Dave Rameka handled a huge amount of pressure after catching the best snapper on day one of the 2019 Ngai Takoto Snapper Bonanza last Tuesday to take out the overall winning prize of $30,000 at the final prizegiving on Saturday afternoon.
The Far North-born, Auckland-based angler admitted the nerves got steadily worse as the week wore on and day after torturous day revealed he was still on top of the leaderboard, edging ever nearer the main prize while the tension that he might be overtaken on the last day, the last minute even, kept ratcheting up in excruciating fashion.
"It was so much pressure," said Rameka, in between sharing sips from the big trophy with his brothers on Saturday afternoon.
"I was just trying to block it out, keep fishing so you don't think about it. In my mind, I knew it could be beaten. A guy just next to me reeled in a big one this afternoon, I thought, 'Oh no'."
He finally knew he'd won the big prize when one brother - who had been hanging at the weigh station all day watching the board on Saturday - rang and confirmed the fact. Asked what he was going to spend it on, Rameka responded: "I haven't even thought about it. Still getting over it ... winning your dream.''
A loyal regular competitor since the tournament's inception as the Snapper Classic in 1982, Rameka said he'd never been on stage once in that time. The closest he'd been had come when he nearly made it into the top five on one day years ago only to get knocked off at the last minute.
"Took me three years to get my first tag. I'm in a really happy place. [I kept thinking] 'I will never make it,' but it just came true."
The other major winner on Saturday was Craig Larson from Pakuranga who won the Mitsubishi Triton ute after being last name pulled from the barrel of 12 anglers whose ticket numbers were called out each day, two entries were put in the barrel each day from Monday to Saturday.,
A total of 517 fish were caught in the reckoning for the $30,000 prize. This included 178 on Tuesday including Rameka's 7.905kg winner (netting him a cool $32,000 including the $2000 for being the day one winner); 173 on Wednesday where the heaviest was Tony Richards at 7.54kg; only 30 on Friday led by the 5.835kg specimen reeled in by Kane Wrigglesworth of Napier; and 138 on Saturday, the best being Izaak Bonner of Hamilton's 7.335kg snapper. Note, 349 were weighed in on the stay away day on Thursday which did not count for the main prize.
Other big winners from the Saturday's prizegiving finale, held after a moment's silence was observed for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings, were: Women's average (worth $2000): Ranae Wickens of Whangārei, average weight (set at 2.552kg, worth $10,000): Chris Spur of Gisborne =2.545kg snapper; and team prize ($4000): Chad Prentice of Hawke's Bay for a total weight of 56.661kg.