Will the 'people's fish' bite?

By Mark Story

3 comments
BAROMETER: Next month's surfcasting competition will be an interesting sequel to last year's farce, where only 15 kahawai were caught. PHOTO FILE.
BAROMETER: Next month's surfcasting competition will be an interesting sequel to last year's farce, where only 15 kahawai were caught. PHOTO FILE.

SOMETHING big and fast took my surfcasting line near Kidnappers last summer.
Consequently, at every 20 seconds of the 10-minute fight I let out a jubilant man-hoot.
With nylon screaming off the reel, I was mentally assembling a herb and citrus crust for the rottweiler-sized snapper - or kingfish?

Yet after a robust battle, what actually appeared once the end of my line materialised was a slimy stingray, thrashing its barbed stinger from side to side. Not high on my list to cover with lemon zest and dill, I (very carefully) coaxed it back into the surf.

Such is the state of Hawke Bay's fishery, the formerly untargeted stingray and kahawai are a common catch.

Which is why next month's 2016 Kahawai Surfcasting Competition will be an intriguing sequel to last year's farce, where hundreds fished for more than six hours to land just 15 weighable kahawai.

You don't need a boat or an expensive torpedo system to fish for kahawai. A handline from shore will do. Some say that's why they're referred to as "the people's fish".
Yet I reckon they've been dubbed thus because there's little else on offer. Inadvertently, the people's fish has become the unscientific yardstick by which we measure the health of our fishery.

Years back, this surfcasting competition's target species was snapper, yet the numbers of that proud fish have since dried up and kahawai now has top billing.

Pania Surfcasting vice-captain John Purser reckons this season is looking up. We should hope he's right. We should also hope the 2025 iteration of this enduring competition will again one day include snapper - and pray it won't be titled the 2025 Stingray Surfcasting Competition.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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