What began with two teens quietly fishing at their favourite secret spot, ended up drawing a crowd of cheering spectators as they fought to land two huge fish last Friday.
Fifteen-year-olds Tom Wigley and Keifer Bland, both Otumoetai College students, hauled in not one –but two – kingfish simultaneously on May 13 at one of their ‘secret spots’ around Tauranga Harbour.
“I love the challenge of fishing,” says Tom. “It’s fun getting outside and so rewarding.”
The boys were using piper fish they’d caught earlier for bait when Keifer’s line caught something big.
“A couple of seconds later, I hooked something too. Keifer offered to cut his line so our fish wouldn’t get snagged, and he could help me land my first kingfish – but I told him not to let his fish go. It was so surreal.”
Tauranga resident Tony Cooney and his 14-year-old son were watching. “I saw them both get a bite and we ran over to encourage them,” says Tony. “Keifer jumped into the water up to his armpits and climbed onto some rocks to move his line further away. I thought: ‘This kid really knows what he’s doing’.”
Tony held the rod while Keifer landed the 14kg kingfish measuring 106cm.
“Tom was yelling: ‘I don’t know what to do! It’s massive’,” says Tony. “So we were telling him take it to the beach. It was just epic to watch.”
It took 15 minutes for Tom to bring his 8kg kingfish, measuring 84cm, onto land. “He landed it himself and the whole crowd clapped and cheered. The boys were stunned! They just stood there looking at them and didn’t quite know what to do. Honestly, it just made our day! We were all buzzing for them,” says Tony.
For Tom, it’s the first kingfish he’s landed. “I’ve been trying for years,” he says. “I’m so stoked that I finally got one. We took them home and filleted them. Keifer smoked his, but I ate some of mine as sashimi straight away. It was delicious.”
Tauranga Sport Fishing Club manager Barry Brown says the boys should both be proud of their catch. “Those are two good-sized kingies and to catch them off the beach like that is really impressive,” says Barry. “It was fantastic that they managed to land them both without tangling the lines. Kingfish are good fighters, so the boys would’ve had a real run for their money.”
Barry says it’s great that the boys are getting off their screens and out into nature. “Once people land a good fish, they’re normally fishermen for life,” says Barry “Congratulations to the boys. They did an amazing job.”
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