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 weekends and school holidays for his uncle as a commercial fisherman. All Matt ever wanted to be was a fisherman, the Mathematics, Accounting, Economics, Geography and other subjects he studied would be virtually useless to him in his chosen career, but Matt stayed on at school regardless.
After graduating high school, Matt had no desire to go to university and planned to work full time as a fisherman for his uncle. But after an altercation with his uncle (a fight over a family cricket match on Christmas day) the door closed on Matt's commercial fishing career. Soon after, Matt started a successful roofing business. Being self employed afforded Matt the ability to work hard and then get away when the fishing was good.
Aged 25 in 2000 Matt decided to have a go at making a career out of fishing. Having completed enough commercial sea hours Matt sat his skipper's exams, sold up his home and business in Auckland and set off on his OE to Europe.
Upon returning he began seeking out a crewing job on a game fishing boat in the Bay of Islands and by chance met a man by the name of John Gregory. 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. Later that same year (2001) Matt married his longtime girlfriend Kaylene (she must be a very understanding woman to have stayed with Matt while he spent so much time away fishing).
The following year, Matt landed his most prized catch up to that point, a 8lb 5oz baby girl, Hannah Paige Watson (with a little help from wife Kaylene of course). In 2003 Matt was still living his dream, fishing far off grounds, and catching and releasing hundreds of big game fish, assisting with billfish research as well as helping anglers from all over the world realize their angling dreams.
If Matt's life wasn't busy enough, spending 200 days a year game fishing, writing, part time fencing, hunting and raising a new baby, he decided to have a go at making a TV show as well. So with no television experience he decided to start a television production company with his mate, Kerren Packer, who also knew nothing about television production.
In the 2004 game fishing season Matt joined the Ultimate Lady a 90ft luxury sport fisher. Along with the Ultimate Lady team Matt explored new offshore fishing grounds and his cameras captured some of the most amazing fishing on the planet. In June 2004 the Ultimate Lady had 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.
Also in June 2004, a well-timed break between fishing trips meant that for the first time, Matt was able to spend his wedding anniversary with his wife, where Kaylene revealed that they had another child on the way.
The birth of child number two was in keeping with Matt's ‘action and adventure' lifestyle; at 1:30 am on February 6, 2005, Matt had to deliver his son in the passenger seat of his Jeep on the side of the road amidst a rain storm. A whopper 9lb 9oz baby boy ‘Shaw Christian Watson' was a keeper and is set to be the next fisherman in the family... I think Kaylene needs to get some credit here too, ouch!
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, guess he is one of the lucky few that is working in the job that he always dreamed of.