The Muriwai Sports Fishing Club retained the Wildcat Trophy for the second year in a row to claim back-to-back bragging rights in the Radz Invitational gamefishing tournament at Ahipara last weekend.
Now in its 14th year, the annual two-day challenge pits the hosting Ahipara Gamefish Cub against the visiting Muriwai Sports Fishing Club, with each faction fielding 12 boats making for a maximum fleet of 24 vessels.
The heaviest marlin was a 149.5kg beauty caught by Muriwai's Nick Fistonovich on board DD4 (skipper Ben Kerby) while second place went to Michael MacDonald's 129kg marlin on Puss Puss (Darryl Arthenot).
Third place was claimed by Ahipara's Leo Lloyd with a 120.5kg marlin caught aboard Torily (Lincoln Lloyd). This was regarded as a special catch for the hosting club as Leo's wife, Yvette Lloyd, has reeled in the heaviest marlin prize in the AGC's Ladies' Competition the previous weekend at 107.5kg.
The top boat of the competition went to Karizma (Leighton Matthews) in adding three marlin to Ahipara's overall tally. Also notable was Matt Masters who tagged and released a 90kg marlin on board Karizma.
A total of 17 striped marlin were caught in the event, although the majority were tagged and released. It was noted the tag-and-release system had been introduced back in the 1960s as a way of supporting conservation, research, education and responsible fisheries management.
New Zealand is regarded a world leader in tag and release, and the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council promotes sustainable and ethical fishing practices, AGC president Robbie Matthews noted.
Matthews noted the fishing this year had been exceptional, meaning the Radz ended up being extremely closely contested and the winning marlin was caught only 30 minutes before cut-off time.
"All in all it was a great weekend."
His Muriwai counterpart, club president Stan Phillips, said just being able to compete in the event was regarded as reward enough for the diehard west coast gamefishing community.
"This is such an awesome tournament. As an invitational, you nearly have to be born into it, and you will probably die out of it as no one wants to leave," he said. Phillips also acknowledged the generous hospitality of the club and whanau for hosting the Muriwai crew.
* Photos from the event along with drone footage of the 7am Saturday shotgun start under a full moon can be viewed on the club's Facebook page.