With some rough weather and limited reports coming in this week I’m going to touch on a couple of the more popular fish species to target coming into summer. Not only are these species challenging, they also are great eating. These species that I speak of are the king fish, bluefin and squid.
Let’s kick off with kingfish and what makes these a popular target species through summer. They aren’t called king fish for no reason and this is partly due to the way they hunt for their food. It’s very rare to find a single king fish hunting by itself for a feed, rather you will most likely find a big school of them searching along the inshore reefs for an easy feed of a variety of bait fish such as slimy mackerel, yakka’s or squid. The way our local gun anglers target these extremely tough fighting fish is different to those along the east coast where they predominately use a jig in deeper water to excite the schools while fishing over wrecks and heavy reef. Here we use a couple different options such as unweighted soft plastics on the top, stick baits and live baits trolled along the edges of the shallow reefs. One other technique that has accounted for plenty of kings over the year is a simple squid strip being trolled behind the boat. It’s one thing to find these fish but another for them to actually eat your offering as they can be the hardest fish to get a hook into one. Stealth is definitely something that needs to be done in order to be successful at these ripping fish. Also some good quality tackle that is up to the job is also necessary as they will find out any weaknesses in your line, rod or reel and definitely make you pay. Stick baits and unweighted soft plastics such as the Sluggo range will require a 7ft2-8ft rod depending on the weight of the stick bait to punch that lure out as far as you can to avoid the fish being spooked. 30-50lb braid will pull up most, if not all the size of kings we get in the south west and also allows a longer cast into or in front of the school. What brings these warm water loving fish to the area is the currents that bring with it warm water in close and this is their happy place which they will bask in that temperature.
Another species that we see come through the south west during summer is a run of bigger than average size blue fin tuna. Even though blue fin are pretty much an all year round target species it’s these summer run of fish that bring the most excitement to the majority of anglers. With the size average pushing 20-30kg they are a great size fish for any level of angler. These fish are mainly targeted on stick bait lures on the surface which is a very visual way of fishing for them as they go nuts for them some days. Trolling small skirts around the outside of the feeding fish will also get you a bite or 10. Pakula Micro Uzi’s and Uzi’s are stand out skirts along with the Black Magic Jetsetter in the Burple colour. Predominately these fish feed on small white bait and other very small baits so down sizing your lures from king fish size will increase your strike rate tenfold. The brighter the day the easier they are to spot on the surface as they are simply like a big dark patch of water moving through the water. Although these fish are in close for one reason and one reason only and that’s to feed it doesn’t mean they are an easy species to target and can some days not even look at a lure. Cutting your engine and drifting up wind of the fish will give you the best chance to sneak up on them.
One of my favourite summer target species over the past couple seasons has been the humble southern calamari squid. One of my favourite sea food to eat these tasty critters can provide some of the best fun on the inshore weed beds and reef. During the summer months they become very aggressive as they come in close to lay their eggs and then hover around those eggs protecting them. Even though they might not be the smartest species in the ocean they do rely heavily on their eye sight to be able to feed and spot their prey from a distance. The clearer the water the better your chances are of catching a feed or stocking up on bait supplies. Fishing a squid jig is the most effective way of catching them and the question we get asked a lot is why are some jigs $2 and others $25 and what makes them better? To put it simply the difference is in how the jig sinks and at what speed. A cheap jig will plummet to the bottom and get caught in the weed and reef and you will lose a lot of them. When a good quality jig sinks slowly they also will sink a lot flatter which gives the squid a longer look at the jig. Another feature is the quality of the cloth or covering of that jig as the squid have a parrot like beak that will rip the cheaper jigs to pieces in no time. When it comes to what tackle to use there isn’t really a special rod that you really need to be successful and can be anything from a 7-8ft rod with a light tip. Although there are specialist squid rods such as the Okuma Epixor range of rods that are a medium action which helps propel those jigs out and also gives you extra control of the squid at the boat etc. With the reels as long as they have a smooth drag then it will be fine to target squid. If it has a jerky drag system then you’ll find that you’ll lose a lot more squid when they lunge and do their runs. My two favourite colours down in the south west are the Leopard Shrimp in the Fish Inc Egilicious range and anything black or dark also.
Hopefully this gets the juices flowing for the upcoming warmer months and makes you want to target these brilliant species. I know I’m ready to hit them again when the warmer conditions arise. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.