IT was the stuff of anglers’ dreams when 28 boats landed 27 southern blue fin tuna and tagged and released others in one day’s fishing.
But that was the reality on Saturday off Waihau Bay, with the 27 tuna landed put over the club’s scales and at least six taken back to visiting anglers’ clubs and devoured.
The average weight of the tuna caught was about 70 kilogramms, according to the Waihau Bay Sport Fishing Club. Many boats enjoyed multiple hook-ups of two, three and four fish each.
A tuna caught on a 37kg line by Lynda Randrup weighed 91.4kg, putting it in contention for a New Zealand women’s angling record.
Since Saturday’s big haul, blue fin continue to be caught albeit in smaller numbers.
Fifteen were weighed in on Tuesday, ranging in weight from 57kg to 121kg and plenty more were boated yesterday.
Waihau Bay Sport Fishing Club vice-president Jimmy Kemp told the Beacon the number of southern blue fin tuna being hooked and landed hadn’t been seen before.
He said it was known the southern blue fin tuna might migrate to the area’s Ranfurly Banks, a fertile fishing area on a continental shelf off Cape Runaway, about 20-25 miles out from Waihau Bay, where the boats launch.
Commercial long-liners pick up the tuna in the Wairarapa and the fish have been known to make their way to the Gisborne area before migrating up the East Coast.
He said commercial long-liners had to abide by a set quota system and once their limit of southern blue fin tuna was caught, they couldn’t take any more for the year.
However, it is understood that commercial long-liners have yet to fill their southern blue fin tuna quotas, and are continuing to fish for the tuna off Gisborne.
Kemp said locals had had a go for southern blue fin tuna in the past without the success now being seen, and there were fewer locals than game fish.
However, he said some recent successes were shared on social media and lots of visiting boaties keen to taste the action had flocked to Waihau Bay, dubbing it a “gold rush”.
Adrian Gidlow was one of these success stories after he landed four of the hard-fighting fish just over a week before Saturday’s big haul.
Kemp said by now it was usually fairly quiet in Waihau Bay, but with all the action on the water, accommodation was fully booked, with people still hoping the blue fin tuna are around.
And Kemp believes once you get a few boats out on the water it is easier to come across the southern blue fin tuna.
Kemp said the warmer winter temperature could be behind the blue fin tuna phenomena. On Saturday the temperature was 17.5 degrees.
But blue fin tuna would also normally be found in cooler water and can be caught up the Fiordland Coast in summer, Kemp said.