The kneejerk reaction to a hydro canal fishing competition being cancelled because of the size of the prize is to think officialdom has gone mad.
OPINION: And then you read a bit further and see the fear is that greedy anglers may throw back or hide fish they caught earlier because of bigger catches later on, thus exceeding the bag limit. The earlier fish by this time being deceased.
And so Fish and Game's stance starts to makes sense.
Which means the fishery managers don't much trust all anglers, so you ask if that is justified.
And the answer, unfortunately, is yes.
That's why there are so many rules. That's why there are rangers.
Anglers fib all the time. Just ask one how big their last catch was.
But we're not talking about white lies here, we're talking about a potential whopping one. Like, have you exceeded the bag limit or not?
And Fish and Game is probably right, that in chasing the $3000 prize for the biggest fish, some people are going to "forget" that tiddler caught at 9am.
And that hurts the fishery. And the camaraderie on the bank.
You could argue most anglers are honest, that there's a high degree of peer-policing going on and that any damage to the canal fishery would be negligible, but all you'd need would be a sniff of wrongdoing to ruin the whole competition.
And people being people, large prizes that include cash lay the bait for temptation.
Competition organiser Jake Preston-Marshall is understandably miffed, and points to the Waimakariri salmon fishing competition which offers $4000 for the largest salmon.
But river fishing is not canal fishing. Catch more than two salmon in a day at the Waimak and you deserve a prize.
Fish and Game suggested Preston-Marshall change the top prize from heaviest fish to mystery weight, but he didn't want to do that and that's his prerogative. That's a different, less glamorous, event. He didn't want to run a lottery.
So there are two agendas that are not compatible. And because Fish and Game sets the rules, that's what it did.
- The Timaru Herald