Taranaki: The thrill of a bending rod

By Lynley Bilby

Les Martin's fishing passion began with absolute basics.

Master surfcaster: Since returning to surfcasting, Les Martni has won $56,000 in prize money. Photo / Supplied.
Master surfcaster: Since returning to surfcasting, Les Martni has won $56,000 in prize money. Photo / Supplied.

Les Martin grew up fishing on his Taranaki family farm, chasing tadpoles in ponds and eels in rivers.

The master surfcaster and New Plymouth fishing shop retailer says his gear was simple - handlines, bamboo rods and pitchforks - but it was the start of a passion that has shaped his life.

"Those simple bamboo rods worked a treat catching plenty of herring and out-fished the rich kids with their new fibreglass rods," he says.

The rods stayed in the sheds during his early adult years, until fatherhood prompted a fresh interest in the sport for Martin.

Not only did he have his young charges to teach but hours and nights were spent competing for elusive large snapper, thanks to membership at the New Plymouth Surfcasting Club.

"My son still recalls the first trip out as a 3-year-old riding on my backpack in the dark with a snapper caught and possums screeching in the lupin bushes."

Martin, who has since won $56,000 in prize money - including the coveted Lion Red Snapper Classic title in 2007- said the excitement of a dash down to the beach to play the fish still got his adrenaline going, just as it did catching fish at the Waitara River as a youngster.

His fascination with surf fishing stems from the ability to stay on land, cast your line and wait for the thrill of the rod bending over, he says.

And Taranaki offers some of the best surfcasting in New Zealand for reef and sand beach fishing.

Martin says good fishing spots stretch from the Patea River in the south up to Marakopa in the north.

For those who liked the rough fishing territory, the reefy areas of Surf Highway 45 provide opportunities to chase record snapper all year round. Surf sand beaches and cliff ledges are also popular in the northern areas. And fishers do not need to travel far from New Plymouth's city centre, as summertime fishing takes place along the foreshore walkway, especially at low tide.

Port Taranaki's Lee Breakwater is another popular fishing spot for surfcasting providing plenty of table fish and baitfish for the kids year round.

The expert fisher says surf casting is the chance to participate in a real Kiwi activity that is inexpensive.

It also has the added bonus of being able to experience the natural beauty of the country and keep fit at the same time.

- Herald on Sunday

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