While catching kingfish is amazing and awesome, taking care of my catch is equally important.
Whether you’re targeting kingfish or it’s an incidental (and most welcome) catch for the day make sure you're prepared to look after your fish.
This includes having salt ice on board. Salt ice makes a big difference to how the fish tastes at the end of the day believe it or not.
How are you going to kill the fish? Iki spike or knife through the brain? Heavy stick or baton? Make sure you have something on board to iki or kill your fish quickly.
Is your chilli bin big enough? If not do you have an insulated kill bag or even a couple of black sacks handy that you can fill with ice to keep the fish cold, but that don’t take up heaps of room.
People I’ve fished with have different methods they use, my preferred method is to kill the fish as soon after it comes on board with a baton.
Firmly hit the fish on top of the head just back from the eyes, you may need to do this a couple of times.
I personally don’t like the idea of a fish dying slowly in the chilli bin because I think it’s cruel. I love kingfish and want to respect the life I’ve taken by not letting it suffer a slow death.
Some people use iki spikes, some a knife – but the head plate is quite hard so if you use these techniques be careful.
The other reason to kill the fish straight away is that it makes a difference to how the fish tastes. Top export quality fish is killed straight away so the flesh is soft and tender. A fish that dies slowly is stressed and the flesh tightens resulting in a big taste difference.
This needs to be done straight away and really comes down to personal preference. Some people bleed kingfish, some don’t. My preference is to bleed them so that there’s more white flesh and less red flesh (which I don’t particularly enjoy eating), so less wasted meat.
To let water flow over the fish Tony Orton from Offshore Adventures puts a rope around the tail of the fish and tying it off on the back of the boat so water circulates when it is bled. The flowing water helps the blood flow out for a few minutes. If it’s a particularly hot day you might want to hang a wet towel over fish to keep it cool.
To bleed the fish you’ll find a membrane under the gill plate joined to the main body of the fish (separate to the gills). If you insert the knife down and run it along this membrane it will cut the main arteries that lets the blood run out. Be careful not to hold the fish when you do this, if it moves you can cut yourself.
Kingfish is an amazing and versatile fish. Look after your catch well and taste the rewards! Good luck out there.