Smoked marlin on student flat's menu

By DOUG LAING


Budding businessman Zane Stevenson found an economical way to stock his student flat freezer by landing a 128.5kg striped marlin on one of the last days of his holiday before heading back for his final year at Victoria University.

The 21-year-old's "dream" catch, landed off Waimarama in a 45-minute struggle on Monday, was one of the bigger striped marlin caught off the Hawke's Bay coast, and the biggest since a 153kg catch in the Hawke's Bay Fishing Club's Coruba Megafish in 2009 (beating the previous club record of 118.8kg).

Strung-up from a tractor on the beach, the "stripey" weighed 50 per cent more than the student's own 80kg, and stretched close to 3.7 metres, more than twice his height of 1.78m (5ft 10in), and too long to stretch the tale, if ever he wanted.

It had been a contest of who gave-up first, or perhaps more to the point, whether it would be the big one that got away, as at least seven striped marlin did during this year's Coruba tournament.

Battle-worn - a few aching muscles, a tweaked back and a drop of celebratory Moet inflammation on the inner cranium - he said it was the catch he'd been waiting for all his life.

He grew up at Waimarama, tries to fish every day of every summer, alongside the holiday job working the shop and bar on a public golf course, and it came on the 5.7m family trailer boat Sea Tiger, with dad Paul, mum Jan and a couple of friends there to see it, although his brothers were all at work.

What's more, they were targeting marlin and in a warm part of the ocean in 100m territory about 10-12km out, it was one of the few days the marlin could be expected to be lured to the fight in an otherwise frustrating summer for those chasing the bigger catches.

Paul Stevenson said the successful chase began as the Sea Tiger headed south off Bare Island, the family having already seen one hooked and lost, as had a fisherman on another boat in the area.

It was hooked about 1pm and on board, seemingly filling the small boat, within about 45 minutes, belying the struggle that had taken place.

"It was a very good fighter," he said, "It jumped out of the water five-six times, thrashing about on the surface, and we had about 400-500 metres of line out some of the time.

"It's better than winning Lotto," he said yesterday, although there was no indication he'd ever had such luck with the Saturday night numbers.

But there was the bonus, which was taking shape in the smoker at Napier company Tangaroa Fisheries, while plans were being made for mounting the head as a trophy.

It's expected there'll be 60-65kg of meat, enough to stock the freezer in the flat he shares with three others in the capital, and also plenty to give away.

It's an element of good fortune that "all my flatmates like fish," and mum has taught him a bit about cooking, enough to lay claim to being able to do fish and chips better than a few of the capital's takeaway joints.

But as for the trophy: "I think that will be going up in the bach at Waimarama. I don't think dad will let me take it to Wellington."

Said his father: "I've been fishing out here about 30 years, and in all that time I've only hooked a stripey once, briefly."

Zane's biggest previous catch was a 20kg mahimahi during a trip to Vanuatu about four years ago, and after completing his final paper this year, he's off overseas again for a few months of OE before making the next decisions.

He's majored in business management, and is looking, possibly, at a career in supermarkets. Guess which department?

- Hawkes Bay Today

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