The Houhora Big Game and Sports Fishing Club (HBGSFC) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the major big game fishing One Base Tournament at the start of the month with the event once again attracting anglers from Australia and as far south as Taranaki and Tauranga.
A field of 51 boats and 168 anglers registered to try and take home a share of the $40,000 worth of prizes in the event which ran from Wednesday to Saturday, April 3-6.
This included $10,000 cash prizes for heaviest striped marlin and heaviest other billfish, $1000 for heaviest tuna, and $500 for heaviest snapper with fishing gear, hand tools and a wide and plentiful range of spot prizes also up for grabs.
Total fish caught over the four-day competition were five blue marlin, two striped marlin with a further four tagged and released, 14 albacore, a yellow fin tuna, one tagged and released shark, three mahi-mahi, one short billed spearfish and three snapper.
The heaviest striped marlin to take out one of the two main cash prizes came in at 172kg and was caught by Nick Choat (on Tauranga boat, Rodfather II) on day one of the event, with few crew member Danielle Taft tagging a striped marlin as well.
The heaviest blue marlin went to Jessica Clemow (on local boat, Marauder) which was the heaviest blue marlin of the season for the hosting club to her name.
Marauder also won the top team prize thanks to Shayde Flood tagging and releasing a striped marlin, and setting a new junior club record with a 12.68kg albacore on 24kg.
Other highlights were, heaviest tuna prize: Brian Bellingham (Houhora club's acting president and One Base organiser)19.84kg; heaviest mahi-mahi: Jan Attwood 12.96kg (also the heaviest mahi mahi for the season, and a new club line weight record for women on 37kg); heaviest albacore: Chris Augustin 14.10kg; and, heaviest snapper: Dale Thomson 8.82kg (on day 2 where conditions saw most of the fleet kept dry docked).
Lucky angler draw for an Air NZ three-day deluxe mystery escape with rental car and $500 spending money was won by Mark Cramond; while the hosting club claimed the Electronic Navigation Trophy as best club in the event.
With the clubrooms once again resounding with tales aplenty of dropped fish during the tournament, Cameron Weck on Dorian II retrieved a 131kg blue marlin — which had died and gone to the bottom of the ocean — with stand up gear in an epic 3.5 hour struggle.
The hard luck prize went to the boys on She's Gonna Sell Me when they hooked up a swordfish just before 'stop fishing' only for the rod to snap from the pressure not long after.
Longstanding event weighmaster Paul Batten (Whangarei) said it was the most blue marlin he'd ever seen weighed in a tournament, and estimated the gamefishing to be good for another five weeks.
Another highlight from this year's event was having its quarter century marked with a well made cake by Jenny Cuttle which was cut by two anglers who had entered all 25 One Bases, founding HBGSFC members, Don Bellingham and Neil Attwood.
The organising committee also thanked the many volunteers, anglers and sponsors who made this tournament possible, especially Far North Radio senior operator Annette Hall.