With the Ngai Takoto Snapper Bonanza getting under way today, a precursor competition held on Sunday allowed local and visiting anglers to get their bearings, come to terms with conditions and pick out the prime fishing spots ahead of the major surfcasting extravaganza.

A total of 150 tickets were sold for the Riders Sports and Fin Nor Twilight Fishing Contest, designed as a fundraiser for the Kaitaia College senior council, which saw fishing open to both coasts although the majority of winning fish came off the 90 Mile Beach.

Bringing in the heaviest snapper of the day to claim first prize was Skarn Hokai with a 6.063kg snapper, with Kelly Ngauma 5.491kg and Tony Van de Molen 5.423kg claiming second and third place respectively.

Other prizewinners were, heaviest trevally: Jai Werner 5.279kg, 1, James Benge 4.624kg, 2, Wayne Newcombe 3.309kg, 3; heaviest kahawai: Andre Zowitzkey 2.961kg, 1, Iannis Gabriel 2.945kg, 2, Skarn Hokai 2.798kg, 3; while the winner of the $1000 cash prize for average weight fish overall (and only 0.01 away from the weight picked) was Chad Prentice with his 2.574kg snapper.

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Noting a bolshie 2.5-3 metre swell on the west coast would have kept a few anglers away, event spokeswoman Tyla Stevenson said organisers were still happy with the sum of money raised and thanked the sponsors and fisherfolk for their support.

* In other news, several local anglers performed well at the 2019 NZACA Fishing Nationals which wound up on Saturday with weigh in and prizegiving at The Park 90 Mile.

Champion casters over all categories were as follows.

Open, men: Gary Whitaker from Wellington 266.72 points, 1, John Tritsarolis (also Wellington)250.91, 2, Steve Maisey (a local Kaitaia/ 90 Mile Beach Surfcasting Club member) 249.86 points, 3; ladies: Michaela Kumm (Napier) 159.33 points, 1, Estella Carmichael (not advised) 135.07 points, 2, Debbie Dibden (Palliser Bay) 82.53 points, 3.
Veteran, men: Mark Frost (fishing for his Rotorua club) 203.5 points, 1, Peter Kilkelly (Pania) 199.39 points, 2, Jim Yeoman (Pania) 180.15 points, 3; ladies : Sue Kemsley (Pania) 142.55 points, 1, Lyn Hymers (Pania) 62.36 points, 2.

Golden Oldies, men: Trevor Hunter (Kiwi Club) 228.05 points, 1; Mark Roberts (Pania) 216.95 points, 2; Paul Summers (a local Kaitaia/ 90 Mile Beach member) 193.22 points, 3.
Wiseman Cup for most points overall from shore and casting: Kane Wigglesworth 2350 points, 1, Mark Frost 1983, 2, Mathew Becker 1812, 3; best accuracy: Xavier McKenzie 95.82 points,

Snapper Bonanza sells out

1, Dave Davies 93.58 points, 2, and Steve Maisey 93.50 points, 3.
Also notable in the fishing in the shore section and representing the 90 Mile Beach Surfcasting Club were Gareth McKenzie who placed third in the most fish points category with 1500 points, and John Koland, third with 920 points in the veteran men's most fish points class.

Bonanza time

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Final word goes to Snapper Bonanza spokesman Dave Collard who said the organisers were in a really good space going into this year's event with a total sell-out of tickets for the second year in a row.

He said snapper are running rampant at the moment and if the stars align, conditions permitting, it wouldn't be a huge stretch to imagine someone beating last year's winning fish of 8.945kg caught by Grant Dodunski from Te Puke, particularly considering junior angler Oscar Parlour weighed in a 8.86kg snapper during a recent 90 Mile Beach Surfcasting Club field day.

Collard also noted organisers had spent a lot of money on upgrading including the purchase of a new tent and equipment to run the competition this year.

Fishing in the Bonanza takes place from Tuesday to Saturday from 7am to 4.30pm except for Thursday when the Riders Sports Day will run from 7pm tomorrow evening (March 13) to 10.30am Thursday before prizegiving is held at 3pm.

All the fish weighed in on Thursday and Friday will be packed on ice and auctioned by the Kaitaia Fire Brigade as a fundraiser at the Kaitaia farmer's market this Saturday.