The smooth running reincarnation of the Doubtless Bay Fishing Contest as hosted by the Mangonui Fire Brigade for the first time over the weekend gave organisers plenty of reassurance for the future.
Convenor Alan Moros said the lasting impression from all involved in successfully pulling off the massive undertaking was one of relief.
"We are all very excited. It was a great start to have it go so well," said Moros of the two-day event, which concluded on Sunday. Thus any earlier fears that the inexperience of the organising committee would be revealed - despite every precaution being put in place - eventually proved unfounded.
"The feedback was good, the event was great, people were blown away with the prizes and the smoothness of it," Moros continue,d before candidly addressing perhaps the most commonly-held grumble: "Yes, the auction still takes too long, but it's either keep it in this format or increase ticket prices and we don't want to do that."
He also noted, "An hour after, the whole training ground was clean, no tents, no rubbish. Like a good fire callout, when you do the job and get back and wait for the next one."
Statistics from the event saw 427 anglers taking part and weighing in 380 snapper (for a total of 1.045 tonne), 28 kingfish (0.314 tonne), 21 trevally (0.06 tonne) and 74 kahawai (0.146 tonne), while the ugliest fish award went to a scorpion fish. The biggest snapper was 10.15kg caught by Scott McDonald, while the biggest kingfish was 16.20kg caught by Clint Culpan.
Other major prizewinners included $5000 cash for closest to average weight snapper (2.752kg) won by Barry Harrison with a 2.750kg fish; the ride-on lawnmower for the closest to average weight snapper (estimated at 2.788kg) going to Eastern rugby stalwart Larry Matthews with a 2.790kg fish; and the 60" plasma TV won by lucky ticket holder Peter Papera from Whatuwhiwhi.
The fish auction was professionally run by the experienced Gary Steed who was well backed up by Owen Hinckesman on both days. This, along with various other fundraising activities, raised an estimated $9000 for the refurbishment of a mobile water tanker for the fire brigade. Also, many suspected the Mr Whippy van man would have had a sore arm from serving snow cones non-stop over several hours before and during the auction and prizegiving on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. A tally of the total number of (free) ice creams actually served was being researched at time of going to press.
The fish auction and prizegiving on each day attracted what some estimates were putting down as more than 1000 people all enjoying the warm, humid northerly conditions on the natural amphitheatre behind the fire station off SH12.
An extensive and complete list of results from the event along with more images will feature in upcoming editions of the Northland Age.