Fishing - Monster fish from days gone by

By: Anthony Roberts

Although we all like to boast about the big one we’ve caught, we must admit that when we listen to stories of the fish our fathers and grandfathers caught, there were some real monster fish. Each week, I have the privilege to listen to stories of big fish caught and even bigger ones that got away. This week was especially interesting as a fine young customer showed me these images of his grandfather, who served in World War II. He was based out of Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, where he crewed on a frigate. Days were spent protecting New Zealand from the Japanese by blowing up mines, playing tennis on the frigates and fishing. Interestingly, I have managed to get a couple of photos of Wallace Neely, who is seen here at Port Fitzroy preparing to clean some of those spoken-about monsters. Two massive kingies and a not-so-small snapper. If you look closely you will see the kingfish is lying on an apple box. My guess is the box is approximately 600mm long. So by my reckoning I would measure the kingfish at two and a half apple boxes long. That is 1500mm from head to tail. And the snapper would come in at just over a meter long!

Wallace Neely with some monster fish.
Wallace Neely with some monster fish.

Wallace Neely enjoyed his wartime experiences on Great Barrier – plenty of fishing, tennis and blowing up mines.
Wallace Neely enjoyed his wartime experiences on Great Barrier – plenty of fishing, tennis and blowing up mines.

On February 21, we emerged from a three-day lockdown, but the latter half of that week turned out to be an absolutely magic windless weekend. Many got out and enjoyed the fine weather fishing. The Kaipara Harbour is seriously producing good catches of snapper lately, and I can only encourage you to have a day out on the water there. One of the most pleasant things is that you can always find a spot out of any wind on any day. Big snapper are being caught right up in the shallows near the mangroves.

Some spots like Flat Rock, Leigh Reef and Little Barrier are producing nice kingfish. Due to the amount of bait fish around, I would strongly suggest that boaties look at catching some live baits before going out. This will always give you your best opportunity to snag a kingie.

Good sized snapper have even been caught on the inside of Kawau Island by some chaps who, because of smaller boats, prefer fishing in close. It will be good practice currently to fish in close for snapper as they start preparing to fatten up for the winter months. Food is plentiful along the reefs, and this is where they will be lurking.

Anthony Roberts, Tackle & Outdoors


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