When it comes to light tackle sport fishing there is one species that stands out in front of all, especially in Georges Bay on the north east coast of Tasmania.
Most, if not all species of trevally fight hard from the moment they are hooked all the way to the moment they are landed. One of the smaller and less famous species of trevally, silver trevally, might not be very widely targeted in other parts of Australia but in Tasmania it lies in a top class of light tackle saltwater sportfish with black bream and Australian salmon.
These little freight trains may be small when compared to their northern cousins but on light gear they can really amaze you with their fighting ability. While we have arguably the best black bream and trout fishing in the country, there is no greater feeling than hooking something that you are afraid might not stop. That feeling of being spooled all the way to the backing and having absolutely no control on what’s on the other end of your line.
Silver trevally are found all along the coastal regions of Tasmania and are caught with fly, lure and bait. Larger silver trevally are more commonly found on the east coast in inshore reefs, bays and lagoons. They are an extremely diverse fish and will eat almost anything.
They can be found up on the flats feeding in 30cm of water or be on the bottom in 10m+. They have soft rubbery lips and you will often find a lot of hooks pull late in fights due to the wear and tear from the hook in their delicate lip. During summer my friends and I spent quite a bit of time fishing Georges Bay, St Helens targeting these awesome fish on light gear using soft plastics with great success, particularly from the shore.
Georges Bay has been the most productive location for large trevally by far. A few years back in the Pirtek Fishing Challenge all of the top 4 silver trevally caught in Tasmania came from Georges Bay and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a rich fishery full of deep channels and shallow mud/sand flats, weed beds and reefs which is just perfect for big silvers.
When searching for trevally there are three main things I like to look for when choosing a spot to fish: current, structure and depth. Structure provides cover for not only bait, but also for the trevally. Current has a lot to do with the tide but is essential for bottom dwelling species like trevally as they will sit tight on the bottom in large schools and pick up any tasty snacks that drift past in the current. This allows them to effectively feed without using much energy to search or chase down food.
Lastly, depth is important for the larger fish. Big trevally no doubt come onto shallow sand flats to feed occasionally however, they will be more commonly caught in deep channels from around 4-7m deep. We like to think of deep water equalling deep fish. Everyone that fishes Georges Bay for a long period of time or on a regular basis will develop their own productive spots for trevally but if you are new to the area and are interested in catching one of these hearty fighters then I can guarantee great success in any part of the main channels.
Just rock up at low tide and scan the general area. You won’t miss the masses of flats exposed and the distinctively dark, deep channels. Make sure you wear protective footwear when wandering around on the exposed flats. They may not win you any prizes in the fashion department, but they will protect your feet from getting grated by oysters, scallops and pipis.
The channels will normally tick all three boxes of depth, current and structure. Fish into the depths and go nuts!
The tackle we use when targeting silver trevally is pretty light but a little heavier than your standard bream combo. Graphite rods of 2-4kg are light and effective when working soft plastics on the bottom and therefore make a perfect plastics stick. They are light and sensitive which means you can cast all day and feel even the slightest bite. I like to match this up with a 2500 series reel spooled with 6lb highly visible yellow braid. The braid is very important. It has no stretch, which allows you to feel everything.
It is also light and has a small diameter compared to mono allowing for extra distance on your casts. I will usually start the day off using an 8lb fluorocarbon leader but it’s not uncommon for me to upgrade this to even 12lb by the end of the day. (You’ll understand when you hook a big one that smokes you down the channel into something nasty!). As a basic guide your leader should be as long as two rod lengths.
Jighead size can vary but my absolute go-to size would have to be a 1/8th. It’s small enough for effective hook-ups and good presentation but heavy enough to get a good cast and effectively fish the bottom. When conditions change however, my general rule of thumb is to fish as light a jighead as you can get away with (whether that means going lighter for slack tides or heavier for strong winds/current).
As for the plastics range it really is endless. Anything around that 3” size will work but the unbeaten weapon for big trevs for me would have to be the Berkley Gulp range in Fry, Turtleback Worms and Sandworms. Colour is important too. I like to use the most natural looking colours like Watermelon, Camo, Pumpkinseed and Natural.
The only problem with scented baits like Gulp, would be the unwanted pickers they attract such as toadfish and leatherjackets. They will often nibble and pick until you have nothing left than a piece of Gulp on a bare jighead. Squidgy Flickbaits and Wrigglers or Berkley Power Minnows are the go-to plastics when the toad fish/leatheries become too thick.
This is probably the most important part of all. Trevally are quite easy to catch on soft plastics yet many anglers often get it wrong. Remember, trevally are mostly a bottom dwelling species so it’s important to have your plastic in the strike zone for as long as possible. Fish very slow. Watch your line to indicate when you’re on the bottom.
Don’t be afraid to leave your plastic to rest on the bottom on long pauses either as they will often just pick up a dead plastic. Lift your rod tip and sharply jig the plastic about 30-60cm off the bottom before winding up the slack and leaving your plastic to rest on the bottom once again. It’s a lot like a simple flathead technique but the Trevs love it!
It’s important to watch your line at all times (that’s why I prefer a visible braid). They will often bite on the drop so when your line begins to tighten, strike! You will know early if it’s a trevally...
Georges Bay is by far my favourite saltwater fishery in Tasmania. Trevally is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fishing this place. This particular style of fishing is also one of my favourites. There is no other way to describe fishing the deep channels with plastics other than to call it a shear lucky dip.
I managed a very nice bream along with some flathead, weed whiting, Australian salmon and mullet but in other months tailor, small snapper and even yellowtail kingfish are not an uncommon by-catch.