Jewies love murky dark water. This can be a sudsy rock platform or beach hole where wave action has suspended sand, muddy water after rain, the cover of night darkness or deep water with low light penetration. They obviously use low visibility to ambush hunt. Its always been a bit of a mystery why some of the spots that I do well for jewfish don’t appear to have any of these attributes. The mud bottom sections of the harbor generally fish better than the sand bottom and nearly always on the turn of the tide. But we do well here on jewies in daylight hours and in seemingly clear water. This doesn’t fit the above criteria at all – but the mystery may have been solved. My mate Phil worked in the harbor for several years as a Navy clearance diver. Underwater for most of his working hours he has a better idea of what goes on down there than anyone I know. The following is his observation of the various tidal movements over the above-mentioned mud bottoms.
“While the tide is running the mud bottom is well defined, you can swim down and be quite clear when you are nearing it. Its soft to touch, your hand sinks in easily as would an anchor or lead sinker, but it is visually clearly defined. You can see all the marine life swimming around. On the turn of the tide, when the water flow stops, it’s the exact opposite. The silt lifts up, sometimes as high as 2 meters, and as you swim down you find that the bottom definition has disappeared. It’s hard to tell, from a divers perspective, where the water finishes and the bottom starts. Also, you can’t see any marine life. No doubt it is still there but it is hiding in the ‘smoke screen’. “
For a predator like a jewie, who is evolved for hunting in dirty water, this presents an ideal opportunity. Conversely, for predators like kings, that hunt visually, this is not a good situation and hence, fishing for kings over the mud bottoms, has always been a waste of time on the turn of the tide. This has certainly unraveled the mystery of why Jew like the turn of the tide and given me a lot to think about in regard to tactics, particularly bait placement. It’s a major piece of the puzzle – I just wish Phil had mentioned this years ago .
This has been a great season for big kingfish. It looks like we have entered an el nino cycle meaning less coastal rain. This will mean more kings close to the coast and in the bays and harbours. I’ve jumped up from 50ld to 80lb tackle and am still having trouble stopping some of them. Here is a bit of a rundown on targeting them.
Big Kingies do like whole live squid but small ones don’t. Big kingies will just as happily take a squid head. So, by using a squid head you will get lots of big and small kingies. If you use live squid you will get fewer fish but they will be bigger on average. A whole squid gut is not only an exceptionally good bait but it is also the best burly that you can use for kings. It’s all about the guts. Use the guts and especially the ink to entice the fish You can burst the ink sac before you send the bait down or you can let the first king burst it for you. The gut is always the first bait to go which must mean it’s the best bait. Strips of squid cut from the tube are good baits particularly after the guts and heads have got the school in a frenzy. Rub it all in Ink
Kingies mostly hold from mid-water down so obviously this is a good place to present your bait
The first two hours of the run out, early morning and late afternoon is when you will find then really feeding. That’s also a good time to catch squid. You won’t have to worry too much about tides or time of day it you pay close attention to what I said earlier about the bait the guts and the ink. Kings are easily turned on and then off again if you know what buttons to push. The worst thing you can do is to keep presenting something that has been rejected, in the same manner. A school of following kings can be turned into a school of taking kings by something as simple as changing the presentation angle. This applies to both lures and bait. If they follow a lure or show interest in a bait for more than three times without taking it don’t present it again.
They are the exact opposite to barra in this sense. Barra can be teased into striking where kings can be teased out of striking. They are stubborn bastards and the more you shove it in their face the more they’ll reject it
Change lure size, let it sink, change presentation angle or best of all go away, try another spot and come back in half an hour.
To turn them on, surprise them. Rock up to a spot noisily. Throw your anchor with a big splash and then get all your baits out there quickly. Let the baits sink to the required depth and then rip them back in. Just as an excited dumb dog does stupid things so do kingies. As soon as the anchor hits the water they come straight over to see what is happening. The key is to not give them too much time to think about it. Trick them into an impulse attack. Action excites them but not for long, so work quickly
In addition to this you are better to have five or six baits in the water rather than just a few. Once again this is more likely to excite them. If you can’t handle six rods just take a few out of action once you have the fish on the bite.
One final but equally important tip is to fish with your reel in gear and with your normal fighting drag. Don’t feed kingies any line when they take your bait. Once a take is felt lower the rod down and move with the fish. Once the rod reaches the water it’s time to strike.
Article by — Craig McGill