I was lucky enough to spend a recent weekend in Eden. We headed out on the boat on Saturday, with the forecast of an early light northerly turning around to a light, 10 knot sou-easter mid-morning. Almost perfect conditions for Eden, due to the lay of the land and sea. Anyway, on rounding south head we were greeted with a decent little swell and a bit of chop, so motored fairly slowly down to Mowarry. One of the pros was out there jigging away, which is always a good sign, but there weren’t many other boats around and none of them seemed to be having any luck.
When the pro took off towards Greencape, my heart sank a little, but we resolved to head to a few marks and have a look to see what we could see on the sounder. We must have driven around for half an hour before spotting anything. ‘Have a drop on that’ was the call, but on looking at the sounder it didn’t look like much to me. After a few drifts one of the guys said he’d had a touch.
After driving around a bit more and drifting along, Hamish spotted a tiny pinnacle on the bottom with a few fish sitting on top. We dropped again and finally had a hookup. Not a huge fish at around 75cm, but great to get one on board and it was also Perrin’s first kingy, so we were all pretty cheering.
We started spotting more and more fish on the sounder…at one point, they were thick. Despite me being convinced they were kingfish, Hamish suggested that they were probably leatherjacket, as evidenced by a few small taps he’d had while letting the jig sit still. Soon after I pulled up a leatherjacket that had found the hook on my jig. Nonetheless, I was quite happy to continue dropping and jigging onto what were evidently large schools of fish. However, as my arms began to tire, I began to listen to Hamish and try to get a feel for what looked ‘good’ (‘DROP DROP DROP!!!’) and what looked ‘no good’ (‘Ah yeah maybe have a drop if ya feel like it’).
The ‘good’ spot to drop was literally right on top of this little pinnacle. We only had about 30 seconds during the drift where we would come onto it, and with closer inspection, the signature of the kingfish on the sounder was clear. They were showing up as tiny black dots, well-dispersed, but concentrated in what was probably a 10 metre cone around the tiny pinnacle. Either side of them were large schools of leatherjackets, as evidenced by the thick and messy signature on the sounder (and the few that we hooked).
Anyway, feeling a bit more strategic, we did a number of drifts and managed to hook and land another two fish between 70-75cm, with most of us at least getting a hit or a nudge.
In terms of jigging techniques, small and twitchy was the order of the day. This was also much nicer on my arms, which were sore from the morning’s over-zealousness. We tried a few colours and sizes and found that the only thing getting hit were small green or blue jigs. Yellow, pink and orange didn’t get a look.
We didn’t see anyone else catch a fish and we heard from some kingfish gurus we know that nobody was catching any. A bit of knowledge about what to look for (thanks Hamish) and varying up the jigging technique, size and colour of the jigs paid dividends.
We finished the session early with a few ocean perch off the bottom and a couple of huge abalone. Later in the day we sat down to kingfish sashimi, abalone and sage pizza and a cold beer. Doesn’t get much better than that!