It was one hell of a record-breaking kingfish.
On a stunning day, by a rock named Never Fail, and within the glare of sharks, a Paramata spear fisher fired the perfect shot at a kingfish.
Brenda Laird smashed the New Zealand women's spearfishing record with her 36.8 kilogram kingfish and looks likely to steal the women's world record.
"There was great visibility and schools of fish just bubbling on the surface. When we hopped in the water there was fish down as far as you could see. It was just beautiful," she recalled.
Laird and her husband, Maurice, were teaching their daughter Rachael to spearfish in the Coromandel on January 24.
She hadn't been in the water long when a big fish came within her sights. Just as she was lining up the shot, the smaller fish swam in her way.
"But then I just got the perfect shot on it," she said.
"The spear didn't come out the other side and I thought 'oh no'. If you don't kill them, they are stunned then all hell breaks loose."
Fortunately, her perfect shot had killed the kingfish instantly, but then come another challenge.
It proved a mission to manoeuvre the fish back to the boat due to its size. She and the boatie on board tugged, pushed and heaved the floppy weight on to the back of the boat.
"You want to do it before any sharks come visiting. Out in that area it's a definite possibility."
It was only when the fish flopped in full sight she realised how mammoth her catch was.
She smartly decided against gutting the fish and took it to Mercury Bay weigh station.
"When we weighed it I was thrilled."
The kingfish threw the local women's record of 21.4kg out of the water.
Shirley Dryden holds the world record with a 35kg kingfish, also caught in New Zealand waters, in 2001, according to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association.
Laird, who comes from Porirua and is a member of the Mana Aquatic Divers, held the NZ Women's Spearfishing title eight times before the birth of her daughter in 1983. She has applied to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association for the new record.
Spearfishing involves using a spear gun to catch fish while swimming or freediving.
"It's never been a massive sport like rugby but we have a really strong spearfishing club in our area."
For the past 36 years she has been perfecting her methods.
If you don't shoot correctly the fish would fight back, she said.
"I'm not an advocate of going out to catch huge fish for trophies. That one was just my lucky fish."
If you do find your lucky fish, she said to aim for the front of the body for a kill shot.
"That saves a lot of fighting against the fish, which damages the flesh and attracts sharks."
And what became of her kingfish?
Half was smoked, while the other half eaten fresh.
The Laird family have consumed a few decent meals from the fish, as have all their friends.
A few parcels of smoked kingfish remain in her freezer.
"I'm going to enjoy it for a while yet," said Laird.
- © Fairfax NZ News