News last week that next month's Ngai Takoto 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza would be a sell-out sparked a flurry of activity on the Northland Age Facebook page, but some thought the organisers were crying wolf.

"They always say that" was the response from one past contestant, and a four-wheel-drive winner. But this time it was true.

Competition spokesman John Stewart said yesterday that the last ticket had been sold, and the best anyone who wanted to fish could hope for now was that some of the sponsors' tickets would be returned.

They had until February 22 to say they wouldn't be there, but there was already a waiting list of 20 or 30 people who were hoping for cancellations.

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Those who seemed destined to miss out included two past contestants from Australia, one of them from Perth, who had booked his flights.

This time last year 200 tickets had not be sold, Mr Stewart said, many of them being bought on the Sunday before the contest, when entrants formally registered.

"A lot of people have traditionally bought their tickets on the Sunday, but this year we just won't have them."