Big fish landed for reserve cause

By Doug Laing

It was almost a reward for commitment and dedication when the fish started biting for the Clifton Marine Club's gurnard competition last weekend.

The competition attracted 74 anglers in what was a big show of support for the club and the Clifton Reserve in its need for urgent erosion protection in the wake of a storm last year which ripped into the foreshore of its camp and its access road.

The red fish obliged, with several boats reporting good catches, including camp resident Blair Adamson, who on Sunday morning landed a 1.75kg, 54cm gurnard, bigger than anyone could recall being caught in the Cape Kidnappers area in recent years.

"I was rapt," said Mr Adamson, a club member for about 16 years. "Last time they came in that big around here was 15-16 years ago. I knew before I saw it it was a big one. It was fighting."

It was no loner, either, for in two hours Mr Adamson and brother-in-law and skipper Ian Chapman hooked 35 gurnard aboard the boat Beachcoma. Putting to sea from the club's unique launching ramp - where boats are launched from their floating and anchored trailers - the pair headed to White Cliffs, near Ocean Beach, and the gurnard were biting within minutes of the lines entering the water about 7.30am.

The next-biggest catches at the weekend were a 1.3kg fish by Carl Foster on the boat Kingfisher, and one of 1.16kg boated by Graeme Bawden, on Mis-Behaving.

Club members waiting for the formalities later in the day watched a demonstration by the Hawke's Bay Coastguard in the channel out from the ramp, and commented there could be significant impacts for boating safety in the region if protection isn't put in place to stop the erosion.

The ability to launch club boats and land those rescued from the sea or the coast is a valuable time-saver in emergencies, especially with room for rescue helicopters to land.

Camp resident Colleen Carson, watching vehicles heading towards the Cape, passing perilously in the surf ebbing back after the low tide, said: "If we lose the camp, we lose the ramp, and we lose that ability to look after that whole area of the Cape."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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