Angler reels in $32,000 for biggest snapper caught

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James Benge with the 8.165kg snapper that won him $32,000 in the 90 Mile Snapper Bonanza on Saturday.
James Benge with the 8.165kg snapper that won him $32,000 in the 90 Mile Snapper Bonanza on Saturday.

James Benge made it through a very stressful three and a half days to stay of top of the leaderboard and claim the $30,000 prize for catching the heaviest snapper in this year's Placemakers 90 Mile Snapper Bonanza.

Competition spokesman John Stewart said after Mr Benge's 8.165kg fish was caught on Wednesday - day two of the five-day event - the Hastings surfcaster would be "sweating on [major prize] $30,000".

Shortly after holding his winning fish, trophy and winner's cheque aloft before the crowd at the final day's prizegiving on Saturday evening, Mr Benge made no effort to discount Stewart's claims: he had indeed 'sweated it'. He resorted to using a psychological strategy to take his mind off the fact that the $30,000 was dangerously in touching distance.

"I challenged myself to better it," he said of his Wednesday catch which had also earned him $2000 for the day's heaviest fish.

"It has been terrible," he said of the long wait which took place over the following three days, "to know that last year a fish bigger than this got pipped at the end".

Knowing there were "two decent ones" caught on the final day of fishing only added to the tension but once he saw them, the weight was lifted from his shoulders.

The other big winner of this year's Snapper Bonanza was Renee Sauer from Awanui, 'the last man' standing on the stage from the 10 drawn names throughout the week, to claim the Mitsubishi Triton ute.

Ms Sauer was at a loss for words but the mile-wide smile said it all as well-wishers came from left right and centre to congratulate her.

Other major prizewinners of the 2016 Snapper Bonanza included: Overall average weight prize of $10,000; Jared Blackburn of Katikati with a 2.302kg fish; best team prize of $4000; Vaughan Craven's mob from Tauranga with a total of 61.21kg of fish caught over the event; the ladies' heaviest snapper prize of $1000 for the week went to Anna Kneale from Hamilton for her 4.055kg fish. The ladies' average weight prize of $1000 went to Tania Yates of Kaitaia.

- Northern Advocate

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