The kingfish scene has been quiet for some time now but at last a few have started to filter through to the local reefs to give us anglers a bit of an arm stretching. The best we could look forward to over the past months was spending hours going to the shelf to chase tuna – which was hit and miss at best. Now there is finally some local action on these hoodlums.
There have been varied sizes caught recently with the 4-8kg range most prevalent, a fair few better fish at around 10kg, and the possibility of a cracker 15kg+. Live baits down rigged are scoring more and better fish with squid proving to be the best live baits. I would rather eat squid than catch a king! So I keep all my squid for dinner and use live slimy mackerel, a close second and a lot easier to come by. Live yellowtail is next on my bait list, out-fishing the other baits on numerous days. What the kings feel on the day and what they are feeding on will make all the difference, so best be prepared for anything.
When using squid, bigger is better as the rats will destroy a small squid in seconds. Smaller fish will leave big squid long enough for kings to get in on the action. Big mackerel are a bit more resilient and can take some punishment from the rats before a big fish gets interested which is part of why they catch plenty of fish. I always have a yellowtail on the surface when slow trolling a slimy down deep as they will get any strays on the top, are low maintenance and stay healthy for ages. Additionally, when you hook a fish on the deep bait, the other fish in the school get excited and follow the hooked fish to the boat and, 9 times out of ten, the yellowtail gets clobbered.
If you don't have a down rigger a few barrel sinkers above the leader will do the job but in fair warning, doing this will put stress on the line and create more drag through the water so when a fish is hooked it will belt the hell out of the paint or gel coat on your boat when you get them up close.
The usual local spots that produce –Pig and Gap island (beware of the seals), Bellambi, Bass Point, and Rangoon – have all had a few fish recently.
The deeper reefs like Bandit and Wollongong have had a few with knife jigs take some fish. There are still some barracouta about, so it can get expensive quickly if you find them. As always, the stronger the current the better the kings like it.
If you can't get any big slimies, just use smaller ones. The salmon can be a problem, and there are plenty around the places kings hang out. They seem to be popping up just about everywhere along the coast at the moment. Up north past Stanwell Park they are in solid schools, then in patches all the way to the islands where they can be found schooling on the surface slurping down tiny baitfish. They are easy to spot – just look for the masses of seagulls hovering over the water.
The schools are much the same down around Bass Point and Kiama only with less gulls. You can see them rippling along the surface as they feed in schools that are often the size of footy fields. When they are like this they can be extremely difficult to catch, but very small plastics and lead slugs will do the job with light line essential to use and to get any distance with these lures creating a much better battle with the fish. The weight of the lure is a problem too as you will lose so many fish when they jump and throw the hooks. The two best lures were Stingsildas and crystal eyes but both are no longer available, if you have some at home you already have a good head start on everyone else.
Under the schools of salmon and over most of the shallow inshore reefs you’ll find good trevally cruising around. Let the lure sink below the salmon and retrieve slowly, or drop the pick over a reef in the area where the salmon are feeding and hit the berley. It shouldn't take long for the blurters to arrive and you will also score any lazy salmon sick of chasing baitfish looking for an easy feed in the berley.
A few snapper are about but most are out in the deeper water of 30-50m. Soft plastics will do the job here or you can pick and berley. Both are effective if the current is not running too hard. Plastics seem to have the edge at the moment but it can get pretty boring on a slow day.
Out wide on the shelf there have been a few yellowfin tuna about and heaps of striped tuna. Most anglers these days use pilchards to cube but don't under estimate the power of the stripy. Cubes of striped tuna are lethal on fin particularly if you can get a heap of them and use the frames for berley in the pot at the same time.
A fussy tuna will swim past a pilchard, but will rarely pass up a cube even with a heavy trace attached.
A few striped marlin have been taken already and there were dolphin fish around in August and September when some warm water pushed through, so really, anything could happen this month. A strange year so far, and with the warm water that looks to be pushing downhill early this year, we may get early blacks, here's hoping.
Back in close and the flathead have started to get a wriggle on over most of the sand patches off the coast. Fish to 50cm are pretty common with good catches coming from Stanwell down to Kiama.
Over the gravel and reef the mowies are back on the chew and as usually happens around this time there have been quite a few more pig fish coming in. Throw in a few pan sized snapper, trevally, and a few leatherjackets and there are some fantastic mixed bags to be had.
On the beaches, the whiting are starting to make their presence felt with better catches, as always this early in the season, coming from the beaches closest to the lake. Beach worms are necessary for good results, but they cop an absolute harvesting on the local beaches from the pros. There are still some there, if you have the skills to catch them.
Plenty of salmon are on the beache, sometimes making it tough on those chasing whiting as they love worms too. The evenings seem to be best for the sambos and tailor, with a few school mulloway about if you put in the time. These species will become more abundant as the weeks head into summer.
The gutters in the corners of the beaches near the rocks are holding a few more bream than the middle sections and are being picked up by the whiting chasers.
On the rocks it will get better over the coming weeks as the water warms and we get a few more pelagics moving down the coast, but for the moment we have a few kings hunting along the deeper ledges just on dawn and dusk. Live squid and mackerel are the top baits here, but don't discount the power of the pike. A live pike has been the downfall of many a big king and they can be found on most ledges.
Throwing stick baits from the stones will provide some fun on salmon and smaller kings with the odd bigger fish sometimes tempted. Metals will find any bonito that start to get active this month. Pilchards on ganged hooks are very effective.
The Kiama ledges are the main areas to target but the south side of Bass Point and Honeycomb should provide as well with the latter getting very crowded from here on in.
Drummer are still about in good numbers if you work the washes with prawns and cunjevoi and throw in a few bream for a bit of variety.
The estuaries are now starting to fire with the prawns running and with blue swimmers increasing in size and numbers every week there is some top tucker available.
Flatties are on the march and are biting over most of the lake and in Minnamurra. Plastics and poddies are the main weapons of choice accounting for some nice fish up to 60cm. We don't get big flatties in the lake due to the sheer volume of pro nets that are laid throughout the system annually. If a flattie lasts a couple of seasons it is doing very well.
Whiting are over the sand flats taking squirt worms if you can find them with bigger fish caught on poppers on calm week days.
A few bream are on the bridges during the evenings and a mulloway may be on the cards around Windang for those persistent plastic tossing anglers.
Salmon and chopper tailor have been regulars to the breakwalls at the entrance to the lake so there is fun all around at the moment.Reads: 707