Tailor are one of only three recognised species in the family Pomatomidae, which are characterised by streamlined bodies and smooth scales and a large forked tail. They are silver in colouration with a greenish or bluish tinge, depending on their surroundings. Their small fins are pale green and their iris is yellow. Tailor have strong, razor sharp teeth and a protruding lower jaw. The tailor’s common name comes from its ability to cut fishing nets with its sharp teeth. Tailor reach sexual maturity after 2-3 years (28-33 centimetres), and may live to the age of 14 years, growing to a maximum length of 1.2 metres. Females spawn once a year on Perth’s offshore reefs as far north as the Abrolhos Islands, producing hundreds of thousands of eggs which are carried southwards in the warm Leeuwin current.
Juvenile tailor inhabit inshore shallow bays and estuaries where growth occurs rapidly. Adults are open water migratory species, where they move from sub-tropical areas in spring and northward again in autumn in large dense schools. They also tend to move along the surf zone in search of prey and can be found on rocky outcrops. Tailor populations occur in tropical and warm temperate seas on all continents and supports an important fishery in the United States, where it is known as bluefish. In Australia tailor range from Onslow, WA to Fraser Island, QLD and around Tasmania. Juveniles and adults alike are voracious predators feeding on small pelagic species such as pilchards, mullet, whitebait, whiting, herring, garfish and even tailor.
Tailor are heavily targeted by recreational anglers, and as a result the average size of caught fish is declining and tailor runs, which generally occur in November and December, have become much less consistent.
Other common names include: Bluefish, chopper, elf, skipjack, razorbacks, jumbos and tailer.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:
Tailor are a seasonal species, and can be observed from the underwater observatory in the summer months. Small to moderate sized schools have been sighted swimming at pace through the open water zone.