You can’t beat a whopper weekend catch, served with a side of philanthropy.

This year’s Chesters ‘Fanatical Fishos’ Annual Fishing Competition, running February 16 and 17, was the biggest yet, raising a stunning $6,000 for the Titirangi Volunteer Coastguard and another $6,000 for Legasea.

Even the sun shone its support as the event kicked off for the 28th year running. There were clear skies and little wind as a record 243 entrants headed off to their favourite fishing spots for the two-day event to reel in a possible winner.

The unique event, organised by Chesters Plumbing & Bathroom Centre, and supported by Rheem, is unlike any other fishing competition in New Zealand.

There are no restrictions on where entrants can fish, as long as they make it back to Chesters New Lynn in time for the weigh-in on day two.

That saw competitors pack off to fishing spots as far-flung as Northland, Coromandel and Tauranga, as well as all around the Hauraki Gulf.

The event is open to Chesters’ accountholders, including plumbers, gasfitters, builders and renovators, but with its reputation only growing each year, outside fishermen are also eager to take part.

With eight categories up for grabs, this year’s winners hauled in an outstanding catch, including a 148kg blue marlin, caught in Whangaroa in Northland. Among the other winners were a kingfish that tipped the scales at 17kg, a hapuka weighing 21kg, and 7.9kg snapper.

But it’s not just about the size of the fish. Competitors hand over their haul, which is filleted and auctioned back to those taking part, with proceeds going to the Titirangi Volunteer Coastguard. Chesters also made a generous donation to LegaSea, to support recreational fishing and conservation.

The final day was one for mates and family to join in the fun, with face-painting to keep kids entertained while the grown-ups capped off a weekend of friendly rivalry with a few relaxing drinks and a spot of competitive bidding on the best of the catch.

Paul Watson, the commercial manager at Rheem, says this year’s event was a stellar one.

“It’s always a pleasure to support it, and to take Chesters and their customers out for a great couple of days fishing.”