Fishing Rigs, surfcasting information, Fishing Tackle and Components and Fish species

Kingfish ( Seriola lalandi )


  • Carangidae (jacks)

Other Names:

  • New Zealand: Northern Kingfish, Kingfish, Kingi, Yellowtail Kingfish
  • Australia: Kingfish, Yellowtail kingfish
  • Japan: Buri, Hiramasa
  • United States: Amberjack


  • Average Length: 50cm (20 in) - 80cm (31 in) They can get longer
  • Average Weight: 3kg (7lb) - 5kg (11lb) They can get much heavier

Kingfish or sometimes referred to as Kingis are a prize fish for their fight and quality meat. The Yellowtail Kingfish is located mainly around the North Island of New Zealand and also in Australia. They are mainly found in the warmer waters where they inhabit rocky shores, reefs, pinnacles and the turbulent waters surrounding offshore islands in waters up to 200m deep. They patrol coastlines and reefs, entering shallow harbours in search of food and frequenting most marine habitats at various times, taking advantage of whatever food sources are available. Some fish take up residency on suitable reefs, seldom moving far from home. They are blue/green ontop with a yellow strip in the middle and grey to white underneath. The noticeable yellowish fins and often bright yellow tail is the reason for their name. They are found at various depths from very shallow water to deep water. Kingfish can grow to very large sizes with fish over 50kg and nearly 2m in length being caught.

Common ways to catch kingfish include boat fishing, shore fishing and landbase fishing. A popular technique to catching kingfish is by a method called jigging. This is where a jig lure is dropped to a depth then retrieved at speed with a jigging motion. Kingfish see the fast moving lure and attack it with pace. This is a very exciting technique when you have berlied up the water and know they are around feeding. The fast pace of jigging means that you are working the line most of the time which is more fun than the old drop and wait technique of traditional bait. Mechanical jigging is highly effective, as is high-speed vertical jigging – in essence a high-speed vertical retrieve from the sea bottom to the surface. You can still catch kingfish through a dropper type rig setup however this usually requires some sort of movement to get its attention. Live baiting is also another technique which is sometimes used. This is where you catch a live bait and tie it to your line. The kingfish can sense the distressed live bait fish and often attack it quickly. To prevent the live bait from tangling the line a biodegradable balloon is often attached to the line, this means it also can’t dive to deep and you can see the take.

Kingfish seem to feed in short bursts and then they start to cruise ignoring jigs and bait you throw at them. Often you will catch kingfish on the first few times you drop your bait, especially with live baits. After this they can be very hard to catch which can lead to a lot of frustration. Anytime is a good time to catch kingfish there are no set times however dusk and dawn sometimes yields better results. Killing a kingfish is not straight forward since its shape leads you to think it can be hit on the head and killed. This doesn’t work since they have a vertical bone running along the top of their head which means any blow is absorbed and all you do is break the bone leaving its brain unharmed. The only way to effectively kill a kingfish is to use an iki from the top, on an angle to miss the bone, and hard push downwards. Once you think you have hit the spot you should bleed the kingfish to ensure it is dead and drain the blood so the meat is not spoiled.

Kingfish Flesh Characteristics

Kingfish flesh is dark but lightens when cooked. It has a firm texture and is regarded as a sashimi grade species by the Japanese. Often the fillets you get off a large kingfish are so large you can try out several ways to cook it. Kingfish smoke up well and also battered or crumbed works well. It is a very tasty fish and can be cooked in many ways.

Kingfish Flesh