Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle

Information Page.

Kingfish at last!

Over the past year my pal Alan in New Zealand has lost several good fish (who hasn't) fishing from the beach at Whangamata. Like all good anglers Alan never gives up, certainly if there's a chance of a decent battle and a good catch. On Boxing Day I had the following email from Alan and at last he's caught one of the culprits. Here's his tale -

Hi Mike,

Just a quick note to find out if you and Lilian are OK and not too adversely affected by the severe storms buffeting southern England.

We are back down in Whangamata after a hectic but fulfilling Christmas Day. Decided not to go out fishing last night but head out first thing on Boxing Day morning instead.

Low tide was at 8.00 am and when I awoke at 5.45 am it was still, warm and overcast. Perfect conditions in paradise. I quickly got dressed, grabbed my tackle and was turning off the ignition in the car park by 6.15 am. The tide was well out and the walk across the flats was beautiful in the early morning light.

Surprisingly the tidal flow was fairly feeble so I opted to attach a 2 1/2" Bento bait on a 1/6 oz Nitro jighead. I hung up on the bottom on the first cast which was slightly upstream which confirmed how anaemic the flow actually was. I was forced to cast slightly downstream and swing the soft plastic lure along the bottom as if it was a wet fly.

It felt very fishy and it came as no surprise when I hooked and landed 10" kahawai on cast 3 and 20. Some inner sense then took hold and I ambled downstream to focus on the area near where a large catamaran was moored.

First cast was retrieved unmolested. Second cast plopped in close to the catamaran and sunk steadily to the bottom. I twitched the lure slightly and it got absolutely monstered by a leviathan. I struck hard, the rod bent double and braid literally evaporated from the spool, cackling loudly as it was torn off layer by layer. The first run saw 40 metres of line disappear as the fish sped out across the channel at warp speed between two yachts. Eventually it stopped and I back pedalled furiously applying side to bring it inside the moored yachts. It was shaking its head furiously but thankfully followed. Next it took off downstream running parallel to the shore, me running to keep up and try to keep level with my rapidly departing foe. I eventually got below it and then it took off back upstream, again with me in hot pursuit. When I got level it turned tail and headed back out towards the open ocean. This time though it managed to catch an underwater snag so I had to wade out up to my thighs to free it. Thankfully it was still attached when I freed the line. By now I could feel that it was tiring so I started to walk it out slowly, straining hard to see what it was. Seconds later a big yellow tail broke the surface and I knew immediately what it was. Kingfish and a good 'un. From there it was relatively straight forward to beach it, take a photograph and gently slide it's 60 cm bulk (~ 9 lb.) back into the estuary.

What a fantastic fight! 20 minutes from go to whoa. Finally, I have found out what I've been losing and they all must have been kingfish. I suspect that the others were all legal (> 75 cm) as I was never able to gain control. Surprisingly small lures work on kingfish.

I switched to Yo-Zuri 3D after I released the kingfish as there was negligible flow. I hooked and landed another two kahawai near main side stream. Finished session at 7.30 am after quick flick at marina entrance. One small kahawai landed in six casts.

No prizes where I'll be heading at low tide tonight. My next challenge will be to land one on a fly rod.

Tight lines and best wishes,


Well there you are! What a cracking fish. As I said to him "It's a shame to call such fantastic fish 'rats'." I expect that now he's had one he'll catch more so 2014 could be a bonanza for my NZ mate.

All the best,


If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


What a fish!  Obviously a close relative of the renowned 'amberjack'.'