Appleby ponds project aims to teach youth

EMMA BEER
Last updated 13:00 22/11/2012

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The release of more than 200 rainbow trout into newly built ponds, designed to teach youth how to fish, is a dream come true for George Bennett-Wilkinson.

Dr Bennett-Wilkinson, the chairman of the Sports Fishing for Youth Charitable Trust, said the releasing of the fish was the culmination of years of work.

"It's absolutely marvellous. Finally yesterday, the dream came true."

Three ponds have been built in Appleby as part of a project by the trust that aims to give youth the skills to go fishing in any environment.

The project stemmed from a discussion four years ago between Dr Bennett-Wilkinson and a friend from Alaska.

"We were sitting on the Pelorus and after eight hours' fishing we'd seen one fish. We thought if we were trying to get young people interested, well, this was like watching paint dry."

The men, deciding they had to do something about it, had thought they would "dig a hole, fill it with water, and put some fish in it", but it turned out to take a bit longer, he said.

Fish & Game officer Lawson Davey said it was exciting that the fish had now been released.

"It's finally started to happen. We're pretty happy with how it's progressed."

About 264 fish were released to the ponds yesterday, fewer than originally expected "but that's the way it goes", he said. The average size of the fish was just under 1kg.

The salmon that NMIT aquaculture students were rearing were still only about 350 grams, so would not be released until about January, he said.

The facility was created to give youth an education in fishing, Mr Davey said.

"We've got a good facility to get young people started into fishing in a safe environment."

An official opening and thank-you barbecue would be held on December 2 for contractors, and the first fishing event would be held on December 8 and 9. Mr Davey said Fish & Game would be at the Nelson A & P Show this weekend, taking registrations for fishing lessons.

Young people would have a one-hour slot with an individual instructor where they would be taught to cast, what to do when they caught a fish, how to kill it humanely and how to gut it.

There would also be fishing events on January 26 and 27, and February 9 and 10.

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