Skip to main content


Miss Lidgard returns to the Bay for the Kubota Billfish Classic Tournament

This fine vessel will be remembered by many far and wide as the very successful game fishing charter boat operating from Mercury Bay skippered by the late Captain Don Ross.
 |  The Informer  | 

Her earlier life included being a control boat for flying boats at Mechanics Bay and involved with the whaling station at Whangaparapara, Great Barrier Island.

Her skipper for a time, Cal Brooks now residing at Opua, fondly talks of his experiences and shares tales with the new owner Paul Spooner on a regular basis (Cal in now in his 90’s).

Paul Spooner was a neighbor of Don Ross in Whitianga and was inspired by the tales and catches from the Miss Lidgard which obviously was the connection which led to the purchase of the launch many years later.

Don was popular with many international anglers as his launch was one of the first high speed game fishing launches. Some changes were made with the assistance of Howard Pascoe such as extending the cabin for more shelter for the anglers.

Don’s very successful and notable catches were also an added attraction for anglers seeking charters.

Some rival skippers evidently scoffed that Don was rather frugal in not trolling covering vast but he stayed in areas where he had observed game fish and deployed techniques he had devised to catch them.

Don had learnt from earlier innovators such as Zane Grey and Captain Mitchell (Zane Grey’s support boat) who often fished the “restaurants”.

Don gave the author one of Captain Mitchell’s rod and reels which I still have today –  very fine equipment for its time but would not compare favourably with some of the reels available today.

Don’s advice to the author was,  ‘Remain at the restaurant as the Marlin will always return.’ The restaurant for Don was any offshore reef such as The Sugar Loaf (Aldermen Islands), the inner or outer reef (South of Red Mercury Island), Richards Rock or Ecklands (north of Red Mercury Island, or Never Fail Rock (Northeast of Great Mercury Island).

The Miss Lidgard is looking immaculate and can normally be seen at the Kerikeri Inlet and is proudly taken to sea by Paul and family and friends.

But you can watch out for it this coming weekend as Paul Spooner is fishing the Mercury Bay Kubota Tournament.

Some of the older residents may not recognise the restoration, but will remember the many successful catches in times gone by Miss Lidgard has recently had a double strike, so the vessel and skipper obviously still have got what it takes.