When the monster marlin Bryce Imms was hauling in started bouncing around in the water, he knew he had a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Kerikeri fisherman, who lives in Auckland, was fishing in the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club's Icebreaker Tournament last week with his brother Shanon, cousin Nick Macrae and experienced skipper Bevan Beauchamp when he landed a 311kg blue marlin in just over an hour.

"We had the whole fish out of the water jumping around and it was then when our skipper said 'guys this is a very big fish we need to be serious'."

The two-day tournament - held on December 28 and 29 - was the club's first fishing tournament of the season.

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The team were the overall winners of the competition and won the heaviest marlin category.

Imms said they had been out fishing all day in a few other areas but hooked the monster marlin about 2pm at a spot behind Cape Brett.

"We were following a couple of birds that were diving and we heard the outrigger release and we looked back and there's a big hole behind the lure.

"Then we saw the fish chasing the lure and we got a bite out of him and it put on a good display and we knew we were in for a good fight.

"When it was bouncing around it all sunk in and I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity really - that's my first blue marlin I've ever caught," he said.

It took Bryce Imms just over an hour to land the fish. Photo/Supplied
It took Bryce Imms just over an hour to land the fish. Photo/Supplied

Imms said a bit of Kiwi ingenuity was required. The team had forgotten the leadering gloves so Shanon improvised and wrapped a couple of shirts and tea towels around his hands and secured them with masking tape.

After fighting with the fish for just over an hour, Imms landed it.

He said it was the first fish caught in the boat - named Mazara - which is owned by his uncle Ron Macrae.

"It wouldn't fit in the boat so we had most the body inside and the tail out the back of the boat.

"We were pretty blown out of the water, excuse the pun."

He said the catch was very early in the blue marlin season and a good team effort.

"It was an experienced skipper and good teamwork really. It wasn't all about me, it was all about the team."

The 311kg beast has been cut up and smoked and will feed family and friends.

Imms said Nick caught another marlin the next day but they tagged it and released it.

"We're all for tag and release. We'll be tagging and releasing some more."

The team also won the tag and release section at the tournament.