Albacore tuna may become the prime target fish after a 16.6kg specimen landed an angler the major prize of $10,000 in the Hawke's Bay Sports Fishing Club's Your Solutions Megafish tournament which finished on Saturday.
Club member Roger Halliwell, fishing from the boat Rough Justice, caught the fish on Friday, and was surprised to see it carry the day, after a string of marlin catches in Hawke Bay in the fortnight before the annual competition had raised hopes of something more.
It was the second time albacore had claimed the best-catch top prize in the two years that the win has been determined on a weight-to-species points scale, rather than the weight of the biggest catch across all species. Last year's winning albacore weighed 13.44kg.
Albacore weights are multiplied by six to calculate the points, which at 99.6 were easily enough to head the weight of the single-biggest catch, a striped marlin of under 70kg, which was also boated on Friday but was more than 20kg under the weight required to qualify.
The 63.6kg marlin was landed by Kevin Simmonds, fishing from Crusader, skippered by career commercial fisherman Chris Robinson.
It was the only marlin, to the disappointment of anglers who were hoping for more after seven had been reported caught in waters off the Hawke's Bay coast in recent weeks, including another striped marlin weighing 132.2kg.
Among other prized catches was a 22kg bluefin tuna caught by club member and Napier man Brent Pere on Thursday, fishing from the boat Simply Red.
The club, rebuilding its biggest tournament on the success of the former Coruba tournament dating back to the 1970s, in which the record catch was a 417kg mako shark caught in 1999, is pleased with the entries in the latest event.
Competition organiser Joe Bicknell said the tournament attracted 347 anglers, which was more than a 50 per cent increase on last year's entry of 228 anglers.
The competition was scheduled for four days but fishing got off to a late start after forecasts of winds gusting over 30 knots led to the cancellation of fishing on Waitangi Day.
The club's next major competition is the Napier Port Family Fishing Classic on March 2-3.