Come in, spin­ner

NZ Fishing News - - News -

Sea­son­ally, trevs can be found feed­ing on the sur­face in schools dur­ing the warmer months, usu­ally tak­ing krill (small shrimp-like crea­tures) or some­times lar­val fish. Small shrimp-like flies of the ‘Crazy Char­lie’ type are a good ap­proach in this sit­u­a­tion, but if you’re not a devo­tee of the ‘long wand’, light spin gear can also be ef­fec­tive.

Cor­rect pre­sen­ta­tion of a very small lure is the trick if spin fish­ing. One of the rea­sons for need­ing light gear (3-4kg) is that the small lures re­quired for this fish­ing are dif­fi­cult to cast any great dis­tance with heav­ier tackle – and you want to stay some dis­tance away to avoid spook­ing the school.

The other side of the coin is that heav­ier, thicker line is easy for fish to see in well-lit sur­face wa­ter and trevally can be line-shy at times. It is no­tice­able that they are eas­i­est to hook, es­pe­cially on heav­ier lines, either early or late in the day (when the light and vis­i­bil­ity is low), or deeper down in the wa­ter col­umn where light lev­els and vis­i­bil­ity are re­duced.

Around 30 years ago, while cast­ing small (10g) metal jigs for ka­hawai, I dis­cov­ered that in some cir­cum­stances these lures could be pretty ef­fec­tive for school­ing trevally, too – but only us­ing a cer­tain type of pre­sen­ta­tion. Sur­face schools feed in one di­rec­tion, so the im­por­tant part is to cast your lit­tle lure in front of the lead­ing edge of the school and re­trieve at a medium-fast pace. The ideal sit­u­a­tion oc­curs when the lure in­ter­sects the school’s lead­ing edge as it feeds for­ward, so your lure ap­pears to be flee­ing from them, not charg­ing at these fish. Pretty reg­u­larly this re­sults in a trevally hooked fairly in the mouth.

On the other hand, if you just fire your lure into the mid­dle of the school, or over it, the fish will usu­ally spook and sub­merge, or you will foul-hook a fish, mak­ing han­dling it on light tackle dif­fi­cult and of­ten lead­ing to the hook tear­ing out. This method still holds good with mod­ern fine braid lines and the lat­est in minia­ture metal jigs. Baby stick-baits also seem ef­fec­tive if fished in this way.

Kiwi GTS

I have caught a few trevally on metal jigs in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, and they are re­ported as far south as Foveaux Strait, but the best num­bers are to be found in the north­ern half of the North Is­land.

There are not many sur­face schools of big, old, hump-headed trevally around these days, with com­mer­cial pres­sure re­sult­ing in these group­ings be­ing mostly smaller, younger fish, but one of

the more de­pend­able as­sem­blies of these old war­riors is at White Is­land, where many of the na­tional record cap­tures have been made.

There are some good sized trevs around the Three Kings Is­lands too, where, like White Is­land, a good berley trail can be the key to bring­ing them in to where they are eas­ily reached with flies. (‘Globug’ type berley flies work well in this sce­nario.)

Some large in­di­vid­ual fish are also taken around off­shore is­lands and head­lands in the Far North, es­pe­cially by LBG fish­er­men who tramp in to more re­mote lo­ca­tions – but ex­tract­ing these tough fight­ers from rocky ter­rain is, as men­tioned, not par­tic­u­larly easy. Some­times a light line and small hook are needed to get a bite, and if you match this against a large, hard-fight­ing fish with a soft mouth, the odds are of­ten in the fish’s favour.

Dur­ing the au­tumn, large in­di­vid­ual fish seem to spread out, bot­tom-grub­bing for mol­luscs, shell­fish, worms and what­ever else they come across. This is where soft-bait­ing is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive. I don’t have any way of specif­i­cally tar­get­ing trevs with soft-baits, as it can be a gen­er­al­ist method (dur­ing a re­cent trip I caught a mix of snap­per, ka­hawai, trevally, gurnard and john dory, for ex­am­ple), but there are usu­ally some de­cent trevs amongst the other species.

A four-inch grub or five-inch pad­dle tail in ‘nat­u­ral’ colours fished along the bot­tom is a good place to start. And the best part is, when you hook a mon­ster trev on an open sed­i­men­tary bot­tom, you have ev­ery chance of land­ing it, even on very light tackle. The lighter tackle forces you to take it easy when play­ing these strong fish to avoid a bust-off. In turn, this ‘softly, softly’ ap­proach helps avoid pulling hooks on this soft-mouthed species and pro­vides a very sat­is­fy­ing fight.

Hav­ing a de­cent growth po­ten­tial, these hard-fight­ing, good­look­ing and tasty fish of­ten take a bit of fi­nesse to beat. I reckon that trevally are close to the per­fect in­shore op­po­nent: you can have your sport – and eat it too!

Left to right: Some­times big trevally will nail quite sub­stan­tial lures. Kane Tap­per caught this White Is­land fish on a hy­brid div­ing soft-plas­tic min­now. As the light gets low, it is eas­ier to hook trevally on heav­ier line or lead­ers, giv­ing a bet­ter cha

Left to right: Small lures on light spin-gear will tempt school­ing trevally – with the right ap­proach. Mike Clay with a rip­per fish from the Far North, taken on a soft-bait.

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