Giant Trevally in the Seaway – The Ultimate Guide
Giant Trevally or GT’s are the second most common Trevally species in the Seaway but are the largest, most sought after and one of the hardest fighting. This article covers everything I know about Giant Trevally so far.... Where and when to look, how to catch them and with what.
Giant Trevally can be caught all year round though they are much more common from January to June. They will feed at all water levels depending on their mood on the day, if there is lots of bait around they will feed on surface. January through to May sees the larger fish holding in the seaway in big numbers and once an active school is found some excellent fishing can result though bite times tend to be short.
Active vs Non Active
Active Giant Trevally are those hunting food, they do this for only a couple of hours a day, usually at dawn or dusk but if there is lots of bait they will feed according to the tides with the second half of the run in tide being the most consistent time. Non Active fish are those schooled up and not feeding, usually in The Canyon, over The Pipeline or in the North Wall Deep Hole. Non active fish usually do not eat anything though you might be able to tempt the odd fish with a finesse plastic or a livebait. When a school has become active they usually move away from their holding area's and into feeding areas. GT's holding in the Canyon will move into the Northern Y and Northern Channel, GT's holding on the pipeline will move into the triangle or the eastern seaway channel, GT's holding in the Deep Hole will move in front of the north wall, along the dropoff or into the eastern channel. I have also tracked them moving from the end of the north wall right through to the Northern Y before they decided to feed.
Active GT's feeding on the eastern side of the Canyon
Inactive GT's in the Canyon
Giant Trevally Movements
Giant Trevally have specific movement and behavioural patterns within the seaway area. While there are still a few unknown area’s where they disappear to for a few days I have mapped out a fairly decent range of movements for them. There are fairly well defined hold and feeding area's though they sometimes overlap.
GT Holding Area's Daytime
- The Canyon
- The Pipeline
- North Wall Deep Hole
GT Holding Area's Night-Time
- Northern Y
- North Wall Tip 100m East
- North Wall Deep Hole
GT Feeding Area's
- South Wall Surf Side(Only when swell is running)
- South Wall Line(run out tide only)
- Eastern Seaway Channel
- North Wall Dropoff East(The Line - Run-in and Run-out Tide)
- North Wall Flats Dropoff(Only when a swell is running)
- North Wall Deep Hole
- North Wall Runway
- North Wall Eddy
- The Pipeline
- The Triangle
- Northern Y
- Northern Channel
- Sea World Deep Hole
Giant Trevally feed in a number of ways, when they are chasing baitfish on the surface one GT will take a leading position, with others trailing behind it. Several fish will attack the prey school, striking and stunning the prey, while the bulk of the school helps disorient the bait. Some fish act individually and opportunistically within the school if one of the baitfish becomes isolated, the main advantage of schooling is the ability to further break up and isolate baitfish schools. Giant Trevally will generally only feed on the surface when there are large schools of baitfish around. This can happen anywhere within the Seaway and Broadwater.
GT's feeding on surface near the seaway mouth
The North Wall
GT’s can be found all around the north wall, but they feed in different ways and in different areas according to the tide and time of day. Edge fishing usually only yields the odd fish on poppers, stickbaits and minnows in the early mornings or late afternoons. Casting a vib or a metal onto the flats on the northern side in the mornings and bringing back over the dropoff can be an excellent technique if theres a bit of swell running, they won't be sitting there if its calm. GT's will often sit at the base of the rear swell on the North Wall Flats and a twistie dropped to the bottom is often eaten on the drop. During a runout, the GT's will sit in the deep hole area, these fish are usually taken on livebaits and plastics but metals can be used as well if you can find a school. At night on a runout tide GT’s will often sit on the bottom in a large flat school approximately 100m out in front of the north wall tip in 9 metres of water. These fish can be tempted by very slow rolling plastics like the Squidgy Slick rigs in 65mm or Zman 2.5" Curl Tails through the school. Surface feeding fish are rare around the North Wall but occasionally schools will pop up around the front of the wall or in the channel between the walls if a school of baitfish comes through, just keep an eye out for any birds flying around. Schools of Giant trevally can also hold further out along the eastern dropoff(The Line) than most fish, 50m away from the eastern end of the wall is a good place to start looking.
The edge of the North Wall Deep Hole
The South Wall
The South Wall fishes best for GT’s when there is a bit of swell running, unfortunately its also very difficult to fish from a boat and get your lure in the zone because of the way the swell hits the wall. Metals cast from a safe distance can yield some good fish but you need long distance casting gear for that, even then you still won't get close enough. You can fish along the walls with vibs and plastics, just bump them along the bottom with an occasional twitch. there is a 14 metre drop-off approximately 20m out from the wall where the GT's will sometimes sit, plastics flicked through this area can pick up a few fish. During a run-out tide when there is no swell its worth dropping a lure down on the current line leading out from the wall as sometimes small schools hold in that area.
The area where the rocks meet the sand on the south wall
The Pipeline and The Triangle
The Pipeline is one of the area's Giant Trevally will hold when they are not feeding, it can hold hold massive schools of hundreds of Giant Trevally at times. Giant Trevally will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then they will move away from the pipe and bust the surface in huge numbers. When this happens 30gram twisties(or other slugs/metals) and poppers thrown into the school usually hookup. You can also try dropping metals, plastics or vibs down next to the pipeline and retrieving them quickly back to the surface. A livebait drifted over the top of the pipe during the run in tide usually picks up a GT or two. You should keep an eye on the area just west of the pipe as well(The Triangle), as small schools will often move off the pipe and sit 20-50m off the pipe on a run in tide. For these fish, 30 gram twisties or microjigs dropped to the bottom will often pick up a few fish.
The Northern Y
The Northern Y is a Giant Trevally feeding area. If they are in this area they are usually in feeding mode and you can catch them on trolled lures, metals, plastics or poppers if they are super active. They can be found anywhere within this area but prefer sitting around the rocky areas in the northern middle and to the eastern side of the channel. You are more likely to get GT's in the Northern Y during the Dawn or Dusk periods.
Wavebreak Island & The Canyon
The Canyon is a deep trench that runs east and north from the end of the North Wavebreak Wall for approximately 100 metres, large schools of Giant Trevally will often hold along the edges of the canyon and in the canyon itself. Similar to the pipeline the GT's will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then move out of the canyon and bust the surface. You can troll along or over this area with deep diving minnows that dive to 4m+ or drop plastics down into the school and poppers cast around can often bring a fish up from the bottom. The best areas to troll are the edges of the canyon particularly the most eastern edge roughly halfway across the channel.
The edge of the Canyon
The Northern Channel
The Northern Channel is a GT feeding area, from the southern end near Wavebreak to the Northern end around Crab Island, GT's will feed anywhere in this area depending on the bait around. It is impossible to predict when they will decide to feed in this area, I have seen them do it at various times of the day and throughout all stages of tide. You just need to keep an eye on it and look for any bird or fish activity.
The Seaworld Deep Hole
The Seaworld Deep Hole sometimes holds small schools of big GT's, these fish usually only feed just on dawn as the sun just peeps over the horizon or just on the top of the tide and usually only for 10 minutes or so. They can feed anywhere from the area near the boat ramp out to the channel. Just keep an eye out for any bustups or bird activity , as they will know when the GT's are active.
Lures and Techniques
Slugs and slices account for a decent percentage of GT captures. 20-30gram Twisties, Spanyid Raiders, Surecatch Knights, Gillies Baitfish and Pilchards all work when thrown into a school of feeding fish. The important thing to remember with slugs cast at feeding GT's is to keep the speed slow to moderate, fast retrieve's (especially on high speed reels)tend not to get hit as the GT's can't keep up, they are fast but they aren't tuna. Metals can also be jigged vertically through schools of fish. Drop them to the bottom and slowly wind it up to the surface works, as does dropping it down do a fast rip for about 5 metres then sinking it back down and repeat, you can also to 5 fast jigs in a row then let it drift back down. A long cast letting it sink to the bottom and winding it back at a moderate speed is also an excellent technique.
These are the metals proven to work on GT's:
- Gillies Baitfish - 15 & 25gram
- Gillies Pilchard - 25 & 40 gram
- Surecatch Knight 20 & 40gram
- Spanyid Raider 20 & 40gram
- Halco Twisty 20 & 30gram
GT caught on a Gillies Baitfish 25gram
Trolling works exceptionally well on GT's in the seaway. Deep diving lures are needed with a minimum of 3 metres depth, but 4 metres plus is recommended for most areas. The best lures are the Bolt Omega, Rapala Magnum 15 and Maria Deep Snare but most deep diving lures will work. Trolling can work during the day particularly on a run in tide but the best trolling times are between dawn and the couple of hours after, and 3pm and dusk regardless of tide. Trolling around the Northern Y and Canyon, over the Pipeline and around the North Wall are the best area's for trolling for GT's. See the Trolling the Seaway Article for more information on Trolling.
These are the lures proven to work so far on trolled GT's:
- Bolt Omega
- Rapala XRD10
- Halco Laser Pro 120
- Maria Deep Snare 120
- Rapala Magnum 10, 15 & 20
Double hookup on GT's while trolling
Poppers and Stickbaits
Poppers can work very well on GT's if they are active. I have seen GT's come up off the bottom in 8 metre's of water to hit a popper, this is quite common around the Canyon and the Northern Y channel right next to it. A popper thrown into a bust-up is usually eaten very quickly, especially during low light periods. There are two methods that work quite well, you can just do a straight retrieve at a medium to fast speed or you can do a blooping retrieve. The 3 Bloop Pause is the technique I use the most. Smaller stickbait's like the Cultiva Tango Dancer or the Atomic K9 Bulldog seem to work reasonably well once the sun is up, but big poppers seem to be the go for dawn/dusk. Stickbait's are usually worked with a Walk the Dog type retrieve, basically wiggling the tip as you retrieve and the stickbait should pop from side to side. You can also just wind them straight in. You can work larger stickbaits like the Saltiga Dorado Slider with a far more aggressive jerking retrieve. Don’t forget to pause it occasionally as many fish will hit them on a pause.
Poppers and Stickbait's that are proven to work with GT's:
- Rapala Skitter Pop 7 & 9
- Halco Roosta Popper 105
- River2 Sea Bubble Pop 88,110 & 130
- Tackle House Feed Popper 120
- Owner Cultiva Tango Dancer 95 & 115
- Daiwa Dorado Slider 14 F & 14S
- SF Skitterbait
- Atomic K9 Bulldog
- Little Jack Seguroid 70
Double hookup on GT's with Poppers
Soft Plastic's work okay on GT's and work fairly well at picking up random fish when you are prospecting. Plastics like the Gulp Jerkshads in any of the sizes, Zman 3" MinnowZ, Squidgy Slick Rigs in 65 & 85mm will all work. When you are prospecting for GT's a simple triple flick with the rod and then let it sink back down works fine. When they are feeding on surface during the middle of the day and refuse to hit any metals or poppers, split shot rigged Flash J’s in Glow Silver will work but any decent baitfish imitation plastic would do. Cast the plastic into the school and let it sit for a few seconds before giving it a slight flick then let it sit, then another flick. You are trying to imitate a dying baitfish so keep the erratic movements to a minimum. Working a plastic through the bottom sulking fish in daytime holding area's sometimes picks up a fish or two, but don’t expect too many that way.
Soft Plastics that are proven to work with GT's:
- Ecogear Grass Minnows M
- Pearl Sliders 3"
- FishArrow Flash J 3"
- Zman MinnowZ 3"
- Gulp JerkShads 3, 5 & 7"
- Squidgy SlickRigs 65 & 80mm
This GT was caught slow rolling a Squidgy Slick rig 80mm over the tip of the north wall
Vibs or Vibrating Lures can be a very effective lure for GT's at times as they sink fast and stay down deep. On a medium speed retrieve they stay close to the bottom and heavy vibs(30gm+) can even be trolled effectively around the North Wall and Northern Y. The best area's for vib's are around the pipeline, down in the Canyon and on the North Wall Flats. You can cast them out and do a slow lift and drop retrieve, or do a fast burn with a couple of pauses back to the boat. You can jig them vertically just using a slow lift and drop or up the pace with a fast jig 5 times in a row before you drop it back down. While Vibs are not used as commonly as other lures, they are still very effective at catching GT's.
Vibs that are proven to work with GT's:
- SF Vivi 30s
- Zipbaits Vib 25 & 35
- Jackall Transam
This GT was one of a dozen caught casting a Zipbaits Vib 25 over the North Wall Flats Dropoff
Giant trevally are a reasonably common catch on livebaits. Any livies will work but pike and yellowtail are my preferred baits. The Runway, the Deep Hole and the Pipeline are the best spots for livebaiting GT’s. With the Pipeline, drift the livebait approximately 6 metres down, Giant Trevally will dart up from their holding position on the pipe to grab it as it drifts past on a run-in tide. On the Runway and Deep Hole, keep your baits around 1 metre off the bottom for best results. See the Livebaiting the Seaway article for more information on Livebaiting.
GT's are not afraid of big lures, I have caught alot of fish this year on large Poppers(River2Sea Bubble Pop 130) and minnows as large as the Rapala Magnum 20(14cm). These larger lures tend to work better than small lures in low light situations around dawn or dusk or on the bottom of the runout tides during the day. Size of lure doesn't seem to make a difference on the size of GT you get, I've caught small GT's on big lures and vice versa.
This 74cm Gt took a Rapala Magnum 20
We have certainly seen more GT's caught in 2013 than in any other year but there is still a way to go before the complete story of the seaway GT's is revealed. Where they disappear to I don't know, but I continue to gather information about movements and behaviour in the hope of completing the puzzle. If you have anything else to add let me know below.