A full hand of kings
  |  First Published: December 2007

Kingies are on and there are plenty of good fish to go around. We are now releasing all fish under 65cm but I am still catching fish up around 70cm to 80cm most outings so the new minimum legal length shouldn’t have a great impact on what you take home.

You need good bait and there are only two that are easy to find most outings, yellowtail and squid. Locate an area where they live, such as around the kelp beds and estuary entrances.

Squid can turn up in most spots but they are better around the bay entrance where the water is cleaner and the clearer water makes it easier for you to find the kelp beds as well.

Simply cast your squid jigs over the shallow kelp and start a slow retrieve. Fan out your casts and work a pattern around your boat to cover lots of ground.

Yellowtail are simple: just add berley. I fine just a few pilchards in your pot and mash away at them to send out a fine cloud of particles, Then use a No 10 long-shank hook and pinch a small spilt shot about 20cm up from the hook, which you bait with a small slice of pilchard.

Kingies love structure and lately I have been fishing the deeper edges of the reefs in the Bay. Spots like Bare Island, Henry Head, Watts Reef, Cape Banks, Sutherland Point and Trevally Alley all hold good numbers of kings from time to time. It’s then up to how well you plan your trip and where they’ll be on any given day.

The rig that covers squid and most live baits is simple. I use a long trace of about 1.5m of Schneider 19kg – I know this seems rather heavy but I still lose the odd fish from time to time.

Hooks should be from about 2/0, for smaller live baits and squid strips, to a 6/0 for larger baits and including whole squid.

The sinker should be just enough weight to keep your bait down deep. I fish about 2m off the bottom so all predators can see my bait. Another great way to target kingies is to set a live bait under a float to allow you to drift it back down the berley trail. So basically it’s one bait down deep and another closer to the surface under a float.

I have been testing a Shimano T-curve heavy baitcaster with a Curado 300 DSV reel spooled with 10kg braid. This outfit is aimed at the big impoundment barra and packs some punch for Bay kingies, snapper and reef fish in 60m outside.

I always find that fishing for one species is putting all your eggs in one basket so while at the anchor chasing kingies, I fish unweighted baits and maybe a bait on the bottom as well so if the kings don’t bite, you usually catch something else.

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