Children’s Fishing Competition 2020

Riley Norton from South Head with his 1kg gurnard

Growing up in Helenville, Kaipara Cruising & Sportfishing Club co-secretary (with Noradene Paniora) Sheena Johnson has been a member of the club since she was a tot and her father Noel and late grandfather Reginald are life members. She remembers years of taking part in the annual children’s fishing competition, traditionally organised by the women in the club, and enjoys helping carry on the tradition.
Her seven-year-old daughter Kaylee, whose father Chris also grew up in Helensville, was one of 69 children who took part in this year’s event, held on 18 January, a day when “the men give up their own fishing for the day and take the kids out.” Sheena’s brother Shane, for example, took his three children out in the morning, then dropped them off at Shelly Beach at lunchtime to give another four children a go. “Everyone plays a crucial role,” says Sheena, “for example the Coastguard people get out there for the day and keep an eye on the kids.”
While there are prizes in five categories – the heaviest legally sized snapper, gurnard, kahawai, trevally and kingfish– the purpose of the event is to get children spending time out on the water, having fun and learning about water safety. They fish from the mouth of the river down to the green marker halfway between Shelly Beach and South Head. Parents take responsibility for the safety of the children and, as Sheena explains, “It’s all inside the harbour and safe.” You don’t have to fish from a boat - this year some fished off Shelly Beach Wharf, and next year organisers are opening it up to include the shoreline out to South Head Peninsula.
The day began around 6.30am and after their fishing adventures participants and their families gathered at the clubrooms by the river for a family picnic and prize-giving. “The children were all fed sausages and hot chips, there was a bouncy castle, a lolly scramble and pole tennis and enough ice-blocks and fizzy drink to go around,” says Sheena. “This year the children mostly caught snapper, so we drew names to give out a lot of the prizes. Everyone gets something, including Harper Callender, who won a kayak for their catch of a snapper that was the average weight of all the snapper caught.”
“It’s a free event and we’re very grateful to all the sponsors who give kids the chance,” says Sheena.
The sponsors were: Water FX (major sponsor), Aunty Nan Davis, Burnsco, Helensville g.a.s., Christina Norton Photography, FMG Insurance, Helensville Diggers, Kaipara Cruises, Panapa Charters, Paper Plus Helensville, Parakai Springs, Simmonds family, Snowplanet, Sunny Days, Top Catch Westhaven, Tree Adventures, WOW Sushi.

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