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Week 22: River Kings

I like to fish live squid for Kings on very heavy gear due to the amount of structure we have to battle these powerful fish around. Wharves, jetty's, rocky shorelines and worst of all vacant moorings all make life chasing river Kings difficult. 50 lb braid with a 60 lb leader is standard tackle for these brutal fighters.
Attached to the leader are twin Gamakatsu 5/0 - 6/0 hooks. These hooks are strong, sharp and powerful and need to be to extract a solid kingfish from around the structure.

Reels need to be strong enough so you can turn up the drag and fish hard if needed. It only takes one slack moment to see you busted off. I use Shimano gear because it never lets me down. I like to use a short boat rod like a T-Curve 200 or as a guide something of around 8 to 15 kilo will work well in either overhead or thread line. You can match it up to any large reel that can handle the strain of a big fish.

Andrew Ettinghausen holding a Fish

Always fish with tough gear that you can expect to land the biggest size fish of the species your chasing. Kings in my local river can get up to around 10 kilo in weight but even on heavy 50 lb braid and 60 lb fluorocarbon you can be dusted up around underwater structure pretty quickly on fish half this size. They are dirty fighters.

The fight of a kingfish is a thrilling experience. Once they feel the hooks they turn on the afterburners and speed off at lightning pace. Often the battle is won or lost just after the hookup because if you cant control where the fish is going you may find that your line has been wrapped around a channel marker or mooring line.

Sometimes the softly, softly approach on Kings works well. Once hooked the technique involves gently motoring your boat slowly away from the structure without fighting the fish. If you don't lean back and rip into the fish, a king may respond sluggishly and be easily led away behind your boat. Once far enough away from the structure its time to battle the fish to the boat. I have used this technique successfully and still use it often to land solid river fish.

Andrew Ettinghausen holding a Fish on boat

Catching Kings on lures is a whole lot of fun! Surface poppers and stick baits cast around moored boats and marker buoys often score the larger fish. Kingfish are an inquisitive species and will often be found in large schools feeding on baitfish. Trolling teasers of plastic squid and birds can raise Kings from around marker buoys. As you troll the teaser combo behind your boat you need to be ready with your rod set up with a live bait attached. It's a bit like switch bait fishing for Marlin. Driving alongside moored boats towing your 3 squid and 2 plastic bird teaser on 400 lb line may look funny on the river, but when a school of kings go berserk trying to eat the lot and you pull up and lob your livie into the mix, you know the outcome is going to be good.

Kingfish are an awesome species to catch as they battle you right to the boat and are not too bad on the table. I prefer to catch and release as the thrill and excitement of catching a solid king should not be done just the once. There are loads of Kings around this summer so gear up and have some fun.

Enjoy your fishing,


Andrew Ettinghausen & Friend holding King Fish

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