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Rare tuna hooked in Castlepoint

BJ Campbell, Nick Loader, and Roddy Kjestrup with their rare yellowfin tuna catch. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Yellowfin last seen in Wairarapa 25 years ago

JOHN LAZO-RON
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Three Wairarapa game fishermen got the shock of their lives on Sunday afternoon when they hooked a rare yellowfin tuna fish at Castlepoint.

The last time this species was caught in Wairarapa waters was in 1996.

Reeling in the species usually found in warmer waters was a dream come true for angler Roddy Kjestrup.

“This was pretty damn cool,” he said, “It’s a once in a lifetime fish.

“They are regarded as the most sought-after game fish, so it’s a rare catch regardless of where you are in New Zealand.

“And just because all three of us on the boat have grown up around Castlepoint, we know the significance of what it means to have a fish like that brought in.

“It is really significant for any fisherman on the Wairarapa coast.”

What made the catch even more special was that the owner of the boat they caught the tuna on, was the owner of the boat that the last yellowfin was caught on 25 years ago.

“It’s pretty special when you look at it like that,” Kjestrup said.

“Wayne [Loader] owned the boat called Waiwhare when the last yellowfin was caught, and he owns the boat [Taniwha] we caught it on.”

He was also the father of Taniwha skipper Nick Loader.

The yellowfin – which weighed in at 24kg – had created a buzz among fishermen around the country that has Wairarapa Sports Fishing Club president Craig Mulligan in a spin.

“This is brilliant,” Mulligan said, “It’s actually put us on the map quite a bit.

“I posted it on Facebook, and we’ve had responses from the NZ Fishing Council and other fishing clubs around the country saying what a great job we’ve done because yellowfin tuna just doesn’t get this far south.

Although the yellowfin tuna was a rare hook, Mulligan doesn’t think this was a one-off moment.

Higher temperatures soaring over Wairarapa this summer had brought warmer waters, which Mulligan said was attracting the rare species.

“No I think they’ll still be there,” Mulligan said.

“This year we’ve got extremely warm water coming down. We’re hitting 21 degrees at the 150m mark in the water, so for us that is rare.

“You’ve got to have around 21 degrees to attract yellowfin. [Wairarapa] normally sit around that 16-18-degree mark around this time of year, so it’s higher.”

Mulligan said this catch would attract fishermen from around the country to the club’s Tuna Tournament in Castlepoint on March 20-21.

“Fisherman will be buzzing at the moment,” Mulligan said.

“The interest in this tournament has been high since that tuna was caught.

“Wairarapa could potentially be an untapped sports fishing ground.”

Mulligan said the yellowfin was kept and ‘they’re a good eating’.

Other species of tuna which normally resided in Wairarapa were Albacore and Skipjack tuna.

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