Other names: Southern Yellowtail, Kingy, Hoodlum
Regarded by many experienced saltwater anglers as, pound for pound, the toughest fish in the sea, the yellowtail kingfish has a distribution that takes in the inshore waters of the southern half of the Australian mass. This spread extends roughly from Hervey Bay, Queensland, to Shark Bay, Western Australia, and also takes in sections of the Tasmanian coast. A big fast growing schooling fish, the king – as it is aptly known – has been recorded at weights in excess of 50 kgs.
Also found in New Zealand, in the eastern Pacific off southern California and in the Sea of Japan, the kingfish has a close genetic relationship with the amberjack and Samson fish. In “overlap” locations such as offshore reefs in southern Queensland the fish identification skills of anglers have been put to the test when all three have been taken during the same session.
Anglers with the experience to make the call rate the kingfish as the greater challenge. It has a deeper bag of dirty tricks than relatives; hooked kingfish make a beeline for any structure and actually rub against underwater objects in efforts to dislodge lures.
Besides size, strength, a backstreets knowledge of its surrounds, and availability, the things making the kingfish such prime quarry for lurefishers are its aggressive disposition and at times a complete lack of caution. Almost a death wish.
Effective lure techniques include trolling, casting and jigging. In offshore situations – trolling over and past pinnacles – Halco flagships like the Laser Pro 190 and the Giant Trembler take strikes from the biggest kings in the pack. If a closer presentation is needed try the Scorpion 150 with the Crazy Deep bib and a slower trolling speed. Crazy Deep equipped Scorpion can dig to eight metres. Don’t be surprised if the odd snapper latches on to one when you’re working a patch of kingfish.
Metal lures work exceptionally well on kingfish. These versatile lures can be cast or jigged. There are no better all round metal lures than the Twisty Jig or Outcast Jig. Standard Twisty and Outcast lures also makes an excellent choice for casting at surface feeding kingfish schools – tuna, tailor and Australian salmon, too – and performs well at slow speeds or when cranked up. As a jigging lure it has no equals. Extremely responsive when kicked with the rod tip, the Twisty lays horizontally and rotates when falling. This movement maximized the brilliant flash given off by the prismatic Twisty finish – a no risk strike getter.
Yellowtail Kings also love soft plastic offerings and Madeye 8 inch Flick Sticks are awesome producers. Madeye Flick Sticks also come in smaller 5 inch and 3 inch models should the fish become fixated on a particular bait size which happens from time to time.
Minnows, poppers, soft plastics and heavy metal, Halco lures connect with Kingfish.