Gear up for big kingfish
  |  First Published: May 2012

We have been getting some spectacular kingfish lately and after a late start to the season everyone is hoping for a late finish, taking the warm water and the kings right through to June.

This is the time of year for bigger than-average-kings and some tactical changes.

While I’m generally a strong proponent of fresh squid for bait, big kings do develop a hankering for garfish at this time of year. This is not surprising, given that we get a good run of gar in the Harbour about now.

You will find gar in places like Quarantine and Watsons bays and around Sow and Pigs Reef. A bit of bread or pellet berley mixed with tuna oil will get them in behind the boat in no time.

My favourite gar bait is pilchard gut on a short-shank No 12 or No 14 hook suspended under a light quill float with no lead. Use as light a line as possible.

To keep the gar alive you will need a good-sized, well-aerated (preferably circulating) bait tank.

One of the most successful and spectacular ways to fish the live gar is to swim them out under a bobby cork with no lead, provoking huge surface strikes.

The rig is simple and consists of a 1m mono trace with a bobby fixed at the point where the trace meets the main line. No lead is used so that the gar, pinned on a 6/0 octopus style hook, swims on the surface.

Pin the gar under the lateral line just behind the anal fin; by having the hook on the underside you naturally keel the bait.

A gar hooked above the lateral line will have to constantly fight the hook and tire more quickly. When it does tire, the hook weight will pull the gar upside down and it will die.

An alternative rig is to drop the bobby cork and let the gar swim free. This is a great natural presentation with the disadvantage of not always knowing where your bait is and the resultant tangles.

If you are going to use this method you will need to keep a constant check on your bait’s position.

While gar are great at this time of year, don’t write off squid. A big, whole, live squid fished deep will take its share of big kings and still rates as No 1 bait with the advantage of picking up a stray jewfish.

With Sydney Harbor kings now regularly anything up to 15kg, your tackle must be sturdy and in top working order.


Threadlines are my first choice and you can’t go past the big 6500 Fin-Nor Offshore. They are indestructible and with their superb oversized multi-stacked drag system, they will fish alongside the likes of Stella and Saltiga. I’ve been running one under charter conditions for three years now and am struggling to find a fault with it.

Egg-beaters work for straight-down bait fishing, casting unweighted live squid and gar at structure or casting and jigging the likes of 9” Slug-Gos and heavy metals.

With modern braid, capacity is no issue and the threadlines have a drag range to get the best out of any line class from 10kg to 25kg. Fin-Nor Offshore jig rods in 50lb or 80lb are a perfect match.


Braid is the way to go overall, despite the tangles and the occasional pulled hook on short lines. Spool up with 50lb; my theory is you don’t have to use it all but it offers greater abrasion resistance and you can crank it up if you need to.

As I said earlier, capacity is not an issue any more. I use Sufix Performance Braid in this line class.

Fluorocarbon is the obvious trace choice, given that is inevitably going to get dragged over rough surfaces. I use 60lb to 80 lb for bigger kings (depending on terrain) and 40lb for smaller fish.

The compromise with trace weights is in hook-ups and experience has shown that you will get more hook-ups when using lighter trace.

Best spots to look for kings in the Harbor are the eastern cardinal mark off Dobroyd Head, the green marker off Middle Head, the Wedding Cakes, the Spit, Seaforth Bluff, Pickering Point, ‘Old Yella’ off Neilson Park and The Sticks off Rose Bay.


Fishabout has released their new free iPhone/iPad app which, at the time of writing, has just gone to No 3 on the iTunes sports app list.

It’s loaded with features including a personal GPS catch log for storing your catch details; regional catch information for all of Australia; weather, tides, wind, barometer and other weather observations in real time, searchable for all of Australia by region; five-day weather, tides, wind, barometer and other forecasts; a five-day Fishability Scale based on solunar tables and a unique method of checking the length of your fish using the iPhone camera.

There’s also a regional directory of tackle shops, guides, ramps, hot spots, attractions and more with maps and directions; a species database including legal sizes and bag limits, green zone (no fishing zone) alerts functionality and daily regional fishing reports across Australia

The greatest asset is the ability take a picture of your fish and then have it automatically stored in a catch almanac linked to info like GPS location, tide and more. Upgrades will soon include barometer, weather, water temps and moon phases. Search Fishabout in the iTunes app store or visit www.fishabouttours.com.au.

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