Big prize pull for kahawai competitors

By Nathan Crombie

Sports fishing fanatics and first-timers are expected to battle it out during an upcoming day of fun and fierce competition at the 25th annual Lake Ferry Beach Fishing Contest.

Ron Sharpe, Greytown Lions Club member and event co-organiser, said the contest had been running at Lake Ferry for 25 years and would next year run on January 19, over Wellington Anniversary weekend.

"Any competitor can go down there with just a hand line, chuck it in the water and go home with a quad bike. You never know."

Mr Sharpe said the six Lions and Lioness clubs in South Wairarapa were jointly running the contest, which in the past had annually attracted around 400 participants.

The contest this year had received significant support from Wairarapa businesses and sponsors and the top prize for the heaviest kawahai caught was a Suzuki King Quad, he said, which would be a fully serviced trade-in courtesy of Masterton Suzuki agents.

Surf fishing rigs can be won in other categories as well, Mr Sharpe said, and there were separate competitive sections for men, women and junior entrants and dozens of spot prizes at the weigh-in.

The upcoming contest will be held in support of new GPS equipment and mountain rescue stretcher for Wairarapa Search and Rescue, he said.

Prospective competitors can for the first time enter the contest online and will each go into a special draw to win the Richie McCaw book, The Open Side.

Mr Sharpe is hoping business and corporate groups will enter the contest, which will be held at a venue about 30km from Martinborough and "only 40 minutes drive from Featherston to this slice of wild Wairarapa coast that's not known widely outside the region".

"The contest is a great spectator sport but there's also plenty to do for those not into fishing," he said.

Other nearby attractions include vineyards, a seal colony, the historic Lake Ferry Hotel and the neighbouring Lake Wairarapa, which comprises the largest wetlands area in the lower North Island with views across the water to the Kaikoura mountain range.

The contest runs from 9am to 3pm. Tickets cost $25 for seniors and $10 for juniors, and can be purchased online, or on the day at Lake Ferry Hotel or Whangaimoana from 7am.

For more information see or contact Keith Saywell on 06 304 9940 or Ron Sharpe on 06 304 8822.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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