Red Snappers Win at Vava'u

Team Red Snappers – Garry Townley, Neil Lunt, Greg and Matt Bell – were the champion team in the recent NZ Fishing News hosted 19th Vava’u International, with Matt taking out individual line honours.

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Matt Bell took out the individual Champion Angler honours at the recent NZFN Vava’u tournament. 

The top boat was Kiwi Magic, skippered by the highly experienced Keith McKee, who took the honours comfortably with 446.8 points ahead of runner-up Chris Chapkoun aboard Fighting Lady on 339.9 points. Pook Twoomey finished in third on 316.9 and was heading for higher honours had it not been for a breakdown on Monu’ia that saw him unable to fish all four days.

Matt comfortably won the champion angler race’s yellow jersey with 209.7 points which included two tagged marlin and a 9.7kg mahimahi. Runner-up was Peter Lynam on 146.8 points followed by Brian “Howie” Howard on 130.0 points.

While there was a reasonable blue marlin bite over the four days which included 16 billfish tagged or landed, the supporting acts – wahoo, mahimahi, tuna and shortbill spearfish – suffered from stage (make that gantry!) fright and were noticeable by their absence. Richard “Mitch” Mitchell weighed the heaviest wahoo at 18.5kgs from Garry Townley (16.9kg) while there were only three mahimahi weighed – Peter Lyman (16.8), Steve Worthington (14.7kg) and Matt Bell (9.7kg).

The heaviest sailfish was Kevin Battersby’s respectable 46.8kg effort. Of the 24 anglers that travelled to Vava’u, 13 accounted for one or more tournament-qualifying fish. On the layday, Connor Corbett, who was travelling as part of the Galaxy Travel contingent, made the most of his day on the water, landing his first blue marlin aboard the Steve Campbell skippered Reel Easy.

The tournament was hosted out of the Tongan Beach Resort on the shores of Vava’u’s main harbour Neiafu where owners Shane and Helen Walker along with managers Mark and Judi Airey did a fantastic job ensuring the onshore logistics were as good as they could be.

Mark, NZ Fishing News’ manager in former life, was in his element filling the MC’s role ably hosted by Nod Kininmont who was the event’s ‘details’ person both before and during the trip. This was the first time Rotorua’s Galaxy Travel had been involved and the consensus among the touring party was that they did a fantastic job with great attention to detail. The company’s principal Craig Corbett was on hand to assist with the running of the event while special mention needs to be made of Treena Moore who was responsible for ensuring the travel aspects were all in place.

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Thanks to Wayne Bicknell of Good Lures (www.facebook/goodlures) for their sponsorship and the help from Vavav’u Sportfishing Club members for helping with the weighmaster and watchdog duties. The two calcuttas raised a total of TOP$1611 For the FAD fund.

The event will be held at the same time next year (incorporating Labour weekend) and already three of the six team berths have been snapped up by returning anglers. Craig Corbett has put the challenge out there to all the lady anglers to make up their own team to contest the Top Lady Angler honours.

”With the 2024 event marking the 20th anniversary of the NZFN tournament, we hope to put together something special,” he says.

To book your team or individual space, contact [email protected]. The event will be limited to no more than seven teams at this stage.

- NZ  Fishing News

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