On April 5th 2014, twenty six fishermen and two fisherwomen gathered in Auckland, N.Z. for WSFFNZ”s fourth fishing tournament. It was a picture perfect day with $3,500 of prize money on the table. Two charter boats were hired that took participants about one hundred minutes away to Waitemata Harbour in the Motuihe Channel. The target fish were snapper and kahawai. Fishing was great with 185 legal sized fish (plus heaps more undersized) with an aggregate weight in excess of 200 kilograms.
Currently N.Z. is in the grip of a drought. At the same time the skipper of one of the boat’s recounted a kind of ‘Old Man and The Sea’ story of many charter trips over the past months with slim pickings (ie small/no fish catches).
To everyone’s delight, especially the skipper, from the very beginning, lots of fish were caught by seasoned fishing veterans and novices alike. The actual catch of ‘keeper’ fish comprised 120 snapper and 65 kahawai. The biggest snapper was measured at 60 centimetres and over 4 kilograms.
Each boat carried 2 Judges and 1 referee who took on the added role of assisting everyone to take fish off hooks, untangle lines and make sure everyone was well equipped. This heart and practice of service created a wonderful atmosphere of co-operation on the boats in the midst of the raw competitive tendencies of participants.
Four cash prizes and winners were as follows: first prize of $1500: Richard Mold, second prize of $1000: Rev. Iosefa, third prize of $500: Andy Capiral. Additionally a “Catch of Merit” prize of $500: Nikki Holdem.
The Chairman of WSFFNZ; Leon Pogoni should be commended for taking the initiative to host the tournament despite what appeared initially to be a lack of resources and for working cooperatively with others to create a spirit of harmony amongst participants and officials alike. This came on the foundation of several years of running weekly fishing trips.
Julius Gicole, the National Leader of FFWPU said to his wife the night before the tournament; “we need to go fishing tomorrow”. Despite the obstacles they united and together joined the tournament. In fact they both made it through to the final, chalking up a total of thirteen hours on the sea.
Incidentally, Jasmin Gicole, despite not being a prize winner, and being only one of two female participants, caught a total of more than eighteen kilograms of fish for the day; the second highest total catch of all participants. Just to be out there fishing with her husband was both inspirational and instructional. This author is hard pressed to recollect any wives joining their husbands on a fishing ‘date’ on the ocean and for an entire day. Well done.
At the closing ceremony led by Leon, the three place getters were invited to the stage to receive their prizes. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and moved by Richard’s gesture to donate his prize money of $1500 to support FFWPU youth activities. This brought a tear to the eye of chief judge; Gerald Hampton who presented the “Catch of Merit” prize to Nikki. What was meritorious in Nikki’s performance on the day was the fact that she was a novice to fishing yet she caught more fish than her father; Peter.
Participants came from such varied backgrounds, many of whom were regular participants at the Saturday weekly fishing trips.
A special mention must go to Bal Krishna who despite catching the most fish on the day (more than 20 kilograms in aggregate weight) did not make the winners list. The reason is because the results of the second and final round of the day (the last four hours) was independent of the results of the first round. This rule was necessary since two boats were used in the first round that fished in different locations.
A further special mention must go to the sponsors of the event. The principal sponsor was Yoshiyuki Arai coupled with the Cleaver and Holdem families.
Notably, Mr. Arai joined with Gerald Hampton, Kim Raymond and Leon Pogoni as judges and Robert Shelley and Geoffrey Prentice as Referees. This contribution was invaluable both professionally and for creating the positive mood of the tournament.
Also many thanks to Mr. Arai, Leon, Illa Jane Anane and all the Japanese sisters who cleaned and scaled the fish and prepared a delicious feast for all to enjoy.