A monster 425.8-kilogram (938.7 pound) black marlin caught off the Bay of Islands coast on Monday is being heralded as one of the catches of the decade in the area.
On-board the boat, Lanakai, angler Jonny Reid pulled in the massive catch after they saw the marlin hunting kahawai and trevally close to the Nine Pin Rock, about 13 kilometres from Paihia.
"We were just having a quiet snapper fish and the tide switched and the trevally school came up on the surface, and we just saw [the marlin] crashing through the middle of the school," Lanakai skipper Danny Bos said.
"At one point, the guys on-board asked me what the odds were of catching it or getting a bite and I said, '10-20 per cent but they'll be the best odds you'll ever get to catch a black [marlin] in New Zealand'."
Once the team had recovered from the initial excitement of seeing what was Bos' first black marlin sighting in New Zealand, the crew finally managed to get a bite after about four hours by skip-baiting a kahawai at about five knots in only 20 metres of water.
After chasing the fish for over three kilometres (90 minutes), the team had it by the boat. Bos, an advocate for tagging and releasing fish with this marlin the first he has kept in over five years, said the decision to keep the fish was easy once he saw the state it was in.
"By the time the fish was boated, it was obvious it was not in a good condition to release."
Bos, who skippered the international cruising boat which spent summers in New Zealand, said it was by far the biggest marlin he had seen in 11 years of fishing around New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji and New Caledonia.
"It was one of those days where it just couldn't have gone any better really, we were just exceptionally lucky," he said.
"It's one thing to see a fish like that, it's another to hook it and it's a whole other thing to actually land it, there's so many things that can go wrong in a fight with a fish that size, so to get it on board was pretty spectacular."
After seeing the fish weigh in at over 400kg in front of an excited crowd on the Paihia wharf, Bos said it would be an experience he would never forget.
"It's a fish of a lifetime and it's one that's going to be almost impossible to beat in New Zealand."
Bos credited the five-person crew and the angler on an exceptional job pulling in the landmark fish. The marlin was currently being processed at the smoker, and the head and shoulders were being made into a mount.
Bay of Islands Swordfish Club president Jeff Douglas said the last black marlin to be caught in the Bay of Islands area of a similar size was about 12-15 years ago.
"That'll probably be the catch of the decade," he said.
Upcoming Bay of Islands Swordfish Club tournaments:
Eldorado International Billfish Tournament (Jan 29-Feb 1)
Mainstream Reel Ladies (Feb 14-15)
Small Boats Tournament (Feb 22-Feb 23)
Zane Grey International Billfish Tournament (Mar 11-14)