Two young fishermen in a kayak hauled in a huge bronze whaler shark in the Bay of Plenty last night.

Local man Mathew Taylor was having dinner with his wife on Waihi beach when they saw the two men paddle out past the break.

"They had a whole kingfish as the bait and they paddled out with the kayak," Taylor told the Herald.

"By the time we finished dinner we could see they'd hooked something that was pretty big."

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A crowd gathered on the beach as the kayak returned to shore.

It was about 9pm at that point and the two young men, who Taylor guessed were in their early 20s, spent about an hour bringing the 80- 150kg shark in.

The recreational fishermen then unhooked the shark's mouth and let it swim away, Taylor said.

"It sounded like it wasn't a big deal, they said they catch them quite regularly."

Another bystander told Taylor the shark was a bronze whaler.