Catching big Kingfish is the stuff that local anglers dream about. The fishing for Yellowtail King Fish around Melbourne and Victoria has continued to get better and better in recent years. I’m not quite sure why, but it’s welcome news for local anglers. Perhaps it’s temperature change or breeding patterns but whatever the answer might be it’s making landing a king more frequent and accessible.
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Kingfish are unparalleled sports fish that possess immense power. For this reason, are rapidly growing in popularity as a species to target. Kingies can grow over a meter in length, have amazing fighting qualities, generally school up in big numbers, are also a renowned table fish and are a very welcome bycatch for those who may have been out in deeper waters targeting species such as Tuna.
Targeting Kingies can be tough venturing into quite challenging destinations which will likely require a decent boat. Kingies school up in big numbers and patience will be key for anglers who may catch many small kingies around the 60cm mark, which are often called rats, but that patience finally pays off when the big Kingfish come out to play. There is a bag limit of 5 kingies with the legal-size limit being 60cm. From the boat vertical jigging has been one of the most successful techniques which are done by dropping a vertical jig and hopping it up and down trying to get the attention of a big aggressive king passing by. Just keep an eye out for seals that turn up from time to time eager to spoil your fishing session.
Land-based King fish options
Local land-based anglers have received a lot of attention around Melbourne with well-publicized catches of Kingfish around Docklands, Williamstown and Port Melbourne. It can be more challenging for land-based anglers with much patience, persistence and skill required to land a big kings. Particularly when fishing off a pier or jetty as they will head for structure in the dying stages of the battle which can be heartbreaking to lose one after a long fight. For land-based throwing out a big bait such as a full squid or pilchard is a recipe for good results. Kingies are generally around for Melbournians from December through to March.
There are many ways in which you can target Kingfish down-rigging live baits, slow trolling, casting out baits, trolling, vertical jigging, flicking soft plastics, casting heavy jigs. Let’s focus on those styles in a bit more detail.
The following baits will be your best bet. Often I will place a running sinker with a full live squid and just adjust the sinker weight to get the bait down to the right depths.
– Full Squid as fresh as possible is a top choice, Slimy Mackrel, Scad, Garfish
If bait fishing from your boat then keeps an eye for bird activity, birds will often fly overhead of schools of Kingies busting up on the surface. Use berley as a way to bring the schools of Kingfish. This can be a mix of Tuna, Pilchard,
Targeting kingies with lures & soft plastics
Targeting Kingies with lures is a really fun method, it also saves you the hassle of needing to catch live bait and keep it alive. What has become very popular is casting heavy jibs between 80 to 120grams has become a very popular choice. Casting out with a quick retrieve is a great strategy, or jigging up and down on top of the school.
For soft plastics, large flick baits and large paddle tails are great choices. Generally coupled with 1/2 ounce jig heads. I generally cast these out let the soft plastic sinker then do a number of aggressive up and down lift to imitate a wounded bait fish going crazy. This usually gets a passing by kingies attention. I like natural baitfish colours here such as whites greens and blues. ( match the hatch )
Kingfish love swimming and patrolling along with structures such as rock walls, so it pays to keep your lure or jig close to the structure.
King fish fishing rod reel and rig setup
You can target Kingies on a whole range of rod outfits from light spin rods to heavy game rods. A good all-around choice would be an 8-12 kilo rod with a 6000 size reel and spooling the reel with 10-15 kilo line.
You can use your snapper outfit which is generally a 5-8 kilo rod with a 4000 reel but if you happen to land a big one then it will be a challenge to land.
If bait fishing I will generally use around 4 foot of strong leader, with dual snelled size 6 or size 7 chemically sharpened hooks this may vary depending on the bait you are using.
Take your time when setting up your rig. It’s often a brutal battle and any rigs not set up properly may ultimately be responsible for losing a good fish, so don’t rush or cut corners.
Kingfish HOTSPOTS around Melbourne and Victoria
Some hotspots around Victoria for Kingies include the Rip ( PPB entrance ), Portland, Barwon Heads, Black Rock, Port Welshpool, Port Fairy, Mallacoota, Wilsons prom, Narooma & Welshpool, Docklands, Williamstown, Mornington and Port Melbourne
There are some great local charter operators which have been exclusively targeting King Fish throughout this period so get online and look up a local charter operator if you are keen to get in the action.
Final word from the author
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