Fishing from a boat or the shore at this time of year, live-baiting is a good option to catch kingfish (legal size 75cm).
The Auckland harbour/gulf, 46m at its average deepest, is too shallow to effectively jig for good size kingfish. That leaves other options: trolling with bibbed diving lures around structure or shallows, stick-baiting, or live-baiting.
The squeamish might want to look away now: that leaves live-baiting. Live-baiting is just that – a small, live, bait fish is impaled by a small, sharp hook, and presented at depth (or partly suspended near the surface by a party balloon). Mackerel, koheru, live squid, or small kahawai are the best live-bait to catch a kingfish. A big snapper snapper will also take them.
Live bait is usually pinned through the scruff of the neck just below the skin with the point of the hook facing forward.
To increase your hookup rate and presentation, use a 2m, 60-80lb fluorocarbon leader. A 4/0-8/0 lightweight hook will not tire the bait to quickly.
Tie the hook on with a Rapala loop or free swinging loop, so the bait presents more naturally and swims in a less restricted motion.
Best be ready when the kingfish strikes. Have your reel drag set correctly, fresh knots and line in good condition. If you hook a kingfish, watch when it gets close to the boat because often a few fish – maybe bigger – will follow it so have a fresh live bait (with a 3-4oz egg sinker on your main line) ready to drop.
You’ve probably got another 4-5 weeks of kingfish action in the gulf – make the most of it.