Grim search continues for missing fisherman

A 40-year-old Auckland man is believed to have drowned after a stingray pulled his fishing rod into the sea causing him to jump in after it, police say.

Senior Constable Lindsay Freeman said the man and his wife had been fishing from the end of a jetty at Kauri Point, north of Katikati, about 2pm today, when he caught a stingray which pulled his rod into the water.

"He's jumped off the wharf to retrieve his fishing rod and reel. He's got into difficulty in the channel because it's an outgoing tide," he said. "It was at that point when the current really starts to pick up with the outgoing tide."

The Trustpower TECT rescue helicopter was called to search the area by air but was stood down after 40 minutes.

Local residents, the coastguard and surf lifesavers also spent the afternoon peering into the murky water hoping for a glimpse of the man while police and volunteers conducted a shoreline search.

The police national dive squad arrived at the scene early in the evening to begin their search for the man's body.

The apparent tragedy would be the third water related death in the Western Bay of Plenty in as many days. Palmerston North woman Catherine Michell Hintz died after being found lying at the bottom of a Tauranga motel thermal pool on New Year's Eve.

And a Tauranga man died during a diving trip near Motiti Island on January 1. He has been named as Blair Kiddle, 42.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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