Every now and then you return from a fishing trip thinking to yourself “wow that’s going to be a hard one to top” – the 27th of December was one of these days.

Anglers: Aaron Styles & Mark Collins
Location: Town Shoals, Bay of Plenty
Species: Kingfish
Technique: Top Water
Words & Photos by: Mark Collins "MC Boatworks"

Aaron Styles and I departed Tauranga harbour before sunrise in his new Surtees and steamed straight to our spot. We had big snapper on our minds after hearing excellent reports from other anglers. We found ourselves disappointed – the bite was very slow, and we managed only a couple of fish for our efforts over a bunch of likely looking spots. With only an hour of tide left we moved to another part of the reef.

Upon arrival a small school of curious rats came in to check out the boat. Aaron always carries a topwater set onboard so that was quickly deployed. The next 30 minutes resulted in a bunch of kings to 16kgs being caught and released – great fun but still nothing to tell your friends about. Accordingly, the call was made to do one more drift.

Aaron launched a cast and instantly had a pack of fish that were a lot larger climb all over his stickbait. The biggest of the bunch inhaled the lure, hooks were set, and it went head-down straight for the reef. We had the boat in hot pursuit staying right on top of it knowing the odds were against us being in 25m of water on a PE5 set. After an intense 15 minutes we had colour as a large shape materialised beside the boat and charged straight at the prop. Aaron screamed “shark has got it” but what he had seen caught us both by surprise as an extremely large kingfish popped up beside the boat with no sharks in sight.

The fish was still green, so we jointly manhandled it over the gunwale and in the process both sets of treble hooks caught Aaron – one in his shorts, the other through his hand, and both still attached to an experienced and pissed-off kingfish. Nevertheless, after a quick bit of surgery we managed to separate angler from fish, at which point we finally realised what Aaron had managed to land. On the Moocher Mat it measured out at 145cm with an estimated weight of 40-42kgs, a personal best for Aaron and one that will be very hard to beat. A couple of quick photos were taken for the memory bank and a tired kingfish was successfully sent home after a short revival tow.

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time and sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. But that day was a good lesson to always be prepared and have something ready to go if an opportunity arises – even in an area you least expect to see a trophy fish!