Home' Afloat : AFLOAT December 2017 Contents 60 AFLOAT.com.au December 2017
with David Lockwood
Of the more than 36,000 kingfish tagged under the NSW
DPI Game Fish Tagging Program since 1973, more than
2,350 have been recaptured. Many are caught relatively
close to their point of release, but some have migrated from
South Australia to Sydney and beyond, raising some interesting
questions along the way.
In October this year, a keen Sydney spearo named Russel
Pollard (pictured) recaptured a tagged yellowtail kingfish off
Sydney. The massive king weighed 22.5kg and was part of a
school of big kingfish.
This Sydney king was originally tagged at Coffin Bay, SA,
in October 2015. The fish had grown from 116cm fork length to
123cm fork length and spent more than two years at liberty,
covering 713 nautical miles (1,320km) in a straight-line distance
from where it was released.
All told, four tagged SA kingfish have now been recaught
in NSW. Three were taken by spear fisherman and two of those
were in the exact same location near Bluefish Point at Sydney’s
Back in December 2016, another kingfish was recaptured
by a spearo off Bluefish Point that was originally tagged at Port
Augusta, SA, on September 6, 2014. A similar sized brute, the
king had grown from 118cm to 130cm fork length.
Swimming beyond Sydney
But some tagged kings don’t end their journey at Sydney. A
kingfish released by Adelaide Game Fishing Club (AGFC) member
Adam Todd at Port Augusta on November 25, 2013, was recaptured
off the Gold Coast by Dave McKenzie in early 2016.
The fish spent some 866 days at liberty, swam at least 1,600
nautical miles (3,087km), grew from 121cm to 127cm (16.25kg),
and set a record for a tagged kingfish.
The second furthest recorded swim north by a tagged SA
kingfish was another specimen from the Like a Boss crew. That
fish was released at Port Augusta on October 21, 2013, and
recaptured and re-released approximately 387 days later off
Coffs Harbour, NSW.
Sydney charterboat OceanHunter Sportsfishing had a northbound
king recapture, too. The fish was tagged on the 12 Mile Reef in
120 metres of water east of Sydney on November 7, 2014, and
recaptured approximately 323 nautical miles away off Ballina in
northern NSW some 109 days later.
But these northward migrations seem at odds with a kingfish
released off Port Hacking on November 28, 2014, which was
recaught off Eden on the NSW South Coast after 215 days at liberty.
Kingfish from southern states seem to migrate up the Eastern
Seaboard and the back down again, perhaps aided by the strong
East Australian Current in summer to help propel them across
the border and into Victoria or SA.
Revealing kingfish research
Research carried out between the University of NSW, NSW
Department of Primary Industries–Fisheries, and CSIRO, and
funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust, has
revealed a lot of facts about kingfish.
Researchers found that kingfish need to eat up to 4.5 per
cent of their body weight every day, which is the equivalent of
an average human adult eating seven serves of calamari and
chips each day.
They also discovered most kingfish enter Sydney Harbour
during summer and leave for winter. However, two kingfish were
found to reside in the upper reaches of Middle Harbour despite
water temperatures dropping as low as 12°C.
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Big kingfish from SA are migrating to Sydney and the Gold Coast.
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