Hundreds of anglers will pour into Leigh for the town’s annual fishing contest on Saturday, March 7.
The Leigh Fishing Contest is believed to be the largest single-day fishing competition in the country and so far has raised $360,000 for Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) since it began in 2003.
This year, the ticket draw prize will be a 4.8m Angler Boat from Marco Boats, as well as a 50hp Yamaha engine and a custom trailer, thanks to Rodney Marine – nearly $40,000 worth of prizes in total.
There will also be category prize packs with gear from Hunting & Fishing Warkworth, Raymarine, Viking Kayaks and Okuma.
The prize for the new ‘mystery length’ snapper category will be a 2.8m inflatable boat.
In this category, a length between 60-90cm will be drawn from a hat, and the closest fish to that length will win.
There will be a measure and photograph system for the category, allowing fishers to throw their catch back.
ARHT general manager of marketing and fundraising John Hooper says it is part of a new drive to reduce the amount of mature breeding stock taken from the ocean.
The heaviest snapper category has been eliminated, and he is hoping people will throw back snapper over 60cm.
“They are too old and gnarly to eat anyway,” he says.
However, the average weight snapper, along with seven other categories, are still set to provide plenty of fish for auction.
“You won’t find cheaper or fresher fish. I’m a terrible fisherman, but I bring home two bags of snapper for $70, which takes hours of filleting and feeds all the neighbours,” Hooper says.
Tickets are $65 for adults and $5 for under-14s, available at leighfishingcontest.org.nz. The weigh-in is at the Leigh Hall from 1pm to 3.30pm.
There will be entertainment for kids at the hall and popular band Whitechapel Jak will be playing from afternoon until evening.
Hooper says Leigh and Orewa are the only two communities that fundraise enough to cover all of their helicopter rescues each year.
“The organisers of this event should be very proud.”