Alan Inman is sure his son, Hayden Marshall-Inman, who died in the Whakaari/White Island disaster last month, was with him for his big catch on New Year's Day.

Mr Inman reeled in his first game fish, a 57.6kg yellowfin tuna, which was also the first game fish of the year for the Whakatāne Sportfishing Club, and its biggest yellowfin so far this season.

He was joined on his fishing excursion by son-in-law Lorne and grandchildren Braeden and Levi from Canada.

Mr Inman said catching the fish was an amazing feeling.

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Monster: Alan Inman with his massive 57.6kg yellowfin tuna he caught on New Year's Day. Photo / Supplied
Monster: Alan Inman with his massive 57.6kg yellowfin tuna he caught on New Year's Day. Photo / Supplied

"We said on board that Hayden guided the fish to the lure.''

The crew were fishing from the Gambler with skipper Mick Goodin, when they stopped to fish at the trench not far from White Island.

From here they proceeded to the island where they moored and paid their respects to Hayden and the others killed and injured in the December 9 eruption.

"We sat on the boat and reflected on what had happened with Hayden and decided to try and catch a tuna. He had caught a marlin before, so I definitely think he was helping us.

"It was a really nice way to end the trip out to sea and to catch a fish that size because I hadn't caught anything that big before.''

Mr Inman said the fish took some time to reel in.

"It took us about an hour to get the fish on the boat and under control.

"We didn't have really heavy gear, so it took us a bit of time.''

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The fish was portioned out to friends and family who have been central figures in helping them remember and grieve.

The beer certainly tasted better at the sportfishing club that afternoon, Mr Inman said.

"It was Hayden's favourite watering hole.''

Sportfishing club president Karmann Tresidder said they were absolutely thrilled for Mr Inman.

"We couldn't have been any happier for Alan when we heard, with everything that had gone on for that family over the last month, something like this happening with them was awesome.''

Tresidder said it was the biggest tuna caught in some time and the club's first game fish for 2020.

Meanwhile, Mr Inman's success with the rod continued as he won the Ohope Chartered Club's tournament on Saturday with the heaviest kahawai.

- Whakatane Beacon