INDUSTRY INSIDER | April 11, 2024

Kubota Sponsors ‘World’s biggest fishing contest’

Kubota Billfish Classic 2024: Coromandel fishing competition reels in overseas participants

The Kubota Billfish Classic fishing competition in Whitianga saw several teams reel in massive wins over the weekend.

Team Godfather – Matt Hallowes, Angus Johnson, Hadley Greenhalgh and crew, of Northland – had the biggest catch, winning the top cash prize of $462,350.

Team Mid Life Crisis won $350,000 for the heaviest billfish, a blue marlin, weighing in at a whopping 256.5kg, and Team Nirvana received the Kubota U48G excavator valued at $112,557.

The Kubota Billfish Classic, now in its fifth year, is the largest fishing competition of its kind in the world, say organisers.

It’s hosted by the Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club, with 420 boats taking to the waters of Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula across the three-day event.

Teams competed for more than $1 million in prizes in total – the largest sum in the competition’s

Participants travelled to Whitianga from across the world, including South Africa, Guatemala, the United States, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Australia.

This year, there were an additional 150 spots, plus a waitlist for those who missed out.

Organizer Tom Maxwell said the competition was a success in boosting tourism in the local community.

“This year marked our fifth year running the competition, which was bigger and better than we could have imagined.

“The community really supports the event, and it was incredible to see everyone watching from the shoreline for the shotgun start.”

Maxwell said it was incredible to see the competition receive international recognition.

“It’s been great to put Whitianga on the map as a world-class fishing destination.”

In another event first, a Kubota Billfish Classic Pink Ribbon Ladies Lunch was hosted on Friday, March 15, to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Maxwell said: “We are predominantly a tag and release competition. The data captured by participants is shared with scientists in the region to assist with their studies around migration habits.”

He said the competition had a release rate of over 90 per cent which provided insight into the movements of billfish.

“The competition rules were carefully crafted under the International Game Fish Association guidelines to ensure fish are released.”

More points are awarded for fish caught and tagged with markers, encouraging teams to follow the catch-and-release system.

The winners for each category were announced at an awards ceremony on Saturday evening at the Whitianga waterfront.

“We were overwhelmed by the support and numbers that we had to turn our awards ceremony into a festival along the water, with local community groups setting up food stalls to support fundraising efforts.

Local junior and Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club member Jack Rogers, 16 (second left), with a 207.1kg blue marlin, as part of Team True Lies, at the Kubota Billfish Classic in Whitianga.

“The Kubota Billfish Classic event is more than just a fishing competition. We are always looking at new ways to support the local community and raise important funds for New Zealand charities.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of our sponsors who have been incredibly generous in donating a range of prizes and multiple all-expenses-paid fishing trips,” Maxwell said.

Kubota Billfish Classic 2024 Results

  • Champion Team

1st The Godfather $462,350

2nd = Walkabout $82,562.50

2nd = Black Gold $82,562.50

  • Heaviest Billfish ($350,000)

Mid Life Crisis 256.5kg Blue Marlin

  • Gate Prize (Kubota U48 Excavator)

Nirvana

  • Heaviest Tuna ($10,000)

Sea K 68.26kg Big Eye Tuna

  • Heaviest Mahimahi ($10,000)

The Boardroom 13.72kg

  • Heaviest Kingfish ($10,000)

Extreme Limits 22.82kg

  • Last Billfish Tagged ($10,000 + Tonga trip)

Rowe ‘De’ O

  • Jackpot Prize ($10,000 + Guatemala trip)

Black Gold

  • Tagging Draw ($10,000 + Kona trip)

La Barca

  • Pelagic Prize (Tahiti trip)

Kawailani

  • Tagging Draw (Lottin Point hunting trip)

Shamrock

  • Tagging Draw (Bluefix Boatworks prize)

Hooked on Kiwi

  • Tagging Draw (Gloss Boats prize)

Marlure

  • Tagging Draw (Striker Charter trip)

WrightyO

  • Shimano Prize for 1st Billfish tagged each day

Day 1 Maximus

Day 2 The Godfather

Day 3 Tickety Boo