A Tauranga man pulled in the biggest fish he's ever caught, spearing and pulling in a 20kg beast with his bare hands.

Logan Reid was walking his dog at the Miles Lane Reserve along the Wairoa River yesterday when he spotted a "massive" kingfish lying on its side.

He presumed it was dead and approached it which startled the 1.1m long fish as it swam off into the river.

"It looked like a shark swimming in the distance," he said, thinking it would swim back out to the sea.

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When it came back to shore and tilted on to its side again, Reid decided to seize the moment, admitting the fishing ban did not cross his mind.

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"I just saw this large fish here and thought, I've got to have it."

With his shoes still on, he trudged through water and mud but re-evaluated his plan of attack when he realised the water was too deep.

He grabbed a nearby branch, contemplating whether a scoop or spear would be the best approach.

"Every 10 seconds it would open its gills ... I popped the stick closer and as it opened its gills I just thrust it straight in there."

Tauranga's Logan Reid caught a 20kg yellowtail kingfish with his a stick and his hands. Photo / Supplied
Tauranga's Logan Reid caught a 20kg yellowtail kingfish with his a stick and his hands. Photo / Supplied

He got both hands around it tail, throwing it on to the grass when it tried to wiggle away.

"I thought, now what," he said.

"If I had caught that on the rod, I'd have it on for easily 20 minutes, half an hour with the rod right bent over," he said.

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Reid cut the fish into 12 decent portions and dropped them off outside the homes of his friends, letting them know he had left them a surprise.

Like him, they were stunned.

He had the fish for dinner last night and again tonight, and although "not as flavoursome as snapper," it was a lovely meal.

According to NIWA, yellowtail kingfish are found throughout the warm–temperate waters of the southern hemisphere.

In the wild they can reach 1.7 m in length and weigh up to 56 kg.

Under level 4 lockdown restrictions, fishing and water activities are banned.

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At level 3, which will begin on Monday April 27 at 11.59pm, fishing is allowed from a wharf or the shore.

Casting off rocks or fishing from a boat is not allowed.