Land-Based Fishing: Targeting Trevally

Very good eating and hard fighting fish.
Very good eating and hard fighting fish.

The trevally is a very popular edible fish, it is a strong swimmer and can be shy to take a bait, rendering it as a challenging fish to catch. In this article I will provide detailed information on how to increase the odds of landing trevally from the bricks.

I got up early yesterday and hiked to a ledge in Oruawharo Bay with the intention of live-baiting small kahawai or trevally and hooking a kingfish from the rocks. After a short walk on the beach right about sunrise and a climb over a hill, I arrived at one of my favourite fishing spots and deployed a berley half an hour before low tide. It was 0730 and I was slightly out of breath, but excited and motivated to being out there.

Due to my fishing motivation and lack of good conditions to take a picture, I, unfortunately, cannot depict to you the pleasant sight of a school of trevally and snapper which were feeding right by the rocks. There must have been about 30 trevally and I spotted even some bigger snapper feeding right at the surface.

Tips On How To Land Trevally

To increase chances of landing trevally, one must acknowledge that they have softer and smaller mouths than snapper. They are also stronger swimmers and thus fight harder when hooked. What makes landing them more challenging is that they keep close to the rocks and since they don’t make an effort of hiding well, hooking them can be frustrating.

  • Stray lining small baits on light line without using a sinker is the way to go
  • Cube pieces of bait and chuck them into the water right at your feet
  • Watch if the trevs eat what you have to offer and also observe how the free-flow bait floats and descends in the water
  • The hooked bait should descend as fast or as slow as the free-flowing bait
  • Embed a small hook (4/0) well into the bait
  • When hooked, trevally will go sideways unlike snapper; you will need to stop them from taking much line, but do not put too much pressure on them as it will end in the hook ripping out of the mouth
  • Again, due to the soft mouth, you must keep tension on the line at all times
  • It helps to reduce the drag towards the end of the fight
  • Ideally, trevally are not lifted out of the water by hand, but a gaff or better net is used to land them

The plan was to catch a small trevally or kahawai and deploy it as a live-bait to catch a kingfish. After catching and releasing snapper after snapper I changed my tactics, used smaller hooks, with smaller baits and kept my eyes on the water, looking out for the odd, fast swimming kahawai. 30 minutes had passed, the school of trevally was still there but I had no live-bait.

A single kahwai shot into the berley trail and I managed to land and deploy it. It was about 35 cm, a bit too big for my taste, but well, it was out there… After a further hour, still no sign of kingfish, and still no success in landing one of the many 40 cm+ trevally that fed actively in the berley trail.

So I took the berley out of the water and got the camera. This is kingfishing folks, so I leave for 5 seconds and on returning, I see no trevally or other baitfish, I push the on button on the camera and boom, a kingi is circling my live-bait.

There is a kingfish right under the balloon, you can see the colour of the live-baited kahawai, too.
There is a kingfish right under the balloon, you can see the colour of the live-baited kahawai, too.

The kingi was about a meter long and had a good look at the kahawai, which was swimming vertically by now. A bit strange as it was in top condition but a live-bait is more likely to be taken when it is actually afraid of its predator, trying to swim away rather than just trying to dive in vain.

So the kingi came, saw and left again, the trevs and snapper were back in the berley trail and it was damn time I landed a small trevally.

A small trevally deployed as a live-bait.
A small trevally deployed as a live-bait.

Things were looking very promising by now, there was a small trevally under a balloon, I had fresh kahawai bait and concentrated on hooking bigger trevally. As it turned out, they were just as keen on the pilchards as they were on skinned cubes of kahawai. Bait-presentation was paramount, if they were the wrong size or if they were floating or sinking too fast, the trevs shot towards them quickly, had a little smell and look and then turned around.

Mimicking free-flowing bait is the trick when it comes to trevally. After a bit of experimenting I figured it all out and could hook as many as I wanted.

The bag for the day.
The bag for the day.

To my surprise, more kingi action followed. A smaller kingi came to check my trev out, it circled it a few times and I believe it had a few goes at it, since I saw the trev moving very fast, trying to get away and the balloon submerged a few times, too.

Berley-box to the right, small trev under a balloon close by the rocks.
Berley-box to the right, small trev under a balloon close by the rocks.

I was ready, gimbal on, rod in hand, gaff by my side, but unfortunately, for the next two hours the kingi remained in close vicinity but didn’t take the trev and I was unable to entice it to take dead baits. I wonder if a smaller trev would have made the difference.

By 11 o’clock I had enough, packed in and hiked back to the beach.

The fishing gear.
The fishing gear.

 

Not much happening on the beach.
Not much happening on the beach.
Another picture of the fish I took home.
Another picture of the fish I took home.
Rani playing with her rope at home after a big feed of fish.
Rani playing with her rope at home after a big feed of fish.
Lunch for today, smoked trevally.
Lunch for today, smoked trevally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Land-Based Fishing: Targeting Trevally”

  1. A shame that the Kingi wouldn’t take the bait but I guess more chances will come.

    How did you smoke the Trevally in the last picture?

    1. Well, maybe next time. At least the kingis are not as elusive as they used to be, and as Paul remarked, chances of hooking are significantly greater if more than one kingi shows up. In terms of smoking, I used my home-made barrel smoker and a dressing of brown sugar with salt.
      http://www.benisland.co.nz/?p=2874

    1. No, unfortunately I don’t have a polarizing filter, nor even a good camera. Would be good to have a decent set-up but hey she’s all primitive over here at the moment. Cheers, Ben

  2. Good work Ben. That was an exciting (and quite typical) kingfishing trip. You had several chances which makes it worthwhile. The lack of a hook up in this case is down to the fact your kings were solitary and the conditions were so calm. If there’s 2 or 3 of them you stand a much better chance as they are quite competitive creatures. If it’s a lone fish you really have to have the perfect bait! On a rougher day when visibility is poorer they are more likely to hit first and question later. So calm there it’s really hard to believe that was the East coast! But where was the popper rod, set up to tempt those very fish who won’t eat liveys?

    Rhetorical question as I know how hard it is to cover every base! Very encouraging to see those fish in Winter. I take it that was a warm day in the end? What temperatures are you experiencing there now? Excellent picture of the kingi and the colours on that first trev picture are stunning. Paul xxxxx

    1. Cheers Paul, indeed a very good point with solitary kingfish. It was a good fishing session though, heaps of action and it took me a while to get some of it.
      In terms of popper fishing, I don’t have a suitable popper, and since my best rod got broken, I’m left straylining with the only rod which could be used for
      popper fishing. Unfortunately, my small 3500 bait runner is also broken, so times are a bit tough in terms of having a suitable fishing set-up.

      I’ve got a weather forecast widget on the site, which seems quite accurate. In general, when the sun comes through it is 17-20 deg C during the day, otherwise around 15 dC. Night temperature depends on winds and cloud cover. Rainy overcast days, and it feels like 12-17 dC all day, southwesterlies and clear night sky
      and it will be about 6-8 dC.

      Not sure about the water temperatures but all sorts of fish are still available from the bricks and land-based fishing is more comfortable than in the summer. It is warm enough to fish in shorts and a top, fish survive much longer in rock pools and you the hiking is more pleasant as you don’t sweat much.

      Admittedly, I have been starting fires at night for the last 3 months, but you certainly cannot classify the GBI winter as cold in comparison to winters in
      Europe for instance. Cheers, Ben

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