Blind Matamata beekeeper hooks first marlin of season
Hooks have been sharpened, lines tested and reels oiled for a bumper game season after a blind Matamata beekeeper landed the first marlin of the season.
It was one of only two marlin reported having been landed in waters off the Waikato and sport fishermen around the region are tingling in anticipation.
Bryce Hooton was 80 kilometres out to sea in his new boat over the weekend at a spot called The Footprint when he caught his fish.
"It was the first day trawling lures with it so it was a pretty good day for us," Mr Hooton said.
The 95.8kg striped marlin is the fourth Mr Hooton has caught and he said for a small fish it packed a punch.
"Yeah, he put up a good fight, power walked me 3 or 4 times. It took me about 40 minutes."
Mr Hooton and a team of four fishos took the day trip to the hot spot off the Coromandel coast but while they got another strike earlier in the day, he was the only one to land a game fish.
Mr Hooton is totally blind but said it wouldn't hold him back from doing what he loved.
"I'm an unusual blind fella. I'm out doing things that other blind people aren't, really.
"It's quite amazing because when we pulled up to the wharf to weigh it in there was probably a couple of hundred people on the wharf so there were a few people blown away that a blind man had caught it."
Waikato fishing guru Chris Bungard said Mr Hooton's fish came early in the season and it was good to get one on the board.
"You wouldn't say it was extraordinary because there have been ones weighed in before Christmas before today but put it this way, it's encouragingly early."
Water temperature and colour was good for game fishing and Mr Bungard said it wouldn't take long for keen anglers to get stuck in to the action.
Weather and rough seas limited hours on the water on the west coast but Raglan Sport Fishing Club vice-president Richard Hart said skipjack and albacore tuna had moved in and the predators had followed.
"There's a bit of marlin action," Mr Hart said. "One of our club boats has been out and pretty much found them."
And snapper have moved in closer to feed on worms and sea biscuits in close proximity to the shore.
"The snapper have come in from the traditional spawning areas of the 50m mark off Raglan," he said.
"There are a lot of sea biscuits for food and worms and at the end of a successful day you'll find out those fish are all chocka with sea biscuits."
Waikato Sport Fishing Club president Bob Gutsell said the sea conditions were prime for a good game-fishing season and members were pumped and ready to go.
"It's all on for young and old at the moment, it just depends on where you want to go."
He said anglers on the east coast were getting strikes and with summer holidays coming to an end, they would be using annual leave to stay close to the action.
"They will take time off as the year progresses and fish various tournaments around the place and try to target their leave accordingly."