Giant kingi catch breaks national spearing record

By Lynley Bilby

Nick Boulgaris, spearing fish off Whangarei, dived after his target several times. The 49.8kg kingfish is awaiting taxidermy. Photo / Supplied
Nick Boulgaris, spearing fish off Whangarei, dived after his target several times. The 49.8kg kingfish is awaiting taxidermy. Photo / Supplied

Nick Boulgaris just wanted to bring home some fish for tea. Instead, the professional diver from Auckland speared something that will never be consumed - a 49.8kg kingfish, smashing a near 50-year-old New Zealand record in the process.

Boulgaris, 27, said he was collecting kina at the Hen and Chicken Islands on Thursday when he decided to stop work and shoot a kingfish to smoke for dinner.

He headed to his favourite hunting spot in the waters off Whangarei but after an initial 25m snorkel-dive he came back up breathless, and with no sign of tea.

But before he had time to recover he spotted the prized kingfish.

"The big boy must have followed me up. They're quite curious and they come and have a look at whatever is in the water."

He took a couple of quick breaths and dived down after his target. Within seconds he had the kingfish in his sights, and took aim.

"I shot him and speared him," said Boulgaris. "Then he took off for the next 20 minutes all over the ocean."

Boulgaris said he worked the large fish, reeling him in on his spear's long float line while being dragged along in the sandy waters off the island.

"I worked him up about four or five times and was just a few metres short of grabbing him, but this thing just kept powering off.

"He kept going down to the bottom and I needed to keep coming up for air.

"If it was deeper it would have taken all my stuff and disappeared," he said.

It wasn't until the giant kingi had finally tired that Boulgaris realised how enormous his catch was.

"I was a bit knackered," he said. 'I couldn't even lift him on to the boat."

A friend advised him to have it weighed at the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club in Tutukaka. The catch was confirmed as 49.8kg.

Paperwork has been sent to Spearfishing New Zealand to certify the catch, which has been touted as a possible world record for a speared kingfish.

The previous record for a speared kingfish was 47kg, which has stood since 1974.

The fish is now in a large freezer awaiting a taxidermist to prepare it for mounting.

The specimen will take pride of place on a wall at Boulgaris' home, between several stag heads.

"We ended up with the biggest fish of the lot and no fish to eat," said Boulgaris.

He had a hamburger for tea that night.

- Herald on Sunday

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