Four-hour fight yields fighter of the deep

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2013
Broadbill fish
MAN AND THE SEA: David Donald, 60, with a 189kg broadbill caught out of Kawhia on Crazy Horse.

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For more than a decade fisherman David Donald had dreamed of hooking a "gladiator of the sea" and hauling it up from the ocean depths.

When the moment arrived, it was a fight like no other.

Mr Donald landed the 189-kilogram broadbill on his 12-metre charter boat, Crazy Horse, with Paul and Neil Cleaver on board about 100 kilometres off Waikato's west coast in the Mokau Trench.

He believes it was the first caught during daylight hours by a recreational fisherman on the west side of the North Island. It was also the first fish of its kind for the Kawhia Boating and Angling Club.

For Mr Donald, 60, it marks the end of a long road.

The ocean-going predators had eluded him since he bought his first boat in 2000.

It was the broadbill's reputation as the toughest fighter in the sea that piqued his hunting instinct.

They are more shark than marlin and even Mr Donald's largest pervious catch, a 306kg blue marlin, was nothing in comparison. He pumped that in within an hour.

The battle between man and fish on Friday afternoon took nearly four hours.

"These fish, they're the gladiators of the sea and reputed to be the hardest fighting fish," Mr Donald said.

"I think I'd be right in saying that for any guy that does big game fishing, the ultimate fish you can catch is a broadbill."

Mr Donald had always fished for them at night when they rise to the surface with their prey, without luck.

However, he adopted an American deep-sea fishing technique to target them during the day and his whole kahawai bait was taken at about 550m of water at 1pm.

Once hooked the fish rocketed towards the surface "like an express train". It came close to the boat initially then bolted down about 100m and started circling.

Mr Donald fought the animal standing upright using a gimbal belt. He worked his rod, reel and 37kg line by degrees - a metre here, half a metre there - until the massive fish surfaced three hours and 45 minutes later.

Mr Donald was exhausted; the fish more so.

It was gaffed and dragged through the stern sea door.

Mr Donald said he was "just bloody totally elated ... to try and catch something for 13 years".

His fish tipped the Kawhia scales at 189kg. The largest broadbill recorded was 4.5m and weighed 650kg.

The animal is now in pieces, its head and sword with a taxidermist in Whangamata. Some of its flesh remains in steaks and some was smoked.

Some has been eaten.

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"It's bloody beautiful," Mr Donald said.

"A marlin's flesh is red. These broadbill, it's very white. You'd swear ... it looks like chicken," he said.

- Waikato Times

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