THE KING OF KAYAKS

New Zealand Fishing World - - (Kayak Fishing) -

Tack­ling mon­ster king­fish on a small kayak is a big chal­lenge, but as NZ Fish­ing

World’s Ja­son Walker ex­plains, with the right gear and knowl­edge it is pos­si­ble.

One of the most high­lyrated sport­fish in New Zealand is the king­fish.

A fish that is prized not only for its flesh, which can be eaten so many dif­fer­ent ways, but also for the strong fight it puts up when hooked.

Th­ese fish are pure mus­cle and can bring the big­gest of an­glers to their knees by their pow­er­ful runs. Hold­ing on to your rod once hooked up to a mon­ster king­fish will quickly test your stamina.

We have all seen the pho­tos and ar­ti­cles writ­ten about land­ing th­ese beasts off boats but can they be caught from kayaks too? Oh yes they can!

The lack of a huge mo­tor strapped to the back of your ves­sel means that you won’t be head­ing way out over the hori­zon to sit on one of those king­fish hold­ing pins we all read about but the hum­ble kayak is still a very ca­pa­ble fish­ing craft to land your­self a le­gal kingy from. Where are they? Well be­fore we can at­tempt to catch our prized fish, we need to un­der­stand how the king­fish lives, what it lives on and where it hunts its food. There are sev­eral in­gre­di­ents that make up the ideal place to find king­fish, the most crit­i­cal two are cur­rent and food. King­fish are most com­monly found sit­ting in cur­rent. This may be cur­rent formed by a reef or other un­der­wa­ter struc­ture, pins and rocky shore­line, or may sim­ply be straight tidal flow such as an es­tu­ary.

Food for king­fish, like many crea­tures, is a driver to make them stay in an area. They feed mainly on small fish.The struc­ture cre­at­ing the cur­rents the king­fish love so much will also hold smaller fish, which cre­ates a per­fect larder for them. Varied diet Their diet is varied but some of the favourites are slimy mack­erel, ka­hawai, pilchards, squid and other com­mon fish on the menu de­pend­ing on your lo­ca­tion in­clud­ing oc­to­pus, fly­ing fish, piper, mul­let, ko­heru, an­chovies and sauries.

There are also re­ports of many other fish be­ing found in the stom­achs of cap­tured kin­gies such as snap­per, ter­ak­ihi, floun­der, sea­horses, cray­fish, shrimp, frost fish and other weird and won­der­ful deep sea crea­tures.

With such a varied diet it can make tar­get­ing the king­fish ap­pear very easy but un­for­tu­nately even though we have a fish that looks like it will eat any­thing you put in front of it, the old kingy can be a fussy fish at times.

Even if pre­sented with its favourite dish, if that’s not what it’s look­ing for to­day, you can be wast­ing your time. Hunt­ing out kin­gies Rocky shore­lines, head­lands, pin­na­cles, is­lands and reef struc­tures are the best places to head.

Once there look to see where the cur­rent is flow­ing. There’s no fixed rule

as to whether you should be sit­ting up or down cur­rent when fish­ing for king­fish.

Your ap­proach doesn’t re­quire so much stealth, you’re not try­ing to silently cast a small bait or lure into the spot you think the fish will be sit­ting.

King­fish tend to be on the move most of the time, ei­ther swim­ming in the cur­rent or chas­ing a meal, so be­fore you start fish­ing for them you need to find them first and thank­fully they are nor­mally found in medium to large schools so us­ing your elec­tron­ics makes this part easy.

You are look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent on your sounder than you would when look­ing for most other fish.

King­fish nor­mally show up as a sim­ple dash rather than an arch as they move quicker than most other species.

They also have a ten­dency to sit mid­wa­ter rather than at the top or bot­tom of the wa­ter col­umn. Baits and lures Once you find the school it’s time to park your pad­dle, grab your rod and drop your line in the wa­ter to tempt those fish to

jump on your hook. The ques­tion is, what do you put on that hook?

There are plenty of op­tions avail­able to the mod­ern king­fish hunter, from the clas­sic dead and live­baits to the more mod­ern of­fer­ings. The clas­sic king­fish bait is noth­ing sim­pler than real bait it­self. They can be pre­sented both live and dead but the pref­er­ence would al­ways be a live­bait as it will give off the tell-tale vi­bra­tions of an in­jured fish and the king­fish will quickly home in.

Dead baits are best fished un­weighted and left to nat­u­rally fall through the wa­ter col­umn whereas the live baits are nor­mally fished at the top or the bot­tom of the wa­ter.

The top is eas­ily achieved by us­ing a bal­loon tied to your line. This acts as a float and stops the live­bait from swim­ming too far down to es­cape the king­fish.

To fish the bot­tom, hook your live­bait on to a drop­per rig with a sinker on the bot­tom this will keep your bait fixed in one area.

A dan­ger with this rig is snag­ging your sinker on the bot­tom so make sure you use a short length of light­weight mono to at­tach your sinker to the drop­per rig. That way if you get snagged all you’ll lose is the sinker. Us­ing lures Whilst king­fish love fish can­dies, they are also huge suck­ers for any­thing that moves fast through the wa­ter, in fact the faster the bet­ter some­times. There are both top­wa­ter and deep­wa­ter op­tions avail­able.

For top­wa­ter you can make use of bibbed trolling lures such as those from Ra­pala. Th­ese are de­signed to be cast out of the back or side of your kayak and towed around as you pad­dle, the bib on the lure causes them to dive un­der the sur­face and they are de­signed to wrig­gle as they are towed.

Some even have rat­tles built in to give off those vi­bra­tions of a dy­ing fish, which king­fish take as a free meal sig­nal.

Other top­wa­ter op­tions are pop­pers and stick­baits. Th­ese are both cast and re­trieved, as they are wound back to the kayak they dart across the wa­ter’s sur­face cre­at­ing vi­bra­tions and splashes to at­tract the tar­get. Deep­wa­ter op­tions If your tar­gets are sit­ting mid­wa­ter or deeper and they can’t be drawn to the sur­face with the top­wa­ter op­tions, then jigs will be your friend. Some of the first jigs on the mar­ket in New Zealand were the Grim Reaper lures, ac­tu­ally made and de­signed here, in­tro­duced to the mar­ket in the mid 1980s and still avail­able to­day.

Th­ese are shorter jigs and nor­mally come fit­ted with a tre­ble hook, chang­ing th­ese tre­bles to a sin­gle hook won’t drop your catch rate much and are a lot kinder on the fish, not to men­tion your­self too if you bring an an­gry king­fish on board your kayak.

Those tre­ble hooks are great at hook­ing ev­ery­thing on the kayak as well as the fish!

Not long af­ter this we started to see knife jigs from Ja­pan turn up on our shelves with Zest be­ing some of the first cour­tesy of Chris Wong.

Th­ese proved even more deadly on our lo­cal king­fish pop­u­la­tion and quickly gained a huge fol­low­ing.

The knife jigs are rigged with a sin­gle as­sist hook, this set up con­sists of a sin­gle hook at­tached to a short length of cord, nor­mally Kevlar, which in turn is at­tached

to the jig by the use of solid split rings at the same point as you at­tach you leader.

Hook-up time

Given the power of th­ese beasts, the first ad­vice is sim­ply to hold on and en­joy the ride! There are a few dif­fer­ences be­tween fish­ing from a boat and a kayak when it comes to fight­ing and land­ing a king­fish.

Lever­age is the big­gest loss. There’s no gun­wales on a kayak that you can brace your­self against so, rather than fish­ing out the side of the kayak like you would on a boat, you want to fish out the front.

This gives you the en­tire length of the kayak as lever­age plus the added bonus of not hav­ing to test the sta­bil­ity of your kayak to its limit. You want to keep the rod point­ing for­ward and as close to the side of the kayak but the line is not touch­ing (oth­er­wise you’ll end up with a bust-off ).

Time to fight

Now the fish is di­rectly un­der the kayak, the fight be­gins. The king­fish is re­ally go­ing to test your strength and it’s all down to you to get that fish up. Lift and wind down, lift and wind down. It’s a mat­ter of wear­ing that fish out be­fore it wears you out!

Try to keep the fish out the front of the kayak so you don’t give it the op­por­tu­nity to roll you out of your kayak.

Pre­pare for land­ing

So you’ve hooked it, been for the ride, slogged out the fight and now you have the fish up to the kayak, so now what?

King­fish have an in­cred­i­ble knack of find­ing that last fight when you least ex­pect it so make sure you are ready.

Firstly back off your drag, if the fish makes a run for it again, you don’t want to be dragged over­board with it.

Se­condly get a grip, ei­ther gaff the fish or slide it up the side of the kayak and on to your lap.

It’s nor­mally at this point the fish will go men­tal and start thrash­ing around the top of your kayak and they are strong. They’re ex­perts at de­stroy­ing things on your kayak, in­clud­ing fishfind­ers! Be pre­pared to keep a firm grip on the fish and don’t be afraid to use your legs by slid­ing it un­der them to hold it in place un­til you’ve re­leased it.

a huge kingy is hoisted on to the mother­ship.

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