When I first checked in on a group of keen Hauraki Gulf ‘fishos’ it was day one of the 2017–18 fishing season. The boys were already out on the water hoping to catch the big one and rack up a trophy. Later that day there would be the obligatory bragging on social media, but there probably wouldn’t be any fish on the table that night – and trophies (if any) might not be in hand for at least six months. Something was fishy, if you’ll pardon the pun. I wondered if the big one really did get away; but as I learned more, it became clear that this band of bait brothers, who call themselves the Moocher Hunters, are a bit different from the average fishing fanatics.
It was well into the season the next time I caught up with the Moocher Hunters, and this time with the man who started it all: Waiheke High School teacher Tony Wood.
Tony will happily tell you he lives for fishing. “I told my wife Ingrid that, early on in our relationship,” he says, “although I am not sure she understood back then that I would actually be miserable if I couldn’t get out on the water.”
Tony was always ‘that kid’ roaming the shoreline, combing the beach and bush, and fishing at every opportunity. He admits he has been spoilt. “Living on an island in the Hauraki Gulf was something I could not have dreamed of.”