Bluefin stars align

It’s no secret we now have a blossoming bluefin tuna fishery here in Kaikoura. For the last three years it has got better and better with this year’s discovery being they are here a lot earlier than we thought, January instead of April.
Operating a fishing charter business in Kaikoura, Top Catch Charters, has meant I am on the spot when conditions and commitments allow. I am also up with any intel on what’s going on.
On February 17 the stars seemed to align with good conditions all day and finishing work at 3.00pm would allow for a few hours trolling before dark. My son Jack travelled up from Christchurch and met me at my place after work. We swapped out the charter rods for some game fishing rigs and were back on the water at 4.00pm. It does help I live a mere three-minute drive from the South Bay ramp.
We headed out to where I had seen bluefin free jumping in the past and set the lures out to do their thing. We had a 37kg rig as shot gun, a 24kg rig a bit closer and a 15kg rig 10 metres behind the outboard in case any albacore tunas were around. The next hour was taken up by covering a bit of ocean at seven knots keeping an eye out for bust ups or bird life. Conditions were perfect with no wind and just a gentle swell.
We hit action stations, as the 15kg set up had gone off and was taking line at a good rate. The other two rigs were retrieved and put away allowing Jack to get to work on the fish. I called it for an albacore and got the landing net ready, while encouraging Jack to keep up the good work and be careful not to get the line wrapped up in the outboard as the fish surfaced.
On a final circle under the boat the fish emerged, and Jack exclaimed, “it’s a bloody bluefin!”
I quickly abandoned the landing net and got the flying gaff out and set the hook into his side. Together we hoisted our prize into the boat and could not believe what had just played out. We had done it; we had landed a pristine kaikoura bluefin weighing 30kg. They are the most amazing fish I have seen and to have one landed in my boat by my son is something I will never forget.
Both families have dined well since this day, and I can’t wait to get back out there and catch some more. We are truly lucky to have this fishery in Kaikoura and I look forward to seeing many happy anglers in the future.

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