This week we are talking about Kingfish. Pound for pound, yellowtail kingfish are one of the hardest fighting fish in the water. At times, they can be led to the boat with so much ease that they’ll completely surprise you and explode right in your face, resulting in a bust-off or sometimes a broken rod. Yellowtail kingfish can be found throughout the world in the cool temperate waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans off South Africa, Japan, the USA and Australia. In Australia, they can be found from North Reef in Queensland, around the southern coast and up to Shark Bay in WA. They can also be caught off the East Coast of Tasmania, Norfolk and Lord Howe islands. Yellowtail kingfish love to hang around structure and wait for that unsuspecting feed to come along. They can also show up in the most unexpected places. As stated, yellowtail kingfish love structure. This structure could be in the form of offshore reefs, sunken wrecks, a headland, a break wall, rock gutters, wharves, bridge pylons, floating pontoons, current lines, marker buoys, channel markers, drop-offs, boats on swing moorings, bait balls, but sometimes they hang out in the middle of nowhere. To help you catch yellowtail kingfish, we will talk later in the week around tips on where to find them, rigs to try, techniques, and gear to use.
Today’s tip is around Kingfish. Kingfish will hold under some boats, their moorings and also under pontoons. Many a time I have cast a soft plastic that was meant for a bream, only to have it monstered by a kingfish. So todays tip is working alongside the hulls on boats with soft plastics & surface poppers is worth a shot.
Some tactics when chasing yellowtail kingfish, the rig can be as simple as a running ball sinker down onto the bait or as complex as trolling a dead swim bait. I believe in keeping it as simple as possible. There are only six rigs I use: running ball sinker onto the bait, whole bait on a set of ganged hooks, live baiting a whole squid, sliding snooded hooks, bait suspended under a bobby cork, or a bait suspended under a balloon. Try anchoring about 6-10m up current of a marker buoy or channel marker. Once you’re set up, you need to have a small, but steady berley trail flowing out of your berley bucket. This may consist of old pilchards, tuna and chicken pellets. Once the berley stream has been set up, chop up some whole pilchards or tuna cubes and drop over a couple pieces every few minutes. Now that you’ve enticed the yellowtail kingfish, drop over pilchard on a set of ganged hooks and slowly feed it out through the berley trail. At the same time, you could also set a whole squid, dead or alive, under a bobby cork and have it positioned about halfway between the back of the boat and the structure. Your third outfit would be lowered to about a metre off the bottom. This gives you three options to find out where the fish are holding. You may have all three go off at the same time! Friday, we will talk about gear needed for kingfish.
Today’s tip is before you hit the water remember that kingies are a dirty hard fighting fish and will quickly dive into the reef and bust your line or if you loose the pressure on the hook they will shake you off very quickly. When fishing the shallows it pays to have an alert driver with the boat running so that when you hook a decent fish you can tow it out into deep water to avoid being reefed. Drag pressure high do not let these fish run and tire out you wont get them to the boat and they will fight the whole way even when being pulled from depths over 100 metres. Mustad hoodlum live bait J hooks are perfect for live baiting as circle hooks are generally fished with low drag which is not suited in the above methods.
Yellowtail kingfish can be caught on just about every outfit you can find in a tackle shop, from a light spin to a 24kg game outfit. What you use will depend on your preference and budget. Maybe you prefer a fly or game outfit, or maybe you like a hand burning sensation when it comes to fishing with a hand line. I have three outfits I use when targeting kingfish – off the rocks, offshore and in the bays and estuaries.
Off the rocks, I use a Shakespeare Ugly Stik Gold, 8-12kg, a 3.6m rod mounted with a 6500 Pflueger Salt thread line spooled with 10 and 15kg Maxima Mono. Offshore, for trolling, down rigging and live baiting I use either a Shakespeare Ugly Stik Gold 10-15kg, 1.8m rod mounted with a Penn Squall 40LD Overhead spooled with 15kg Spiderwire, or a Shakespeare Ugly Stik Gold 6-10kg, 1.95m rod mounted with a Penn 6500 Spinfisher and spooled with 15 kg FireLine. For bays and estuaries, plastics and blades, my outfit is a Pflueger President 3-6kg, 2.1m rod mounted with a Pflueger Salt 40SW thread line reel, spooled with 6kg FireLine Exceed.