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.
While I wouldn't normally put up a post about a lost fish, this one was special. Easily the biggest fish I've hooked in the broadwater and one of the longest fights I've ever had. Anyway on with the story.
Arrived at the seaway monday morning at around 3.30, swell was non existant, as was wind. Too calm for my liking. I immediately forgot about fishing the ends of the walls and decided to stick with the Canyon/North Wavebreak area as that is where the big fish were holding and feeding. Based on what I have seen and reports from others big Kingfish have made it thier feeding ground but only for short periods so I knew I'd have to stick with just the one spot to have a shot at it. Tide was an official low at 1.47am which with the adjustment meant that the tide would begin pushing in around 3.47, right on dawn... GT tide..
Choice of lure was simple, skitterbait on the light rod, Rapala Skitter Pop 9 ST on the big rod. Around 4.30am I saw the first swirls of feeding Kings and on about my 4th cast a big bow wave came up behind the skitterbait then lunged but the bow wave pushed the lure out of its way. After a few more half hearted bustups I placed a good cast right into the middle of a pack of feeding Kings. A king came up behind it and swallowed it and kept going straight at me, I wound the reel fast to pick up the slack and the king opened it's mouth and the lure came out without a hookup.
I tried again, after a few more half-hearted boils they came up in a group and I got over there just in time, a few twitches with the skitterbait and it was nailed by a fish that nearly got airborne on the strike, then took off. A solid hookup and the fish made a few runs before coming to the boat.. strange didn't feel like a kingfish..and it wasn't. It was a decent GT of around 63cm though.
By the time I had dealt with him and got back the action was tapering off, a few more scattered fish came up then there were 15-20 minute gaps between short bustups lasting around 10-15 seconds. I decided to anchor up using my detachable anchor(anchor + 1m chain + 10m rope + float) rather than waste more fuel running in the channel. I anchored up in the eddy at the end of the north wavebreak wall. While I was waiting a few fish busted up near the wall, but I couldn't get a hookup out of them, I think they were Bigeyes. After half an hour or so I saw another bustup so I unclipped the float and raced over there. Got over there too late though. That happened twice more over the next hour so it was drop float, start engine, full throttle over to the bustup and cast in there. Both times the bustup had finished before I arrived.
At around 9am I saw a big bustup up near the first set of channel markers north. Anyone who has chased Kingfish before will be familiar with the area. I got there just as the action was tapering off and managed to put in one decent cast. The lure was about 3 metres away from the boat when out of nowhere a yellowtailed torpedo nailed it and sped off. You see the Kingfish feeding so leisurely most of the time you forget how fast they can be when they really want to move. He sped northwards emptying the spool of the little Ballistic 3000 so I gave chase. The worst thing you can do for a kingfish is give it alot line out, your best hope is to keep the line as vertical as possible so thats what I did. He headed for the Canyon, the place of nightmares when it comes to big Kingfish. A rugged bottom full of sharp rocks, two cungevoi incrusted beacons, sunken trees and a large rock wall. For the next 20 minutes he slugged it out at the back end of the canyon going from one side to the other thankfully keeping away from the dropoff where the sharpest rocks were, then he went for a run alongside the North Wavebreak rock wall, unfortunately heading right for the anchor rope which was still floating from where I'd left it. Of course he managed to wrap the line around it so I got over there and managed to untangle it and retrieve it one handed(18.00 mins on the video). He headed for the yellow beacon marking the Wavebreak anchorage so I got alongside him and applied some side pressure which turned him around just in time. I did get a good look at him at this point as he arced around the front of the boat and he was easily the biggest Kingfish I've ever seen, well over a metre long and fat too. He headed back out heading North east, a real good direction, nothing but sand in that direction. For the first time I thought I had a chance... I should have known better. Once he reached the middle of the channel he turned and headed back north and over to the eastern side of the channel where he slugged it out for another 10 minutes. Then slowly but surely he began to work his way south west towards the dropoff and the sharpest rocks. The tide was now slowing and he made the dropoff then spent 10 minutes swimming along the edge of it trying to get the right angle to bust me off. Due to the fact that I was right over him the whole time it took him a while but eventually the line hit a rock edge and it was all over. Sat down for a while after that.
So could I have done anything different to change the outcome? I kept the line as vertical as possible, I used directional changes to keep him away from serious structure. The only thing I could have tried but didn't was to freespool him in the hope he would swim away from the dropoff but that is a technique fraught with danger. Overall I'm happy with what I accomplished, most kingfish hookups only last seconds let alone 40 minutes. As I always say, only the stupid big kingfish get caught, and there aren't too many of them.
Skitterbait's have now proven themselves to be one of the most versatile seaway lures in my box, able to hook everything from the smallest tailor to the largest kingfish. They can hack a bit of punishment with the hooks I supply them with as long as you don't try and redline your gear or fish them on gear that is too heavy. When it comes right down to it, I'd rather hook a kingfish and lose it than not hook any at all. That said, I will be trialling the use of single hooks on skitterbaits to improve your chances on large kingfish.
Here is 23 minutes of the battle, batteries in the camera went flat after that.
I thought I'd keep track of how we are fairing against the Kingfish this summer, this list includes everyone I know who has hooked a Kingfish and includes bustoffs and landed fish. So far the list is entirely in the Kingfish favour. If there are any mistakes let me know and I'll fix them up. Also Let me know if a fish you have hooked is not on the list. The list is confined to lure or fly caught/hooked fish only.
|4/11/13||Chris||Skitterbait||Loss.. busted off||Canyon|
|7/11/13||Andrew||Fly - White Silver||Loss..busted off||Pipeline|
|7/11/13||Vince||Fly - Pink White||Loss busted off||Old Mans Corner|
|6/11/13||Chris||Skitterbait||Loss - busted off||Canyon|
|11/11/13||Andrew||Fly - White Red||Loss - busted off||North Wavebreak Rock Wall|
|11/11/13||Vince||Fly - White Pink||Loss - Busted off||North Wavebreak Rock Wall|
|13/11/13||Howard||Skitterbait||Loss - Busted off||North Wavebreak Rock Wall|
|13/11/13||Howard||Little Jack Seguroid||Loss - hook straightened||North Wavebreak Rock Wall|
|15/11/13||Chris||Popper||Loss - Bustoff||South Wall|
|17/11/13||Jayde||Skitterbait||Loss - Hooks straightened at the boat.||Canyon|
|18/11/13||Craig||Skitterbait||Loss - Bustoff after 40 mins||Hooked near first set beacons north of Wavebreak, lost in Canyon|
|20/11/13||Andy||20gram Twistie||Loss - Bustoff||North Wall North Side|
|21/11/13||Brett||Sinking Stickbait||Loss - Bustoff||Canyon|
|2/12/13||Craig||Trolled Bolt Omega||Loss - Hooks pulled near the boat||Canyon|
|3/12/13||Howard||Skitterbait w single hooks||Loss - bustoff after 40 seconds||Canyon|
|4/12/13||Andy||Skitterbait - not using recommended hooks||Loss - hooks straightened||Pipeline|
|16/1/14||Chris Son||30 gram twisty||Win!! 115cm 13kg||Cross Channels|
|15/2/14||Fish Tamer||1/2oz Pearl Slider||Loss - Busted Off||Mid North Wall|
|15/2/14||15/2/14||Skitterbait||Loss - Busted Off||Mid North Wall|
So, the Yellowtail Kingfish, one of the top tier predators in the seaway and broadwater, commonly seen at lengths around 1 metre, occasionally hooked and but rarely landed. Sleek, powerful torpedos of muscle that will make short work of any weakness in tackle. Dirty fighters from the second they get hooked, the first run will see them in a headlong rush to the nearest bit of structure, if they can't break your tackle they will use anything they can find to do it for them. Beacons, coffee rock formations, rock walls, mooring lines and even the outboard leg of your motor are fair game. To read the full post click here.. Restricted to paid members only
Shocking conditions for fishing with 25 knots of wind and driving rain but the big boys were hungry, only landed 3 good fish for the day but what fish they were...!!!!! A 65cm Tarpon, A 1 metre yellowtail King(taken on 10lb braid) and a 98cm Yellowtail King
More detail a bit later.