Chasing Kingfish in NZ E-mail
Written by Lee Kennedy   
Thursday, 02 April 2015 18:56

SnapShot4 Aotearoa, or Land of the Long White Cloud as New Zealand is also referred to, is made up of two main islands and a number of smaller islands which provide over 15,000 km of coastline with extensive marine life. Fishermen’s heaven!

Auckland, the city I live in, is home to the Hauraki Gulf, one of the greatest snapper fisheries in the world. Trophy snapper in excess of 10kg can be caught all year round in the Gulf and what better way to target these fish than off a kayak. I fish from a Viking Profish Reload. These kayaks are very able crafts that allow me get out in some very sloppy and sometimes rough seas that we get out here in New Zealand.

Soft plastics and lure fishing have become my adopted method of fishing over the past seven years and has landed me some trophy catches of Snapper, both in the shallows and in the deep. My favourite time to target big snapper here in the Hauraki Gulf would have to be over the winter months June, July and August. Soft plastic fishing over shallow reefs can produce some very big snapper here in winter and can be a lot of fun on light tackle. But if you are really looking for a dog fight on the kayak here in NZ, then you can't go past the yellow tail kingfish. 

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The legal size limit for Kingfish here in NZ is 75cm; these fish can grow in excess of 50kg and are referred to as one of the hardest fighting fish in their weight class, definitely a whole lot of fun to target from a kayak.

I've just returned from a trip to the Coromandel, only a few hours’ drive south from where I live, and an area well known for its large kingfish and snapper, a great place to kayak fish around as there is not much boat traffic.

Plan of attack for the day was to paddle out to a rock that is around 3km offshore and do some mechanical jigging to try and entice a bite from a kingfish. On arrival to the rock there were a lot of bait fish on the surface, generally a pretty good sign if you are looking for predators like kingfish. The depth sounder was showing some very good arches underneath the bait fish but very far down in the water column, generally meaning the predatory fish were not actively feeding yet. The bite was very slow for the first couple of hours but this can be quite common when targeting fish like kingfish. Persistence is definitely the key.

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And that persistence finally paid off. The kingfish got hungry and were on the bite. Hooking these fish is one thing, but landing them can be very challenging. Kingfish are dirty fighters. Once you put pressure on them they will run for the nearest obstacle, whether this is a reef, rock or weed line. They do their best to bust you off. 

004 My first fish was just not hooked properly and dropped after a few minutes of the fight. The next fish took me on a sleigh ride I will never forget. I was hooked up to this fish for around 9 minutes and the fish was taking some good powerful runs. After 4-5 minutes I was still a safe distance away from the rock so I started to apply some pressure to the fish. The fish did not like this, and started to surge heavily, unfortunately for me, in the direction of the rock.

I was now on a collision course with the rocks, my reaction was to apply more pressure to the fish and in return the fish ran even harder and quickly busted me off over the reef. Lucky it broke off when it did as I was about 3 metres away from hitting the rocks, these are some powerful fish!

025 Not being one to give up easily, I found the school again and in no time at all I was on another sleigh ride. This was another good fish, the problem was again, I was on a collision course with my favourite rock and I got busted off again!

The ego was feeling pretty bruised at this stage as it was 3 points to zero, in the fish’s favour. If I was going to land one of these cunning kings, I had to come up with a new plan of attack. Brute force did not seem to be helping my situation when close to the reef. 

I started jigging through a school of baitfish on the surface as I could not find the school of kingfish. First drop I was hooked up, again another solid fish. Call it a bad case of déjà vu but I was once again on a collision course with the rock. This time I backed the drag on the reel right P1010982 off, put the rod in the rod holder and paddled away from the reef. Once I was a safe distance away I eased on the drag bit by bit, but at the same time not putting too much pressure on the fish. Funnily enough the fish started to head away from the reef, after a few minutes he was far enough from the reef for me to start applying pressure and after 15 minutes of fight, YES! A 14kg kingfish.

This year I have joined a kayak fishing team and will be competing in the Orton Events Kayak Fishing series here in the North Island of New Zealand. My goal for this year is to travel to the Far North of NZ and try my luck on a striped marlin; I may have to catch a few sharks in the process but more on that later.

 

Cheers

Lee Kennedy 

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/pages/Saltwater-Assassin/1582868081939919

WEBSITE/BLOG: www.saltwaterassassinnz.com

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/Lk3nnedy

 

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