Kingfish are brutes.In cooler waters where there are no GTs or doogtooth tuna, these fish do well to fill the gap of saltwater brutes. Kingfish have a fearsome reputation, as they are capable of testing heavily fortified tackle with their habit of seeking out nasty structures to win their freedom. There are many ways to catch them, but a method that is used widely in Australia and New Zealand is live baiting.
There are a lot of ways to fish live baits for kings, and rather than focussing on the specific methods here, let’s look at some of the essential equipment. We will return to techniques in other articles!
Terminals are a big consideration when chasing such a big and brutal animal, as they are what is keeping you connected. Having sturdy trace material is an absolute must, and a proven winner that is designed to stand up to the treatment kingfish dish out is New Zealand-made Black Magic Tough Trace or Fluorocarbon, which comes in poundages up to130lb and 120lb respectively. This stuff is built to handle being wrapped around pylons, reef bombies and rock and will cop a lot of punishment before it finally wears through.
Another key piece of terminal tackle is your hook, or hooks. Circle hooks have become a preferred hook amongst kingfish fanatics, and you can’t go wrong with BKK Monster Circle Hooks, Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks, or Owner 5163 Mutu Circle Hooks. These hooks are fine for the common live baits of Australian salmon, squid, slimy mackerel, cowenyoung and yakka.
The key with circle hooks is not to strike when a kingy has your bait, but rather slowly build the pressure, and allow the hook to slide out of the fish’s throat and snare them in the corner, making the unhooking and release process much easier on angler and fish.
Given that live baits need to be alive to be effective, it pays to have a method in place to keep water aerated. While many larger boats have live bait tanks, smaller boat users and even land-based fishos have to resort to alternate means. The Rapala Aerator or Rapala Floating Aerator are a great and portable way to keep live baits kicking, especially from a small boat or rock ledge.
Live baiting for kings does take a bit of extra effort, as collecting baits and rigging up heavy gear takes up a bit of time, but the effort is well worth it when you’re doing battle with one of the nastiest fish in southern waters. Their power has to be felt to be believed!
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