Ten years ago I had the opportunity to move to Whitianga.
I was just getting into spearfishing and back into fishing and this seemed like the perfect place for me to live.
Since this time I have always had the goal of joining the 20lb snapper club. After years of trying and watching friends catch them, in July of 2019 I thought my time had finally come.
We had spent the morning fishing out deep for Hapuka and Bass and had decided to return to the shallows for a quick strayline session.
We found some current, deployed the burley and started drifting big baits back into the burley trail.
It didn’t take long before we were catching some nice fish for the bin. My brother had noticed Koheru darting around the burley trail so we thought we would catch some for fresh baits. After securing some I decided to deploy one as a whole dead bait. Before I could sit down the bait runner started screaming.
I could tell instantly that this was a serious fish. After a good battle the fish finally came into view. I was amazed. Had it finally happened? Had I caught my 20lb snapper? I quickly chucked the fish on the scales but to my dismay the fish weighed in at 19.6lbs! This was my new PB but not the fish I had spent years trying to catch.
Fast forward to March 2021. I still hadn’t caught my 20lb snapper and was starting to wonder if it was ever going to happen.
My brother and I had decided to enter the local CRC Trailer boat tournament in Whitianga which ended up having more than 250 anglers.
This was to be the second fishing competition I had ever entered. We discussed at lengths what the plan was going to be for the three days of fishing and came up with the following: snapper on day one, kingfish on day two and gamefish on day three.
The first day of the competition finally arrived and I was so excited that I struggled to sleep the previous night.
We were on the water in the dark and started securing the valuable live jack mackerel which we were going to use for big snapper baits. We re-checked the weather forecast and found a spot which we believed would have good current and be blocked from the strong NW wind.
We arrived at our destination after punching our way into the strong NW wind. Our spot was sheltered however, the current didn’t seem that strong.
We decided to give it a go anyway as our other spots were too wind effected. This proved to be a fantastic decision!
We deployed the first of four burley bombs and started drifting back big baits. Instantly we knew it was going to be a fantastic day!
My brother hooked up to a nice fish which ended up weighing 14lbs. This was amazing! Were we actually going to win a prize? We continued to fish and every bait was smashed. After numerous bust offs and loads of rat kingfish I finally hooked something substantial.
I clicked my baitrunner into gear and instantly started losing line. Was this the fish I had been searching for over the past 10 years? Had my time finally come?
As we were fishing over a shallow reef I had already locked up my drag. This wasn’t helping and I soon started thinking this can’t be a snapper, it must be another kingfish.
I continued to play the fish for what seemed like forever. Finally I got a glint of colour and my anxiety went through the roof – it was red!
A dream come true
“Get the net!” I yelled. This fish was massive and made my brother’s previous 14lb snapper look small.
After some frantic moments at the side of the boat my fish was finally secured and my brother heaved it over the side and onto the deck. “That’s a competition winner,” he said.
We both looked at each other in amazement. At no point had we expected to see a fish of this size during the competition.
The fish was quickly weighed and to my absolute amazement it was well over the magical 20lb mark! To say I was excited and relieved was a huge understatement. My time had come. I had finally joined the club and what a way to do it!
It later weighed in at 9.54kg and won heaviest snapper on day one of the competition and the heaviest snapper overall. It had been an amazing competition with three snapper weighing in at more than 9kg.
My prized fish is now in a friend’s freezer waiting for it’s time to be turned into the best trophy I could have ever wished for. A piece of art which will have a prime spot in the family living room so I can never forget the day I finally joined the club and won the best snapper prize in the CRC Trailer Boat tournament.