Silver Trevally – From the Shore

The silver trevally or Pseudocaranx dentex has to be my most favourite and cherished light tackle species in Tasmania. They are just an awesome little fish to catch, especially if you manage to hook one over that magical fifty centimetre mark! Personally, I began targeting the species many years ago on a variety of baits and artificial lures from a small stretch of beach in Georges Bay. At the time, they were the ultimate sports fish, the very thought of hooking up to one of these fish was enough to keep me saving up for more packets of soft plastics. One of the aspects I really enjoy about targeting trevally is their simplicity to catch. Sure, they aren’t as hard to catch as a big black bream, but at the end of the day, I think everyone would be happy with a large, hard fighting silver trevally. Over the years, I have discovered many trevally holding locations scattered along our coastlines, even up around Burnie! With their awesome fighting abilities and overall beauty, I can understand why the silver trevally is one of the most popular species Tasmania has to offer.

Silver Trevally
The species are predominately a coastal fish that prefer inshore reefs, beaches, bays, estuaries and structure around large current flows. This member of the trevally family is generally grey with a hint of either blue or green depending on their current habitat. The species are also commonly known as white trevally, trevally, blurter, skipjack trevally and silver bream. They usually inhabit the waters south of Brisbane and right round the coast to Geraldton in Western Australia. Tasmania has some excellent trevally fisheries; these include the popular fishing destinations of Georges and Anson’s Bay in the states north east. As most anglers would agree, the silver trevally is one of Tasmania’s most popular sports fish, along with our other more prominent species, the black bream and east Australian salmon. Fishing from the shore just adds another element to catching these species, and in some cases, it is more enjoyable than fishing from a boat!

Finding trevally from the shore is easier than some people may believe, all you really need to find is some good water flow and structure. Silver trevally love structure, especially reefs and rocky points lying adjacent to fast flowing water. Having said this, I have also often caught trevally in still water with very little structure. Weed edges, rock walls, river mouths, wrecks and basically anywhere with some broken bottom all make perfect trevally habitat. Regarding dietary matters, I believe that the species will travel and feed wherever there are prey items to be found, including those places where you just wouldn’t expect to find one. These fish are pretty opportunistic predators and will feed on a vast range of small fish, crustaceans and invertebrates. While foraging for small crustaceans such as crabs and prawns, trevally will often sit on the bottom with their heads down, ready to ambush anything that may swim or float past. Generally, when you actually hook up to a fish, your soft plastic or bait will either be floating down or sitting on the bottom. This is probably because the species feed on bottom dwelling prey items.

As mentioned before, Georges and Anson’s Bay are real hotspots for silver trevally. If you really want to get into some good fishing, head to one of these two places. I personally fish Georges Bay the most for trevally and they can be pretty thick in there at times. Blanche Point is my most favourite land based destination in the entire system, it is easily assessable and the fishing there is phenomenal, especially for big salmon and trevally. There are a few spots on the north west coast too. Those locations produce fish, just not as big as their east coast cousins. Red Rock, a small rocky outcrop located just outside of Burnie is one of my personal favourites. There is always plenty of trevally around Red Rock to keep you entertained! If you ever venture up to Red Rock, be sure to bring some heavy gear, there can be kingfish there at times.

Techniques and Tackle
With the evolution of artificial baits, I find it hard to use anything but soft plastics these days. There are just so many brands on the market that will help you catch silver trevally! As far as soft plastics go, you simply cannot go past anything that imitates a small baitfish or invertebrate. Berkley make an excellent range of trevally catching soft plastics and I believe that they are the best way to go if you are just getting into fishing for this particular species. I don’t say this because I like personally favour Berkley products, I just say it because I know they work! Invertebrate imitations such as the Berkley Gulp 6” Sandworms in Camo, New Penny and Natural and 7” Turtle Back Worms in Green Pumpkin, Pumpkinseed, Camo and Watermellon just cannot be overlooked. Don’t be afraid to use bait fish pattern plastics either, larger fish absolutely love them! Minnow variations could include Yep Flappers in Pearl White, Red Rascal and Smoke Cloud, Berkley Dropshot 3” Minnows in Pearl Watermellon, Pearl Blue, Pearl Olive and Bloodworm. These are all proven trevally catchers!
Jigheads have a very important role to play while you are targeting silver trevally, you must be able to keep your soft plastic in the strike zone. Most people would ponder about how much weight they should have in order to get their plastics into the zone. I actually tend to use pretty heavy jigheads, anything from a 1/16th to a 1/6th oz head. It all really depends on how much tidal flow there is where you are fishing. In really fast water, you really need to be using a suitable weight to get your plastic to the bottom where the fish are. The current will often pick your plastic up and move it around so it always pays to cast up into the flow and wait for it to hit the bottom before you begin your retrieval. In still water, you can get away with using small, light weight jigheads. Because there will be no current, you can leisurely wait for the plastic to hit the bottom. Just remember to make your retrieval slow, just take it easy and the fish will scoff you plastic with no trouble at all. Think about your surroundings, make sure to match a suitable plastic with a suitable jighead and you should be able to successfully target silver trevally.
I have been using a 7’2” SSX Squidgy Spin in the Shimano Starlo Stix range for over a year now and I simply can’t fault it, especially while fishing for trevally. It is light enough to really feel every single bite and it’s strong enough to pull any fish out and away from nasty structure. Shimano make an awesome range of rods to suit every angler, from snapper enthusiasts to tournament anglers. The Catana range is a great example of a cheap, quality rod. You can catch absolutely anything on these rods. I even managed to land my very first kingfish on one! Reels can vary depending on what you are targeting. A quality reel is needed for many saltwater species, including trevally. Both Shimano and Diawa make exceptional thread line and overhead reels. If you are starting out with soft plastics, you would be silly to go past the Shimano Sienna 2500FD, Sedona 2500FD or the Symetre 2500FJ. All three reels are just perfect for trevally, bream and salmon. Match any of these reels with some quality 5lb Hi Vis Yellow PowerPro braid and some 6lb Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leader and you should be all set to go.
So with all of that out of the way, I hope you catch a few. Silver trevally are an excellent sports fish, they go like a cut snake and they are pretty good on the chew too if you decide to take one home. They make excellent sashimi, so I am told anyway! Try and be as conservative as you can, make sure to look after your catch even if you are keeping a few. It is known that the species is relatively common in Tasmanian waters, do the right thing though and always remember to limit your kill, don’t kill your limit. The fishing in Tasmania is getting better every year, let’s try and make it last for future generations. 

Daniel Paull

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