by Gary Brown
Many anglers have this idea in their head that if you put a hook into either a live squid, yellowtail or slimy mackerel and drop it over the side of the boat or just put it under a bobby cork and let it swim around you will get a kingfish.
Try slow trolling your live baits
Sure this may work some of the time, but when it all comes down to it there are a many other factors that you will need to look at when it comes to chasing kingfish with live bait. In this article I will endeavour to let you know a few of the techniques that I use when chasing kingfish with live bait.
Many anglers will think structure, structure, structure… when it comes to chasing kingfish with live bait. Now ninety five percent of the time this will be true, but the other five percent of the time they can be found out in the middle of nowhere.
Structures come in many different forms. They can be formed naturally or made by man and are home to many different species of invertebrates, crustaceans, molluscs, prawns, squid, which in turn attract many different fish species like yellowtail, slimy mackerel, pike, mullet, garfish, which in turn will attract the yellowtail kingfish. They can be in the form of breakwalls, groynes, fixed markers or floating navigation buoys, natural reefs, moored boats, current lines, floating debris, mooring drums and wharfs.
This kingfish was caught near Lyon Island at the entrance to the Hawkesbury River
A Breakwall or a Groyne is a barrier that can be either a naturally or manmade structure. They usually extend out into open water of a sea, ocean, river or a bay. It will provide a breaking point of the force of the waves and also create a calm water safe harbour or help prevent the erosion of a beach or bank
If you were to draw a line where the bottom of these rocks, boulders or pre-cast concrete sits in the sand or silt you will have found the fish highway. Kingfish just love to patrol up and down this highway, as it is like a drive in take away food shop to them. Both of these structures can be successfully from either a boat or off the shore.
This 10.5 kilo kingfish was caught while trolling a live squid on a down rigger
To fish these structures you could either suspend a live bait underneath a bobby cork for the yellowtail kingfish, or put a large ball or bean sinker straight down onto a swivel and have a short leader. The live bait underneath the bobby cork should be about four to five metres from the back of your boat, while at the same time you would have the other rig suspended about two metres off the bottom. Both rods would be in the rod holders of your boat and the drag would need to be tightening up a fair bit. It doesn’t have to be with a pair of pliers, just your fingers. If you have ever been fishing for kingfish before you will realize how hard they can pull, even if you have tightened the drag up.
I have also found that the kingfish will sometimes patrol the edges of breakwalls and groynes when there is a wind blowing or swell hitting up against them. It is worth casting an unweighted live bait up against them and then working them back to your boat. You can also try trolling a live bait in close to the structure, but care will need to be taken as you don’t want to end up on the rocks.
There are many land based kingfish spots about. Lilly Pilly baths in the Port Hacking (Sydney) is just one of them
Yellowtail kingfish just love to hang around fixed markers or floating navigation buoys and wharfs. This is mainly due to the fact that this is where yellowtail, slimy mackerel and other baitfish will hang out. If you are fishing from the shore you could always suspend a live bait underneath a bobby cork and with a well-directed cast you could place the live bait and the bobby cork right beside the marker. If there is a kingfish hanging around the marker, it won’t take long for it to go off.
When fishing from a boat you could anchor upstream and either float your baits back to the marker, use a paternoster rig or a running sinker rig with a live bait on it and lower this rig down to the bottom and then wind it up so that it is suspend just off the bottom near the base of the marker or you could just drift past the structure and cast an unweighted live at the fixed markers or floating navigation buoys
Mulloway can sometimes be a by-catch when targeting kingfish with live bait
Moored boats and floating debris should not be pasted by when it comes to chasing kingfish. They just love to hang around them, especially in the shade. As you slowly drift past them (an electric motor is a big help) you could cast an unweighted live bait near them. Not only does the shadow of the boats themselves attract the fish, so do the mooring ropes and chains. It is the growth that forms on the ropes and chains that in-turn will attract the baitfish, which in turn attracts the larger predators like kingfish.
You can also anchor up near a group of moored boats and lay out a berley trail, while at the same time feed out lightly weighted live baits to the underside of the boats and their moorings. The only problem that does occur is when the fish bust you off on the moorings.
Live baiting for kingfish from a kayak will put yourability and gear to the test
The question I get asked time and time again, 'What is the best live bait for kingfish?' There are days when kingfish will take anything that is thrown at them, and then there are days when nothing will interest them. That’s fishing! What I have found when the fishing does shut down you will need to really concentrate your time and effort into catching small (10 to 12cm) live squid, yellowtail and slimy mackerel. I rate squid as the number only bait for kingfish and even if you spend three to four hours catching only a couple of squid, it is usually well worth the effort.
In preference after squid come yellowtail, slimy mackerel, pink nippers, poddy mullet and pike.
If you take the time to go a catch your own squid you will reap the rewards when it comes to targeting kingfish with live bait