The 90 Mile Beach Surfcasting Club's annual Twilight Contest held last Sunday attracted 175 anglers keen to test the waters in the lead-up to the Captain Morgan Snapper Bonanza Competition.
Weather conditions on the day saw a fine bright sunny day with a mild easterly wind and less than 1m swell, making for clear water and not a lot of cloud cover for the anglers fishing over a 9.35am high tide.
There were 39 snapper weighed in, a total weight of 76.265kg with the average weight calculated at 1.956kg. The closest angler to the average weight was local fisherman Paul Summers with 1.970kg to win the main prize of $1000.
Heaviest snapper of the day went to local angler Steve Doak with a weight of 6.910kg that he caught an hour after high tide fishing around Ngataki area (see photo on front page). The second heaviest snapper went to another local angler Darren Christensen weighing in at 6.395kg and caught around half tide out south of Motupia, while third place was also a local, Ron Fenwick with a fish of 4.495kg.
Heaviest trevally went to an out-of-towner known only as Rich at 5.505kg, while second place went to local Curly Moses with 5.285kg and third place to Brian Morrissey with 4.160kg.
First and second heaviest kahawai were caught by local women, Shayna Rogers Christensen with 2.830kg and Leanne Issac at 2.700kg, with Kirk Bedggood taking third place with 2.620kg.
The junior section saw Jayden Rogers take out first prize. Unfortunately Jayden was not able to make it to the stage to collect his prize as he had to go into Kaitaia Hospital to remove a hook which became imbedded in his leg while reeling in the winning snapper. Second-placed junior was Quaylan Wikitera with a trevally and Wikitoria Rogers third with a kahawai.
After Sunday's prizegiving concluded, organisers of the Snapper Bonanza said ticket sales were on a par with last year. Event spokesman Dave Collard was unable to confirm exact numbers with all tickets books yet to be put in at this stage, but early indicators were that sales were ahead of last year at the same stage before the competition begins; with the usual surge of late interest by anglers checking the weather for the coming week expected.
Collard went on to say a $1000 cash prize for the average weight snapper had been added to the teams section, which will go to the team weighing in the first fish equal to or closest to the total of all the fish weighed in in this category. The cheque will be presented prior to the awarding of the overall Best Team at Saturday's final prizegiving.
He was also very optimistic that following consultation with the Department of Internal Affairs and the Class III Gaming Licence Agency, Bonanza organisers will be able to comply with an act which threatens the ongoing presence of this event. He also urged anglers to talk to their local MP about gaining further traction on this topic in order to regulate about what the Snapper Bonanza was all about: "Running a fishing competition, not a catching competition, to give people a memorable experience in our beautiful Real Far North."
The forecast for the Captain Morgan 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza Surfcasting Competition from Tuesday, February 26 to Saturday, March 2, was generally favourable with fine weather, light swells and east-southeast winds predicted. The general public was invited to attend the entertainment and prizegiving held each day at the event HQ located on Waipapakauri Ramp Road - following the conclusion of the weigh in - from 4.30pm onwards.