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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Our Southern Summer = Kingfish

Our Southern Summer = kingfish
By John Cahill

The summer kingfish hunt is on in earnest across the state.  Excellent reports have been flooding in from Portland in the west through to Sydney and beyond.  Summer and water temps in excess of 18 degrees usually sees the fish return from deeper water into more accessible areas and the chance of fired up fish and often enough a top water bite being much more more likely.  Sydney in particular has been fishing quite well for some months already.  Customers of Ebb Tide Adventures Sean Tieck and Michael Bonicci have been doing very well in NSW on a host of methods including live baiting and casting stick baits.  

Sean Tieck and a stickbait caught Sydney hood
Keen to get in on the action soon after the new year good mate Gawaine Blake and I reserved some days in our schedules to go and take a look ourselves and as luck would have it we were met with reasonable weather too.  Three days of fishing provided an opportunity to explore three locations in the east of the state and across the border into NSW.  We used a variety of techniques from traditional speed jigging, micro jigging and top water lure casting including stick baits and poppers as well as the old favorite soft plastics.  The good news is that we managed to find kingfish at most inshore locations where we thought we would, the fish are very well spread.  Predominantly the fish are small - 55 to 75 cm's although we encountered better fish in the meter or so class but we blew our chances on them unfortunately - it happens sometimes...
Stick bait caught kingfish - Strategic Angler Frantic getting the bite

What was clear on this trip was two things; timing was vital and the need to fish pro actively.  A bite will not be all day pretty much anywhere and on this trip if you were not on water early you missed your shot.  That can change day to day of course and is location moon and tide dependent, it is just how we found it this time - one thing is certain time on the water is required.  Live bait was very hard to find, most locations we found kingfish the area was loaded with what we thought were desirable baits but in fact turned out to be either leather jackets or barber perch, not a slimy mackerel or yakka to be found by us which was frustrating.  When on the hunt, casting splashing stick baits or poppers almost always resulted in the eventual arrival of a school of kings keen to take a look.  It was then a matter of extracting a bite - sometimes they want a dead lure suspending, sometimes one ripped across the surface, they are a moody fish.  It pays to be proactive when searching for kings that is almost a given, a flashy teaser is almost essential too.



Only rats but still a load of fun
Micro jigging is a great way to trigger a bite and is great fun
Gawaine had a ball converting opportunities with micro jigging - fussy kingfish seemed happy to take a swipe at the small slow pitch and soft fall jigs that are in good supply through tackle outlets these days.  He enjoyed some great sport on some ultralight tackle, you can only enjoy the fish that are there right?  His tackle choices ensured that he had a ball - and plenty of bites.  Micro jigging kings is a very legitimate technique for these fish it just takes a different mindset from the standard heavy tackle speed game.

Blue Blue Sea Rides attracted plenty of attention
A quick word on sounding - as kingfish can be found anywhere in the water column quality electronics are vital - don't consider putting in solid kingfish time without a dialed in unit - the Lowrance HDS9 has been working brilliantly for Gawaine and unless the kings were up high in the water, we usually had a sonar fix on them.  If you are struggling with your electronics its well worth booking in a guide with Gawaine - he can be easily found on Facebook.

Kingfish above bait on a Lowrance HDS9

Resulting in these guys on the lures - plenty of fun
It is important to remember a few things about kingfish sizes.  Firstly because you are plagued with rats, don't take this as an indication that only rats are around.  Often enough a better school of fish will be attracted to the commotion and crash the party, it's a reasonably common event.  It can get a little repetitive catching the little guys (we turned over something like 40 undersized fish) and then a better model will show up and lower your pants, so keep at it.  Secondly be very aware of the fisheries minimum size variations in NSW (65cm) and Victoria (60cm) - be careful about keeping fish measured just on the size limit too as they will shrink over the course of a day sitting in your kill bag or esky.  Fisheries don't care that it was size when it was fresh.  I would consider 68cm and 63 cm safe minimums when you consider this.  Make sure you treat your catch well and keep it on ice in the shade for some of the finest sashimi available.

Ice them down and out of the sun for the best eating quality

Some of the best
Kingfish can evoke some crazy reactions from anglers in their fever pitched pursuit - whilst it is good to be excited by fishing remember your manners and pay respect to the conditions and locations we fish, in particular anglers must show discretion in sensitive area's to ensure longer term access.  The hunt continues.  If you need advice on topwater lures for kingfish take a look here or contact the crew on email

Be prepared on the open ocean for a variety of sea conditions