Overlooking the camp in Administration Bay – www.motutapucamp.org.nz

Earlier this year, over 100 plumbers and gasfitters gathered at Motutapu Island with their sleeping bags and fishing gear in tow.

For 21 years, Rheem, RMC, Marley and Englefield have been hosting a fishing competition for the trade, and as 2020 was the first year the trip had been cancelled (thanks to COVID-19), there was a fair bit of anticipation surrounding the 2021 event.

“We all stay at an outdoor education camp on Motutapu,” Rheem Commercial Sales Manager Paul Watson explains. “It’s the leftover barracks from the second world war, and they’ve been well and truly looked after and cared for.”

Getting to the camp, however, was no easy feat this year. A three metre swell was running the whole weekend, which made getting the gear on shore particularly tough.

Mark Jesperson from Winton holding up a nice size kingy.

“We managed entirely due to the fact that Roger from Fat Cat boats had kindly lent us his time and his boat to help us get into the beach,” Paul says. “The water was calm until you got to the beach and then it was dumping half a metre on the shore. Roger was really, really awesome and went above and beyond. “
With everyone safely on shore on Friday evening, they settled in for a catered dinner, a couple of drinks and a good catch up. Plans were hatched for the following day, with each team needing to figure out a way to catch fish outside the Camps Marine Reserve in the less than ideal conditions.

“Snapper, kingfish, john dory and trevally are the four target species,” Paul explains. “You got to be in the weigh in by 5pm otherwise you miss out. And everyone actually has to bring enough fish back for dinner as we don’t provide dinner on the Saturday, but we never have to get steaks out of the freezer – there’s always enough.”

South Islander Wayne Richards with the largest snapper he’s caught in the North Island.

Paul had hired a 40ft Pelin from Gulf Harbour which he skippered himself, and his five crew were made up of local plumbers he’d invited out on behalf of Rheem. The Pelin was the perfect boat for the conditions, but he still found it tough to find a place to fish the next morning.
“All the charter boats were hiding behind the Noises on the southwest side, and one or two of the charter boats ended up tucked behind Waiheke.
“Plan A was to go to the northern tip of the Noises but the three metre swells put a stop to that and we didn’t want to put the crew through those conditions, so we anchored up on the southwest side of the Noises.”

The fishing, in Paul’s words, “was okay”.

“We got enough for a feed and a bit more than that – but there were no prize winning fish on our boat.”

At anchor, after a tough days fishing in big swell.

After a day battling with the conditions, all the teams arrived back for the weigh in at 5pm, and it was immediately clear who the winner would have been. A 2.16kg head of a snapper was on display, with the rest of the fish taken by a shark. The guys thought it would have been around the 7kg mark if the tax man hadn’t taken his share. The actual winning fish weighed in at 4.15kg, which was still a nice fish considering the conditions.

After prizegiving, a fish dinner and a few drinks, it was time to wrap up another year of the fishing comp. Everyone made their way back to the mainland the next morning, with the 2022 event already firmly locked into their calendars.