19 Jan 2018 Kids get Hooked On Fishing along the Limestone Coast

Over the past few weeks, Sheryl, Nicole and I have been busy running our ‘Fishing for the Future’ clinics, which form part of the Coastal Connections School Holidays program. The fishing clinics are funded through the Recreational Fishing Grants program by the South Australian Government and provide an opportunity for kids to learn the basics of sustainable fishing.  It was fantastic to see the kids enjoying themselves and learning something new, especially those that had never fished before.

Sheryl and Lauren help the kids with some casting practice at Beachport

Sheryl and Lauren help the kids with some casting practice at Beachport

The clinics kicked off in Beachport and Robe on the 7th January, with both events being completely booked out. In fact, we decided to organize an additional clinic in Beachport on the 8th, to allow the extra 20 kids on the waiting list a chance to attend. At Robe Marina, a few kids hooked up to some small salmon which allowed them to test out their handling and release skills. A few fish were also caught during the Beachport clinics, including a small flathead, pufferfish and a few salmon. The final clinic took place in Port MacDonnell on the 12th January, which had to be delayed until the afternoon due to downpours of rain. The sun came out and the fish starting biting, with a good size Black Bream being caught by one lucky youngster.

Waiting for the fish to bite at Robe Marina

Waiting for the fish to bite at Robe Marina

This angler was very happy to reel in a Black Bream during the Port MacDonnell clinic.

This angler was very happy to reel in a Black Bream during the Port MacDonnell clinic.

Before we got out to the jetty, the kids learnt about different types of sustainable fishing tackle and gear, with most kids not knowing about circle hooks, enviro weights or knotless landing nets. It was not just an education for the kids, but also for the adults that watched on! Kids were asked about size and bag limits, and we spoke about why they were important.  Each kid received their own sustainable fishing pack which included a fold out fish ruler, PIRSA size and bag limits brochure, circle hooks, enviro weights, games and other activities and a ‘Fishing for Kids’ Book.

Each kid took home one of these Sustainable Fishing Packs, full of lots of great sustainable fishing material.

Each kid took home one of these Sustainable Fishing Packs, full of lots of great sustainable fishing material.

At the end of each clinic, the kids watched on as I dissected a mulloway frame, which was donated as part of our Victorian Citizen Science Project. I spoke about the types of information scientists collect in order to learn more about the species and found a few volunteers. They learnt how to determine the age of a fish, with some kids either being completely fascinated or queasy at the sight of the scull being cracked open to remove the ear bones or ‘otoliths’.  The kids then had a chance to age their own life size cut out of a mulloway and learnt that the species has relatively fast growth rates.

Kids show off their fish ageing skills with these life size Mulloway cut outs.

Kids show off their fish ageing skills with these life size Mulloway cut outs.

A set of Mulloway ear bones or otoliths (left) which are used to determine the age of a fish, and an image of a sectioned otolith viewed under a microscope (right), showing the annual growth rings.

A set of Mulloway ear bones or otoliths (left) which are used to determine the age of a fish, and an image of a sectioned otolith viewed under a microscope (right), showing the annual growth rings.

We look forward to conducting more ‘Fishing for the Future’ workshops later this year with regional schools along the Limestone Coast. Thanks for everyone who came along and supported the clinics – we hope to see you again next year!

Lauren Veale
Lauren Veale
lauren.veale@natureglenelg.org.au