GREGG WYCHERLEY talks to the Paihia fisherman whose unusual catch caused a bit of a stir.

Dave "Captain Cuddles" Cadell has caught a fair few fish in his time, and, like most fishermen, has the tall tales to match.

But the yarn that grabbed most attention was the day he gaffed a rare broadbill swordfish.

The day in January 1975 began normally enough with Cadell and six mates out for a spot of fishing and a few beers on board the Tuatea.


But things took a strange turn when they saw what appeared to be a marlin sunning itself on the surface.

The fish ignored baited hooks so the crew, known thereafter as "the magnificent seven", decided to try the gaff.

After several attempts to subdue the fish, Cadell leaped onto the marlin's back to secure the gaff.

The crew claimed the glory for a 209lb (95kg) broadbill, a rare catch in New Zealand waters, despite the unorthodox method of landing it.

The Tuatea had no radio, but news of the catch was soon broadcast by another boat.

When the Tuatea arrived back at Paihia wharf, the crew were surprised to see a crowd of 700 people waiting to see the rare broadbill they had "hooked".

"It wasn't until later on in the piece that they realised it was a bit of a spoof and we hadn't hooked it in the normal way."

The next day the unorthodox nature of the catch emerged, earning Cadell and his mates some infamy in local fishing circles.

"There was a bit of an undercurrent," says Cadell of their reception.

Some locals believed the catch was no trophy because of the "unsportsmanlike" way the marlin had been caught, given that it was probably sick at the time.

His exploits 27 years ago have earned him a reputation as a rascal and raconteur that remains to this day.

When the Herald recently went fishing with Cadell, plenty of beers were drunk, but few fish were caught, and there was no jumping overboard gaff in hand.

Approaching his 70th birthday, he doesn't catch to many swordfish, but keeps in touch with the sport in his role as Weigh Master of the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club.

Evening weigh-ins have become a real tourist attraction as the captain entertains curious onlookers on the pier.