With more than a month to go before the first bait hits the water, the organisers of this year's Ngai Takoto 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza know some would-be competitors are going to miss out.

Just 31 of the 1000 tickets remained unsold when the early bird offer closed at midnight on Thursday, which John Stewart said beat every other year into a cocked hat.

"We've never had a response like this before, and we weren't expecting it this year," he said.

Snapper Bonanza frontmen John Stewart (middle) and Dave Collard will have no shortage of interviewees this year.
Snapper Bonanza frontmen John Stewart (middle) and Dave Collard will have no shortage of interviewees this year.

"Normally we would sell a couple of hundred tickets on registration day, but we won't have them this year.

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"Actually it's quite humbling to know that we have an event here that people really want to be part of, but some, including some of who have won big prizes in the past, are probably going to miss out this time."

Around 40 tickets sold so far had gone overseas, mainly to Australia. The last 31 were expected to go within the next few days, at which point a waiting list would be set up to re-allocate tickets in the event of someone changing their mind or not being able to make it. Some of the tickets allocated to sponsors would also possibly not be taken, and would be available.

Sponsors had until February 22 to decide whether they would take their tickets.
Mr Stewart also paid tribute to Tony (The Rodfather) Brljevich, founder of the original competition, the 90 Mile Beach Snapper Classic, who died last month. He had contested the Classic for many years, and had learned a great deal from that experience.

"The Brljevich family, especially [Tony and Jean's son] Paul, have been hugely supportive of us since we launched the Bonanza," he added.

"We are extremely grateful to them, and are proud to be continuing the event that is such a major part of Tony's legacy."