At the beginning of the year, a new generation of sustainable anglers emerged as over 70 school aged kids flocked to local jetties along the Limestone Coast to participate in Fishing for the Future Clinics. The clinics were funded through a SA Recreational Fishing Grants Programme grant (SA Government) and generous sponsorship from South East local businesses, including: Spot On Fishing Tackle Mt Gambier, South East and West Fishing Magazine, Swampys Marine and Tackle Kingston, William Phillips (author of ‘Fishing for Kids’), Robe Auto & Marine, Beachport Takeaway, Express Signs and Graphics, Nelson Kiosk, Blupod at the Jetty, Beef & Reef Beachport, Causon Hauvoc, Periwinkles Café and Parade Fish & Chips in Port MacDonnell.
The fishing clinics took place in Port MacDonnell, Donovans, Beachport, Robe and Kingston during the last week of school holidays in January, and were a popular activity of this year’s Coastal Connections School Holiday program, run by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Jess and I believe that introducing kids to fishing was a great way of fostering positive connections between our younger generation and the local marine environment. Kids were taught the basics of sustainable fishing, including the use of fish friendly tackle and gear and the best ways to handle and release fish. They each took away their very own sustainable fishing pack with lots of fish friendly gear to get them started!
The clinics also provided kids with an introduction to fisheries science. The new anglers watched on as I extracted ear bones or ‘otoliths’ from inside the skull of a mulloway. They learned that by sectioning the otolith, scientists count the number of rings to estimate the age of a fish. Anglers enjoyed the chance to age their own fish, when given a life size fish cut out and accompanying otolith section.
Some great fish were caught during the clinics, including Tommy Ruff, King George Whiting and Flathead. A prize was given for the biggest, the most memorable being a 1.5 m Banjo Shark, caught by an angler from Kalangadoo at Port MacDonnell. For many anglers it wasn’t about catching the biggest fish, but rather their first. For Jess and I, it was fantastic to see the excitement of kids catching their very first fish.
The fun continued with a Photo Competition which ran throughout the school holidays. We’d like to announce the deserving winner of the competition, 7 year old Ryley Munro, who has won his very own Silstar Rod and Reel (valued at $130) for his fantastic snapper photo! Well done Ryley:). These rod and reels, used throughout the fishing clinics, were kindly provided to us by Spot On Fishing Tackle Mt Gambier at a great price. Ryley, who attended the clinic in Robe, later used his new skills to catch a snapper with his family, while his father caught a mulloway. After hearing about the mulloway citizen science project being undertaken by Nature Glenelg Trust (funded by the Victorian Government), Ryley insisted that his father donate the mulloway frames to research :).
The active involvement of anglers is assisting scientists learn more about the population structures, growth rates and reproduction of mulloway. Anglers can get involved by dropping off their mulloway frames at Spot On Fishing Tackle Mt Gambier, Blupod at the Jetty in Beachport, Swampys Marine and Tackle in Kingston and Salt Creek Roadhouse. For more information, visit the Mulloway Citizen Science Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/mullowaycitizenscience) or contact Lauren Veale at the Trust by email () or phone (0439 034 390).
A huge final thank you to all the amazing South East businesses that helped sponsor the kids fishing clinics! Thank you also to South East FishCare volunteer, Reychie Lindquist, who helped out at the Port MacDonnell clinic. Jess and I hope to do it all again next year!