Wheelchair user a reely good catch

May 22, 2017

Wheelchair user a reely good catch

Papamoa man Sam Fitness uses drone technology to catch fish. Photo: Brad Hemingway

An inventive tetraplegic 20-year-old is using a drone to keep his fishing hobby alive.

Papamoa student Sam Fitness had to resort to modern technology after an accident left him paralysed from the neck down in 2015. He was climbing a tree at a local reserve when he fell, leaving him with a C5 fracture to his neck.

A wheelchair has not got in the way of his angling expeditions. He attaches an electric fishing reel to the drone, which he then takes to the beach and flies out over the water to drop the line. When a fish takes a bite, he uses the electric reel to wind it in. His fishing club gave him the idea.

“It’s a head turner,” he said, “a lot of people think it’s from the future!

“I’ve already caught about five legal snapper; plenty of undersized fish too.”

In the past, Mr Fitness has been the holder of many club and national fishing records.  He caught his first marlin at the age of 16 – it was also the heaviest in his club that season.

President of the Mount Maunganui Sport Fishing Club, Brian Rhodes, said Mr Fitness never missed a tournament.

“He’s always very keen when it comes to competition, that’s what makes him a bloody good fisherman,” he said.

Mr Fitness also uses a four-wheel-drive motorised wheelchair to get onto the beach.

“It’s got big wheels, so the sand isn’t a problem,” he said. “It’s removed so many barriers and doesn’t make me feel as disabled as I normally would.”

Mr Fitness is now studying at the University of Waikato.

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