The one that didn’t get away

Over the years during my fishing career, I have tangled with hundreds of different Gurnard all slightly unique in their own way. but none even came close to what was about to unfold on this perfect day out on the water.

While the fishing had been slow and the bin was looking fairly empty the conditions were nothing short of spectacular, there wasn’t a breath of wind and it seemed like everyone else were also taking advantage of the brilliant day.

We had moved around spots and eventually settled onto an old favourite producer in about 75 metres depth, with Tarakihi firmly the target in mind. For a while it was very quiet, eerily so. It was only a matter of time before something had to change.

Slowly the 4 boats who were fishing in the area motored off one by one leaving us alone on the mark. Despite the huge amount of fish showing beneath us, nothing was interested in feeding.

Like many times before, the tide turned around and the current slowed to a crawl and the lethargic fish began to spring into life. Tarakihi began to come over the side at a constant pace and dinner was soon sorted in a short amount of time.

The next bite loaded up properly, bending my rod right over into the water and I scrambled to grab it out of the holder. The fish kicked away on the bottom for a while before I began to gain some line. From there it was a slow kick all the way to the surface, so it had me wondering what kind of fish this could be.

When a long red fish popped out from under the boat it had me in disbelief, it was a gurnard but like nothing I had ever seen. It had a comically large head and was thick right through to its tail and its gigantic wings were the size of dinner plates. I slid the net under and lifted the behemoth into the boat and only then did I start to realise how special this fish was.

I held it up on the ruler and it reached 52 centimetres which tied my personal best, but I knew this fish was in a different league weight wise. I got some pictures of the special fish before bleeding and icing it down. Not thinking of it being a possible record.

Back on the shore, I found some certified scales through the local marine club and got it documented in the books. It weighed 1.75kg, slightly less than its live weight of 1.9kg. This gurnard is now one of the largest ever weighed at the club. What a fish!

Although it would have been a great fish to get mounted, this process is very hard for the average fisher like me to organise, so I got the camera out and documented as much as I could before prepping the giant fillets for the table. Not often the gurnard fillets are more like steaks!

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