Catching Kingies from the beach with JP Bartholomew

Catching Kingies from the beach with JP Bartholomew

“It has been absolutely marvellous having guest writer (and seriously hot angler) JP Bartholomew (pictured) share his remarkeable catches with us here on Many thanks JP and please keep ’em coming!  -Shonalanga”

Over to you JP…

Every angler dreams of tussling with that aggressive and dirty fighter,the (Caranx ignobilis) – the Giant Kingfish -and I ‘m no different. However, although the Giant Kingfish is top of the list,there are many other Kingfish species that are almost as exciting to catch. My quest for special prized Kingfish began fresh one morning in May when I knew the big boys were coming down for the biggest event of the year – the annual Sardine Run!
I headed down to my favourite stretch of beach at Umdloti South around 07:30am. The fishing conditions were perfect – it was a few days after Full Moon and with a slight south westerly wind blowing with a pushing in tide. I was using my new Explorer 9-wt Classic 2 fitted with a Orion 9wt, Snowbee Intermediate line and a 40lb flouro leader. The heavy leader sinks quickly,ensuring my fly reaches the strike zone quicker and a lot less easier to be cut off by your kingfish at the end of your line.

After tying on a brown brush fly I tried my first spot where two reefs separate and there’s a nice deep channel – perfect for Kingies. I had no luck there, so I moved on, casting as I walked the stretch of beach. My second spot featured a good drop off  where there’s a fairly deep gulley and I knew baitfish would be hanging around. Over the previous weeks, I had seen kingfish come in and smash the baitfish trapped in the gulley.
I stripped off line to get a good cast into the all-important strike zone , then allowed the fly to sink before starting my retrieve with a medium-fast to fast action. If there was a kingfish in the area I was hoping it would see the fly imitating a small fleeing baitfish and would hopefully smash it , but not to be – all quiet.

On my walk to the next spot, I changed the brown brush fly to a red and black brush fly fitted with a 4/0 Mustad hook. I was hoping that this would be the fly that breaks the camels back. When I reached Reef Bay I started stripping off line ,determined I would have success. In this bay there is a lot of scattered rocks structure and kingfish hang around the area hoping to  ambush unsuspecting baitfish.
On my sixth or seventh cast I let the leader sink slowly before starting to retrieve my line. On my second pull the line went tight and the water boiled in front of me in the shore break. I was On !
Judging by the continuous head shakes I was pretty sure I’d hooked into a decent kingie on the end of my line. He was stripping off line very quickly and before I knew it I was into my backing. Kingies are dirty fighters so I had to turn this fish around and keep him off the reef, otherwise, he would definitely cut me off. I was lucky the tide was still coming in and the water fairly shallow , so I kept my rod high and the line tight and gradually began to turn him and get the better of him.
As I started retrieving some line back I could see the silver shape of the fish in front of me. Despite him making the odd run, trying to get into deeper water where he would try to cut me off,he was coming closer and started to use the shore break to bring him in and tire him out.

At last I could see the size and species of kingfish – it was a whopper of a Black Tip Kingfish – at least 6- 7 kilos ! Finally, a nice size wave helped bring him in closer to allow me to beach him. I was thrilled – my biggest BlackTip Kingfish on fly. I quickly measured the  fish ,and with a length of 81 cm I reckoned was about 7.8kg. I quickly  forgot my tiredness and looked around for another angler to take a picture of me holding this amazing specimen, all the while aware that he was also tired and needed to get him back into the water as soon as possible. Fortunately an elderly gentleman walking his dog saw me fighting my fish and was eager to see my catch he took the picture for me before I safely returned the kingfish back to the ocean.

With the right conditions and a few days after a full moon ,you are bound to into something interesting – and hopefully big – on this stretch of beach. Many other species of kingfish can also be caught at Umdloti South; I’ve caught GT’s, Brazzy’s and Bigeyed kingfish and then, of course there are the Kob and Giant Blue Shad  and Grunter as well as many others if you’re prepared  to put in the time and effort.
Always remember that any fish which has endured a long fight needs  to be revived by getting to get sea water to flow over his gills before it’s released back into the water. Ensure you take that special photo of your catch and quickly release it and let your fish roam free. Each new fishing trip,each cast ,each fish caught Becomes a unique once in a lifetime Experience…….!!!

Enjoy the reading and remember LET GO LET GROW……!!

Cheers JP.

The bottom Picture is the Red and Black Brush Fly I was using when i caught the Black Tip Kingfish.

“And the accompanying gallery, if your not already squirming to go fishing…” – S


“JP has been invited down to the Umzimkulu Marina this weekend to take on the gamefish action in the river mouth and estuary – watch this space!”

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