Last year a group of keen junior anglers from across the country( including myself) came together to form the NZSFC youth committee and designed a tournament with a similar structure to the nationals. This would eventuate into the creation of the ‘Youth Nationals’ with a focus of getting kids out on the water and experiencing ‘all things fishing’. We set the entry fees low and held the event over the April school holidays - making it easy for juniors to get involved. There was also an ‘all tackle’ and ‘measure and release’ section as well as the ‘point based’ section that rewarded those who fished lighter line. This helped to encourage anglers who weren’t as familiar or experienced with the lighter lines to get involved and give it a crack.
We set off with hopes of competing well and maybe even placing in the final standings. The first mission was to try to tick off our snapper and potentially kahawai for the tournament whilst fishing 1kg line. In the area we were fishing there were a lot of small to medium kahawai, which ended up being a nuisance on 1kg line as each fish took upwards of 15 minutes to land. Luckily some snapper did show up and Tyler managed to land a very nice 3.2kg model on 1kg line, which is a pending NZ Record for his age group. On the way home we threw out some of my homemade skutes and flies and landed a few skippies on 2kg line. Whilst these certainly weren’t the biggest skippies ever caught it all added to the tally. Tyler’s snapper was the fish of the day by a long way - so we still had a lot of work to do!
Unfortunately for us due to the weather and family trips away it was over a week before the boat hit the water again. This time we set out to complete our previous mission of a snapper, kahawai and trevally all on 1kg line. Straight away nice ‘pannies’ started coming over the side - perfect eating size but definitely not comp winners. A trevally was a huge target for us and vital points, especially Tyler as he had already ticked the snapper box. Right on cue, Tyler had hooked up and we immediately knew it was a trevally. Luckily, everything held together and 75 minutes later he had landed a respectable 1.4kg trevally on 1kg line - yet another pending NZ Record for him. One of my mates Cameron who was fishing the tournament with us was soon to follow with a similar sized trevally on 2kg line - leaving me the odd one out. After frustratingly losing two fish right at the boat, I also landed a 1.6kg trevally on 1kg line. As the three of us had the trevally box ticked and Cameron had ticked his snapper box with a very nice fish of 4.5kilos on 2kg line we pushed off to target the kahawai.
It didn’t take long and I’d managed to land a respectable kahawai on 1 kg before landing a 150 point snapper - not as many as I would’ve liked but it was points on the board nonetheless.
At this stage we were scratching our heads as to coming up with a plan for the following day. With one day of fishing left - Tyler was currently in the lead by a fraction under 200 points in the primary school section, with myself in second in the secondary school section - but trailing by 300 points.
We opted to target kingfish on the final day as this would hopefully provide us with some much needed points. The day was pretty hard with a couple of bust offs on the light gear and only a handful of fish landed. Tyler and I both tagged a kingfish caught on heavy gear as this would atleast add points to the tally. Soon after I hooked a solid kingfish on 6kg line - unfortunately after just over an hour and as time was running out the fish got sharked, just as I was beginning to make some steady gains. Losing this fish meant that my hopes of taking out the tournament were over - but hey, that’s fishing!
In the end as a club we finished in 2nd, behind New Plymouth. With Tyler taking out the Primary section and myself in 2nd in the high school section. This tournament was awesome to not only fish, I also really enjoyed being fully involved in the creation of this competition. Next year we would really like to see more juniors involved - even if it’s fishing in the all tackle section or the measure and release sections as there some good prizes up for grabs too! Likewise if anyone is keen on giving the light stuff a go, reach out as I’d be more than happy to get you on your way!