A thing for the king
  |  First Published: November 2004

Trying to come up with something fresh each month for this column can be difficult at times, especially when the fishing is a bit quiet. But this month it’s no problem.

With warmer weather upon us, now’s the time to get out and wet a line. The rivers, beaches and rocks should all be fishing well at this time of the year and outside should be producing some nice snapper, flathead and kings, so get out and have a go.

Jervis Bay has been producing some big kingfish in recent months. Fish to 27kg have been taken on live baits in the bay and along the cliffs either side of the entrance. In September finding live slimies was harder than finding a king but now that the water has warmed, bait isn’t a problem.

Last November and December there were some thumper kings along the cliffs just about all the way from Currarong to Jervis Bay. Some nice fish were hooked and landed by LBG anglers fishing Big Beecroft and The Eaves but the boaties also got fish, with 20kg hoodlums common and no shortage of tales about bust-ups by fish much bigger.

Catching big kings from the rocks is tough although quite a few good fish were taken last season. My tips would be to get there early, catch your live baits and get one in the water even while it’s still dark.

Don’t drift your live baits out too far because kings usually patrol along close early in the morning. I wouldn’t fish any lighter than 24kg tackle and heavy drag settings are required here.

The only way I’ve ever seen big kings landed from the stones is with brute force. Forget that softly-softly crap – 9kg or 10kg of drag pressure and make them swim hard to take every inch of line from you!

Right on sunrise is usually the best time but don’t give up when the sun is up. You’re likely to see kings anytime so keep a bait in the water and have everything ready, including your rod bucket. If a king eats your livie and you hook it you won’t have time to get a rod bucket on. While you’re fiddling about doing that the fish will have already shredded your leader over the boulders.

Also make sure the gaff is in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing. Gaffing green 20kg kings isn’t for the inexperienced.

Chasing kings from a boat is easier but don’t think it gives you a huge advantage. Big kings pull hard and they usually head straight down and over a ledge. Most big kings have probably been hooked once or twice and they got that big by being smart and knowing how to deal with annoying anglers.

Once again, it comes down to heavy tackle, solid drag settings and steady pressure if you are to land any king over 15kg. I fish 37kg stand-up tackle from the boat but 24kg will do the job at a pinch.

Fishing in close around Currarong Bommie, along the cliffs and even out around The Shallows is well worthwhile. In open water like The Bommie and Shallows, you are best drifting with live baits about half-way down. Hang around the shallow parts because kings will usually be up on the peaks where the baitfish congregate.

You can troll lures or even cast jigs but nothing comes close to a nice big, live slimy mackerel or a live squid. Work out a drift based on current and wind direction and position the boat so you can cover the best water with livies down deep.

When you drift away from the peaks you can motor back slowly or wind in and head back to start again. Along the cliffs you can anchor up and drift livies or slow troll with livies down deep.

Just be sure to keep clear of anyone who’s fishing the rocks and don’t stray into Marine Park Sanctuary Zones around the Drum and Drumsticks or south of Crocodile Head.

When live-baiting for kings from the boat I use about two metres of 80kg trace with a solid 9/0 or 10/0 hook. If I’m drifting with a bait down deeper, I’ll run a large sinker on top of the trace and even use this when slow trolling at times.

If you’re anchored and drifting a livie back then you can usually get away with a balloon tied off or clipped on about five metres above the hook.

Last year saw considerably more kingfish action in close than out wide. Most of the fish were caught from the rocks or within spitting distance of them. The Banks and The Block out wider failed to produce many kings. I heard of a couple of 20kg fish one weekend on live baits but even the pros were complaining about how quiet things were.

Hopefully this year will be better although the Winter kings that usually rock up at The Mud each season failed to appear.


I was up at 4am today intending to chase kingfish in Jervis Bay. Last night Andrew and I got our gear ready with the usual anticipation. We were up early, packed the boat and drove over to the Callala Bay ramp, where we found a problem – it was a 0.27-metre low tide at 4.30am and we couldn’t launch the boat because it was too shallow.

I know that’s hard to believe and maybe I should have checked because I’ve been caught there before trying to get a boat out on a small low tide. What is annoying is that Callala is the main Jervis Bay ramp for anyone who lives around this area and was rebuilt only a number of years ago. They did a great job of the ramp and even a new jetty.

Only problem was that they didn’t design it properly and put it in the wrong place. My boat isn’t huge but it can’t be launched at Callala on a low tide and neither can many others. This morning I walked 10 metres out from the ramp and was still in knee-deep water. To have launched my boat this morning I’d have had the Pajero completely in the water and would have had to back down a good 10 metres past the end of the ramp.

I’ve no idea how many boats use that ramp over Summer so it certainly would help if it could be used during very low tides. The only option is dredge and that’s been done before and it silted up on the next big seas. If anyone can think of a solution, tell Shoalhaven Council.

This is just one more saga in the Jervis Bay debacle for local and visiting anglers. We have been shut out of some good fishing areas due to Marine Park sanctuary zones. Recently a mate took his new boat for a run towards Red Rock. No sooner had he headed in that direction than he was followed and pulled over by a Marine Park ranger who warned him not to fish in the area or he would risk a $1000 fine. Is it any wonder why we have seen a reduction in tourism and visiting anglers in the area?



Andrew Finney with a neat little reddie taken on light line and a floater.


November and December mean big kingfish. Last season some thumpers were taken from the rocks and in close out of boats.


Percy Bow from Sydney with a solid morwong taken on a floater near Currarong.

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