Kingies at Bassie

I had only just purchased my kayak (Hobie Outback called Ballz) towards the end of 2007 and while looking on the internet I found KFDU and AKFF websites that are both dedicated to kayak fishing here in Australia. Both of these sites allow their members to post up the results of their fishing trips, whether they were “donut” trips or trips that are filled with awesome catches of a life time. It became apparent that kingfish seemed to be on the tooth right along the east coast of NSW.

They were braining them at Clovelly and Long Reef and it was about three weeks after that that they showed up at Bass Point, which isn’t too far from where I live. It had been years since I had seen a Kingfish and even longer since I had caught one. I was as keen as mustard to get amongst them and to catch one from the new kayak would have topped it right off. Only problem was I was new to this kayak fishing caper and I had yet to venture off shore. So not wanting to rush I took a couple of weeks to get used to the yak in the creeks and lake before I felt confident enough to try my luck in the open ocean, all the time keeping an eye on the reports and seeing the photos of these magnificent fish had me chomping at the bit.
When I was finally able to tag along (due to me working shift work) with the other keen kayak fisho’s from the Wollongong area (Jeffo, Grimmo, Theo and FishingMik) the weather gods decided that they would have their say about it.

It’s usually the way when I get a weekend off – the weather will turn ugly. And it was ugly alright. There were waves of over a metre high crashing though the launch site where normally there would barely be a ripple on any other day of the week, but I had organised to go fishing. Typical.
Anyway I finally got out and was introduced to the kingies at Bassie. Although I only caught one that day (and it only went 41cm) it had my juices flowing something terrible. As it turned out I had missed the main season and would have to wait for the kingfish season at the end of 2008 – I didn’t know if I could wait that long.
Three quarters of the way through the year and I was getting itchy feet and looking at every kayak fishing websites, normal fishing sites and newspapers to see if there was any sign that the kingies were starting to turn up. Kingie time must have been getting close as the whispers were starting to get louder and questions were being asked on the best tackle and strategy to subdue these beasts. And as it was in the previous year my roster of working seven weekends straight came around the same time as the kingies…
It was getting towards the end of the season at Bass Point and all the local fishos had been getting into the kingfish for the previous month and a couple of my trips had turned up no kingfish at all. Had I missed my chance again? Things were not looking good. But I was still hellbent on catching at least one kingfish.

Well my time had come I had arranged to meet Mick (FishingMik), Athol (Swampy) and Clinton (Tallguy) for an early session at Bass Point. The seas were up and Glen’s bombie (Red Sands) was not very happy at all with 2m swells coming through followed by more sets and even bigger swells. Mick and Clinton were getting into bream and mowies but my mind was on the bombie out the front of Bass Point where kingfish like to hang out. It was time head out to the end of Bass Point which is a 1.5km trip. We all set up for trolling with a range of bibbed lures so we would have a line in the water until we reached our destination. On the way out the water erupted with baitfish. Mick stopped to try his luck so he could rig his heavy gear and hope for a large kingfish.
Athol stayed out wide trolling his lures but I was determined to get to the bombie. Like Glen’s, this bombie was also very angry with 2-3m swells coming through, which made me think twice about heading out to chance my luck. I sat back for about 10 minutes while I chose a seven-inch Gulp (Tandoori Chicken) and placed it on the 3/8oz jig head attached to a 20kg trace and 10kg braid. Even though the swells were huge I convinced myself that I could get close enough to get a cast right into the bombie and still be able to keep an eye on the incoming swells.

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My first cast went nowhere near the desired target due to my watching for the next building swell. I took a chance and went even closer to the drop zone and fired off another cast. I left the reel in freespool allowing my jig to sink whilst I manoeuvred the Outback to face into the oncoming swells, just in case I needed to get out of there quick smart. I engaged my reel and proceeded to take up any slack in the line, a couple of hard quick jerks to get started and CRACK my rod was nearly pulled out of my hands! Thankfully I had preset my drag the night before otherwise it could have been a very short encounter. This was definitely a kingfish as he headed straight back down to the bottom of the reef. Luckily with my ‘yak facing away from the bombora I pedaled out of the danger zone with the kingie fighting desperately to get back to his home down below. Once I was out in deeper water and away from the incoming waves I knew I had him and it didn’t take long for my first king to come along side. I grabbed the leader and lifted him into the footwell where I’d placed a wet towel to subdue my catch but it wasn’t for long though. I measured my first king of the season and he only went 57cm – nowhere near legal. I had forgotten just how hard these fish fight, just when you think you are making headway they turn and peel off all the line you just won back.

Athol and Mick (who had successfully caught a very large slimy and had it rigged on Mick’s heavy rod) turned up to see what was happening. I don’t think they were very keen on getting to close to the bombie after seeing some of the size of the swells that had peaked and crashed down on the bombie, but that was where the fish were holding up. I went in again to tackle the swells and it didn’t take long to get hold of another kingfish, I turned around to head out from the danger zone and I could see both Mick and Athol having their own battle with these speed demons. Even though my fish was larger than my first it still didn’t break the legal 65cm limit, so back in he went. I was like a dog being thrown a stick; off I’d go in a flash and return ecstatic with quarry in tow.

In the meantime Mick’s live bait had been engulfed by something that took off in blistering runs and nearly tipped Mick out of the Hobie Revolution. We all had visions of a huge kingfish being loaded onto his kayak if he succeeded in landing this beast. With the rod gimbal wedged into Mick’s rib cage the fight continued for another 15 minutes with Mick gaining line and then the fish would take off again, again nearly pulling him off his ‘yak. Mick finally had colour and was amazed to see this huge 70cm bonito circling next to him which he quickly lifted, de-hooked and released in no time at all. Mick then took off to get himself another live bait but that wasn’t to be. Both Athol and I stayed and persisted with the increasing southerly winds that were putting white caps on top of these walls of water; we both hooked a few more kingfish before calling it too dangerous and headed back into calmer waters.

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It still amazes me at just how stable these kayaks are in the open water. Even though we were battling huge seas and increasing winds I never felt uneasy or unstable in the Outback, the stability in these vessels is incredible. And although I did not catch any legal kingfish my thirst had well and truly been quenched. My desire to hook at least one legal kingfish still lingers.




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