It is often said that the act of fishing is therapeutic - that it soothes the soul and connects one with nature.
This lesson was reinforced when a group of youngsters went fishing from Westhaven. They were young people who have been struggling at school and were participating in a Ministry of Education initiative in which mentors are assigned to help them overcome their issues.
When half a dozen young people and their mentors arrived on the charter boat at dawn a couple of weeks ago they were a little apprehensive. For the young ones it was their first experience on the water, and they were in awe when Social Development Minister Paula Bennett arrived to help them on their day out.
Having grown up in Taupo, Bennett was comfortable on a boat and soon had the youngsters settled.
But it was when the first snapper started coming over the side that the smiles really broke out.
The pupils and their mentors were soon competing for the biggest catch, and the relationships grew as the pile of snapper in the ice box increased.
"I love to get out fishing with my husband whenever I can," said Bennett. "But there are a lot of people who, through no fault of their own, have never been out into the outdoors or on to the water."
The laughter, joy and enthusiasm that soon enveloped the boat showed how beneficial a fishing experience can be.
Research overseas points to the many benefits fishing can bring to youngsters needing help in their lives.
It teaches problem-solving. They learn to untangle lines, to put fresh bait on to hooks and to take fish off the hooks, and the assistance from a calm mentor is invaluable.
They learn to be aware of other people, to give them space and respect their space. It improves self esteem. Young people feel good about themselves when they pull in a big fish, earning praise.
They learn about biology and how a fish swims and why it has scales, about conservation and the importance of returning unwanted or small fish carefully to the water and about caring for the environment by not dropping litter in the water. Other factors like safety are emphasised.
But one of the main lessons is that cellphones and iPods are not needed, that fishing links people to the natural world in a way that can generate caring, responsibility and a warm camaraderie that applauds success.
More of the youngsters' day out can be seen on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm tomorrow, TV3.
Bite times are 3.10am and 3.30pm tomorrow and 3.50am and 4.15pm on Sunday. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.
Tip of the week
Take a kid fishing.