Grant Dixon meets Auckland builder Carl Scott, a keen fisher, diver, surfer and hunter who is also an author and inventor.
The garage beneath Carl Scott’s house in Birkenhead on Aucland’s North Shore has produced a number of great fishing-related products.
When I arrived to interview Carl, he had taken on a job to build a plinth to transport and support a statue destined for Italy – it is the sort of problem solving task that Carl relishes.
A keen hunter and angler, Carl was introduced to the outdoors at a very young age. He grew up in Timaru where he fished for eels, followed by salmon and trout in the Opihi and Pareora rivers. Much of the catch was bottled and preserved so the family had fish year-round.
Carl often went on kahawai missions to the nearby river mouth, where you had to fish up-current to avoid the offal and fat that was discharged by the local freezing works. Get it wrong and you spent a long time cleaning up your gear!
Carl’s family lived in the local Pest Destruction Board house and he helped clean the rabbiters’ traps in the off-season, using the traps to supplement the family’s diet.
Moving to Auckland as a 20-year-old, Carl undertook a building apprenticeship, a trade that remains with him today.
He was amazed at the abundance of the fishery as his doorstep.
“I had heard about kingfish, but had never caught one, and the light gear I had wasn’t up to the job anyway,” Carl says.
Some better tackle was purchased, and Carl enjoyed some success fishing off the land at places like Takatu Point and other North Shore and Hibiscus Coast hot-spots.
It was not long before Carl realised there were even better options if you had a boat, so he set about building a small eight-foot (2.44m) dinghy. The need to go further afield subsequently resulted in the construction of a nine-foot (2.74m) and then a 13ft (3.96m) Pelin dinghy, which proved to be a great fishing boat.
Carl has stayed with the Pelin design: his current boat is a 17ft (5.2m) glass-over-ply Nomad named Vivace. He has put his building skills to good use, giving the boat, which he purchased second-hand, a complete make-over.
“The hull has been glassed inside and out and two more frames and a bulkhead have been added to strengthen it. The glass windows have been removed and replaced with ply to add rigidity to the topsides.”
“I was prompted to thicken up the hull when I suggested to a mate we go out for a broadbill fish. He was worried an angry sword might be quite capable of piecing the hull with its bill. It started me thinking, so one recent Christmas I turned the boat over on the front lawn and re-glassed it inside and out.”
It was good move given Carl’s love of fishing offshore, heading to the likes of Great Barrier and the Mokohinau Islands.
“Last season I repowered her with a Honda 100hp V-TEC outboard which has proven a reliable and economical choice. I can get to the Barrier on less than 20 litres of fuel.”
One of Carl’s most memorable trips in Vivace was with son Connor, launching from Mangawhai for a little bit of gamefishing behind the Hen and Chicks in the summer of 2007.
“We had never game-fished before but found some birds and bait near a current line and thought that would be a good place to start looking for a marlin.”
It proved a good call and it was not long before they were hooked into a stripie.
Eleven-year-old Connor took the helm while Carl fought the fish and they soon had it alongside the boat.
With no gaffs on board, Carl took out his trusty speargun and one well-placed shot saw the 70kg fish subdued and brought on board.
Another memorable catch was this Boxing Day when Carl and family members headed out to Motutapu “for a feed”.
Straylining with two 8/0 hooks set into a whole fillet of kahawai, Carl found himself attached to his personal best snapper which tipped the scales at 14kg – welcome to the elite Thirty Pound Club!
Kingfish have always held a special appeal for Carl, right from the early days when the late Ian Hunt at Hunt’s Sports beefed up a Penn 4/0 reel for him to give it some extra drag to take on these tough fighters.
Connor, who is in the tackle trade, laughs at Carl’s ‘old’ Penns, but they have stood the test of time and he says they still perform well.
As well as fishing, Carl is a keen free-diver and while he tends to target scallops and crayfish for the table these days, he was once a mad-keen spearo where big snapper and kingfish out from Tairua and the offshore Hauraki Gulf islands were his targets. A photo album brimming with great catches is testament to his skill as an underwater hunter.
In his early days in Auckland, if he wasn’t fishing or surfing, he was hunting.
His first excursions were to the Woodhill region where fallow deer were the target species. His first animal was a fallow deer, claimed with a solid shotgun round. Today he and Connor enjoy hunting red and sika deer together.
I first met Carl when he was promoting a smoker he had designed and built. It was a thing of great beauty, finished in cedar and fired by a gas ring on which a pan loaded with woodchips was placed to create the smoke.
He sold a few smokers and sets of plans, but they never took off in the way he had hoped. He also authored a particularly informative book on smoking.
In more recent times Carl designed a free-diver’s rotationally moulded ‘boat float’, meant to be pulled along behind a diver and used to put the catch in.
They proved popular but the cost of producing them, along with retail margins and having to share any profits with a partner, made the project uneconomic.
Carl is one of those people who is always thinking of ways to make his sport easier and more enjoyable, so you can be sure the smoker and the boat float will not be the last projects to the come off the drawing board in his inventive mind. Watch this space!