Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: It's a fine time for catching kingfish

By Geoff Thomas

Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

This is a good time to catch kingfish. These magnificent sport fish are found everywhere from North Cape to the Marlborough Sounds, and even further south, with some spotted by paua divers at the Chatham Islands.

The Hauraki Gulf, Tauranga and Whangarei are full of kingfish, including lots of small specimens known affectionately as rat kings.

They will follow a hooked fish to the surface and can be seen circling under the boat, occasionally hooked on baits aimed at snapper.

Keep a measuring tape handy. If a king of less than 75cm is found on the boat, the angler is in trouble with the fisheries officers.

You need a more calculated approach for larger fish. Tackle should be quality rods and reels spooled with at least 15kg line, preferably 24kg.

A gimbal belt is useful on the big fish, as the trick is to stop them getting into the rocks, which are never far away from kingfish haunts such as the reefs around The Noises and Crusoe Rock, the bottom of Waiheke Island and both Coromandel coasts.

Kings will take trolled lures and surface poppers cast and retrieved around structures such as channel markers, but there is no real substitute for a live bait. This is ideally a slimy mackerel or kahawai, with piper and jack mackerel less appealing - piper because they are small and die quickly, and jacks because they are not as lively.

Kahawai are the most common and work fine as livies. If you use large specimens, you will only hook big kings. But when was that a problem?

Live bait hooks are designed for presenting live baits and the size of hook should match the size of bait. Generally with hooks, small is better, as you can hold a large king on a size No 6 hook, but a big hook will kill the livie. The bait is hooked through the upper lip if being slow trolled; through the back if offered under a balloon; or through the nose if anchored to the bottom by a heavy sinker.

Slow trolling works well around reefs, but if you're fishing over sand on the edge of a reef, it is a good idea to have one bait on the surface under a balloon and another on the bottom tethered to a weight with dental floss so it will break off on the strike.

Traces are 1.5 to 2 metres of at least 30kg mono. Heavy trace adds security, but if it's too heavy it can deter the quarry. The best time is at slack water, preferably on low tide.

Snapper fishing continues to frustrate many people, but the fishing in the gulf is now more consistent than for a long time. Just look for birds, or sign on the bottom, from 40m out.

Snapper are more co-operative inside the Manukau Harbour than off the coast, and mullet bait in the Papakura Channel has been getting good snapper. Fishing around the Mercury group of islands and around Great Barrier Island for kings and snapper has picked up, and surfcasting along Bay of Plenty beaches is also firing, with some anglers taking home limit bags after an evening's fishing.

Trying to catch trout while fishing without a licence has cost a Rotorua man more than $1000. When the 26-year-old appeared in the Rotorua District Court this week, Judge James Weir fined him $400 plus another $400 fine for giving false information when apprehended, plus court costs. Fish and Game officer Anthony van Dorp said fishing without a licence could be a very expensive exercise.

Bite times
Bite times today are 4.20am and 4.40pm, and tomorrow at 5.05am and 5.30pm.

These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so they apply to the whole country.

Tip of the week
When jigging for trout you can try using a metal jig to attract fish, instead of a sinker as the weight, but you can only use two flies to stay within the three-hook maximum rule.

This can also be done at sea with a flasher rig or baits, and you will often hook up on the jig.

* More fishing action can be found tonight on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5.30pm, TV3.

- NZ Herald

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