Competitors in the Wanganui Manawatu Sea Fishing Club's annual contest will be spoilt for choice if they find the right fishing spot.
Club committee member Ben Anderson said the two-day competition, to be held on the Saturday and Sunday (January 19-20) of Wellington Anniversary Weekend, was likely to yield good catches.
"We are spoilt for choice compared to other parts of the country with a huge range of species caught off our coast," Anderson said.
"You can catch just about everything off the coast here if you know where to go and they're pretty good sizes as well.
"We will be expecting to see good catches in all categories but especially snapper, tarakihi, blue cod and kingfish. Divers are catered for too with a crayfish section."
The competition changed in 2018 from three days to two days and the shorter format was popular, Anderson said.
"I don't know whether it's because there are more people getting into boating and fishing or if it's due to the new format but looking at the number of early bird entries, it looks like this may be our biggest year so far."
The club has received 180 early bird entries and total numbers are expected to be between 280 and 300 in about 85 boats, with more out-of-town competitors registered this year.
The nearly $40,000 prize pool was a drawcard and the club was grateful for the support of sponsors, Anderson said. All prizes are given out, even if the competition is cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
The club has a focus on sustainability of the fishery and the "catch and release" section has the competition's most valuable prize of a $4300 ride-on lawnmower for the biggest snapper caught and released.
"With technology these days, only video evidence is accepted which must be time and date stamped," Anderson said.
"Sustainability, especially with the big breeding fish, is one of our top priorities to ensure a long-term recreational future of our coastline and at all times MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] rules and regulations must be followed."
MPI will have a strong presence at the competition for enforcement purposes but also to gauge what is being caught and the state of the fishery.
Coastguard Wanganui would play an important role over the weekend, Anderson said.
"It's a very busy time for Coastguard with that many boats on the water at one time. They do an amazing job, especially the Coastguard radio which is done by volunteers.
"We are also very thankful for the support of the Castlecliff Club where the briefing and both nights of social activity and prizegiving are held.
"All the competitors enjoy the friendly rivalry and I know that within our own club committee the competition is fierce to claim bragging rights for the different categories."
The competition starts at 5.30am on both days, subject to weather conditions, and 3pm is the cut-off time for weigh-in, with most competitors expected to return between 1pm and 2pm.
Entry forms and information are available on the club's Facebook page or at www.wanganuimanawatuseafishingclub.co.nz