Every year during the last full week of February hundreds of anglers throughout New Zealand compete for their respective clubs for the New Zealand Sport Fishing Club Nationals.

Anglers gather into teams that must have at least two but no more than ten anglers. There is no limit to how many teams can enter for each club that is affiliated to our national body, the Sports Fishing Council of New Zealand. Counties Sport Fishing Club entered 32 teams with over 100 competitors this year and anglers can fish pretty much wherever they want.

There are however some very strict rules that must be adhered to. Points are awarded for fish caught and the lighter the line class that fish is caught on the more points it is worth. Points are also awarded for tagged fish and only the three heaviest fish per angler per day can be entered. Teams often share information within their club and in our case and I suspect most other clubs, closed social media groups help anglers to keep in touch with where the fish are biting.

The rules encourage anglers to fish light tackle and as even a small fish can be a challenging catch on 1 or 2kg breaking strain line a lot of planning goes on as each team dreams up their own strategy that will hopefully take their club to the top of the heap. Of course there is also competition between each team in the club so it all makes for a great event.

While people often associate fishing competitions with lavish prizes and a big after match, the Nationals is all just for the glory of being the champion angler, part of the best team or part of the best club in the country. Yep you read it right – literally hundreds, even thousands of anglers competing for nothing more than a trophy. You have to be keen! Then again the idea of taking a week off work and travelling around to find the fish has an awful lot of appeal. If you’re a fisherman (or lady) it’s hard to think of a better way to spend some well earned holiday time.

At the time of writing the results aren’t in but over the course of the week I’ve been lucky to have seen some magnificent fish come in for weighing. Of course the fish are not wasted and most teams have already arranged for someone to smoke their catch by the time they are back on dry land.

Despite being a keen fisherman myself I’ve yet to fish a full week of the Nationals, I think I’ll have to put that behind me next year.

 Smudge

The crew of Barmaid with a Striped Marlin caught mid week off the Port Waikato bar earning a heap of points for Counties Sport Fishing Club.