Category: Target Species

Our oceans provide a wide range of excellent target species for fishers of all types and abilities.
Out of the many species that you may encounter listed below,  some will be more common and easier to target and some you will regard as better eating than others.  
The critical thing to remember is that you never take more than you need and that you always respect your catch.  This way there will always be a fresh feed of seafood available on your next adventure.

Yellowtail Kingfish

Common Name: Yellowtail Kingfish
Scientific Name: Seriola lalandi
Maximum Size: 250cm
NSW Record: 43.00kg
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA.

The famous “Kingy”! A much sought after species, the fighting qualities and sheer size of large Yellowtail Kingfish make them a prized catch for just about any spearfisher. Found around headlands, islands and occasionally in estuaries, any spot holding large amounts of baitfish near deepwater is a likely spot to see a Yellowtail Kingfish.

This species has “counter-shaded” body, with a greenish-silver dorsal surface, a dark stripe along the lateral line from head to tail, and a white belly. The yellow coloured tail stands out quite strongly underwater, and a good indication of large size is a relatively small tail. This species is confused with the Amberjack (Seriola dumerili) and the Samson fish (Seriola hippos) which have a similar body shape, but lack the yellow tail and have a dark stripe running diagonally through the eye.

Male Kingfish mature at around one year of age and 47cm fork-length, whereas females take longer to reach breeding age at 4 years and 83cm fork-length. This species spawns in the spring-summer period, the young fish stay well offshore until 40-50cm in length. Maximum age for this species is over 20 years.

Kingfish are often targeted using flasher or burley to attract the fish towards the diver. The best approach to get into range seems to be to simply wait for the fish to approach whilst hanging in mid-water. A speared fish will often be surrounded by other Kingfish, so a quick dive on a fish another diver has speared will often result in another capture. The recreational catch for this species is estimated to be between 120 and 340 tonnes per year.

Snapper

Common Name: Snapper
Scientific Name: Chrysophrys auratus
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 13.221kg
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA TAS.

Snapper are found on coastal reefs and offshore. They can come in to shallow reefs, particularly after heavy storms. Small individuals are often sighted along the sandline adjoining rocky and coral reefs.

This species is best distinguished by the bright blue spots on its body when small, and a large snapper is unlikely to be confused with the Yellowfin Bream or Tarwhine. Large adults can have large humps on their head, which appear to be the result of benign skeletal growths.

The fish mature around 22-41cm in length (exact NSW data unknown) and spawn several times in a year. The juveniles live in shallow coastal bays.

To approach this species the best method is to burley a likely area and wait for the fish to settle in to feed before diving to the bottom near the burley and waiting for them to come back in. Commercial catches of this species range from 200-450 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 200-250 tonnes. The majority of the fish caught are within 3cm of the legal limit and it is estimated that less than 1% of fish reach 10 years of age. Snapper can live to be over 40 years old.


Nanygai

Common Name: Nannygai, Redfish
Scientific Name: Centroberyx affinis
Maximum Size: 40cm
NSW Record: 0.822kg
Range:  NSW, VIC, TAS.

Nannygai are found on deep coastal reefs to offshore waters. They often reside near cave systems, sharing them with Bullseyes. The fish pictured above was found in relatively shallow water of 27m.

This species is best distinguished by its red colour, large eyes and forked tail. The related Swallowtail Nannygai has a longer tail which has a deeper fork.

The fish mature at 10cm in length and can live to be 30 years old.

To approach this species the best method is to lie on the bottom close to where the school was sighted and wait for the fish to return. Commercial catches of this species range from 50-70 tonnes per annum in NSW water, with a further 800 tonnes in the Commonwealth managed fishery. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 20-40 tonnes.

 

Australian Salmon

Common Name: Eastern Australian Salmon
Scientific Name: Arripis trutta
Maximum Size: 75cm
NSW Record: 7.860kg
Range:  QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS.

Eastern Australian Salmon schools can be found along headlands and in bays, ranging in depth from 2-20m. The size of the schools can range from a few dozen fish to many thousands.

This species has a distinct green coloured back and dark tail, with individuals in good condition having yellow pectoral fins. Confusing species are Tailor, which are generally smaller (in NSW) and have a rounder head. Western Australian Salmon occasionally swim up the east coast but a difficult to tell apart from their local cousin unless the gillrakers are counted.

The fish mature at around 40cm in length and 4 years of age, spawning in coastal water during summer. The eggs and larvae drift south to Victoria and Tasmania before migrating north to complete the cycle. The sexes are separate.

To approach this species the best method is a slow dive, parallel to the school and waiting for the school to approach or cut across the diver. Commercial catches of this species range from 500 to 1000 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 150-200 tonnes.