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Krill and kings set the tone
  |  First Published: November 2012



About once a decade we get massive accumulations of krill off Sydney, generally seeming to coincide with lower water temps and high rainfall.

They are off Sydney as I write this and have attracted an abundance of fish and even a visit from a couple of rare blue whales.

Krill are good for local fishing both short and long term.

They act like a big berley trail, drawing fish to the area, and will ensure plump, healthy fish and a good breeding season.

The krill are not hard to find, just look for the red plume in the water just off the Heads. You can almost guarantee that there will be something nearby feeding on them.

Trevally are usually deep feeders but last time we had krill in these numbers, the trevs were drawn to the surface and were chomping relentlessly like schools of salmon. Salmon, kings, slimies, yakkas, and striped and mack tuna have all been in on the act.

EARLY KINGS

The kings have showed up in the Harbor nearly a month early. We nabbed six good ones at Clarke Island in one session. The battle at the moment is getting the fresh squid that are almost essential for bait.

With the average size of kings having crept up every year for the past 10 and reports of 20kg fish being taken already at The Peak and Long Reef, I’m expecting a few stonkers in the Harbor this season. Might be time for a quick tackle review.

ROD HOLDERS

Anything made of plastic really isn’t up to the task for kings these days.

Flush-mount stainless steel holders will do the job strengthwise but they are not ideal because they are primarily designed for trolling.

When you are fishing straight down below the boat, a vicious strike pulls a severe angle into the rod. Strong glass rods with solid clear tips might handle this but you can say goodbye to your high-modulus graphite.

My rod holders are custom-made and very simple. They consist of an aluminium tube slightly larger than the rod butt welded to the coaming or rail at an inclination just above horizontal.

There is a T-shaped slot cut along the top front that the stem of an eggbeater reel keys into, effectively locking the outfit in place. They lock the rod in securely, are easy to remove the rod from, set the rod at the right angle to absorb hard strikes. And, most importantly, I haven’t lost a rod since having them installed.

REELS

Threadlines are my first choice and you can’t go past the big 6500 Fin-Nor Offshore series. They are indestructible and with new refinements like balanced rotor, infinite anti-reverse (long overdue) and longer spool oscillation (designed for braid), they will fish alongside the likes of Stella and Saltiga.

Eggbeaters work for straight-down bait fishing, casting unweighted live squid at structure or casting lures like 9” Slug-Gos and heavy metals, and for jigging. With modern braid capacity is no issue and they have a drag range to get the best out of any line class from 10 to 20kg. The drag on this reel is exceptional.

If you are targeting really big kings then the likes of the Penn 330 lever drag might be a better option but you lose versatility once you go to an overhead. A big, modern, sturdy eggbeater is up to the challenge of most Harbour kings.

RODS, LINE

Fin-Nor make an Offshore series jig rod to match the reels. I’d suggest either the 50lb or 80lb model at 6’6” to give you a bit extra push for casting and enough reach to keep the line off the boat/motor when your king inevitably takes a lunge under.

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.

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

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

HOOKS

Hook choice depends on what bait you are using. For strip squid I prefer a 5/0 baitholder pattern. For live squid, heads and guts (the ultimate bait!) I go for an octopus style.

Size depends on the size of bait you are using but 6/0-9/0 would be a good starting point and always use the strongest, sharpest hooks you can find.

Circle hooks do live up to their claim of only ever lip-hooking but I’ve seen some horribly torn lips as a result of circle hooks and the heavy braid that everyone is using these days.

Circle hooks are also a nightmare to bait up, especially with squid strips that you want to present straight.

LUDERICK

November can be a temperamental month with green water (suspended algae blooms) and shifting currents.

One fish that can be relied upon at this time is the trusty luderick and we have been getting some thumpers lately. Being primarily ocean blackfish, as opposed to the smaller river luderick who prefer the often hard to obtain river weed, these big bruisers fortunately will take cabbage weed.

Cabbage can be found on most ocean rock platforms, just check you’re not in a marine sanctuary zone. You’ll need a bucket of sand as well, which is mixed with some chopped cabbage weed and used for berley.

Sow and Pigs, the Wedding Cakes and The Spit are prime spots for boaties, while the rocks around from Reef Beach, the foreshore around Taronga Zoo, The Spit, Middle Head and inner South Head are all top spots for shore-based anglers.

Luderick are one of the hardest fish to pin a tide on and it seems to vary dramatically from spot to spot, so it’s just a matter of getting to know each location.

They are top eating fish if they are bled, iced, filleted and skinned. Don’t forget to remove the black lining from the stomach, too.

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