What do you do if you're married, love fishing and your first wedding anniversary and a birthday coincide?
Well, if you're Andre and Kie Kassal, each of them a highly successful angler in their own right, you celebrate by going on a hard-out soft-bait mission!
However, the fishing turned out to be very slow on the day, so by the time the last drift was set up, expectations were not very high. (But, having said that, Andre still gave himself every chance for success by placing the now legendary Z-Man 7" Jerk Shad in classic 'Bruised Banana' colours on his 3/8oz Lightbulb!)
They were halfway through the drift when Andre felt a heavy 'clonk' as his lure was descending mid water. After setting the hook hard in response, it initially felt as if he'd snagged the bottom – until the 'snag' went for a short five-metre run!
After that, the fish just held its position stubbornly in the current, occasionally shaking its head. So, fearing he'd get snagged in the kelp forests below, he got Kie to move the boat on top of the fish fairly smartly.
Andre said there was a lot of weight, but he was certain it wasn't a kingfish. However, the lack of powerful runs made it difficult to make a call on his opponent's likely size.
Then, after a reasonably short time, they saw some colour (LOTS of it!) – but the fight wasn't over yet, with the big fish managing to spin around and charge back down.
Fortunately, Andre kept his cool and resisted increasing the relatively light drag, also keeping his pump-and-wind style smooth to avoid spurring the fish into a more destructive fighting mode.
This did the trick, and just minutes later the monster was finally being slipped in their landing net.
At this point raw emotion took over. Andre and Kie have caught some huge fish over the years, but this was their biggest ever. So how appropriate then that they should get to share this wonderful experience together on such an auspicious day!
Kie kept the fish in the water (a big net helps!) while Andre got everything ready to record the 'vital statistics'.
A quick measure indicated 88cm and the scales registered 30.6lb!
Then, after a couple of quick photos, this fish of a lifetime was placed back into its element, where it swam away strong and healthy.
Andre says that this was the fish he'd been chasing for so long, and the fact it had been hooked and landed in less than 10m of water meant its chances of survival following release were excellent. This fish could now keep crunching up kina and breeding while getting even bigger – the ideal end to the story.
Andre was also keen to acknowledge that he never would have caught this massive fish without the support of his 'trophy wife Kie' (because she keeps catching trophy snapper!), who always pushes him into fishing more and harder – the perfect fishing partner for him!
- Mark Kitteridge