Van Houtte’s 1985 24kg yellowfin record was in danger of finally being overtaken at the recent Legendary Houhora One Base Billfish and Sport Fish Tournament.
Adam Livingstone and his crew of three shot out well before dawn on day one of the comp, which took place over April 7-10 this year. Their plan was to have their lures in at North Cape as soon as the tournament kicked off at 6:30am. All four of the guys on board are experienced fishermen, and between them, represent three different sportfishing clubs. After putting their heads together the night before, they decided that North Cape should be their first destination – and their decision paid off quickly. As Ian Stephens, one of the crew, put it, “The knowledge from the three clubs come out tops!”
Within the first two hours of trolling around the cape, the crew hooked up their first albacore.
“We got that in relatively easily,” says Ian, “then we set our lures again, but we only got one lure back in the water before we got another bite.”
It quickly became clear that this fish was bigger than an albacore, and a yellowfin was the first suspect. This suspicion was confirmed soon after when they caught sight of yellowfin schooling on the surface around them.
Lachlan ‘Locky’ Waugh had taken the honours of manning the reel, and it took him 40 minutes to get the leader to the boat. Ian, the designated gaff-man, saw that the Black Magic Flea lure was only hooked in the lip of the yellowfin’s mouth, so was very careful with the trace.
“It came in on the wrong angle to gaff through the shoulder, so the call was made to go through the belly. I must have hit the spine cause it died straight away,” Ian explains.
They then made the call to bleed the fish to preserve its eating quality, despite this causing the fish to lose about 300-400g of weight (according to the Hohoura weigh-master). At the time, Ian tells me, they had underestimated its size and had no idea they were in with a chance for a NZ record.
With the fish on ice, they decided to keep trolling, and this time managed to get two lures out before they were hit. Two more albacore around the 14kg mark arrived on board soon after.
The hot action then came to an end, and after half-an-hour of trolling without a bite, they decided to call it a day early and get their tuna back to the weigh-station.
When they handed the fish over to the weigh-master, a bit of a buzz went around the wharf. He told Ian that it was the biggest yellowfin he’d ever seen – which means a lot coming from a Hohoura weight-master.
The scales tipped at 83.4kg, just 2.6kg lighter than the previous 24kg NZ record set in 1985. Despite missing out on the NZ honours, the team still walked away with $1000 for heaviest yellowfin and $500 heaviest albacore, as well as $800 worth of gear collectively for other prizes.
“The prize money paid for the whole trip and everyone was happy,” concluded Ian.
The rest of the trip didn’t quite go to plan, with strong nor easterlies meaning they only got one more day’s fishing (they returned to North Cape, but the tuna had moved on). The team were far from worried, however, rightfully confident they had secured the winning fish on day one.
09 May 2021