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    How To Catch Yellowtail Kingfish

    June 11, 2021 4 min read

    catching kingfish

    Kingfish is the toughest fish in the sea. The yellowtail kingfish is widely spread in inshore waters of southern Australia. In this blog, we're going to take a look at one of Sydney's most common prized species, the Yellowtail Kingfish.

    How To Catch Yellowtail Kingfish

    When searching for Kingfish, you want to look for these three key elements, structure, current, and bait. If you line up those three key elements, and add time in the water, you'll eventually find the fish.

    Know Your Species

    Kingfish are a pelagic species, which means they live and travel in the water column, rather than finding a home on the bottom. As a general rule in Sydney, you're going to find the current runs north to south, in line with the East Australian current. So, you're going to want to find areas that catch that current. Look for areas of coastline that jut out a little bit more than others. Google Maps and various different marine charts are really handy to use.

    Find Their Home

    Once you've found a few potential spots, you want to narrow your search down even further and find where that current first hits some structure. The bigger the obstruction, the greater the upwelling will be. You want to look for things like steep drop-offs and large boulders. You can find areas like this with the marine charts where your contour lines stack up close together. As the current is disrupted by these structures, the nutrients in the water are driven upwards, attracting bait fish, and eventually will attract predators like Kingfish.

    Bring A Good Selection Of Jigs And Lures

    One of the most common bait fish that you're going to find is the Yellowtail Scad or Yakka. This is one of the Kingie's most favorite foods, and it's a good place to start concentrating your efforts.

    Get The Right Fishing Gear

    Before you head out there into the blue, you really need to make sure that you've got the right gear to do the job. There's nothing worse than putting in the time to put yourself in front of a fish and then missing out because you've got the wrong gear.


    A 1.1 to 1.3-meter gun should give you enough range without limiting your maneuverability, and give you enough power to punch through a solid fish like a Kingie. Make sure you have a really sharp spear and to give your gear a once-over each time you go out. Kingfish are a super powerful fish and will find any weak spots in your gear.

    Float and Float Line

    Secondly, you're going to want a float and a float line. There is a lot of boat traffic in Sydney, and there's a high risk of getting hit. The float and float line will also help you fight a powerful Kingfish and stop you from losing all of your gear.

    Fishing Knife

    A sharp knife is also really important, not only to dispatch a big fish, but also to cut yourself free in case you get tangled. It's also a really good idea to have your knife accessible from both hands.

    Burley and Flashers

    Flashers are a really good addition to add to your arsenal when chasing Kingfish. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be easily made at home out of old wine bags or be bought straight off-the-shelf. Once you're out there and you've found a suitable spot, you want to unwind your flashers to a suitable depth and maybe add in a slow stream of burley or chum. Working as a team will definitely increase your chances at seeing a Kingfish. Take turns with your buddy. While one dives, the other can work with burley and the flashers.

    Make sure you don't stare directly at the flasher. You want to look around and catch a Kingfish coming in before it loses interest. Take turns shooting burley, and remember, action creates action. Kingies will often show up in schools. Make sure not to dive-bomb your mate if they're already down. A wounded Kingfish will hold the whole school and often give the second diver a chance at shooting a bigger one. If everyone's trying to rush the school for themselves, they can spook, leaving you with only hard-luck stories.

    Be Patient And Don’t Give Up

    Hunting Sydney Kingfish is a patience game. Once you've found a good area with the key elements, have faith that you're in the correct spot and it's only a matter of putting in the time to increase your chances. Don't be disheartened if you put in 10 dives and not even see a fish. Oftentimes, just when you're about to give up is usually when the fish arrive, and there's nothing more satisfying than getting a Kingfish after putting in so many hours. Being on the doorstep of Australia's largest city, people like to keep their cards close to their chest. It's a good idea to find some keen divers and keep a select network to find out where the fish are showing up, without exciting the whole of Sydney to swarm your favorite dive spot.

    Avoid Large Movements

    Now that all your hard work has paid off and a big healthy Kingfish swims underneath you, you need to know how to approach it. After spending numerous dives chasing this fish, it can be really hard to control your excitement and act disinterested. Like any fish, an aggressive approach is going to send it swimming. A calm, nonthreatening dive, not directly at the fish and minimizing eye contact should get you within an effective shooting range.

    Learn How To Aim Properly

    Kingfish are known for being really good fighters, so good shot placement is vital. A shot from behind the pec fin out the gill plate is good to control the head from the surface. Be very wary of your lines because Kingfish will fight to the death and are very capable of drowning a diver. A quick cut behind the gills will ensure a delicious sashimi-grade Kingfish.