The Kingdom of Eden
January 11, 2009
Appears courtesy of South East and West Fishing magazine.
Written by Dan Lee.
Yellowtail Kingfish have a notoriety rivaled by few. If you fish or you have ever picked up a fishing magazine, you will have an idea of what “King” is! And more than likely you will have shared a common thought when it comes to this particular piscatorial powerhouse “gotta do that one of these days!” These tackle busting aquarians have a big reputation. From “rat” to 60lb behemoth, these fish have the punch of an Abrams Tank and the speed of a V8 Supercar… or so I’d heard. Having never caught a Kingfish, I was rapt when an invite came through to join a group of older fishos on their annual trip to Eden. Finally, that long held dream was about to come true!
Luke “Tassie” Taylor, also a first time King-hunter, would be my partner in crime for the week. The ‘Ol Mates’ we partnered had made Eden an annual trip and, although well into their sixties, simply loved the physical wrestle of nailing a Big King.So it was with some excitement when February finally rolled around, we hooked up the boat and headed off in search of an Eden King. From Melbourne, it was an easy drive. There was much excited chatter and only a one quick petrol stop, such was our enthusiasm to arrive.
We stayed at the Shadrack Resort which is located only a couple of minutes from the ramp. This is about a ten minute drive from the main drag in Eden. So the Shadrack was pretty ideal, plenty of room for the boat (including a wash facility) and a fridge for the drinks - we’re pretty easily satisfied!
That evening we finalized our rigs, one jigging rod each and one live-bait rod each. I gave Tassie his side of the boat and told him to keep his distance – I was going to need plenty of room to bring the big fish in! His laughter was that of a man unimpressed. There’s nothing like the friendly ribbing of two excited fishos on a trip away from home. So after a basic meal (two blokes don’t need more than two minute noodles do they!?) we satisfied ourselves with a few friendly ales and more excited talk in anticipation of the following day.
The First Morning
As it was, and apparently as it happens with reasonable frequency in Eden, the wind was blowing the following morning. Not to let that deter us we headed off for Mowarry point, albeit at a slower rate of knots than what we would have liked. We arrived forty odd minutes later. Not expecting much and still getting used to the art of jigging, it was with some surprise that on the first drift, third drop of the jigs, the call came from the other side of the boat. I looked over to see Tassie Taylor connected to what looked like 240v of electricity!
“Dan, I’m on, I’m on!” he cried. The staccato madness of an enraged King headed for the reef.
“I’m on Dan, I’m on!”
“I heard you mate. Do you need a hand? You look like you’re having a tough time of it there…!?”
A big man of 6”4”, carrying a couple of extra kg, I could almost see the sheen of sweat break upon his brow, his knees began to tremble…ok maybe I’m imagining things. But needless to say the fish was giving him a bit of the old one, two. Rod tip to the water, Tassie was giving it what he could, and the King kept going. When it finally surfaced it was not a huge fish, and for those who target the species regularly probably not much more than a ‘rat’, but for two Melbourne boys, on their first pilgrimage to Eden – it was a Piscean wonder.
Tassie Taylor nails a quality Eden King.
For those who have never caught a king, it is a pretty special fish. Strong, powerful and shaped something akin to a Cruise Missile, its destructive force is something to behold! I, like many others, had read plenty of articles on the tackle busting ability of these fish. So I am pleased to say that it was probably with more good sense than good fortune that I decided to buy a few pieces of extra hardware for our journey to Eden. After briefly considering some basic over heads and inappropriate rods I use while fishing in Melbourne, I decided to invest in a couple of nice Shimano T-curve jigging rods, a Shimano Torium 30 reel and Spheros 12000FA. And let me say, the first time I heard the drag screaming under pressure – I said thanks to Neptune himself (the old guy with the beard and trident)! Without doubt my old gear would simply have vaporized into a puff of salty air.
There is something special about the look a man gets on his face the first time he hooks up to a King. A blend of fear and elation – if you’ve ever been married you might know what I’m talking about! And when the fish finally hits the floor it is definitely a high-five moment. Exaltation followed quickly by “get the jigs down, get the jigs down – we’re over the fish now!”When my time came, rather than the Exocet Missile I hoped for, I connected to a much more modest version of the fish. The frenetic run not much more than the over excited pull of a fish barely able to claim the title teen. This was the Hyundai Excel version of a King Fish. A “rat” in true. Needless to say, at about 35cm, a fair amount of jeering, spluttering and general verbal rubbish drifted from the opposite side of the boat. I upsized my jig and glared.So it was with some rapture, not long after, that Number 2 came aboard my side of the boat. Now I am not the most experienced angler in the world but I’ve caught my share of southern and northern species and I have to say that pound for pound, I haven’t experienced anything like the pull of a King. They have zip and fire and just when you think it is over they turn on the afterburners – and this was on school size fish! I really just could not believe it. Bandits with Bazookas – in a big way.
Muscle on muscle, these fish pull hard as author, Dan Lee, found out!
While locals probably sneeze and have a giggle at the hordes of touring anglers who high-tail it for Mowarry Point in search of an Eden King, the ease of locality and the general consistency with which Kings are caught in the area means that it is fairly easy for a first timer to get up there and get amongst it. You only have to leave the harbour and head south and you will see numerous boats working the point, weekday and weekend alike.
The remainder of our trip saw us getting stuck into good kings each day. They were not huge fish, ranging from 5 – 9kg, but for the uninitiated like Tassie and I, certainly a whole lot fun. Interestingly it was only on the first day that we had any success with the jigs. After that all the fish we caught were on livies. Sourcing your livies is definitely an enjoyable appetizer to the main game. On the first day Tassie and I pulled up in one of the many small bays on the way to Mowarry Point. We started a bit of a berley trail and within minutes had schools of Jack and Slimey Mackerel, Silver Trevally and numerous other fish schooling at the back of the boat. We punched the mark into the GPS, thinking that we must have landed on the greatest livie mark in the world. It was only in subsequent days that we found that the huge amount of live bait is available the length of the coastline! I suppose that’s what you get when you take two Melbourne fishos out of Port Phillip Bay – wide eyes, awe and amazement!
We fished 5 days at Eden, and were happy to satisfy ourselves with the Kings although in truth this is only a fraction of what Eden has on offer by way of angling activities. Each day when back at the ramp I was impressed by the bags of flathead, snapper, gummy shark, salmon & tuna being cleaned at the equally impressive cleaning tables (wish we saw a few more of those around Melbourne!). And that’s not to mention the game possibilities, when weather permits. So, all in all we quenched our first and immediate thirst for a Kingy. And yet, with so many, many possibilities to explore there is no doubt in my mind that sometime soon we’ll be back in the Kingdom of Eden!