The birth date of the Whakatane Big Game Fishing Club can rightly be claimed as the thirteenth day of August 1966, for it was on that day that a public meeting was convened to engender enthusiasm amongst interested people in the organization of a deep sea fishing competition to be held in conjunction with the Whakatane township jubilee celebrations the following year.
The meeting was attended by approximately 60 enthusiastic boat-owners and fishermen from Opotiki, Kawerau, Whakatane and the Rotorua areas. The attendees at that meeting spontaneously resolved to form a Big Game Fishing Club and appointed a steering committee to bring into being a fully operational club by the end of that year.
Behind them was the interest and enthusiasm of dozens of people; in front was the pristine and unsullied waters of Whakatane and the wider Bay of Plenty which attracted every type of New Zealand Game Fish.
The work and recommendations of the steering committee were endorsed at a public meeting in November 1966, when the constitution was adopted, the committee elected and members began to enroll.
In the first year membership of the club numbered 328 and by the end of 1969 membership had risen to 740.
The Whakatane Harbour Board made premises available for clubrooms and also allowed the erection of a weigh station on the wharf, but during the 70’s and into the early 80’s with the ever increasing membership and popularity of the club they then leased one of the bigger cargo sheds on the wharf to the club.
Over the next few years the then committee and helpers worked like Trojans expanding the interior of the wharf shed to the point where they could go no further. During the late 80’s the club continued to prosper, with membership growing, World and NZ Records being claimed and surpassed, and with the growth of one of the most extensive fish mount displays in NZ also occurring it was time for larger premises. So fund raising began in earnest to purchase and upgrade the building, and in 1994 the wharf shed building was purchased from the council.
Two years later it was becoming increasingly noticeable that after years of wear and tear and flood damage the old wharf shed had passed it’s use by date. So in 1997 and after many hours of preparation work the new clubrooms project was given the go ahead and on the 31st of October 1998 the new clubrooms were opened.
Membership prior to this stage had been around the 8-900 mark and with the introduction of the new building membership grew to just over 3600 members. In 2004 a new upstairs lounge and viewing deck were a welcome addition to the already huge expanse of the club.
Once again in 2011 the club began another huge project and extended the lower dining area and opened up the upstairs anchorage lounge with an internal balcony that overlooks the downstairs main club area and bar.
From it’s inception 50 years ago the club has grown immensely with members from all over the world including America, South Africa and Australia, to name but a few.
The club became a full member of the NZ Sport Fishing Council (formerly NZ Big Game Fishing Council) in 1968, changed it’s name to Whakatane Sportfishing Club Inc in 1992 and is a source of pride for all of it’s members.