A highlight of the Kawhia Boating and Angling Club's annual Kawhia One Base Tournament held on the weekend was John Warburton's black marlin landed on day one.
As well as being an almost 200kg specimen, it was a rare sight because it is the first black marlin ever weighed in at Kawhia, as well as the first black marlin caught in New Zealand this season.
It earned John and his crew the main prize, and they also won the boat prize for the three days, with 260 points.
Te Awamutu Courier's former manager was on his boat Ricochet with his mates, and longstanding fishing crew of Mike Flynn and Rick Dempsey.
Their preparation was hardly text-book.
Mike had grabbed some of the new, but untested by him, Bonze Lures as he left his shop — Saltwater Sports Fishing in Te Awamutu — because he thought they might be worth a try.
And then even after they had launched and motored out an engine issue brought them back for some repairs.
Undeterred they set out again and were fishing in 52m off Marokopa when the black marlin hooked up.
John set himself up on the relatively light gear — The Heat Bonze Lure with a size 9 hook — for the battle while Mike took the wheel.
With a previous best gamefish of a 107kg tuna, John knew he had something big.
It took two hours to bring the marlin to the boat, but even then they weren't sure what they had.
The fish was tail wrapped so there was no thought of a tag and release. And the crew couldn't get the fish fully aboard, so they couldn't make a positive identification until it was landed for weigh-in.
John credits his team with ensuring they landed the black marlin.
"It really is a team effort that makes this fishing possible," he says. "We've been together a while, so everyone knows what to do."
He says it was exciting at the time — but it didn't really set in until the next day.
"Some of the aches and pain set in about then as well," he says.
The marlin is being smoked and will feed lots of friends and family, and John and his wife Sharon are thinking about having the head mounted.
Kawhia Boating and Angling Club Commodore Sheryl Vazey says the black marlin was a fantastic way to start an amazing tournament.
"We had 70 boats and 236 anglers entered into our Kawhia One Base Tournament."
"The tournament was held over three days, and although the weather forecast for those days was not very favourable, it didn't eventuate and the boats were able to get out on all days.
"We had to close off our entries several days before the tournament, as it was full."
Sheryl credited the success of the tournament to the support of sponsors and entrants.
Big prizes for fishers
Two marlin were weighed in this year.
John's black marlin officially weighed 198.5kg and another Te Awamutu crew of angler Wayne Korkie, with Paul Ensor at the wheel of Lite Em Up, weighed in a 101.5kg striped marlin for second.
There were three marlin tagged and released and the prizes were drawn — first was Emmerson Bourne, John Wooten second and third Richard Small.
There were also 80 sharks tagged and released during the tournament.
There were no sharks, kingfish or mahimahi weighed in and these prizes were all drawn.
The heaviest snapper was caught by Sue Crake surfcasting off Ocean Beach. It weighed 10.805kg.
Second was Trevor Morris (8.060kg) and third Shane Smith (7.455kg).
Other results were: Kahawai: Ricky Flexman (3.075kg), 1; Neal Dempsey (3.070kg), 2; Scott McCabe (3.055kg), 3. Gurnard: Roger Mita (820g), 1; Merv Carr (720g), 2; Roger Mita (710g), 3. Juniors: Kylah McCabe, 1; Lockie Griffin, 2; Lachlan McCabe, 3. Kylah's heaviest fish was an 8.725kg snapper.
Each day of the tournament four names were drawn to be in to win the main prize of a trip for two to Rarotonga, including airfares and taxes, two charters for two people on Marlin Queen Charters private charter Strike Time, and five nights accommodation at Manuia Beach Resort.
Drawing the prize from the final 12 was Sue Fletcher-Vea, owner with husband Tom of Manuia Beach Resort. The winner was Paula Hirst of Te Awamutu.
Sue's sister Diane Ioapa, and her husband Junior, own Marlin Queen Charters and Tom is a skipper for the couple.
The sisters are originally from hamilton, and Diane also lived in Te Awamutu for some years, before they shifted to the Cook Islands 12 years ago.