Fishing guru Matt Watson


Matt Watson, above, host of the ITM Fishing Show, has always known he would be a fisherman.

Q. YOU RECENTLY FOUGHT IN A BOXING MATCH FOR CHARITY. JUDGING FROM THE POST-MATCH PHOTOS, YOU TOOK THE TRAINING PRETTY SERIOUSLY. HOW DO YOU KEEP FIT WHEN YOU'RE NOT OUT ON THE WATER?

A. The boxing keeps me fit, but free-diving and pig hunting are good for staying in shape, too.

Q. YOU'VE BASED YOURSELF IN NORTHLAND (KERIKERI). WE KNOW THE FISHING IS GREAT BUT WHAT ELSE IS IT ABOUT NORTHLAND THAT ATTRACTS YOU?

A. The community spirit, the schools and the rugby club are real hubs of the community where the parents turn out and get in behind the kids every week.

For a community to have any real substance there needs to be some history, by that I mean families that have been here for generations and have a real and vested interest in the area.

Kerikeri reminds me a lot of when I was a kid in Weymouth, South Auckland. Back then it was a small seaside town and I was third generation in the area, but it changed when new subdivisions filled up all the farmland.

A sub-division completely full of new people takes generations to get the same community spirit of a rural or regional town.

Q. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE THINGS TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

A. There is no single thing that will cause a quantum leap for The ITM Fishing Show. It's about trying to make every series better than the last and upholding our core values.

Delivering high quality fishing action, practising and promoting sustainable fishing and having fun. If we can keep doing that the show will continue to grow.

Q. FIRST, AS A FISHER, HOW DO YOU TOP JUMPING OUT OF A HELICOPTER ON TO A MARLIN?

A. Personally, I reckon I've topped it a dozen times already, I was asked to recall my top 10 fishing achievements and that wasn't one of them. But it got me more attention on the world stage than anything I've done.

Q. SECOND, AS A TV PRODUCER, WHAT'S NEXT FOR MATT WATSON?

A. I've got a few ideas buzzing around in my head. I'd like to make some documentaries about fishing in New Zealand, and I'd like to produce something about the real characters in New Zealand.

I think we're starting to lose our identity as Kiwis. We're always hearing about our award-winning wines, fashion designers and the film industry, which is great, but you can get a nice bottle of wine or a new dress or see a good movie anywhere in the world.


New Zealand isn't the only place to have nice scenery . . . What we have that sets us apart is our people, people that are made of this land. I've got nothing against fashion designers or celebrity chefs, but I don't want to hear about people that are wannabe Europeans or Americans. I want to hear about the deer cullers that jump out of helicopters to live-capture deer and that build and fly their own aircraft, I want to hear from the tough old buggers that broke in this land. So I might make something along those lines someday.

Q. AT WHAT AGE OR TIME IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU REALISE YOU COULD MAKE YOUR PASSION YOUR CAREER?

A. As a child all I ever wanted to be was a commercial fisherman like my uncles and grandfather, so I've always known I'd be a fisherman, I just didn't plan on the TV part.


Q. HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME DURING THAT CAREER WHEN YOU HAVE THOUGHT, ''WHAT AM I DOING  HERE?'' OR ''I'M NOT SURE HOW I AM GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE''?

A. No, not really. I've been in some tight spots, in the water with aggressive sharks or being dragged out to sea on my

surfboard, but can't say I've ever wished I was anywhere else.

Q. WHO IS YOUR RIGHT-HAND MAN OR WOMAN AND WHY?

A. My wife Kaylene is my best friend and I know I can count on her, everything just seems easy when she's backing me up.

I'm lucky to have a great circle of mates, and one that has been constant since I was about 5 years old.

Q. LET'S TALK FISHING FOR A MINUTE OR THREE. WHAT'S THE SINGLE SILLIEST THING YOU SEE PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY ARE OUT BOATING?

A. Overloading a boat, or using a boat that isn't up to the conditions.

Q. WHAT'S THE MOST COMMON MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE WHEN TRYING TO CATCH FISH?

A Overthinking and over-complicating things. Fish are stupid - find them and present them with something that is or

looks like their food. Eventually they will eat it.

Q. WHAT'S THE FIRST THING THAT GOES INTO YOUR FISHING KIT WHEN YOU ARE PACKING TO GO ON A TRIP?

A. Bait flies or bait lures, I've got to have fresh bait.

Q. WHERE'S YOUR FAVOURITE FISHING SPOT (DOESN'T HAVE TO BE BEST PLACE TO CATCH FISH, BUT WHERE YOU LOVE TO GO THE MOST)?

A. Wow, that's tough, there are so many special spots in New Zealand. For me it's more about who I'm with, so fishing with good mates or my kids is where I want to be.

Q. DO YOU THINK OUR CURRENT TAKE LIMITS (DAILY CATCH AND SIZE) ARE TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW?

A. For me personally, nine snapper is too many for one day most of the time. But I think the key is in education. I've got a lot of faith in the vast majority of Kiwis that go fishing. If they understand that the fish are a limited resource, and if what they take is based on their genuine needs and their conscience, that should limit unnecessary take. The days where we celebrate the guy with the most fish in his boat are gone.

Q. IF THERE WAS ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE TO THE FISHERIES MINISTER TO PRESERVE THE FISHERIES STOCK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

A. To consider the whole value of healthy fish stocks - the well-being, the nourishment and the life experiences it can bring to all New Zealanders - and then put the interests of Kiwis ahead of the interests of the shareholders of the

big fishing companies.


Q. A PROPOSED MARINE RESERVE OFF WHANGAREI'S EAST COAST - A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING?

A. I believe in marine reserves on the scale of Goat Island, where there is good access that encourages people to be engaged with the ocean. But locking up large areas of the ocean disengages the public and it will achieve nothing

when the same amount of fish is being taken outside of the reserve. The key to a sustainable fishery is sound management based on sound impartial research.

Q. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU BOUGHT FISH? (OTHER THAN BAIT!)

AI had a piece of wahoo in Niue, and that is because I knew it was caught on hook and line by a local fisherman.

Q. IS THERE A SPECIES THAT YOU ARE WORRIED MIGHT NOT BE AROUND IN A GENERATION OR TWO?

A. There has been a huge decline in yellowfin tuna in New Zealand in my lifetime. They used to be everywhere, then along came the super seiners. In the space of 10 years it's gone from seeing shoals of thousands of tuna to seeing one fish every two years. So I do worry about the future of yellowfin here in New Zealand.

Q. BEST CURE FOR SEA SICKNESS?

A. Catching fish.

Q. IF YOU COULD TAKE ANY THREE PEOPLE FISHING WITH YOU, WHO WOULD YOU TAKE?

A. Mike Tyson, Jack Black and Richie McCaw.

- Hamilton News

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