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King chaos for Sydney-siders
  |  First Published: November 2015



November is renowned for being a fickle month with water temps alternating between hot and cold. The east Australian current should be pushing through by now with predominately warm water, but back eddies can creep in between with cold water.

We have already had some promising early signs of kingfish, and salmon have been in big numbers around the heads. A fantastic blackfish run is continuing with some tackle-busting surgeon thrown in and squid have just been on fire.

Kingfish and mulloway should be in full swing by now and if you are going to have a good season you will need to master the fine art of squidding. Squid are by far the best bait but they must be fresh. In the bays and harbours you will find both the southern calamari and common squid. The southerns make the best bait.

Calamari squid are the bigger of the two and are found around structure. They are particularly fond of kelp beds but can often be located around jetties, bridge pylons and boat moorings. The best way to catch calamari squid is with a Yamashita jig. A good jigs will have needle sharp jags and securely leads and most important of all, they will sink horizontally at a slow rate. The Yamashita’s have all these attributes. The bottom line on squid jigs is, like most things, you get what you pay for.

Calamari squid can be lured by working the jig very slowly, with the occasional sharp whip of the rod and regular stops, about 2m above the kelp. My recommendation to get to grips with it is to spend a whole day squidding. Don’t take any fishing gear other than your squid gear, so you won’t be distracted. Find as many kelp beds as you can and keep squidding until you have mastered it. It will be a lost fishing day but it will pay off tenfold throughout the season.

The ‘beard of shame’ is a common occurrence amongst beginners (and sometimes even experienced) anglers – the result of a direct face shot of squid ink. To reduce the incidence of exploding squid, careful handling is essential. You can either net squid and hold them in the water until they have expelled all their ink or lift them into the boat very carefully by the line.

Most ink explosions occur when the squid is bounced around on the line or allowed to hit the deck or sides of the boat. When the squid is lifted aboard, carry it very steadily to the tank by holding the jig only. To get it off the jig, slowly invert the jig and let the squid drop straight into the tank.

There is no need to touch it with your hands until it’s time to cut it up for bait. If she does blow and cover your boat, clean it off immediately. Once the ink dries it’s ten times harder to remove. To get it out of your cloths try a couple of days in nappy san.

Blackfish are still biting furiously after a great winter season. We mostly only chase them through the winter months because they are abundant and are a great stand-by when all else shuts down. Once the kings and other gamefish come on in summer we usually leave the blackfish alone but they are definitely still available. In fact, some of the best black fishing can occur in the warmer months. Like most fish, blackfish’s metabolism speeds up as the water warms and I’ve experienced some hot bites mid-summer.

Get ready for a season of really big kings. As discussed in this column over the last few seasons, the kings have been getting bigger every year for the last decade. Early season fish around the meter mark and even some up to 1.35m have been lurking round the heads and close reefs. The harbour is full of bait and squid so it’s shaping up to be a cracker.

Your typical, modern day king outfit consists of a heavy threadline spooled with 80lb braid. Colour coded braid is very useful for making sure your baits are sitting at the same depth as the kings you’ve located on your depth sounder. 50-80 lb leader and a 5/0-9/0 heavy duty hook, like the Mustad ‘hoodlum’ range completes the rig. Jig style rods seem to be the preferred stick, even in bait fishing scenarios, but they aren’t absolutely essential.

That’s a wrap for this month. Until next month, stay safe on the water and tight lines.

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