Yellowtail Kingfish on Saltwater Fly – Fishing the Collingwood Flats, Golden Bay, Nelson, New Zealand
Here are two great videos about fly fishing for yellowtail kingfish on the Collingwood Flats that will get your blood pumping. This is some of the most exciting fishing imaginable. If you have never caught a yellowtail kingfish you are in for a real treat when you do. They fight and pull the line like an enormous kahawai (except they don’t jump). In New Zealand, kingfish are a prime target for saltwater fly fishing.
Collingwood is a beautiful spot in Golden Bay some 130 km north of Nelson city at the top of the South Island. The trip by car from Nelson to the small township of Collingwood takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. There is a petrol station, general store, a couple of cafes, a campground, motel and several other shops.
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The attraction for anglers is the kingfish which come in to feed on the rising tide over the vast tidal flats. Shoals of kingfish follow the stingrays as they hunt flounders on the sandy bottom. The kingfish follow in close attendance as the rays stir up the bottom, causing small fish to panic, then chased down and eaten by the kingfish. You have all the ingredients needed for presenting a fly to these site hunters in crystal-clear water. Stingrays have razor-sharp barbs and it is a good idea to wear stout boots as its possible you might step on one.
The best time of year for saltwater fly fishing over the Collingwood flats is between December and March but February seems to be the most popular month. The legal size is 75cm with many of the kingis being between 60 and 70cm. Practically every fly fisher releases them anyway. As sea temperatures have warmed the king es are becoming much more prevalent than they used to be in these South Island waters.
Most anglers utilise fly rods between eight and ten weight in size, throwing floating, intermediate sinking, or combination lines, with a short leader tapered to 8-10kg tippet and attached to a large saltwater fly such as a Clouser minnow or deceiver.
The preferred tackle is an eight to ten weight saltwater flyrod matched to a suitable strongly made and corrosion-resistant fly reel. Either floating or intermediate sinking fly lines are used with a short 8-10kg tapered leader. The ideal flies are Clouser minnows or biggish deceivers. Provided it isn’t too windy you can also try a popper fly which floats on the surface and when retrieved causes splashes that look to the kingfish like a fleeing baitfish. Watch for the bow wave of a fast-chasing kingfish.
That’s Malcolm Bell from The Complete Angler tackle store, in Christchurch city, in the top video. If you are serious about catching a yellowtail kingfish on the Collingwood flats Malcolm has all the fishing gear, you’ll need along with advice worth listening to.
Saltwater fly fishing on the world-renowned Collingwood flats is as exciting as fishing gets. It can also be tiring wading through water especially when the wind gets up. It helps if you can cast a good distance and you simply cannot strip your line too quickly to attract a strike. Sun and wind protection is a must if you want to avoid looking like a red beetroot.
I hope you’ll enjoy these two saltwater fly-fishing videos as they both provide a glimpse into this incredibly exciting form of fishing.