The yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) is generally just called “kingie” in Australia.
In other places it is called yellowtail amberjack.
This large pelagic predatory fish is found in Australia’s southern waters from North Reef in Queensland to Trigg Island, Western Australia, including around Tasmania.
Its presence in Tasmania appears to be increasing with global warming.
Some headlands and islands are noted for their kingfish, for example, Bells Pyramid off New South Wales. At nearby Lord Howe Island large kingfish are fed by hand at high tide at a beach location.
Kingfish stocks in South Australia have been boosted by aquaculture escapes, and fish trapping restrictions in New South Wales in the 1990s saw the species make a huge rebound.
They are now common in Sydney Harbour.
Kingies are popular with fishermen because they are powerful and easily accessible, as they tend to live around coastal rocky reefs to a depth of 50m, more rarely being found to 300m depth.
They are often found in tidal rips and areas where there are large amounts of baitfish.
Kingfish are generally caught during the warmer months in the more temperate parts of their range.
They grow to an impressive 180cm but the usual catch is much smaller.
Small fish form large schools while big fish travel alone or in small groups.
It is said that big fish are more often found around islands but this may simply be a result of coastal fishing pressure.
Small kingfish take a variety of lures, with simple chrome slices being as good as anything.
The small shoaling fish will compete for lures at times, making them an easy catch.
Big fish tend to be more wary and a livebait might be needed to tempt them, especially in hard-fished areas.
A wire trace is not generally used for kingfish, and hook and line size depend on the size of the fish being targeted.
Kingies often run for structure when hooked so it pays to fish with adequate strength line, with 10kg braid being a good all-round line for medium-sized fish.
Rock fishermen must be suitably equipped with gear to safely land big fish.
As with most fish, dawn and dusk can produce the best bite results, but kingies will bite during the day, and especially around the turn of the tide.
Kingfish are good to eat and have become an important aquaculture species.
In 2010, the Stehr Group in South Australia became the largest producer of kingfish in the world.
Trials elsewhere in Australia have been undertaken, including around Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia.
New Zealand and Chile are trialling sea cage and landbased farming.
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