How charters catch kingfish

By Lionel KorachNZ Fishing World
How charters catch kingfish

Charter companies are the professionals in our game so it makes sense that we should keep an eye on what they do. NZ Fishing World has the inside scoop as Lionel Korach of charter firm Memorymakers gives us his insight to catching kingfish.

The fish-rich grounds of the Far North from the Cavalli Islands, to North Cape, around to Cape Maria and Ahipara on the west coast have always been an irresistible lure. 

Moving our charter operation Memorymakers from the Bay Of Plenty and embedding it into the Far North of New Zealand was never a risk fishing-wise. But the challenge for me was finding a fishery that stood up against the likes of White Island in the kingfish stakes. 

My first few months in this new location were mostly spent exploring and finding the best spots.  The area is rich with big kingfish but is unlike White Island in that their behaviours are quite different.  While White island has congregations of fish at mostly well-documented spots such as the Volker,  Middle Ground and the Club Rocks, the Far North kingfish grounds are more widespread and congregations of fish can occur at different locations, depths and situations daily. 

Rich bait

Schools of big kingfish frequent harbour mouths, and indeed upper reaches. This activity is driven purely on the rich bait which flows in and out. Jack mackerel, kahawai, koheru, mullet, and piper can all be found there and are easy pickings for the voracious kingies that patrol the area.

If you can find the bait schools then it’s likely you will find the kigfish. While this is not rocket science, to have success you have to figure it out. It’s not a matter of cruising out to your favourite rock and chucking a jig over the side, at least not on the East coast. That approach will work now and then but will be inconsistent. 

Cover your bases

The Far North lends itself to a variety of approaches. Most charter operators would generally expect to cover all of the options from livebaiting, jigging, trolling, dead baiting to surface popping/stick baiting. 

For a lot of people that amount of preparation is just too much. Even professional operators can get caught out. A good motto, off Rick Pollack, to have is: ‘’Never fillet fish until you have caught them’’. 

Good charter vessels are generally more consistent because of their preparation, their knowledge of grounds and techniques, but most importantly because they don’t go into situations with just one option.

Carl Muir from Epic Adventures is a good operator whose success rate speaks for itself. Carl consistently puts his customers on to kingfish, he built a reputation for his company around jigging but also made sure he had livebaits as an alternative. 

John Morrison was over the moon with this jig-caught kingie.

Opportunity knocks

Be aware of opportunities right from leaving the wharf. Pounce on bait birds or other disturbances that you can see. Learn to read your sounder, and don’t discount the information it is giving you. 

We can generally figure out most of the information through historical events, but I have been ambushed on numerous occasions and pleasantly surprised by just throwing something at what I see on the sounder. 

Cubing pilchards is another method we use, combined with berley and anchoring in good current. Simply start chopping pilchards into cubes around the size of the last knuckle of your middle finger and feed the cubes over at a constant rate.

Wait till you lose sight of a cube and then throw another one in. This is a very effective method of attracting kingfish to your boat. You can then deploy a livebait or put a cube on a small livebait hook and feed it down your cube trail. It’s important to use fluorocarbon and it must be unweighted and drifting at the same rate as all the other cubes. 

This method works well and you will have all the action at the back of your boat. In this situation you can also throw stickbaits or poppers, which will also work fine. The rest of it is pure exploration. 

Keep looking for new grounds and opportunities for casting or jigging, and don’t write places off if you don’t get a bite the first visit. Chances are if it looks appealing it probably is, tides can play a big part in your success rate as does patience. Finally, fish your feet. kingfish are not scared of much and will cruise into the most unlikely spots in search of an easy meal. 

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