As Luggate's local fishing enthusiasts prepare for the local tournament of the year, Wanaka reporter Sean Nugent sits down with a man who has been caught up in the hobby since he was a nipper.

Take one step into Graham Godby's crib in Luggate and you realise the man often enjoys casting a line.

Hooks, rods, sinkers, photos, memories, you name it, it is there.

Fishing has been his passion for over half a century, and despite time starting to take its toll, he still organises and takes part in the annual Luggate Fishing Tournament, which he co-founded with his late friend Jim Booth in 1969.

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In those days, both Dunedin families had cribs in Reid Ave in Luggate, and the idea of a fishing competition between the two sparked after a conversation between the pair at the pub one afternoon.

They quickly gathered a few friends and took off to Luggate for the first weekend of the fishing season.

Mr Booth's team took home the inaugural Luggate Trouters Trophy, after catching 20 fish with a combined weight of about 14kg.

Fifteen years passed before a group of Luggate locals, led by John Ironside, intrigued by the tournament, asked to join.

They were welcomed in and the B.I.G. Fishing Challenge Trophy (standing for Booth, Ironside and Godby) was born.

Today marks the beginning of the 50th edition of the tournament, and the three teams, totalling at least 50 people, will be hoping to add to the 3400kg of fish caught over the years.

Mr Godby is the last remaining "original" and also the last team leader, as Mr Ironside has also died.

But the next generation of anglers were coming through, he said, and participant numbers had remained virtually the same.The tournament is still held on the first full weekend of October, marking the start of the fishing season.

These days competitors come from everywhere, whether it be Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill or Gore.There are few rules, aside from not being able to use boats and having to be back in time for the weigh-in at 12pm sharp on Sunday.

"There's no restriction on where they fish — they can fish where they like.

"Some fish the Mataura [River], others go up the Dingleburn on the Friday, camp there and come out on the Sunday morning.

"Our team usually fishes the river, but the fishing isn't that good there these days. I don't know what it is, whether it's the didymo or what it is, but it's certainly affected the fishing over the years.

"Last year there were 48 fishermen and almost half of them didn't get a fish. But it could be the conditions on the day.

"We've had some very cold days, rain, snow, but generally we're pretty lucky.

"The lake fishing in Hawea is pretty constant. Nothing much has changed there."

Mr Godby has kept all records of the competition since it began, and has prepared several storyboards to be displayed at the Luggate Hotel on Sunday night for the 50th anniversary celebrations.

They showcase photos, statistics from each year and trophy winners, among other things.

While he did not have too many more tournaments left in him, he believed the future of the tournament was bright, Mr Godby said.

"We're starting to get the kids of the original ones, which is good to keep it in the family, as it was intended from the start.

"It's a good chance to catch up with everybody and always a great weekend."

sean.nugent@odt.co.nz