This season is by far the best kingfish run I can ever remember. Not only are there swarms of small fish in the 55-65cm bracket, there are also heaps of bigger ones in the 70-90cm range.
The fish can be found all the way from Goat Island through to the Heads and then all the way back up Middle Harbour as far as Bantry Bay.
There are more kings on the surface than I can remember and the most notable point is their willingness to take nearly any style of lure. In past years they have been particularly fussy with lure choice, taking mainly stickbaits and flies. This year they have been scoffing just about anything, including trolled minnows, cast metal slugs and most styles of soft plastics.
The other notable thing this season is the amount of time that the kings have stayed feeding on the surface. In past years they have usually settled in to the deeper structure by Christmas. As I write this it’s early February and the kingfish are still on top.
If you go to the trouble to learn to catch squid you will always catch a lot of kings. Catching your own squid is the best way, I know of, to catch heaps of kingfish. If you go to the trouble of going to the fish markets and buying very fresh squid you will catch a few kings, sometimes, but they won’t work as well as the squid you catch yourself.
Small kingfish don’t like whole live squid but big kingies do. Big kingfish will just as happily take a squid head too, so by using a squid head you will get lots of big and small kingies. If you use live squid you will get fewer fish but they will be bigger on average.
A whole squid gut is not only an exceptionally good bait but it is also the best berley that you can use for kingfish. It’s all about the guts. Use the guts and especially the ink to entice the fish You can burst the ink sac before you send the bait down or you can let the first king burst it for you. The gut is always the first bait to go which must mean it’s the best bait!
Strips of squid cut from the tube are good baits also, particularly after the guts and heads have got the school in a frenzy. Rub it all in ink.
Kingfish mostly hold from mid water down so obviously this is a good place to present your bait. High tide and the first two hours of the run-out, early morning and late afternoon is when you will find then really feeding. That’s also a good time to catch squid.
You wont have to worry too much about tides or time of day if you pay close attention to what I said earlier about the bait, the guts and the ink. Kingfish are easily turned on (or off) if you know which buttons to push. The worst thing you can do is to keep presenting the same bait or lure, in exactly the same manner, after it has been rejected. A school of following kings can be turned into a school of taking kings by something as simple as changing the presentation angle. This applies to both lures and bait. If the fish follow a lure or show interest in a bait for more than three times without taking it, don’t present it again.
In this sense, yellowtail kingfish are the exact opposite to barramundi. Barra can be teased into striking where kings can be teased out of striking. Kings are stubborn buggers and the more you shove it in their face the more they’ll reject it.
Change the lure size, let it sink, change the presentation angle or best of all go away, try another spot and come back in half an hour.
One final but equally important tip is to fish with your reel in gear and with your normal fighting drag. Don’t feed kingies any line when they take your bait. Once you feel a take, lower the rod and move with the fish. Once the rod reaches the water it’s time to strike.
Bonito have also made a big comeback this season and, like the kings, have been roaming well upstream as far as the Harbour Bridge and Bantry Bay. We have been doing well trolling Tsunami minnows and casting metal jigs. A couple of spots worth a throw are across the front of Middle Head, Kirribilli Point and Pickering Point in Middle Harbour. They fire up after the tide changes.
It’s been a great season for kingies.
This season the kings have been taking a range of presentations, including trolled minnows, cast metal slugs and a variety of soft plastics.
Bonito are on the chew again.Reads: 6516