Tiwi kids enjoy sportfishing clinic

AS reported earlier, a team of six Fisho writers visited the Tiwi College at Pickertaramoor, Melville Island, on Tuesday to stage a sportfishing clinic for students with the aim of inspiring them to consider a future career choice as a professional fishing guide.

As you’ll see from the attached images by Fishing World’s Peter Zeroni, the kids – and the writers! – had a great time. The basics of casting with threadlines and baitcasting gear, as well as lure fishing and knot tying, were covered using quality gear donated by Shimano, Rapala, Halco, Platypus, Plano, Atomic and Gamakatsu.

As mentioned in previous reports, the Tiwi College is a unique education facility allowing Tiwi children the opportunity to study and learn in a stable and co-ordinated environment. The college caters for up to 60 students, most of who live there during the week, and has six full-time staff. According to principal Ian Smith, the focus is on giving the students “life skills in a supportive and nurturing environment that develops the student’s sense of self–worth, enthusiasm for learning and optimism for the future”.

International cricket star and keen angler Matthew Hayden, together with Mike Baxter from Melville Island Lodge, is heavily involved with the college. The visit by the Fisho team was part of a wider campaign aimed at generating sponsorship and donations for the college. The Tiwi College Project, founded and supported by Hayden, seeks to improve the general health and wellbeing of disadvantaged indigenous youth by addressing obvious health challenges and improving educational opportunities.

“I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. The people of this small community are also great lovers of cricket and have a strong interest in sport and the learning and pathways that their involvement in sport can create,” Hayden says on his website,

The Fisho team certainly discovered the Tiwi kids love their sport. Many students were carrying AFL balls and demonstrated an amazing proficiency in kicking and catching them. AFL, known as “yiloga” in the local lingo, is the No.1 sport on Melville and Bathurst islands. National footy stars like Maurice and Cyril Rioli, Austin Wonaeamirr and Michael Long are all Tiwi Islanders and are worshipped by the locals.

The hand/eye co-ordination skills which are developed by sports such as AFL were more than evident amongst the students. Kids who’d never before picked up a baitcaster quickly grasped the concept and pegged out some impressive casts, although there were a few inevitable bird’s nests as well!

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All the kids demonstrated an interest in fishing with one young fella eagerly telling Fisho editor Jim Harnwell about the big black jewfish he’d caught on the weekend. The Halco hard-bodies and Atomic soft plastics donated to the college were eagerly examined. Judging from the predatory gleam in many of the kids’ eyes as they checked out the lures, it seemed more than likely that the local fish would be in for a hard time …

Based on the levels of excitement and interest shown by students of the Tiwi College, the gear so generously donated by Australian tackle companies will definitely be put to good use. And who knows, maybe one or two of the students will develop a really strong interest in sportfishing as a result of using the gear supplied and will pursue a career as a professional guide at Melville Island Lodge. That would be a fantastic outcome!

For more info on the Tiwi College, visit For details on the Lodge, check out

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Fishing World would like to acknowledge the support of the following individuals and companies that generously donated gear and tackle for the Melville Island Challenge –
John Dunphy, Shimano Australia: Shimano rods and reels.
Aku Valta, Rapala Freetime: Rapala pliers, braid scissors and Okuma Lip Grippers.
Stewart McPherson, Platypus: Platypus braid and leader material.
Pat Levy, JM Gillies: Plano tackle bags.
Michael Starkey, Frogley’s Offshore: Atomic soft plastics, Gamakatsu jig heads.
Tim Carter, Halco Tackle: A wide assortment of Halco hard-bods and jigs.
A special thanks goes out to Mike Baxter, owner of Melville Island Lodge, for organising this worthy event. Without Mike’s support and dedication, none of this would have been possible.

Fisho Melville Challenge results

A TEAM of six Fishing World writers, consisting of David Green, John Newbery, Peter Zeroni, Jamie Crawford, Sami Omari and Jim Harnwell, battled it out over four days of fishing in this inaugural event.
SA-based Jamie Crawford used his snapper fishing skills to take out the biggest jewie category (120cms, 29lbs), the biggest barra (79cms) and the biggest Spaniard (10kgs). Sami Omari caught the biggest saratoga (65cms), John Newbery the biggest fingermark (8kgs) and Jim Harnwell gave himself the prize for the biggest “golden” jewfish (119cm, 28lbs). David Green maintained a solid performance throughout, catching the most barra all up, mainly via his tricky use of slowly worked Atomic shads fished deep. Peter Zeroni dominated the fishography section, filling up several memory cards with a series of outstanding images (many of which will soon be highlighted in an upcoming article Greeny is working on).
Guides Warren “Wazza” Smith and Dan Finch did a sterling job, finding fish consistently and displaying remarkable patience as errant casts disappeared high into trees. Thanks fellas!

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