tell, and th­ese pho­to­graphs will be pub­lished in this col­umn dur­ing win­ter.

A cou­ple of pho­to­graphs were binned be­cause they showed ob­vi­ous al­ter­ation in­volv­ing bla­tant at­tempts to use pic­tureed­it­ing pro­grams to su­per­im­pose fish on a back­ground.

How­ever large or small the species – her­rings off the wharf, and blue cod off Akaroa – it didn’t mat­ter be­cause the de­light­ful faces of the happy an­glers sig­nalled great en­joy­ment.

Brown trout, rain­bow trout and quin­nat salmon pro­vided ex­cel­lent pho­to­graphic es­says prob­a­bly more in­dica­tive of changes in the fish­eries than you re­alise. The days when you could walk across the backs of salmon in the main salmon rivers, and the days when an­glers caught tro­phy searun trout or wild trout are no more.

Will those days re­turn? Who knows?

Just look at the way wa­ters have de­graded in past decades. Will the Can­ter­bury Water Man­age­ment Strat­egy fix that? I hope so, but only time will tell.

I can com­pare my re­search of 1983 for my fish­ing book on where to go and what to use against the pho­to­graphic record you have sup­plied. It’s a telling com­men­tary.

In the 1980s I didn’t bother tak­ing pho­to­graphs of a salmon un­less it was at least 30 pounds. Not so to­day. Trout were more prolific back then, too.

The most sat­is­fy­ing as­pect of the com­pe­ti­tion was the in­cred­i­ble way read­ers re­sponded. If I could, I would give you all a THL hol­i­day.

Judges’ de­ci­sion: The win­ning en­try of Dave Clous­ton, of Rolle­ston, in the fish­ing pho­to­graph com­pe­ti­tion, was taken by his part­ner, Toni Sheed. He had just caught this good brown trout on a fly from his wheel­chair at a South Is­land high coun­try lo­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the judges, this pho­to­graph cap­tures the essence of fish­ing – pa­tience, per­se­ver­ance, will­ing­ness to seek the fish, and – best of all – the hap­pi­ness that fish­ing of­fers. The win­ner re­ceives free hire of a Britz fourberth camper­van for seven days. The prize was spon­sored by Tourism Hold­ings Ltd. See Dave Clous­ton, back­grounder, Page A8, to­day.

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