Whether you’re an amateur who drops your line over the local wharf or a serious game fisher, throughout the country you can find spots where the fish are biting and the scenery is spectacular.
Waterfront magazine is proud to showcase some of New Zealand’s top waterfront game fishing clubs...
From the little local groups to the large clubs that number members in the thousands, these are community hubs, where members bring their families, swap tales of past conquests over a beer, and meet at the scales to watch the day’s catch weighed in.
Together, they celebrate the backbone of the great outdoors and the best of the Kiwi lifestyle.
The stunning two-storey homestead, which is now the clubrooms and a function venue for the 150 club members, was originally built for the Smaill family in the late 1870s at Smaill’s Beach, on the rugged south coast of Otago Peninsula, Dunedin.
The building was constructed by the same builders of famed Larnach Castle. No money changed hands – with the builders instead being paid in whiskey (resulting in several of them spending a significant amount of time drunk while on the job).
After some changes in ownership in the 1950s the property was bought by farmer Fergus Mathieson in 1971. Mathieson, a patron of the Tautuku Fishing Club, sold the homestead to the club in 1972, for $8,000.
The club holds several events during the year and is involved in the Dunedin Salmon Venture – a project to transform Dunedin into the ‘Salmon City’ of New Zealand, and the Southern Hemisphere. Under the plan, more than 350,000 salmon smolt will be released this year into Dunedin’s waterways, with an aim of turning Otago Harbour into a self-sustaining recreational fishery.
The Wellington Surfcasting and Angling Club was established in 1958 by a group of like-minded anglers who often fished together, and believed there was a need for a fishing club in Wellington.
While steeped in history, the club also continues to focus on moving forward and to lead from the front, having had two club members hold the president’s position for national body – the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association.
Members share club rooms with the Evans Bay Yacht and Motor Boat Club, located on Evans Bay Parade.
The club has eight shore-based competitions and six boat competitions for the members each season to determine the top shore and boat angler. Categories include veterans, senior men, senior women, junior and colts for boat and shore sections for the 150-plus club members.
Five individual holders of the prestigious Mustad Golden Hook (now discontinued) awarded for the best capture nationwide annually, and numerous boat and shore national championship winners are among the club’s accolades.
New Plymouth Sportfishing and Underwater Club was formed in 1995 and now boasts 1,400 members – made up largely of local families and residents.
The clubrooms are located on Oceanview Parade, and have a stunning panoramic view. From here, members enjoy diving and year-round game fishing competitions, the largest of which is the annual ‘Farmers Competition’ in March, with up to 650 anglers.
The club currently holds the national record for the heaviest marlin ever caught by a female – weighing in at a whopping 354.2kg.
Fifty years ago, 22 keen recreational fishermen who met regularly out on the ocean or on the shore because of their shared passion for fishing and boats, decided to form a club, and the Hawke’s Bay Sports Fishing Club was born.
Club headquarters was a shed at the Napier Sailing Club before relocating to the current site on Nelson Quay in Napier. The club’s floating marina was later added, thanks to many hours of volunteer work, and continues to provide moorings for 16 club boats. A number of upgrades to the clubhouse, facilities and boat ramp have taken place over the years.
The club has had a colourful history, riding out disasters such as the massive seas of May 1971, which significantly damaged the clubrooms and caused a petrol pump to collapse.
Between September and April the club’s 1,100 members enjoy taking part in five annual fishing competitions. Off-season, the club holds a number of social activities including, Trivial Pursuit nights, dine and dance evenings, wine tastings, car rallies and watching televised sports matches on the club’s big screen TV.
This club’s busy calendar kicked off this year with two of its biggest competitions – the Bay Bonanza and the Marlin and Tuna Tournament, both held over summer. Other annual highlights for the 4,000 members include the Blokes Day Out, Christmas hams, kids’ fishing and ladies’ day competitions. These all draw a flurry of boats of all sizes, returning at the end of the day to weigh in, with a crowd eagerly looking out for a record-breaking catch to hoist up on the scales.
Located on Gisborne’s picturesque Esplanade, Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club has panoramic views of the harbour, along with a collection of commercial and private fishing vessels. And the fishing is spectacular. Some of most notable catches have been a black marlin weighing more than 400kg and a world record-breaking southern bluefin tuna. A variety of sharks, several types of tuna and a number of other species are also on display at the clubrooms.
Members and guests take in the views on the deck, enjoy a relaxed meal and drink and talk fishing. No need to worry about how many beers you’ve had - at the end of a long day, a courtesy van drops members home.
Game fishing, trout fishing, ladies’ competitions, small fry and junior events, and surfcasting are some of the competitions enjoyed by members of the Mt Maunganui Sportfishing Club during the year.
However, its biggest and most coveted tournament is the Blue Water Classic, held every February. Limited to 220 anglers and with $50,000 in prizes up for grabs, it is an exclusive and popular event. The waiting list to take part is currently two to three years.
Salisbury Wharf is home for the club, which it shares with the Mt Maunganui Yacht Club and Mt Maunganui Underwater Club.
Nestled on the eastern side of the Coromandel, members of the Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club enjoy a pristine location in a stunning corner of the country.
Dating back to 1924, it is one of the first game fishing clubs in New Zealand after a band of local enthusiasts met in the cargo shed at the end of the wharf and established the Mercury Bay Swordfish and Mako Shark Club.
The club’s first recorded day of fishing on 26 February, 1925 was marked by its first catch records, including a 320lb mako caught by local policeman, Tom Cannon.
News of the wonderful fishing and superb scenery around Mercury Bay and the Mercury Islands spread quickly and the club has continued to flourish since its humble beginnings. The area can also lay claim to a number of world records for broadbill, tuna and snapper.
Mercury Bay remains a family-orientated club, recognising the value of fishing as a healthy outdoor activity for children and its regular kids’ wharf fishing days are always a roaring success.
The Bay of Islands Swordfish Club is the oldest game fishing club in New Zealand, dating back to 1910. One of five founding members of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, the club has remained active in the development and protection of the national sport of fishing.
Since it was founded from its first location at Russell Wharf, the club has grown to also have clubrooms on the Paihia waterfront, both with stunning views of the bay. Their rich history of game fishing can be traced on the walls of both clubhouses – with historic photographs of record catches, tackle and other memorabilia.
This year the club will celebrate 100 years of marlin fishing in the Bay of Islands – after Major AD Campbell caught the first marlin on a rod and line in the area in 1915. To celebrate this historic event, and how much the well-loved sport has developed since then, the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club hosted a series of tournaments during the first half of the year, each of which targeted a different demographic including juniors, women and small boats.
The more than 1,300 members, along with domestic and international visitors each year, enjoy the club’s regular events, restaurant and bar, and relaxed atmosphere.
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