A Beachlands Fisherland is still shaking his head in disbelief after catching the biggest snapper many people have seen.
The adventures started when Ron Giles and his fishing mates Paul Todd and Ray Ransome headed off to Great Barrier Island the night before the recent fishing contest run by the Maraetai Beach Boating Club.
They left Maraetai in Todd's seven-metre runabout, thinking they had the best chance of nailing a big snapper in the waters around the Barrier.
"I had picked up my reel, a Shimano 6500 Baitrunner and rod from Phil Appleyard at the Big Fish in Pakuranga that day. He serviced it and put a new 10kg line on, and we shot over to Tryphena on the Thursday night," said Giles. The contest started the next morning and went for two days.
The fishermen got up at 3.30am to catch live baits. They filled the bait tank with small kahawai and jack mackerel.
"We tried a couple of spots and didn't catch much and Toddy said he had been land-based fishing in a contest a few months ago and the biggest snapper - a 20-pounder - came from a spot in Rosalie Bay so he took us round there," he said.
The trio anchored in about 12m of water and cast their baits back towards the rocks.
They used whole fish with the heads cut off, with no weights, and Giles had 8/0 hooks on 40kg trace.
"We caught a couple of good ones of four or five kills, and one of 7kg, and were busted off a few times in the kelp."
At about 9.30am, Giles hooked what was obviously a big snapper.
"One of the boys yelled, 'You've got a horse!'
"There was a lot of screaming and shouting as I tried to keep it out of the kelp, and when we saw it the shouting turned into screaming. Ray tried to get it into the net and it was flopping around. He finally got it and we just sat there and looked at it.
"There were high-fives all round and yahoos, and even though it was only 9.30am, we had a beer, and looked at it again, and looked at it again, and again. It was all very exciting," said Giles.
It was his first big snapper. "I hadn't even caught a 20-pounder, so I had no reference. We had no idea how big it was. We were feeling very pleased with ourselves."
They boated the big snapper and didn't return to Maraetai until the following day when it was officially weighed at 4pm at 13.49kg, which translates to just under 30lb. Very few people ever catch a snapper over the magic 30lb mark, which sounds much more impressive than 13kg. If the trio had raced straight back to Maraetai and weighed the fish immediately it would no doubt have registered as heavier on the scales, because all fish lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight through dehydration after 24 hours, even though they are kept on ice.
"It was really crazy at the weigh-in when people saw the fish. We were pretty happy boys," said Giles.
The snapper won first prize for Giles, who said it was a real team effort. "Toddy took us to his spot and Ray netted it. The weather was perfect - it was a brilliant weekend."
The club is paying to have the huge snapper mounted and Giles will keep it for a year, then it will be displayed in the club rooms at Maraetai.
Snapper have been known to grow to over 18kg ( 40lb), but the world record is 16.8kg (37lb), caught in 1999 by Mike Hayes, fishing out of Tauranga.
But for Stan Giles, his catch is one he will never forget.