Fishing from the local wharf has always been a powerful attraction for Kiwis on holiday and the small wharf at Mangonui in the Far North is famous for the kingfish which can be hooked there.

The key word is hooked, as few are landed. Kings are notorious as the "street fighters" of the piscatorial world. When hooked, they will head for the nearest obstruction, which in this case is usually a wharf pile or mooring chain, breaking off the hapless angler's line. The kings are hooked from the Mangonui Wharf on live sprats or yellowtail, which are caught on tiny baited jig flies, and cast out under a float with a hook inserted through the back just in front of the dorsal fin.

The kings move in with the tide and some fishermen may hook three or four of the powerful fish in a morning. The angler pictured knows the local conditions well and he fishes from the end pile so the incoming tide takes his live bait away from the wharf. This gives him a chance to tire the fish before bringing it to the wharf and walking it back to the beach where he carefully removes the hook and releases his catch to fight another day. "I love to catch them but I don't eat them," he said.

Another trick locals employ is to place a small bunch of rocks on top of each pile along the wharf then, if a hooked kingfish looks like diving under the wharf, they throw rocks at it to drive it back out into clear water until it is tired and can be controlled. Then there is the challenge of landing the fish, which usually involves climbing down to the water where it can be grabbed, gaffed or netted.

But the kings at Mangonui usually win the fight.