The warmer waters also herald the arrival of our premiere game fish – the kingfish. They’re the street fighters of the New Zealand fish world and will beat up an unprepared diver, tangling or breaking gear while attracting every hungry bronze whaler in th
Here are my top five tips for filling the BBQ with kingie steaks:
1 FIND CURRENT AND STRUCTURE
The kingfish will never be found too far from schools of bait fish. These bait fish will congregate on the up-current edges of reefs or other structures where nutrients are pushed past. Again, demoiselles are often the first giveaway but if you see multiple different species schooling in one area, especially koheru, you know you’ve found the sweet spot.
2 DON’T CHASE THEM AND HIDE YOUR EYES
Kingfish are extremely curious but they still know a threat when they see one. Never swim directly at the fish or eyeball them. If you see them swimming while you’re on the surface, try to pick where they’re going and dive to intercept them. Better yet, swim straight down and rest on the bottom waiting for them to come to you. Try to make yourself small against the rock or kelp and avoid eye contact. Throwing handfuls of sand, clicking rocks or jiggling your flopper are good ways of luring them in.
PICK YOUR SHOT
To actually land a kingfish your shot has to be spot on. If you shoot them in the stomach the chances are they will tear off. If you shoot them and don’t hurt them they could bend your spear or worse. Make sure you get as close as you possibly can before you shoot – Hail Mary shots never stick on kingfish. When you aim try to punch the spear in about where its ear would be just behind the gill plate. That will go through lots of important parts and if it doesn’t stone the fish outright it will certainly slow it down. It also means the fish is pulling in a straight line and is unlikely to bend your spear.
4 KEEP SWIMMING INTO THE CURRENT
Once you’ve got your fish on make sure you keep swimming into the current as you pull line in. The power of a big kingfish has to be felt to be believed and the last thing you want is for a loop of floatline to catch on your wrist, ankle or neck as the fish makes a strong run. The place to fight the fish is to hold it just a couple of metres off the bottom. Play it gently but do not give it any slack or let it get to the bottom. Once it has tired slowly pull it up hand over hand swimming forward the whole time so the line floats out behind you. Once you get to the fish, get your hand in its gills, wrap your legs around it and hug it to your chest while you iki it.
USE THE RIGHT GEAR
Whole articles are written about the right gear to target kingies. Make sure you use a gun of at least 110mm barrel length with at least a 20mm diameter rubber on it and use a standard rope floatline with a 10 litre+ float. Don’t be talked into using a bluewater rig with bungees for kingies as they are no good around the reef; they will stretch and easily tangle.