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Safe Fishing

Fishing is one of, if not, the most popular recreational pastimes in New Zealand. Tragically it could also be claimed to be one of the most dangerous.

Each fishing trip differs in location and conditions, presenting various hazards on each occasion. Do not be complacent, most accidents happen when you least expect them. They are often the result of ignoring local advice and taking needless risks.

Here are a few simple rules which could save your life:

  • Always check the weather before going rock fishing, especially swell forecasts . A rising swell with an incoming tide is to be avoided
  • Check tides. Some good locations are completely covered when the tide is in, others just get cut off. Explore unfamiliar locations on an outgoing tide.
  • Assess the sea conditions before climbing down onto a ledge to fish. Spend at least 10 minutes watching the wave pattern. Don't stand on wet rocks when waves or spray, are obviously sweeping them.
  • Fish with someone who knows the area and can judge whether it is safe under the prevailing conditions.
  • If you're even a little uneasy about the fishing spot, find a safer place
  • Keep well back from the water's edge, especially if there is a swell running
  • Under no circumstances turn your back on the sea. Watch the waves at all times and be prepared to run to higher ground at any time.
  • Don't risk your life for your tackle or a fish. If you drop something or a wave washes your gear into the sea, leave it there
  • Wear suitable clothing. Good, non-slip, lace-up shoes or basketball boots are good. Don't wear boots
  • Wear a buoyancy aid. Lightweight inflatable lifejackets are suitable for fishing and are available in New Zealand.
  • Take notice of warning signs -they're there for a reason.

Some definite don'ts
Don't ...

  • Jump from rock to rock. Climb and walk carefully and deliberately.
  • Turn your back on the water, waves can get you when you least expect them. Retain an awareness of your surroundings all the time, even when concentrating on landing a fish.
  • Fish in a position where you cannot easily back away from a rising wave. Always have an escape route identified.
  • Trust ropes which have been permanently attached in rockfishing areas.
  • Drink alcohol. Alcohol and water don't mix

Learn to swim. If you can't swim and survive, you have no business being near the water.

Resources are available from Water Safety New Zealand Inc

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