A 100-STRONG crowd gathered to watch on as Hervey Bay fishermen Chad Runnalls and Dylan Brooking hauled in a massive grouper at the Urangan Pier on Sunday, believed to weigh more than 100kg.
The two spent more than two hours fighting the massive fish, with the action-packed catch coming to an end about 1km from where it all started.
"We fish every day pretty much and try and catch big mackerel and tuna, but this was a real thrill," Mr Runnalls said.
"It was massive.
"It's a phenomenal fish - it's a big beautiful girl of a fish."
And while the groper was undoubtedly their biggest catch yet, a show of respect for the animal saw the two remove about four old hooks from its body before releasing it back into the water, which was met with applause from the large group of onlookers.
"They are living legends those fish and you would never in a million years do anything (to harm them)," he said.
"Obviously there was a bit of trauma being caught, as with any fish, but I think in the overall scheme of things it was good for her to be caught and have the hooks removed.
"We brought it up to the shallows and it had a lot of old hooks and lines stuck in her and we spent maybe five minutes getting all the hooks out of her.
"We patted her a bit and had a little bit of a moment with the fish, said go on old girl and she took off back into the water, no problem."
Mr Runnalls, 35, is a regular fisho at the Urangan Pier and shares his knowledge with some of the young ones that he says often "get a bad rap".
He said the catch was not only a thrill for him but a great lesson for the youth, teaching them to do the right thing in terms of catch and release.
"Every chance they get they're down there, after school and on weekends."
Mr Runnalls said Sunday was "a really good moment and what they learnt was a really important lesson".
"There's maybe about 10 local kids there most of the time and they were all there and they all got a chance to touch it, have photos with it - it was a really "bringing people together" moment.
"I spoke to an 80-year-old that's lived her all her life and she said it was the nicest thing she had ever seen."
The groper was caught using a Tiagra 50-wide rod and reel and half a catfish for bait.
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