LADIES 2023

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I can’t believe it – we had good weather for the ladies contest!!! Calm seas, some sunshine, a gentle, organised swell, little wind, and the fish were biting. For the 42 teams that took part, it was like heaven, and with a Hawaiian theme to dress up to, it certainly had a good vibe about it.

Day 1 took the contest off to a good start, with hook ups going on steadily throughout the whole day. It seemed to be brewing up into a blue marlin and mahimahi season as I call them, and the ladies managed to land 3 blue marlin; Renee Larmer fishing on Liberator boated a fish of 101.6kg in the morning, then just before stop fishing, junior angler Rhianna Allan aboard Chalk & Cheese hooked into a blue which took just over half an hour to boat. Rhianna played her fish on 15kg line, and it weighed in at 134.6kg, a new club line record. The fight of the day belonged to Jo Warren on Spellbound though. She hooked into a blue marlin at quarter past one, and didn’t boat it until five and a half hours later. It was one of those scenarios when the fish goes down to the bottom and then you have to unstick it and winch it slowly back into the boat, a long, slow and tough endurance test, which Jo and the skipper Dale, finally won. It came in late to the weigh-station needless to say, but went into the 2nd day’s tally. The blue marlin seemed more precious this year than the stripys for the Calcutta prize, as Pete & Raewyn had put up a very special prize for the heaviest blue marlin, a holiday at their place in Kona, Hawaii. There were two other billfish for the day; Cheryl Silich on Shifty II tagged and released a striped marlin, and Carla Wall on True Story brought in a shortbill spearfish. Along with the blues, there is often mahimahi around, and Jolene Gravatt on Silver Sting weighed in a fish of 5.65kg. Kate Sturge on Gunslinger found some snapper to bring in, the heaviest was 6.7kg, and Kate also found a kingfish of 11.05kg.

Listening on the radio, it started to become a bit unusual when some of our regular, seasoned anglers started taking a long time on playing their fish, like hours…… we were expecting big stripys or blues, but no, it turned out to be big feisty yellowfin, and boy did they give our anglers a work out. I always thought you caught a yellowfin as a warm up towards a marlin, but I don’t look at them the same way now, these were big and strong! There were 6 yellowfin landed that day, the lightest was 28.05kg caught by Renee Larmer, and the heaviest was 79.6kg caught by 14-year-old Nikisha Blakeman on the Immigrant, after a 2 hour fight. The 2nd heaviest yellowfin was caught by veteran angler Yvette Wells on Kahlua, that one weighed 53.2kg and took nearly three hours to boat. Third heaviest yellowfin of the day weighed 50.8kg and was caught by Tiffany Skedgewell on Heremana, after that we had yellowfin weighing 41.6kg and 34.6kg, these fish were fighters and the action was concentrated around the Wekarua drop-off which became crowded with boats waiting for their turn! The flags were put out as well, for the ladies to pick up, and at prize-giving we had plenty of fishing gear, beauty vouchers of different kinds, and chilly bins to be awarded for the efforts of the ladies for the day. We had the parade of team uniforms on the evening, and the team on November Rain were the smartest and won a prize. There were only a few lucky draws to give away, so that was a very successful daily prize-giving.

Day 2 and the fishing did not hold back there either, we had a tally of 3 blue marlin, 3 striped marlin, 3 mahimahi, 9 snapper, an albacore and 6 yellowfin. Did yesterday’s heaviest blue get beaten – yes it did, Jo Warren’s blue weighed in at 180.6kg (and she caught it on 24kg line). The other blues were caught by Rayne Blakeman on The Immigrant and Jemma Parrish on Brace ya Self. Donna van Biene on G3 landed the first pinfish stripy for the club, at 99kg it was the first qualifying one weighed in for the season, and Hannah Horner on Macksom tagged a stripy. The heaviest mahimahi of the day was landed by Shanelle Te Hira on Sea King V, weighing 10.35kg, and Serena Gilmore on Moody Blu brought in a new ladies pinfish snapper of 8.4kg, the Moody Blu team must have a hot spot for snapper.

For tunas, Rhianna landed an albacore of 13.65kg on 24kg line and we collected line to test for a new junior girls club line record. The yellowfin put on a show again, with the heaviest fish falling to Louie Burt on Alibi, it weighed 61kg. Tracey Mackay on Macksom landed another yellowfin weighing 56.8kg and Brooke and Tracey on Kat n Fiddle, and Stah Rosa Poutai on Sea King V landed fins in the 40s kg mark.

At the daily prize-giving we judged for the best poem, which was written and performed by the crew on Moody Blu, and also the fancy dress costumes. There were some fantastic and beautiful fancy dress costumes for the Hawaiian theme but there was one set of handmade, well thought out costumes made by the crew on Black Jack – the ingredients for a Hawaiian pizza, so they won the prize.

At the final prize-giving we had trophies and some impressive prizes to hand out. Renee won the Hair by Chris Trophy for the 1st qualifying marlin landed, with her blue marlin on the first day. Cheryl won the Showcase Jewellers Trophy and pearl necklace with her tagged stripy, and Rhianna had the Weighstation Trophy for the fish worth the most IGFA points, for her tremendous effort with her blue marlin on 15kg. Jo Warren ended up with the heaviest blue marlin, which won her the Dutton, Donna Watson and Kingfish Lodge Trophies and the coveted trip to Hawaii. Pete and Raewyn were so pleased with the response to their prize, that they are putting up the same prize again next year, thankyou Pete and Raewyn. Donna van Biene won the Calcutta money with her stripy and all that was left to do was find a winner for the Air New Zealand mystery break. Five names had been drawn each day, so now our lucky anglers stood in a line up the front with their numbered bottles of wine. They were slowly whittled down to the last 2 standing – Ellie Baird and Kayla Hayes. Ellie won the mystery travel prize, and Kayla won a stay at Whangaroa Lodge Motel, thanks to Craig & Judy.

The Ladies Contest was awesome this year, we are thinking of the next theme for next year, hoping that we get good weather again, and lots of fishy action. Thanks go to all our sponsors who include: Pete & Raewyn, Manuka Doctor with all their lovely products in our starter packs, Mount Shop Ltd., Pacific Motor Group, BBQ BOI, Whangaroa Lodge Motel, Snooks & Lola Fuller, B.Hair, Hair by Chris, Keoghan’s Showcase Jewellers, Café @ Redwoods, Makana Chocolates, Nicer Nails, WSF Café, Redwoods Garden Centre, Cake in the Box, Pure Home Services, Lush Beauty, Kerikeri Reflexology, Kaleo, and Chang Siam Thai Restaurant.