More children hooked on fishing as start of season coincides with school holidays

The school holidays have seen a surge of interest from children in fishing, according to Fish & Game.

With the new freshwater fishing season kicking off on October 1, it was perfect timing for children to give the past time a go, says Nathan Field from the Wellington Fish & Game Council.

Field says it wasn't just the timing of the start of the season that led to the uptick in interest, but also the fact that people seem to have a new appreciation of nature following the COVID-19 lockdown. 

"I think quite probably [after] the year we've had, people are starting to really enjoy what's in their own backyard," Field told The AM Show on Thursday.

"We've gone from being stuck in our homes, in our backyards, for a little while this year [to being able to] get outside and enjoy a bit of nature now - and there's a lot more exploring of our lakes and rivers going on around the place."

Fish & Game staff, rangers, and local retailers have all reported noticing an increase in angling activity and interest. 

Field said as well as being physically healthy, fishing was a great way to cope with the stress caused by the pandemic.

"There's a tremendous amount of evidence that being outside for a couple of hours really helps to destress, it's good for your mental health, and if that medicine is a couple of hours on the side of one of our beautiful rivers, it's medicine I'm certainly prepared to take."

Phil Teal, also of the Wellington Fish & Game Council, said the sport is a nice alternative to indoor activities for children.

"Mums and dads are increasingly frustrated at the amount of time their kids spend on screens, particularly over the school holidays and during lockdown.

"It's great to hear that many children and families have been getting into some healthy outdoor activity this break, and lots have been having success too with good catches reported."

Licences for fishing for sports fish in New Zealand are required, but are free for children under 12.