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Bring On The Bandits And Hoodlums!

By Pascal Geraghty on September 25, 2015 in Other

Photo: Pascal Geraghty

Photo: Pascal Geraghty

Who’d have thought getting absolutely smashed up by a hoodlum was a good thing?

And not just a good thing, a great thing! Something dreams are made of, driving countless fanatics to risk their lives scaling down frayed ropes and crumbly ladders all over the Eastern Suburbs to the sandstone platforms below. There they brave wind and weather and duck and weave surging waves, just for that chance to go toe-to-toe with a rampaging bandit.

For those not familiar with the evocative vocabulary of diehard anglers, we’re talking about fishing for yellowtail kingfish. Arguably the holy grail of Sydney’s fisher folk, kingies come in all makes and models, from small ‘rats’ to great big ‘pigs’, and pound for pound they’d drop Money Mayweather like a sack of proverbial sinkers.

In addition to their prowess in stripping monofilament, these scaly heavyweights also make regular appearances in bento boxes around the globe, thanks to their deliciously delicate flesh.

In NSW the minimum legal length (MLL) for kingfish is currently 65cm, which they reach at about two to three years of age. In other words, kingfish that are caught measuring smaller than this must, by law, be returned to their home.

This size limit caused quite a stir when it was first introduced. Commercial line operators copped a financial hit on the chin, while part-time punters were left flabbergasted that, after the fight of their lives, they’ve had to release their trophy fish and return sheepishly home empty-handed yet again. Unfortunately, however, there are some fishers out there who say to hell with that and flip the metaphorical bird to the rules by keeping bucket loads of undersized rats.

Most people understand that size limits are implemented with sustainability in mind. They are designed to give the females a chance to reach sexual maturity (and hence reproduce) before they are caught and served with a squeeze of lemon. This is the ideal scenario.

Interestingly, however, research has revealed that female kingfish don’t actually reach sexual maturity until 80cm at the earliest, with a large proportion only becoming mature around the 95cm mark. It was recognised by the powers that be that implementing such a high MLL would effectively put an end to the fishery fishery and turn it into a catch- and- release species. For kingfish, therefore, the current MLL of 65 cm represents a compromise between the interests of recreational and commercial fishers and the scientific research data.

I can vouch for the fact that hooking up on a ball-tearing hoodlum is one of life’s little must-do experiences. They will make a mess of your fishing gear and strain your vertebral discs to their limits, but you’ll come away with a toothy grin, a squirt of adrenalin and a healthy dose of respect for these humble creatures. So I urge everyone to continue, or begin, to respect the size limit for kingfish, and those the limit for all other fish for that matter. If not, our kids may never know the joy of getting manhandled by these sashimi-grade torpedoes of the sea.