Warm Water Kingfish in Mid Winter


The Pt Augusta power station at the top of South Australia’s Spencer Gulf is home to a truly amazing kingfish fishery.  Every year as the weather begins to cool schools of yellowtail kingfish, ranging from 5 – 40kg in size, make their way towards the hot water outlet channel.  Yes you read that right – fish to 40kg as Lubin Pfeiffer explains in this article.


Double Trouble: Yes, the double hookup and capture of some big power station kingfish.









These huge ‘power station Kings’ I am talking about usually hang around until the beginning of summer and they obviously provide outstanding shallow water sport fishing. While hooking these fish may not be all that hard at times, it’s the stopping that is the difficult part to the equation, but it’s a whole lot of fun trying!
The incredible part of fishing at the power station is that it can be done in a small dingy and very close to shore. In this article I’ll run through a few of the techniques used while fishing for the power station kings.

Bite Times For Big Kings

Soft plastics can be deadly effective on these tough fighting fish.

Soft plastics can be deadly effective on these tough fighting fish.

The power stations kings usually start to arrive around April/May and will hang around until late November or early December.Early mornings are definitely prime time but kings can turn up at any time of the day. Still sunny weather will also lead to better fishing and planning trips around good weather windows is smart fishing.



Live Baiting Options

Hooked up to a solid, power station king while fishing Port Augusta.

Hooked up to a solid, power station king while fishing Port Augusta.

Live baiting is the most common method for targeting kingfish around the hot water outlet. These are either free swimming or suspended underneath a balloon fished on jig outfits with 24kg braid and 36kg fluorocarbon leaders.

The best live baits included salmon trout, garfish and squid. The salmon trout can be caught by casting or trolling small lures around the many mangrove banks in the area. The salmon really seem to love to hang out in the mangroves and usually are not too hard to find. Garfish take a little more getting as early starts are required to get out before first light to dab these fish up with bright lights and a dabbing net. Garfish are very time consuming to catch using a hook and line and dabbing them is a far better option. Squid can be caught using cloth covered jigs cast over the many weed beds that lie in front of the shacks area to the south of the power station.
The squid are around in good numbers early in the season but can become tougher to catch once the water begins to warm. Live baiting is very much a waiting game at the power station, with some anglers landing a trophy quite easily and others simply never losing a bait. The kingfish can be quite selective, especially after they’ve seen a few hundred baits!

Down Rigging for Kingies 

Monster kings like this solid fish are possible on lure, fly, bait and via down rigging as explained in the article.

Monster kings like this solid fish are possible on lure, fly, bait and via down rigging as explained in the article.

Down rigging has been gaining popularity over the last couple of years and it is now not uncommon to have 15 boats or more trolling their way around the many structures of the power station.

This technique is actually proving to be the go-to for many of the better anglers and the results they are getting really make it worthwhile. Squid are the prime down rigging baits, with bigger being better in this case. Attach the squid with two hooks, one at the tip of the tube and the other just near the opening of the tube by their heads.  Kingfish sometimes rip the heads off the squid, so having that extra hook is a must! Trolling baits near to the bottom appears to get the best results and speeds are usually a fast walking pace. While the kings can turn up anywhere within the channel, trolling along the walls of the power station is the productive option.

Stick Baits and Poppers

The author with yet another tackle-stretching power station king.

The author with yet another tackle-stretching power station king.

Casting stick baits and poppers is one of the most exciting ways to catch the kingfish at the PowerStation and every year some absolute crackers fall to lures. If I am blind searching, then I would use a larger stick bait to create as much noise and movement as possible, where as if we are casting to busting up fish, small and more natural looking stick baits are the go.
Large plastic Slug-go’s are also dynamite. Blind search involves drifting around covering any likely locations such as channel markers, the rock walls or the outlet wall in search of cruising kings. You will know if they are there because they absolutely smash it when they want it! Poppers can be fished in much the same manner.

Winter Kings when Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for the Pt Augusta power station kingfish would easily be my most challenging but favourite method to use. There is nothing quite like the feeling when you are casting a fly in to a foaming mass of angry kings smashing a garfish school to pieces! 12wt outfits are a must for this style of fishing as a 20kg fish will give you quite the battle around the structure of the power station, more are lost than won!
I like to use an intermediate sinking like for sight casting as this puts the fly just under the surface.
The most successful fly patterns I have used are those mimicking local food sources such as garfish and squid. Usually once the king sees the fly it is just a matter of stripping like crazy and then hoping for the best once the line springs tight, and making sure those fingers are clear!

Big Changes Ahead

After more than 50 years in operation, it had been announced the Pt. Augusta power station is set to be shut down for good around March 2016, with the loss of more than 450 jobs to the local area.

What this means for the kingfish fishery is anyone’s guess.

I’m sure the kings will continue to arrive each winter but surely the fishing will be a bit different. Let’s hope the big fish return and continue to excite and frustrate anglers for many years to come!


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Next Cool Water, Big Tuna !


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