A fishing rod stolen from retired Napier businessman Ken Carson's family bach has been found at least 15 years later on the bed of Lake Taupō – by his grandson.
The miracle find came when 28-year-old Max Carson and partner Sophie Elliott and her brother, Conna, were testing a trailer-boat named "Mullet" for the first time on the lake last Saturday afternoon, nearing the end of a summer holiday with the Elliotts' parents, who live in Taupo.
The boat more or less puttered-out about 500-800 metres out from where "granddad" used to launch the boat near the Carsons' former bach at Waitahanui, south of Taupō on State Highway 1.
From a champion offshore powerboat racing family – he races and both dad Wayne and uncle Tony were national champions – he was the right man to check out the engine problem, but was distracted when he saw a fishing rod deep beneath on the sandy lake floor.
He dived in, retrieved the rod, resurfaced, and passed it to Conna Elliot, who rubbed away the grime and slime, and accused Carson of some sort of prank. It had Carson's name on it.
When it was stolen and how long it's been in the water is unclear, but Max Carson says he thinks he remembers last seeing "Granddad's old 1970s rod" when he was about 10.
Grandma Colleen says the bach was burgled several times over the years before it was sold about eight years ago, and it was difficult to remember when the rod had been taken.
Her grandson, who grew up in Auckland and lives at Paerata, near Pukekohe, says it must have been at least 15 years ago.
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It had duct tape wrapped around part of the rod, which Wayne Carson said is "something Dad would never have done."
It indicated someone had used the rod for some time after its theft, possibly several years, before losing it over the side.
"It was very clear," said Max Carson, recalling the moment he spotted the rod. Estimating it was in about six metres of water, he said: "It was pretty hard to get to … I tried two or three times before I got it."
It still had a reel - which still turned - but no line, nor the favourite ginger mick fly that would have been with it when it was stolen.
"It would have been set up to go out on the boat," Ken Carson said, relaxing at Clifton, Cape Kidnappers. "It's amazing. I wouldn't mind getting the fly back."