Out of my cold dead hand

Phil Phishy

“Out of my cold dead hand”  A statement made by the actor Chalton Heston in May of 2000 at a National  Rifle Association rally in America.  Obviously expressing strongly his desire to carry arms and live within his constitutional rights. 

I wonder if we can apply similar thinking to the way Kiwis feel about there fishing.  In particular the way we are quick to complain about the actions of the commercial sector and I/we see it as our god given right to collect food for our families from the ocean and enjoy the environment that we are so fortunate to have on our front door.  If there is one part of this I have to question is the readiness of recreational anglers to kill breeding fish.

Every time we go fishing we are trying to catch the biggest fish we can, but does that mean we have to kill them.  Now as a side note the T.A.C ‘s or Total Allowable Catch records that are produced by commercial fishing companies show very little change in the Snapper quantities  they have been catching, it sits at around 95%-102% for snapper  for the last 15 years or so. 

So based on that we may have no cause for concern if it is snapper we are chasing, they appear to breed like rabbits! So if the commercial companies are governed by quotas and we as recreational  fishers are controlled by limit bags then what else.  How about a restriction on the size of fish we can take, i.e. putting in place a system that will protect the breeders. 

We have killed more than our share, mostly in the name of trying to win a fishing contest,  but after seeing areas that would have a lot of these fish no longer produce them we made a change, a rule based on what they do in places like South Australia that see fish over 60cm having to be returned or if keep a decrease in the anglers daily limit by 2 fish.  We see endless photos of people in driveways holding fish, that no longer offer any assistance to sustaining the numbers. is this a good thing?  Some clubs, particularly in Tauranga have contests that allow the angler to measure and release fish, which has to be the way of the future, some clubs are dragging the chain on this and would be awesome to see them move forward from awarding anglers for effectively having a negative impact on the breeding stock of what has to be a national icon to make sure it is there for generations to come. 

The snapper fishing locally has been good in close in the 7-9m area along the coast and the harbour has been excellent.   Nice to see them on the chew after the usual shut mouth they seem to do over Christmas.  The game fishing season locally is at best spluttering in to action.  The water and bait have just not arrived as early as it has in past years, it's mid February and we have done around 350 nautical miles in the last month for one 9kg Albacore, not flash! Here's hoping that will change and pending easterly blow at the time of righting this bring us the goods.

We did have the unfortunate experience of a breakdown on the 600m line in one of the trips and it brought home very cleary the need to be a member of the Coast Guard.  Knowing clearly how to contact them and provide correct information to get the assistance required is crucial for skippers and crew members.  A first for us but with their assistance and that of a launch called Miway saw us home safe and sound.  The problem was an 8 year old fuel line that had crimped itself as it went through the hull to the motor and was staving the engine of fuel.  Something I never considered to check.  There has been an abundance of big sharks on some of the outer reefs. Spectacular to look at but they have prevented the capture of good king fish too many times this year. 

We have been considering that as the bait fish in the form of Skippies etc has not arrived the sharks are probably starving and hunting out a meal on the reefs holding kahawai and trevally, might be a good place for live baiting game fish if it continues on like it is. 


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Rotorua lake, Mokoia island and a manned canoe.  Photo: Thirza Fleeson.

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