One of the more reliable locations to find Yellowtail Kingfish is around harbour buoys or other marker structures.
The basic procedure is approach the buoy, cast your fly as close as possible then rip the fly back as fast as you can. The speed achieves two things: it triggers the predator reaction to pursue the fly, and the further you entice the fish from the buoy increases the chance that once hooked you will be able to stop the fish diving back around the buoy mooring line.
On this occasion everything followed the text book. First cast, no response. Second cast, a flash of green and yellow behind the fly. Third cast the fish followed the fly 4-5 meters before smashing it. Perfect!
The reel drag is set tight and I clamped down on the reel spool for the first few seconds as Matt reversed the boat (as in photo below). The fly rod was “only” a 9 weight which is at the lower limit for this sort of combat and as the fish was “only” a rat (ie small ) so we got away it. Bigger fish will usually dictate the battle in the early moments and often the angler is totally at mercy of the whatever the greenback hoodlum wants to do.
If you think kingfish fights are visually spectacular, like a berserk leaping kahawai (or rainbow trout for the freshwater anglers), then you’d be disappointed, they are down and dirty ( like a big brown trout) thugs with one intention to get a near any structure to wrap the line around. Most of the time your rod will be at least half submerged in the water to hold the line off the boat hull. Unless the fish kindly runs away from the boat, or heads towards the surface (unlikely in the early stages of the fight) any attempt to pull the rod tip up above the surface is to invite a broken rod.
Angler’s POV Video:
Kingfish from the buoy Video
The mandatory grip and grin before release.
So this was my first kingfish for summer 2018 after, all the sweeter after being spurned by many kingfish I had stalked in shallow water in the previous weeks.
Hopefully more to follow!