Northern Kingfish

The Northern Kingfish has a long first dorsal spine and one barbel ("whisker") on its lower jaw.

The lower half of its body is predominantly silver with distinct bronzing on the upper half with considerably darker bars or stripes.

The first two bars form two distinct V-shapes.

These prominent dark markings, plus a dark stripe behind the pectoral fin distinguishes it from the
Southern kingfish.

Their eye has a vertical pupil similar to a cat.

Northern Kingfish Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr.
Season Open Year-Round
Size Limit No Size Limit
Daily Limit / Person No Limit
Delaware Range Atlantic Ocean
Abundance in Delaware Waters Common
General Habitat and Food Preferences Northern Kingfish are found in schools over sandy bottoms and often in the surf zone.

They feed on small shrimps, crabs, marine worms, crabs, and small fishes.
Did You Know? The chin barbel ("whisker") has taste buds that they use to detect bottom-dwelling food items.

Some suggest that Northern Kingfish can be scavengers and will feed on carrion.
Common Lures and Baits Northern Kingfish do not take to artificial lures well.

Pieces of squid, clams, or bloodworms are often used with small hooks on bottom rigs fished just past the breaking waves on the beach.
Typical Sizes Caught Northern Kingfish are commonly caught in the range of 8 to 10 inches in length by Delaware anglers
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Live Release Award
Adult: 13 inches minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 11 inches minimum

Sport Fishing Tournament Award
Adult: 1 pounds minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 0.75 pounds (12 ounces) minimum

Northern Kingfish are eligible for the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament and Live Release Award programs "Kingfish" awards, but not currently eligible for an individual species citation.
Delaware State Record Kingfish:
4 pounds
Billy Hastings

"Kingfish" is a general category and can either be a Northern Kingfish or a Southern kingfish.

Northern Kingfish are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware state record.