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    Spearing Yellowtail Kingfish

    September 06, 2022 5 min read

    Spearing Yellowtail Kingfish

    Yellowtail Kingfish are a challenging and fantastic eatingpelagic species of fish, which means they live and travel in the water column, rather than finding a home on the bottom. The east coast of NSW Australia provides some of the best fisheries for Yellowtail Kingfish, giving southern spearos a good chance at spearing one of these fantastic pelagics.

    Like most pelagic species, the Yellowtail Kingfish can develop to a whopping size and have been recorded to grow to 2.5m in length! Fish up to 30kgs are not uncommon along the NSW coastline. As expected, trying to spear a fish of this size can be a challenging expedition, but with the right gear, locations and a team, taking home a Yellowtail Kingfish is just a matter of time not chance.


    Step 1. Gear for Spearfishing Yellowtail Kingfish

    There's nothing worse than putting in the time in the water, only to fail due to your setup.

    • A 1.1m-1.3m Speargun, nothing too heavy so you can maintain manoeuvrability and range to secure a good shot. 
    • Kingy's will find any weak spot in your gear, so be sure to give your mono, crimps, flopper and shark clips a thorough check or upgrade before heading out. [
    • Kingfish are VERY curious fish! Using a flasher will greatly improve your odds of luring them in, and having them hang around long enough to get a shot. 

    View our full pelagic gear guide here.


    Step 2. Finding Yellowtail Kingfish

    Yellowtail Kingfish are primarily found in open waters off the East and West Coasts of Australia that house three key elements: structure, current and bait. Also, Kingfish are one of the few Pelagic species in Australia that can be dived for without the need of a boat. Spearos seeking some fresh Kingy can shore dive off headlands along the coast.


    Finding the Current

    ForSydney-siders seeking a feed of Yellowtail Kingfish, you're going to find the current predominantly runs North to South, in line with the East Australian Current. So, you're going to want to look for areas that catch that current. Keeping an eye out for areas of coastline that jut out more than others is a good starting point. Google Maps and various different marine charts are perfect for this, and can help identify the best spots to begin your hunt. 


    Finding the Structures

    As a general rule, 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 predators like Kingfish.


    Finding the Bait

    One of the most common bait fish that you're going to find is the Yellowtail Scad (Yakka) or Slimy Mackerel. These are some of the Kingy's favourite foods, and it's a good place to start concentrating your efforts. Put simply, if you look for the prey you’ll find the predator or in this case the Kingy.


    Patience is Key

    If you stick to areas like this and meet the three key elements, all that's left is throwing some time in the water and you’ll be sure to eventually come across some Yellowtail Kingfish. Some spearos might go ten dives before seeing a kingy, and right when they’re about to give up an impressive school will drift in. So, it's important to stay persistent and trust the process; they’re out there, all you need is patience.

    Step 3. Hunting & Spearing Kingfish

    How to Spear Yellowtail Kingfish

    Once you're out there and you've found a suitable spot, you want to unwind yourflashers to a suitable depth and maybe add in a slow stream of burley. 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 losesinterest. Take turns shooting burley, and remember, action creates action. Kingys will often show up in schools, so 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.


    How to Approach Yellowtail Kingfish

    After spending numerous dives chasing a Kingy, it can be really hard to control your excitement and act disinterested. But, like any fish, an aggressive approach is going to send it swimming. A calm, non-threatening dive, not directly at the fish and minimizing eye contact should get you within an effective shooting range.


    Shooting Technique for Yellowtail Kingfish

    Kingfish are known for being really good fighters, so good shot placement is vital. A large kingy can easily drown an unprepared spearo and find pitfalls in your gear fast. Before taking the shot, make sure you have the right gear and an easily accessible and reliable knife.

    A shot from behind the pec fin and out the gill plate is good to control the head from the surface. As they fight, keeping control of the head and their run is key to having a successful and safe dive. A quick cut behind the gills to bleed the fish immediately when caught will ensure a delicious sashimi-grade Kingfish too.


    Hot Tips from Michael Takachi

    1. FLASHERS: Use flashers and consider using some burley (consider using old fish frames from your last catch!)
    2. TEAMS: Work in a team - while one dives, the other works the burley and flashes 
    3. DON'T: Don't dive bomb your mate in a school of kingys. A wounded kingy will often hold the rest of them around, so once your mate has one you'll get your shot. Dive bombing can spook the whole school!
    4. PATIENCE and time in the water is KEY!
    5. STAY COOL: Act disinterested - an aggressive approach to hunting will send them swimming.
    6. BE CAREFUL: Be wary of your lines and have a knife accessible from both sides - a big Kingfish is very capable of drowning a diver
    7. BLEED 'EM: Cut behind the gills immediately to bleed the fish, ensuring it's a good sashimi-grade kingy

    Step 4: Cooking your Kingfish

    Kingfish are absolutely delicious! Whether that's smoked, fried, ceviched or fresh as Sashimi- they're a versatile fish to cook up many delicious meals.

    **Get Pip Sumbak to make a Sashimi Catch and Cook (Best cuts, best practice after catching, home made sauces to go with)**


    The dreaded Kingfish Mush!

    It’s important to note that some Kingfish, particularly those caught around the warmer waters north of Coffs Harbour, can turn to mush once you begin to cook it due to a parasite. This parasite is known as Kudo, and releases an enzyme once the fish if dead, which breaks down the flesh of the fish and results in a mushy texture when eaten.

    Whilst this parasite is not harmful to people, the taste and texture is very unpleasant and can definitely ruin your appetite.