There are lots of Yellowtail Kingfish in the seaway at the moment and some patterns of behaviour are emerging, this is what I know so far.
There are two sizes of Kingfish. Small fish in the 55-65cm Range and Big fish in the 90-120cm range. Each of these size ranges are feeding in different ways and area's so I'll cover each separately.
These small kingfish are feeding as a group, usually in schools of 20 plus fish but I have seen schools of 50+ fish feeding at the same time. These smaller fish are focused on the run-in tide particularly as the clean water pushes in and the South Wall of the seaway though sometimes they will venture over as far as the 3/4 line across the pipeline. Time of day doesn't seem to matter though they don't seem to like feeding before the sun is well up(5.00am) and after 5.30pm. They don't feed for long, 15-30 seconds is about it, so be close and get your lure in there or miss out.
On Monday afternoon from 4.30-5.30pm they fed all along the South Wall of the seaway every 5 minutes or so starting from 50m back from the tip and working thier way back towards the pipeline during the hour. They weren't fussy and skitterbaits were nailed as soon as they landed as long as you got into the feeding school. On Tuesday afternoon due to the late tide they appeared at around 5.15pm and did one long blitz all along the South Wall lasting about 5 minutes and then they were done. On Wednesday morning they fed every 10 minutes or so around the southern end of the pipeline up as far as the tower in close to the wall.
Slugs and slices around the 20 gram mark will work as would small stickbaits but they just can't seem to resist the skitterbait. The reason for that is the way they feed, they will often focus on one individual baitfish on the surface and chase it until they catch it and the skitterbait being a good imitation of the frogmouths around at the moment just looks like one more fleeing baitfish on the surface. They are often swimming at you when they take the lure so the hit can be a bit confusing, you think you have a fish on but there isn't alot of weight so keep winding until they finally realise they are hooked, then they will take off. These little kingfish are great fun on light gear and they don't fight as dirty as the big fella's do so you can fish them on any sort of light gear from 6lb to 15lb.
These big Kingfish continue to cause anglers grief, more have been hooked this week but none landed. The main area for these big fella's is the Canyon and the northern channel leading north to the first set of channel markers. They have also been sighted numerous times around the Cross Channels markers particularly the Green one just south of Crab Island. You will also get the odd one around the pipeline. The Canyon fish are by far much easier to hook. Individual fish will come up to the surface to feed but these are hard to hook, what you are looking for is a group of kingfish, 5+ fish or more. If you can get a cast into the bustup while they are feeding like this your chances are good of hooking one. Accuracy matters, getting the lure right into the middle of the action is your best shot at getting a hookup, the further away from the main bustup the less likely you will hook one. Landing them is..... difficult. Most big kingfish hookups around the Canyon are over in less than a minute. If you can try and keep the line as vertical as possible and get them slugging underneath the boat, letting them run lots of line out gives them the best chance of escape as they only need to find a small rock to swim past and it's all over.
The run-in tide seems to be the most consistent time for them but they do throw in a bit of random behaviour coming up on the run-out tides. The most important thing is not too much chop in thier feeding area, on a run-in tide and a northerly wind the canyon chops up alot and they don't like to feed in that. The same tide with a South Easterly is much better and will see them up and active.
As for lures, skitterbaits are working well but there is also a chance with sinking stickbaits around the 9cm size and chrome like the gillies pilchard slugs might get hit as well. One technique which hasn't been mentioned before is trolling, now while it doesn't seem to work once the sun is up I did hook a big kingfish on Monday with a trolled Bolt Omega after sunset, unfortunately the hooks pulled as the fish was circling the boat but I was able to get a good look at him and he was every bit a meter long. It might have been just a once off(I tried again on tuesday with no luck), but if you are fishing the afternoons and the sun has just set it's worthwhile putting a minnow out and having a troll around, if you don't get a kingfish you might get a one of the other species that frequents the area.
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Nice write up Craig, fingers crossed for Saturday morning and a king fish!!!! any other advise I am all ears..