New Zealand Fish & Game (NZFG) has developed a blueprint programme entitled ‘Hooked on Fun’ to involve new participants in freshwater fishing.

NZFG had identified the need to increase participation with young people and their families in angling and hunting to secure the organisation's future.

The Hooked on Fun Youth initiative was created as an extension to the successful Fish in Schools programme that had been running in North Canterbury for the past ten years. Fish in Schools (FIS) involves schools raising salmon from ova to smolt in purpose built fish tanks in classrooms.

The Youth Programme is organised into five pillars that build on the FIS. These are:-

  • Fish in Schools
  • Take a Kid Fishing
  • Teach a Kid Fishing
  • Mentoring
  • Creating Awareness

North Canterbury trialled a pilot Youth Programme in 2013 thanks to sponsorship from Future Rivers, a cause marketing entity who used the programme to promote the funding of their agency to other businesses. The trials proved successful in introducing school age participants and their families to the joys of angling and thus drawing new members into the pastime. This should lead to increased licence sales in the future.

Taking the programme nationwide

Fish & Game is keen to take this programme nationwide. There is potential in all regions in New Zealand to introduce children to the magic of freshwater fishing through Fish in Schools and the Youth programme.

Fish In Schools

Based on a Canadian model, North Canterbury Fish & Game has been running the successful ‘Fish in Schools’ programme in a number of primary and secondary schools within the region over the last 10 years.

The aim is to give young people the opportunity to raise salmon from the egg stage to fingerlings in the school environment. The salmon eggs are supplied from the North Canterbury hatchery and are raised by pupils with the support of volunteers and teachers over several months in specially constructed tanks in the classroom.

Pupils carry out on-going monitoring and related curriculum-oriented tasks. This provides hands-on practice of skills in maths, science and environmental studies in particular. It also gives them the opportunity of applying these skills in a real context in the outdoor environment.

Once the fish have grown to fingerlings they are then released into local waterways.


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Take A Kid Fishing

Nine schools out of the nineteen participating in ‘Fish in Schools’ in 2013 took part in the pilot trial, to extend the programme beyond the classroom; introducing the children to local fishing opportunities. A range of class levels from Year 2 to Year 10 were asked for expressions of interest. Teachers were approached and those showing enthusiasm for making the pilot part of their classroom programme were selected to take part. They chose what aspects of the curriculum they wished to emphasise and to what degree in order to make participation manageable.

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A skills component was planned and implemented with loan rods, tackle, knot tying and casting practice.

From October to December fishing days at The Groynes junior fishing ponds were held to coincide with regular releases of trout and salmon from the Fish and Game hatchery at Peacock Springs.

A high country release at Lake Lyndon was carried out and a fishing day held in December attended by 250 budding anglers.

Feedback on the programme has been very positive.

The goal now is to develop the programme further and introduce it to the other Fish & Game regions.

Youth Ambassadors

Kids learn from kids. North Canterbury Fish & Game have enlisted the assistance of young Canterbury anglers, from 6 to 16 years old, to assist with mentoring aspiring anglers. This initiative benefits both the new angler in picking up techniques and the mentors developing leadership skills.