Finally, I got one!

Kingfish have been one of the few New Zealand species I haven’t caught at a takeable length. You could almost call me the rat king specialist.

My good mate Howard Lewis has always said we should sort this out by going to Stephens Island in the Marlborough Sounds. Howard had had plenty of success up there and was confident we could have some and sort the kingi issue for me.

That day rolled around on June 20, and we found ourselves off Stephens Island onboard Howard’s 7.5m Seamaster. I’d even purchased a new jigging rod, that’s how confident I was!

We were using 300-gram jigs with pink on them as apparently that’s what they like. Howard put us over some potential marks on the sounder, which were in 40 metres of water and down went the jigs. With some wild rod lifts and uncoordinated reeling, I soon had my jig to the surface. I looked a bit like a Chiefs’ supporter when the pass went forward! A few more drops later and just like the Chiefs I was feeling beat.

On the next drop I only retrieved about halfway then released the jig to drop back down. All hell broke loose as something took the jig and decided 200 metres of line was better in the ocean than on my reel, all the time I was trying to slow it down with my thumb as putting the reel in gear could have proved disastrous. Finally, the run stopped, and I was able to start gaining some line. It was a bit like gaining 30 metres, then lose 20 metres but slowly the reel started to fill with line again. Howard kept up the encouragement and did feel we were onto a bloody good kingi. Once most of the line was back on the reel the kingi decided to fight it out under the boat, out of sight but with some more work he broke the surface and yes he was a monster, well in my eyes he was!

Rob slipped the gaff over the side and heaved my catch on board, there were high fives all round. He was a magnificent specimen that pulled the scales down to 20kg and even in the 100-litre chilly bin he still had his tail sticking out.

Back at Catherine Cove where we were staying, we filleted him up and vacuumpacked all the flesh into eatable portions. We have had two feeds so far and I would now rate kingfish as one of my top species to eat. So, at the age of 58 I’m finally on the board with a kingi and look forward to next winter when I can have another go.

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