TAMAR SILVER TREVALLY
As I mentioned in my last article about snotty trevally in the Tamar Estuary, the river has lots of surprises - and this season, we have seen an awesome run of tailor and blue warehoe, or snotty trevally. However, these runs are not usually consistent and may not reoccur every season.
This being the case, I thought I would write about a fish that is a little more consistent and is definitely one of my favourite ultra-light tackle sport fish - The silver trevally.
Silver trevally are a true member of the trevally family (unlike the warehoe, which is really a member of the trevalla family. Silver trevally are a strikingly handsome fish with many other commonly used names, such as silver bream, skipjack, white trevally and blurter, which is a term referring to the grunting noise they make by grinding their crushing plates together in the back of their mouths after capture. They are a deep-bodied fish and have a small mouth with rubbery lips. In colour, they are very distinctive with a dark grey to green back, silvery pearlescent flanks and silvery white belly with a yellowish metallic tinge along the lateral line.
Silver trevally caught in the Tamar normally average around 250 - 500 gram but in certain areas of the estuary, silvers can be caught up to 2.5 kg or larger although this is small when you consider that the species can grow to in excess of 10 kg in some parts of Australia. They are found in the Tamar River all year round and are caught as far up as Legana.
Silvers can be caught off pontoons, jetties, piers and spits along the Tamar but the larger fish seem to hold or concentrate in certain areas, especially where structure is involved such as reefs, moorings, rocks, wrecks, pylons of wharves and even old graball nets that may be lying on the bottom.
Usually, big fish are in the most rugged areas and on light tackle, provide great sport. In some ultra rugged ground, it is "do or die". Silver trevally are renowned filthy fighters when there are snags around.
My brother-in-law, Sam Read, is a silver trevally specialist. He has caught some very impressive Silvers up to 2 kg. One morning, Sam, my wife, Sarah and I headed out early. We arrived at Sam's secret "big" trevally spot which has proven to consistently hold big fish. The main reason they hold in this area is because of an old graball reef which we didn't know was there until the past season when I caught it on my anchor line. It acts as a giant "FAD" (Fish Attracting Device)!
We baited up and dropped a burley bomb to the bottom to start our burley trail. Within 10 minutes, my wife, Sarah had a solid hook up. Sam excitedly asked her if it was a silver. Sarah replied "Yes'. Sam's eyes lit up. I was not too fussed when Sarah lifted a 250 gram Silver over the side of the boat. I was too busy setting up some Snapper rods. Next, Sam hooked up. His baitcaster loaded up and his reel was losing line quickly. Sam called it a big silver trevally. Then, all of a sudden, his line got rubbed off. Sam was devastated and said, "that fish was a pearler'. Sarah then hooked up again and after a hard short fight, she had landed another nice Silver of 700 grams. We were all rapt, a very nice Blurter for the Tamar. Sam, by this time, had retied his rig and was soon hooked up again. He said "another good trev" and after a slightly longer fight than Sarah's, Sam called for the net. I scooped up a 1 kg Silver. Sam was over the moon, little knowing this was only the start of what was the silliest silver trevally session we have ever had! After this, I became deckhand, I was baiting, de-hooking and re-rigging - re-rigging more than normal. I think out of every 10 fish hooked, they only landed 5. They were obviously hooking very serious fish but the fish had the advantage of swimming into the net and busting them off.
After a disappointing hour, Sam and Sarah had lost over 15 big trevs. Sam claims some would have weighed over 2.5 kg. He had still caught the biggest fish of 1 kg - when his luck changed...his line came tight once again and once again, he called it another big trev. This time, the fish swam away from the net into clear water. The Silver had ripped over 30 metres of line off Sam's Shimano Calcutta 100 before he pulled him up, after another bumper fight. Sam had the fish under the boat, it started doing anti-clockwise circles which is a tell-tale trait of all Silver Trevally. Sam called for the net, I scooped him up. My eyes were popping out of my head. We were all ecstatic and soon after weighed the fish in - it weighed a neat 2 kg. At the end of the session, we ended up with a fine brace of silver trevally with 5 fish weighing over the magic 1 kg mark and a total of 20 fish all up - but we only kept 7. What a day! Sarah, Sam and I celebrated that night with smoked silver trevally and refreshments.
A bit of advice on tackle. A rod to suit trevally fishing should be ultra light in the tip and grunty in the butt. Sam prefers a longer rod than normal, a good length of around 6'6" to 8'6" with a sensor tip is ideal. I prefer a small threadline reel, Shimano Sahara 2000, Sedona 2000, Sustain 2000 or 4000 are all ideal reels, they all have a silky smooth drag system and are built to last. We also use small baitcast outfits.
We use two types of rigs for Silvers. The first is a basic paternoster rig, consisting of two droppers, two chemically sharpened hooks - size 6 to 1, depending on bait and size of fish. The second rig we use is a Sabiki rig - Surecatch, Wasabi, Black Magic and Steve Starling all make great Sabikis which are dynamite on Silvers.
The best baits are by far shelled tweed prawns, which are caught in the Tweed River in New South Wales. They are the closest bait to resemble our native prawns caught in the Tamar. Unfortunately, there is a real shortage of Tweed prawns at the moment so keep your eyes open. My cousin, Suzanne and her husband, Paul Cowell, own the Gravelly Beach Store. Paul, "when available', stocks Tweed prawns. Other baits that work well are sandworms, whitebait, bluebait, pipis, oysters and squid tentacles.
Best Times to Fish
Now, tides and time...Tide change seems to be the best tide for silver trevally and Sam prefers early mornings - between 6 and 10 am seems to be a good time to fish for big silvers but juveniles can be caught all through the day.
Structure is not so important when fishing for Warehou but big silvers tend to congregate around structure. Try not to fish too close to your chosen bommie for it will cause you trouble if big fish are about, try to anchor up-stream from the "F.A.D." (Fish Attracting Device) and burley back on to it.
A burley bomb is a must in the Tamar. When buying a burley bomb, buy a type that release on the bottom, types which have a trip bottom are the best as they get the burley where you want it. Chook pellets or similar, and tuna oil are the best mix for trevally.
Silver trevally are a great sport fish and on 2-4 kg tackle, they are great fun. Make sure you look after them if you plan to eat them - bleed them and put on ice straight away after capture. They are considered fair to good table fare, but if you look after them and eat them fresh, they taste great. Silvers smoke very well too and are great on a platter.
Silver trevally nearly always have a parasite that lives in their throat. Don't be put off by this for it does not affect their edibility or the health of the fish.
The best spots to try...Any of the small bays at the main tidal flow seem to be the best spots to try, Kelso Bay, York Cove, Pipe Clay Bay, West Arm, Middle Arm, East Arm, Ruffin Bay, Redwood, Devils Elbow, Spring Bay and Supply Bay all have some form of structure and are home for some big silvers from time to time. Don't be put off if you don't catch a good fish on your first trip, if you prepare and put in the hours, you will succeed.
So, if you are keen on fishing for big blurters, find structure, suss out good bait, get up early, use good tackle and that 2 kg silver will be yours.
Come in and see me at Charltons Sports Store for all your silver trevally fishing requirements.