Two Napier fishermen have split the top honours in one of New Zealand's biggest sports fishing competitions with a combined total of more than 380kg of marlin over the weekend.
Fishing on Hawke's Bay skipper James Wedd's Stampede in the Tatapouri Fishing Club's marlin and tuna competition out of Gisborne, elder brother Karl Bidlake claimed the first prize of $10,000 with a 273.75kg blue marlin on Saturday.
It is thought to be easily the biggest caught in New Zealand waters this summer, and certainly much bigger than anything he'd caught over the years.
It also dwarfed the 109.6kg striped marlin and early competition leader caught less than 24 hours earlier by younger brother Aaron Bidlake, which was nevertheless still able to claim second prize over the three days' fishing before the scheduled fourth day on Sunday was cancelled because of adverse conditions at sea.
Each played for just over an hour before being boated off the east coast north of Gisborne, the catches made up for the lack of success in the pair's home Hawke's Bay Sports Fishing Club Your Solutions tournament a fortnight earlier, and in the Tatapouri competition a year ago.
The Napier competition ended with a minor placing for a kingfish landed by one of the crew, but casting the mind back 12 months to Tatapouri 2019, Karl Bidlake said: "We got nothing."
Back in Napier, with over 200kg of meat cut-up at the smoker ready for sharing among friends and family, he reflected on the weekend triumphs and said: "It was one of those trips where we got lucky."
Still on holiday from his job as an automations technician at Silver Fern Farms Whakatu, he had hoped to also take-in the Friday-Sunday Mahia Boating and Fishing Club's tuna tournament, but the crew now expect to be back on the water for the Hawke's Bay club's Napier Port Family Fishing Classic the following weekend.
It was also a big weekend for seven-year-old Hastings boy Noah Ioane, who landed an 8.5kg fishing from the shore with dad Kavana, an uncle and a cousin. The biggest snapper in the HBSFC competition earlier in the month was 8.39kg.
Kavana Ioane, who's been family fishing about two years, mused: "It was the one that got away, from my line to his line. I've never caught one (a snapper)."
With the boy's catch filleted and headed for dinner tables around the family, his dad reflected on a growing list of species in the kit and said: "He's a gatherer, and a provider."