Who would have picked it?
On any given weekend a skinny kid with shaggy blonde hair could be seen dragging his dinghy laden with fish and fishing gear up the steep hill at Weymouth boat ramp. The boats trolley had a dodgy wheel that would regularly fall off, making the one-mile trip from the boat ramp to his home take more than an hour. But this didn’t deter the kid one bit; his passion for fishing was such that nothing would dampen his enthusiasm. As the next weekend rolled around, before the first rays of sunshine lightened the Saturday morning sky he’d be towing his dinghy back down to the sea for another adventure.
So who would have picked that this kid from a small seaside town in New Zealand would some day step out onto the world stage, featuring on shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, 60 minutes, NBC news, BBC World to name just a few of the countless shows, news agencies, publications and websites that have been fascinated by what he does.
The kid, of course was Matt Watson, who everyone predicted, including himself, would some day grow up to be a fisherman. What he does that has attracted so much attention is bring the intrigue and excitement of searching the world’s oceans for adventure to televisions screens. Part stuntman - part conservationist and self confessed ‘mad fisherman’, Matt captures the attention of his audience by pulling off impossible catches - unbelievably big fish from ridiculously small boats. And not just boats, anything that floats is good enough, like catching a marlin from a surfboard! Matt’s passion for the ocean and its creatures is what captivates viewers and ropes them in to come along on the adventure where Matt shares his extensive knowledge of the oceans creatures.
While he’s better known for leaping out of a helicopter to wrestle a marlin, Matt started fishing as most of us do with his father and grandfather as a 3 year old. At just seven years old he became the skipper of his own dinghy and started to terrorise the local fish population on the muddy flats around his home town of Weymouth. As soon as he was old enough (or rather able to haul nets and gut fish) he began to work.
After returning from his OE, Matt met a man by the name of John Gregory in the Bay of Islands. Like Matt, John was following his dream and he had just finished building the luxury game fishing vessel Primetime. In just their first season of 2001, Primetime was top of the charter boat fleet with some incredible marlin and broadbill swordfish captures. Matt began to write about his game fishing experiences for New Zealand Fishing News and soon became a key writer for the magazine. He set up his television production company to make a show about fishing, despite knowing nothing about television production.
Matt then joined the Ultimate Lady in 2004 which amassed an incredible 405 marlin for the season and finished with the highest marlin tally ever recorded by a New Zealand boat. This meant that Matt was fortunate enough to have worked on the most successful boat in New Zealand for four years in a row.
Today Matt has become a popular character in New Zealand and abroad for his engaging energetic presence on television. But ironically when filling out a departure card to jet off somewhere in the world to film a show or do some publicity, in the space titled 'occupation', Matt prints 'Fisherman'. So I guess he is one of the lucky few that is working in the job that he always dreamed of.