The revival of the Hawke's Bay Sports Fishing Club's big annual competition is already proving a big hit with "early-bird" entries ahead of projections for the three-day event in two weeks' time.
Replacing the Coruba Megafish, which was last held three years ago after 35 years as one of the longest-running sponsorship partnerships in New Zealand sports, the Your Solutions Megafish Hawke's Bay will be held out of the club's Ahuriri clubhouse on February 5-7, with prizes valued at well over $100,000.
Co-organiser, club member and major sponsor Adam Satherley says more than 120 early entries have been received, and the club is confident of having at least 350 by the time the competition is under way, although some believe it could be much higher as it's nostalgic appeal kicks in.
The event was first held at Easter 1977 with 82 anglers and 37 boats, morphing through early days as the Coruba Shark Hunt. It was an instant success, hitting a peak with 248 boats and 754 rods registered in its sixth year, when only shark species were included. Becoming entrenched as an early February event, around Waitangi Day, it was last held in 2013 when there were 443 anglers and 124 boats, with Napier angler Keith Redman's opening morning catch of a 128kg striped marlin was the the biggest catch over the three days.
The biggest in the history of the tournament was a 417kg mako caught by John Cave, of Bay View, in 1999, and the most recent true monster of the ocean a 384.2kg mako caught by Graeme Bee, of Napier, in a three-hour battle at sea in 2009.
The Your Solutions Megafish Hawke's Bay is the biggest of about 20 competitions being held this summer by the club, and Mr Satherley says competitors will be a mixture of regular club tournament anglers, visitors and casuals.
Traditionally hundreds of other members of the public gather to watch weigh-ins as catches are returned to shore, in search of the big prizes which include an Isuzu utility for the biggest marlin, and a Profile boat and $6000 prize pool for albacore, which have been landed in good numbers in Hawke's Bay this summer.
A wide range of other prizes is available for other species, including kingfish, snapper, shark, billfish, and skip jack.