The North Island of New Zealand is renowned for big kingfish and we were flying from Australia to test that reputation. With three days of solid fishing booked, we couldn’t wait for the chance to tangle with these hard fighting hoodlums of the deep. We landed in Auckland and drove our hire car to the seaside village of Whitianga. This would be our base for three days of fishing from the Coromandel Peninsula. There were six blokes in our group, from different walks of life, but united in the same ambition, to catch some big kingfish.
After a few too many beers on the first night, we stumbled out of bed in the morning and made our way down to the wharf. Our group was split between two boats. My skipper was Owen and it wasn’t long before he had us fishing for live bait at the wharf. We managed a dozen mullet but out primary target of yakkas proved elusive so we set off in search of them.
It took a few hours of hard work before our bait tanks were stocked. Over coming days I would learn the importance of having live yakkas. If you can believe it, catching the baitfish would prove more difficult than catching 10kg plus kingfish during our trip.
With our live bait on board we headed out to sea. After ripping through a rough swell at a bone jolting pace for 40 nautical miles, we reached the magic reefs we had read about.
There were four anglers on board and we fished two rods at a time, taking turns. Owen was a gun on the fishfinder and put us on the spot time and time again. I was stoked with my first fish – by far the biggest kingfish I had ever caught.
After catching a few ranging between 8kg and 10kg, I hooked something bigger. It fought very hard with multiple runs back down to the reef. The drag was set so tight that I kept getting ‘railed’. That means getting pulled right up against the side of the boat, much to the amusement of the skipper. In the end I managed the win the battle and landed a bigger fish of 13kg.
Dragging these hard fighting fish up from 50 metres was difficult, and we had no respite because the bite was nothing short of amazing on the first day. With each drift both rods hooked up, time and time again. Big kingfish were being pulled into the boat continuously.
In three hours, four anglers landed 40 kingfish. Most were between 10kg and 15kg. It was great to see my friend Luke in the middle of the action. He’s a big bloke and he caught some very big fish on the first day.
Needless to say, we all slept well that night. We were bruised from the rods slapping against our sides while fighting these tough fish. Over the next two days, the bite wasn’t quite as hot, but the quality of fish improved. Luke finished the trip with a personal best of 17kg.
I was fortunate enough to land the kingfish of my dreams – it was 115cm to the fork of its tail and it weighed 19kgs. It had me wedged against the side of the boat twice during the fight, once on my knees after my shoes slipped under a heavy run.
I would like to give a plug to the boys from Epic Adventures for this experience, and in particular to the skipper Owen for his enthusiasm and expertise. If you want to catch a kingfish of a lifetime from the picturesque shores of New Zealand, be sure to get in touch with them – www.epicadventures.co.nz