ANGLERS are in the middle of a successful fishing season with outstanding catches reported throughout the Eastern Bay.
Ryan, Cliff and Ben Walker were surfcasting at Ohiwa Harbour when they landed a 34.6kg kingfish.
“We casted two large rods and a smaller rod and for the first hour we didn’t get so much as a bite. Then all of a sudden, the smaller rod took a bite that almost took the rod out of its holder,” Ryan Walker said.
“My brother Ben quickly jumped on the rod and hooked what we first thought was a stingray.”
After a marathon 45-minute fight, they realised what they had was a kingfish.
“We reeled in a whopper 34.6kg kingfish, the biggest fish we had ever caught off a beach,” he said.
Other anglers have also reported good catches, surfcasting and ocean fishing in various areas of the Eastern Bay and East Coast, including a 7.1kg snapper caught by Bjarne Dragland during a recent Waihau Bay Sportfishing Club competition.
Whakatane Sportfishing Cub manager Wayne Hunt confirms there have been a lot of good catches.
“On [December 28] we had a shortbill spearfish caught by Dennis Davey. It was 24 kilos, which is really nice,” he said.
Another outstanding catch occurred only a few days later.
“Bevan Thomas was fishing from Sweet Deal and he caught a 105.2kg striped marlin.”
Mr Hunt said the timing and conditions were favourable this year.
“It’s around this time of year that we start getting these fish down here.
They’ve probably been here a month or so waiting for people to put their lures in the water,” he said.
“People just need to get out there, the water is getting warmer all the time.
We hear it’s 21 to 22 degrees out there. That’s the sort of temperature these tropical fish frequent.”
He said fishermen could expect to find some of the rare species not usually found in these waters.
“We’ve already seen a few slender tuna turn up earlier this year. There are good schools of skippy and albacore and along with the baitfish and warmer temperatures you’ll start seeing a lot of different tropical fish,” he said.
The Whakatane New World Junior Tournament takes place from January 10 to 13 and the 2019 Surtees Boats Whakatane One Base Tournament begins Jan 25.