Yellowtail kingfish

Yellowtail kingfish

name = Yellowtail kingfish
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Perciformes
familia = Carangidae
genus = "Seriola"
species = "S. lalandi"
subspecies = "S. l. lalandi"
trinomial = "Seriola lalandi lalandi"
trinomial_authority = Valenciennes, 1833

The yellowtail kingfish or southern kingfish, "Seriola lalandi lalandi", is a subspecies of yellowtail amberjack, a jack of the genus "Seriola", found off south eastern Australia and the north east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Their length can reach up to 180 cm.

The yellowtail kingfish is almost legendary for its abilities as a game fish. They are a solid bodied well streamlined fish with a very small first dorsal fin, dark blue-green on the back and silver on the belly, the two colours separated by a yellow stripe. The pelvic fin is blue-white and all the other fins are yellow, including the tail, from which the common name originates.

They are fast swimming active carnivores, moving either singly or in schools of up to thousands of individuals, often seen circling schools of other fish looking for stragglers.

Fishing methods

The yellowtail kingfish is often regarded by anglers as pound for pound the hardest fighting fish in the ocean. The are often referred to as "kings", "kingies" and "yellowtails". Kingfish that are over 1 m in length are often referred to as "hoodlums" because of their difficulty to land once hooked. As soon as a kingfish is hooked, they will often head straight towards the nearest snag or sharp object in an attempt to cut the line. A good place to find kingfish is around pinnacles or heavy structure under the water, but anywhere where bait is present is bound to hold kingfish.

As far as tackle goes, it will vary depending on the size of the kingfish targetted. Small or "rat" kingfish up to 70 cm can be chased with light to medium light outfits ranging from 6 to 20 lb. Larger kingfish ranging from 70 to 100 cm will require heavier tackle ranging from 30 to 50 lb line. Any kingfish larger than that may require heavier line to stop them from reaching the bottom. It is recommended that when targeting large kingfish high quality tackle is used. Kingfish have been known to test reels and rods to the absolute limit. Line choice is normally braided fishing line (made from gel-spun polyethylene) as it is more sensitive and has a thinner diameter.

Kingfish will respond to almost any bait, but baits such as garfish, yellowtail scads, pilchards, slimy mackerel, tommy ruff, juvenile Australian salmon (kahawai) and squid are favourites with squid arguably being the best choice. Live or freshly killed specimens are best. Kingfish will also respond to metal jigs, wobblers, artificial flies, soft plastic "stick baits", poppers and a variety of other lures. Jigging and retrieving a metal jig at a fast pace is an effective way of enticing a kingfish to pounce. Jigging with larger jigs around the 300 gram mark is a good way to attract "hoodlums". It is also common to find schools of kingfish feeding on bait on the surface, this can be observed by boils and crashes on the surface of the water. When this occurs, throwing lures into the school is a productive way of getting the kingfish to strike.

Eating qualities

Opinion on the eating qualities of kingfish varies from person to person. If killed, gutted, bled and put on ice immediately after landing, cooler water kingfish are a fine eating species, especially when eaten raw. Winter fish with a high fat content, especially on the belly flap, are regarded as excellent eating sashimi-style by the Japanese. The fish can also be prepared in many ways, with a favourite being barbecued kingfish steaks. Care should be taken not to overcook as the flesh can dry out. If the fish is left to die a long and stressful death, its flesh can often deteriorate. The flesh of larger specimens can also be dry. In warmer waters, kingfish sometimes carry a microscopic parasite which causes the flesh to turn to mush upon cooking, rendering it inedible.


* Tony Ayling & Geoffrey Cox, "Collins Guide to the Sea Fishes of New Zealand", (William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1982) ISBN 0-00-216987-8

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