Last Saturday at the wharf by Wellington’s Te Papa, an excited young fisher pulled up the catch of a lifetime – a crayfish.

 The lad was one of nearly 1500 youngsters and parents crowding the promenade for a popular event now in its 10th year.

The hubbub had barely died after that extraordinary catch when another crayfish was hooked and landed.

One such catch is rare enough but two in a row is unbelievable.

And there was more to come.

Before long another unexpected catch was lifted on to the wharf. This time it was a kina impaled on a tiny herring hook.

The catches were courtesy of the police dive squad, sitting on the harbour floor amongst hundreds of fishing lines in the annual Kids Gone Fishin event.

The police divers also attached prizes in the form of 20 plastic fish, each to be redeemed for a $50 note, thanks to sponsors National Storage NZ.

KP Marine donated a further $7000 worth of prizes.

Fire, police, ambulance and fisheries officers all turned out to entertain and encourage the kids swarming on the wharf while parents enjoyed free coffee.

The event’s enthusiastic MC was again Kirk Beyer from The Rock (the church, not the radio station).

There were a good few fish caught too – including spotties, herrings, blue cod, gurnard, kahawai and snapper.

As an introduction to New Zealand’s favourite hobby and an appreciation of our marine environment, it could not be beaten.

The Kids Gone Fishin programme was launched by Graeme Sinclair more than a decade ago as an offshoot of his popular Gone Fishin television series, now in its 26th year.

It was also a perfect fit with Graeme’s role as patron of Police Blue Light, which aims to build confidence and trust in police in our communities.

Each police district has a voluntary Blue Light team, a scheme launched in the 1980s based around discos.

In Wellington it is chaired by Sgt Brett Cronin, who works with youth justice in the Hutt Valley.

“Graeme’s a great personality and the fishing events are a great way to make us more approachable,” he says.

“Some of the kids we deal with haven’t got a positive role model in their lives.

“This way they can get outside, rather than being stuck at a screen and fishing provides the best medium for that.”

It’s not only the kids having fun at the events.

Those attending last week were warned over a public address system there was a thief floating about and to beware.

Sure enough, “Terrible Tex” dressed as a Beagle Boy in black and white vertical stripes staged a robbery and ran through the crowd chased by a dog handler and an enthusiastic crowd of kids.

The burglar leapt off the wharf into the sea, where he was apprehended and hauled aboard the police launch Lady Elizabeth IV, much to the delight of those watching on.

“It was bloody hilarious,” Graeme said.

He does as many as 10 Kids Gone Fishin events a year, supported by wife Sandee, all voluntary, all at his expense.

And as well as the weekly fishing show he is currently working on the third series of Ocean Bounty, one-hour programmes featuring all aspects of commercial fishing.

“If you do well in life you have a responsibility to give back,” he says.

“The big thing about it is parents can give their kids all the gifts in the world but the greatest gift is your time.

“They just want to be with you.”

Graeme is a star attraction. He used to sign hundreds of autographs, now he doesn’t sign any – it’s all photos on phones.

“We are blessed to have been born here and one of our greatest assets is our outdoors.

“What better thing to do than make the most of it and also learn how to sustainably use our marine resources.”