A crowd filled the Hawkes Bay Sports Fishing Club last night to celebrate the end of a three-month battle for a group of anglers.
Dean Young caught a 136.6kg fish in a Waitangi weekend competition but had to take a polygraph test to prove the catch was legitimate. He was told he failed the test.
Yesterday, the contracted promoter for the Mega Fish competition, David Baty from OddsOn Promotions, said he had the lie detector test peer-reviewed and could no longer rely on the results.
Mr Baty last night said he would pay out the original $48,000 prize - an Isuzu utility donated by Bayswater Vehicles, a Napier car dealer.
The four fishermen said they were glad to receive the prize they had won for their disputed monster marlin catch nearly two months ago, but it was secondary to finally having their names cleared.
Sitting in his long-awaited-prize, Mr Young said he was relieved the dispute was over. "I'm just happy it's all over. Now I can get back to work," he said.
"There's still a hollow feeling. It doesn't feel the same as it would have three months ago."
Bayswater Vehicles principal dealer Rob Townshend last night handed over the keys to the ute, and said he was glad Mr Baty had fronted up and "came to the party".
He said the incident had tarnished their name as well.
"We are from Hawkes Bay, we do stick together, and we knew that [the anglers] had done nothing wrong."
The other men on the team, Dick Hilton, and Dean's brother Lance and father Tony, said they were relieved their names had been cleared.
Last night Tony Young said he was glad Mr Baty had provided the prize.
"I didn't think we would have to go through a battle like this," he said.
"This battle was harder than the fish. We did everything straight up the line."
His son Lance said he was relieved to receive the prize but was disappointed the group had been made to feel liars and cheats.
"Now our names have been cleared it feels really good, it's the only thing I feel good about.
"The money never mattered."
Dean, a former police detective, said he was relieved it was over.
But he added that "from my point of view it's not quite finished yet".
"We knew all along that we hadn't done anything wrong," Mr Young said.
"I want to make sure that this doesn't happen again to any other people."
OddsOn was contracted by the Hawkes Bay Sports Fishing Club to promote its Mega Fish competition over Waitangi weekend, where Mr Young's catch took out first place.
Club president Alex Smith said the men receiving their prize proved the integrity of the club, and their sponsors.
The men will stick with their original plan to sell the ute and split the winnings.