Trevally – have your sport and eat it too!

Ter­rific Hard fight­ing, good look­ing, tasty, and of­ten tak­ing a bit of fi­nesse to catch, Sam Moss­man reck­ons trevally are close to the per­fect in­shore op­po­nent.

NZ Fishing News - - News -

Ilove fish­ing with lures and some­times wish we had a wider range of medium-sized sport-fish­ing species avail­able in New Zealand. But, then again, many over­seas an­glers rave about the qual­ity of our fish­ing, so I guess we can’t grum­ble too much. Af­ter all, thanks to mod­ern lure tech­niques, a great many species that were once con­sid­ered only able to be caught with bait are now reg­u­larly taken on ar­ti­fi­cial lures of one type or an­other – snap­per is a prime ex­am­ple. As most fish sur­vive by eat­ing other types of ma­rine an­i­mals, it is re­ally only a mat­ter of find­ing the right but­tons to press.

Along­side snap­per, one of my favourite sport (and ta­ble) fish is trevally. White or sil­ver trevally is a slow-grow­ing, long-lived species, with some large spec­i­mens be­ing aged at over 45 years via the an­nual growth rings in their ear bones.

Back in 1995 I pho­tographed and wit­nessed the weigh­ing of the cur­rent na­tional all-tackle record trevally of 11.53kg. That was a gnarly old fish from Great Bar­rier Is­land, ap­proach­ing a me­tre in length, but it was ex­cep­tional. Usu­ally, any­thing be­tween three and four ki­los is thought of as a de­cent fish, with any­thing over 5kg con­sid­ered a tro­phy.

Be­cause of this slow growth and their sur­face-school­ing be­hav­iour, purse-sein­ers have had a huge im­pact on trevally num­bers. Start­ing around 1970 and go­ing through to about 1983, net boats hit trevally hard. Gone now are the shin­ing acres upon acres of trevally sur­face schools I can re­mem­ber see­ing dur­ing vis­its to the Bay of Plenty as a child, with only smaller, scat­tered groups of spooky fish en­coun­tered nowa­days, mostly over ar­eas of heavy foul where the net boats can­not op­er­ate.

Rocky head­lands and points that con­cen­trate cur­rents also con­cen­trate plank­ton and krill, and are good places to look for schools of these fish.

Some­times larger in­di­vid­u­als are mixed in with other school fish, in­clud­ing snap­per or ka­hawai, feed­ing on sed­i­men­tary bot­toms (un­for­tu­nately mak­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to bot­tom trawl­ing). Dur­ing the colder months trevally can be found up in har­bours and es­tu­ar­ies.

Trevally are a hand­some fish. Colour schemes can vary a lot be­tween in­di­vid­ual fish in shades of sil­ver, gray, olive, blue, gold and white, some­times with pale ver­ti­cal stripes when fresh. Like their cousins the king­fish, trevs are pow­er­ful fight­ers, and will of­ten head straight for cover if any is around (those an­glers who have tried to ex­tract a de­cent trev from near a kelp bed or around oys­ter-stud­ded wharf piles will know what I mean). They get that broad sil­ver flank side-on and slug down to the ob­struc­tion. If you don’t have the fire-power to stop them – and of­ten you must go to light line to achieve a bite in the first place – it’s all over.

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