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Organisers of the annual Otago Salmon Fishing Competition were toasting the event's growing popularity yesterday, after about 220 anglers braved rough conditions to haul in 43 salmon over two days.
The winning catch, of a 6.36kg specimen, was made by Dunedin woman Sarah Hutton (23), who fishedfrom a boat in the upper harbour, near the Water of Leith, on Saturday, the first day of the competition.
Miss Hutton said she had been fishing all her life but had not won a competition, so was feeling "pretty good" when confirmed as the winner at 4pm yesterday.
Her catch had already been divided up, some cut into steaks and the rest smoked, but would be traded for some lamb, she said.
Event organiser Wayne Olsen - the chairman of the New Zealand Salmon Anglers' Association Otago branch - said conditions over the weekend had been "terrible", but the number of fish caught was "a good return".
"It's probably the best for about five years, in spite of the weather," he said.
The bad weather had probably discouraged some people from entering the competition, but "the hardy ones will do it, no matter what".
Five salmon weighing more than 6kg had been caught, and Miss Hutton's catch was nearly beaten by one that got away. A large specimen estimated at 7kg-8kg "would have cleaned everyone out" but managed to wriggle off the line, Mr Olsen said.
"But hey, that's fishing," he said.