A Tauranga angler has caught the biggest brown trout taken on a rod and reel.
Otwin Kandolf thought he had snagged the bottom when he first hooked the monster fish weighing over 42lb (19kg). His capture was this weekend approved as a world record.
The 71-year-old was fishing the Ohau B Canal, near Twizel, in the South Island's Mackenzie Country, with longtime angling companion Gunther Propst when he hooked the record-breaker.
The Mackenzie Country canals have become synonymous with huge trout after a series of staggering catches in recent years. A few days into their trip, Mr Kandolf said they began spotting some of these giant fish.
"I thought, 'gee, what's that?' The water is milky and these big fish just appear like a shadowy shape," said the Austrian-born former chef and ski shop owner.
The pair caught an 8kg (17.6lb) brown trout and were thrilled but it proved little more than an appetiser.
"My friend was fishing 50m further up and shouted 'there's a water rat coming down'."
What Mr Propst believed to be a water rat was actually the dorsal fin of an enormous trout protruding above the water as it swam along the canal edge shallows.
Mr Kandolf was using spinning tackle. He saw the giant fish disappear into a pool near the hydro-canal's turbines and began casting to it.
"I cast into the pool a few times. Then I called out, 'I'm stuck, I'm stuck again'. And then I pulled and pulled and I could see my little red spinner coming up. I didn't even see the fish at first but then I did and shouted 'it's on, it's on'. He went back up the canal and I followed him up about 100m."
Mr Kandolf, who has been fly-fishing for 40 years, battled the fish for 20 minutes before his next problem revealed itself.
"I had only a small, short-handled net. It was a joke of a net for a fish that size but it was all I had."
The angler - who moved to Tauranga with his wife Sandra from Jindabyne, Australia, nine years ago - ran up ahead of the fish and waded into the water up to his thighs.
"I waited for him to come up to me. I got his head in the net and then just pushed the whole body and everything up towards the bank. I grabbed him and somehow got him up the bank."
Finding out just how big Mr Kandolf's fish was would prove a saga. "We had no camera, it was dark, all the other anglers had gone and the scales we had were not big enough," he said. There were no scales at the nearby pub where the fish was kept in a fridge overnight. The next day saw an unofficial weight of 21kg recorded. By the time certified scales were organised on March 21, two weeks after the event, the fish was recorded at 19.1kg.
The fish is being mounted and will take pride of place in his Oropi home.
Jack Vitek, world records co-ordinator for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) based in Florida, told the Bay of Plenty Times the record was approved on Saturday.
It beat the previous record of an 18.82kg (41lb 8oz) brown trout, caught in Lake Michigan, US, in 2010.