Kingfish with light tackle

Kingfish have long been a top target for my kayak fishing but when one hits your light setup, you had best be prepared!

Targeting large gurnard and snapper on kabura’s in deep water often produces interest from a great many species. One of the ‘bycatch’ species are kingfish. Typically, more prone to large knife jigs and live baits, the kingies this year seem to love nothing more than destroying a falling Black Magic Sunakku over a deep sandy dropoff .

With a wiggling luminous skirt and brightly coloured head, I can’t blame them for having a crack. Even small kingfish kick into 6th gear on the strike, leaving my poor reel to lose line at huge speed and my kayak to get dragged along behind.

The bigger the king the closer you are to being spooled. On several occasions I’ve watched as my backing came into view, but thankfully these occasions were right after the scorching run faded.

On light 10 -20lb equipment, I fight kingfish patiently, especially in the deep water I find myself hooking them in. My hooks are small, leader light and braid exceedingly thin.

These fish are looking for any weak point, especially that knot you may not have tied perfectly.

After the first blistering run, many kingies settle into steaming along at pace, usually at just the right speed to tow the kayak behind. This is to my advantage as each moment the fish tows me along is more power removed from that huge yellow tail.

Once the fish tires, I can begin the long task of moving the king off the bottom. This is easier said than done on such light rods with limited leverage. As tempting as it is to tighten the drag, it’s better to enjoy the scrap and make sure that the kingfish comes to the surface rather than it ending in tears when the hook wears a hole in the mouth before popping free.

Slowly I can make ground up the water column, thumbing the reel to gain extra pressure on the lift before dropping the rod down to begin the next one. If the kingie decides to run, I have a perfect drag set to keep the fish pinned.

The fight with the kingfish somtimes takes up to 30 minutes after hook-up. Many I have caught have been around the 10kg mark which are a huge challenge on the light 8kg gear off a kayak platform.

It’s very rewarding to consistently land them when things can get so out of control at the outset of the fight. Thankfully a good many of these are hooked away from the rocks, so the only worry is sharks coming looking.

On a recent battle a mako made the end of the fight quite hairy as the kingfish rushed to shelter under the kayak as the big shark tried to eat an easy meal!

Thankfully I was quickly able to get the fish onboard and released away from the big predator, Just in time!

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