With hard-fighting kingfish currently around in big numbers, Darren Shields shares a few tips for spearos wanting to get in on the action.
This time of year sees a fresh influx of scrappy kingies. I love the beginning of the season – they are hungry and inquisitive, making for good sport.
Find a point or rock with current and work the front end of either. If there are baitfish, kingfish won’t be far away. Using a flasher or berley will definitely up your chances of getting them interested but they often only make a few passes before carrying on to do their circuit.
I use a Wettie Reef Pro 110cm reel gun for 90% of my spearing. I’m not hunting monster kingies – just the 10kg to 25kg models. I can easily handle fish this size with my gun.
Having a gun that’s easy to manoeuvre is better than a bazooka that shoots for miles but is almost impossible to swing fast through the water. Roller guns are all the rage it seems, but I prefer a standard twin 14mm rubber gun that is easy to move in the water and fast to load.
A reel gun for shooting kingfish is not for the novice. You are better to use a float line and float attached to your gun. With a reel, the line on it is generally around 1.8mm thick, which is extremely hard to handle on a fighting fish, whereas most float lines are at least 4mm thick and easier to get a grip on, which also makes it less likely to tangle on some part of your body. Thin reel line is very dangerous for this reason, and if a kingfish strips your reel of all its line there is nothing left to do but let go of your gun and lose it. In contrast, a float line has a float attached to help you deal with this situation.
Placing a shot well is very important on kingies. They tend to live in the vicinity of sharks so a long fight often ends up in half a fish retrieved or none at all. I try for a good shoulder shot on the spine line which, when done right, will paralyse the fish – game over!
The boat Darren was on this particular day only had a miniature bait board, so he improvised.
Head shots can be risky. There’s lots of solid bone which can deflect a shaft or stop it in its tracks. Over the years I have hit some monster fish in the head area and been dealt to with my spear bent and dragged through the water like a rag doll!
Kingfish are great fighters. They have a never give up attitude. I’ve seen masks get broken, blood noses, really good head butts and once a very bad split lip that required several stitches for spearos trying to wrestle and iki kingfish.
I still remember the spearo with the split lip saying to me after finally getting his kingie under control, “I think it split my lip.” As he spoke, blood was spurting out at me with each beat of his heart!
You always have to be very careful with ropes and lines in the fight. Ask yourself, “Are they tangled around my leg, my weight, my knife, or arm?” If a fish dives and you are tangled, there’s every chance you will go with the fish, DOWN!
The method I use is to swim forward as I pull in line so I’m swimming away from any coiling rope. I make a mental note about where it’s going as I move forward.
A classic for a spearo is to just hold on as a kingfish swims around them and gets completely tied up. This is a big no no! Let the fish take some line. It will swim directly away from you if you do, and then when it tires, pull some back. You will wear it down slowly.
When you do get close to a kingfish on a spear, get that tail as soon as you can. Stick it between your legs, wrap your arms around it, bear hug it and when it quietens down, get a hand in its gills and iki it.
Once I have ikied my fish, I like to slit the gill area and bleed the fish as this makes the meat a lot nicer.
In my boat and at home, I’m fully prepared to handle large quantities of fresh fish. So many people don’t take this into account and the fish is wasted. Please, if you kill something, look after it and carefully prepare it for the table.
Waste nothing – this all went into the smoker.
February 2022 - Darren Shields
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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