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What a whooper ... Basri Mustafa could not believe the size of the salmon when he landed it at the Mataura River last Thursday. PHOTO:JENNY DILLNER

Sitting on a rock, gently casting a soft bait lure into the Mataura River, Basri Mustafa thought he had hooked a log.

Mr Mustafa said he had been fishing in Mataura for about half an hour on Thursday when he hooked the salmon.

It was not until he could see the movement of the fish that he realised he had hooked a big one.

It took him over half an hour to bring the fish in.

“I didn’t have a net and once I realised I had a big fish I played it until it was tired. I had to grab the weight end of the soft bait to haul the fish on to the rock.

“I could have lost him at any stage.”

Mr Mustafa has lived and fished in Mataura for the past seven years.

“I have never seen a fish this size anywhere that I have fished, not just here.

“It is a first for me.”

The male salmon weighed in at 10.5kg, caught on a 2.4kg line.

“I don’t know how to describe the feeling. It still feels very unbelievable,” Mr Mustafa said.

Southland Fish Game field officer Cohen Stewart said it was great to see how resilient salmonids were.

“Despite the high flows experienced this month, salmon, and trout for that matter, have held up well,” Mr Cohen said.

“These sea-run salmon typically show up in our rivers from December through to March.

“I congratulate Mr Mustafa. By Southland standards, this is a large salmon and would be one of the larger examples I have seen.”