One of the great things about spending winter in Russell is that the cooler weather brings a welcome bonus for local fishermen; the return of hungry snapper. While it’s always nice to land a snapper that fits the pan nicely, it’s the exhilarating experience of hooking, fighting and landing a larger one that gets the heart pumping. Although we occasionally hear about huge fish being caught in the Bay many tales of “The Big One” are unsubstantiated, simply, because the end goal of fishing is to “do away with the evidence”.
Not so in the case of Inspector of Fisheries for the Bay of Islands, Mr Les Mather. Fishing off Howe Point near Marsden Cross on the 11th March 1969 Mr Mather hooked and landed, what is estimated to have been, an 85 pound snapper using nothing but an old nylon hand line with about four knots to join the pieces. As luck would have it, the event was witnessed by Mr T Jackson, an Auckland solicitor and Mr J Laidlaw, JP of Russell. Being in the legal business they had the foresight to take a tracing of the contours of the fish and lodge it as evidence with Russell Museum.