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Silver Trevally


wazatherfisherman
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Years ago, when I first joined a fishing club, regional fishing titles and competitions were decided by using a simple scoring system of 1 point per fish and 10 points per kilo, highest number of points, regardless of sizes or species would be the winner.

In those days, although size limits were strictly adhered to, there were no bag limits and as a result, huge catches of fish on competition days were the norm. Looking back now, for some species, it was wholesale slaughter and having no bag limits undoubtedly contributed to the decline in many species. Conservation was simply not a consideration, there would always be more fish- at least that's what was thought.

So to be competitive in these competitions, where it was really about numbers, targeted species really came down to the amounts of any fish that could be caught.

That meant for Sydney competitions there would usually be only a few genuinely targeted species, the ones available in the numbers needed for victory. 

For the 'Deep Sea' section that meant Kingfish, Tuna (various types) and to a lesser extent Trevally.

For the 'Rock' section, Tailor, Trevally and Rock Blackfish (Black Drummer- "Pigs")

For the 'Estuary' section  Tailor and Trevally- same again for the 'Beach' titles, it was Tailor and Trevally that made up the bigger numbers.

Common denominator = Tailor and Trevally. Tailor were sometimes in 'plague proportions' and could be caught quicker than all other species, so if they were around, they were the main target of virtually all the competitors. For consistency though, Silver Trevally (also known as "Blurters" or "Trevs") would be the secondary target, as the sheer numbers of them around Sydney during the 70's, 80's and 90's meant that catching some was pretty much a "given" albeit not as rapidly as catching the Tailor.

The ocean sewerage outfalls (known as "murks") were still operating and they attracted thousands of fish to their "natural" berley trails, with Silver Trevally residing in huge numbers. Bondi murk, Yellow Rock at Malabar, Doughboy at Kurnell, Rosa Gully at Diamond Bay, Turimetta just past Narrabeen and the "Trevally Capital"- Bluefish murk at Manly, all produced big numbers of Trev's on a consistent basis- fishing any of these locations pretty much guaranteed, that if all other species failed, you could always catch a few fish. Of course fishing murks during competition times was strictly outlawed, for good reason, as it wasn't deemed to be a 'good look' for our sport.

The visible line of discoloured water that flowed from these 'murks' would extend along the coast, sometimes (in the case of both Bondi and Bluefish) for a couple of kilometers. Trolling along this man-made current line, you could usually catch all manner of surface (or close to surface) feeding fish. Trevally being the most prominent. As the 'soupy opaque' water was only about the top 3 metres of the water column along it's edge, and had a distinct line between the 'clean and dirty' to troll along, on calm days, you could often see the trevally sitting en masse along the edge and they were easily caught with small lures, particularly 3-4 cm long white bucktail jigs or 'Canada jigs'. or simply some white "Firetail" fly-tying nylon bound onto a 3/0 34007 (O'shaunessy pattern) hook. These fish were usually in the 1-1.5 kg range.

To catch them from the rocks, the simple technique was to run a size O, 1 or O1 ball sinker between a swivel and hook, size 1, 1/0 or 2/0 (Mustad 92647 or 92247- baitholder with the baitkeeper slices on the shank) Bait would be cast out as far as you could get it with the small lead, let sink so it was down 3-5 metres, the rod tip dropped low and to one side and a slow but continual retrieve started. Using sidecast reels, this was an easy technique and the angler stays 'in-touch' with the bait. When the fish started to 'tap' the bait you just kept slowly winding without striking until the weight of the fish was there and even then when striking, only a short sharp rod movement of about 30-45 cm of a 3 mtr+ rod was necessary to set the hook. The best bait for this technique is peeled green prawns. Pilchard tails would be second pick. Trevally of course will take a variety of other baits such as worms, nippers and small fillet baits, but for the 'winding technique' prawns are best as they stay on the hook better and are eagerly accepted by the fish. In conjunction with a decent burley-trail of crushed and soaked white bread, with some tuna or pilchard oil and the crushed-up front 1/3rd of a pilchard,(keep the back 2/3rds for bait) really large numbers were caught by this technique, particularly after dark, from the deep water ledges along the Sydney coastline, with most fish in the .5-1.5 kg range.

Catching them in the estuary the technique is pretty much the same- peeled prawn and small ball on the hook rig. At spots like the Sow and Pigs reef in Sydney Harbour, night time fishing sees large schools of Trevally sitting all around the general reef area and western side. As the current runs fairly strongly on the bigger tides, getting the bait down to the right level can be a bit trickier, with the retrieve method only practical when the tide slows. Anyone who has fished Sow and Pigs at night would be aware of the huge numbers of large Yellowtail that inhabit the reef and they can pose a problem when Trevally fishing, as they like the same (or pretty much any) bait. They are generally a little higher in the water column, with the larger mass of them sitting only 2 to 3 mtr's under the surface of a night time and often taking bait right up on the surface. When berley is flowing from your berley dispenser, there will often be masses of these large Yellowtail within a couple of metres of the back of the boat, luckily, the larger mass stay close to the eddy formed by the back of the boat. To fish for Trevally, get your bait out 10-15 metres behind the boat (this is also where your berley will have sunk to a couple of metres when the current is strong). Personally, I found that using a handline with about  6-10 pieces of sheet lead (2 cm x .3 cm) crimped on about 20 cm apart was the best method. You could simply add or subtract a couple of pieces to match the tide, as you want to get your bait down about 3 metres into the Trevally 'zone' but avoid the surface Yellowtail. I found it easy to throw out the side of the boat , let the bait sink in the current and pay out line to keep it in the take zone, it doesn't take long to successfully work this technique with the handline- you just want the bait down between 2 and 4 meters and staying at that level. 

That's how we used to do it. They are good fun to catch and aren't too bad in the smoker. Hope this helps you catch a few. 

Cheers Waza

 

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fishing in the 70's....I had the opportunity to do "fishing" for sport around the Little Bay area during year 11-12.

We had a very understanding Sports Master at school when we presented our case.

Jim...

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18 hours ago, GoingFishing said:

What a time to have lived. Sometimes I wish I was born 50 or so years earlier.

I'd second that!. Certainly was easier to catch most species of fish 50 years ago and with the aid of very little technology to help. Angling has evolved to compensate for the fewer numbers of target species available today. Thankfully size and bag limits have been introduced to try to "level the playing field" somewhat. bn

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Thanks for the read @wazatherfisherman. Brought back memories. ūüėé Unlike those AFA(?) comps where large numbers of fish were targeted for huge total weights, I fished in an ANSA club (still do) where the goal was chasing large fish on light lines. I remember spinning and jigging¬†for silver trevally back in the early 80s¬†with small metal slugs at Gunsight Reef at Port Stephens. They¬†were a lot of fun on¬†1 or 2kg line! ūüėä I don‚Äôt hear much about Silver Trevally up here now, or Gunsight Reef. ūü§Ē

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Waza. Great write up and certainly times to remember. I tell people about stories from way back when and they look at me as if I am telling a load of porkies. For me by the time the 80's came about the fishing was in decline, the mid 60's and 70's was my hay day on the water . I remember the tailor boils covering half of botany Bay, these days you see a 1/4 acre boil and you think it's amazing.

Frank

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Same for me Frank. We lived on the "waterfront" at Kurnell for a number of years and I just had to wheel the tinny across the road and haul in tailer, kingfish and trevally whenever I saw the birds working. Also the never ending schools of hairtail across the bay, before the container terminals went in, were unbelievable. Fishing the wrecks off the Marley area always provided the "rubbish" catch of huge trevally.  There were some real bruisers back in the 70's - 80's and consistent 50cm plus fish were common.  The big trevs more often than not, had flesh eating worms in their gut/spine area and were a little off putting, when filleted. Memories are what we treasure these days Frank :)

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6 hours ago, Berleyguts said:

Thanks for the read @wazatherfisherman. Brought back memories. ūüėé Unlike those AFA(?) comps where large numbers of fish were targeted for huge total weights, I fished in an ANSA club (still do) where the goal was chasing large fish on light lines. I remember spinning and jigging¬†for silver trevally back in the early 80s¬†with small metal slugs at Gunsight Reef at Port Stephens. They¬†were a lot of fun on¬†1 or 2kg line! ūüėä I don‚Äôt hear much about Silver Trevally up here now, or Gunsight Reef. ūü§Ē

G'day mate, the old AFCA comps were only about numbers. My club fished the AFCA comps and also ANSA comps. We mainly used 10 kg outside and 1, 2 or 3 kg inside. No sports-fishing during AFCA comps!

My all time favourite outfit was a Lamiglas "UL 168" (5 ft 8 in) that I built myself, matched with a Shakespeare 2499 threadline that held 220 mtrs of 1 and about 150 mtrs of 2. At the time, it was the world's smallest threadline.(spinning reel for those that don't know!)

Had countless 'epic' battles with Trevally on the 2 kg- most of them were too good for me on the 1 kg in the harbour, they'd always find the reef!

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5 hours ago, frankS said:

Waza. Great write up and certainly times to remember. I tell people about stories from way back when and they look at me as if I am telling a load of porkies. For me by the time the 80's came about the fishing was in decline, the mid 60's and 70's was my hay day on the water . I remember the tailor boils covering half of botany Bay, these days you see a 1/4 acre boil and you think it's amazing.

Frank

G'day Frank, have to agree, by the early 80's the fishing was only "half as good" and in constant decline. 

I can remember hiring a boat from Lavender Bay as a 16 yr old, going past the Opera House and the whole harbour was boiling with Tailor in every direction as far as you could see- that was in 1977.

Your sprayer would have been great to use for the Trevally.

Cheers Waza

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3 hours ago, Killer said:

Same for me Frank. We lived on the "waterfront" at Kurnell for a number of years and I just had to wheel the tinny across the road and haul in tailer, kingfish and trevally whenever I saw the birds working. Also the never ending schools of hairtail across the bay, before the container terminals went in, were unbelievable. Fishing the wrecks off the Marley area always provided the "rubbish" catch of huge trevally.  There were some real bruisers back in the 70's - 80's and consistent 50cm plus fish were common.  The big trevs more often than not, had flesh eating worms in their gut/spine area and were a little off putting, when filleted. Memories are what we treasure these days Frank :)

G'day mate - those Botany Hairtail were also some of the biggest ever.

From memory, Botany also produced the catches of the biggest Trevally for the AFCA comp fishers. Plenty of 2+1/2- 3kg+ fish weighed from the Bay

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use to get 2-3kg trevally in the Cooks River around August as I remember the strong westerlies were blowing too.

Would also catch Luderick up to 2.5kg in the river as well in Aug. using a green bait that was a cross between a prawn and a yabby. Gathered them at low tide from around/under rocks under Bridge (Gen Holmes Dr)

Jim

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31 minutes ago, jot said:

use to get 2-3kg trevally in the Cooks River around August as I remember the strong westerlies were blowing too.

Would also catch Luderick up to 2.5kg in the river as well in Aug. using a green bait that was a cross between a prawn and a yabby. Gathered them at low tide from around/under rocks under Bridge (Gen Holmes Dr)

Jim

They are called Green Nippers or 'pistol prawns'- awesome bait for all estuary fish. Used to get them myself by turning rocks over in Parramatta River when I was a kid.

Cheers Waza

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On 4/4/2019 at 5:31 PM, wazatherfisherman said:

Years ago, when I first joined a fishing club, regional fishing titles and competitions were decided by using a simple scoring system of 1 point per fish and 10 points per kilo, highest number of points, regardless of sizes or species would be the winner.

In those days, although size limits were strictly adhered to, there were no bag limits and as a result, huge catches of fish on competition days were the norm. Looking back now, for some species, it was wholesale slaughter and having no bag limits undoubtedly contributed to the decline in many species. Conservation was simply not a consideration, there would always be more fish- at least that's what was thought.

So to be competitive in these competitions, where it was really about numbers, targeted species really came down to the amounts of any fish that could be caught.

That meant for Sydney competitions there would usually be only a few genuinely targeted species, the ones available in the numbers needed for victory. 

For the 'Deep Sea' section that meant Kingfish, Tuna (various types) and to a lesser extent Trevally.

For the 'Rock' section, Tailor, Trevally and Rock Blackfish (Black Drummer- "Pigs")

For the 'Estuary' section  Tailor and Trevally- same again for the 'Beach' titles, it was Tailor and Trevally that made up the bigger numbers.

Common denominator = Tailor and Trevally. Tailor were sometimes in 'plague proportions' and could be caught quicker than all other species, so if they were around, they were the main target of virtually all the competitors. For consistency though, Silver Trevally (also known as "Blurters" or "Trevs") would be the secondary target, as the sheer numbers of them around Sydney during the 70's, 80's and 90's meant that catching some was pretty much a "given" albeit not as rapidly as catching the Tailor.

The ocean sewerage outfalls (known as "murks") were still operating and they attracted thousands of fish to their "natural" berley trails, with Silver Trevally residing in huge numbers. Bondi murk, Yellow Rock at Malabar, Doughboy at Kurnell, Rosa Gully at Diamond Bay, Turimetta just past Narrabeen and the "Trevally Capital"- Bluefish murk at Manly, all produced big numbers of Trev's on a consistent basis- fishing any of these locations pretty much guaranteed, that if all other species failed, you could always catch a few fish. Of course fishing murks during competition times was strictly outlawed, for good reason, as it wasn't deemed to be a 'good look' for our sport.

The visible line of discoloured water that flowed from these 'murks' would extend along the coast, sometimes (in the case of both Bondi and Bluefish) for a couple of kilometers. Trolling along this man-made current line, you could usually catch all manner of surface (or close to surface) feeding fish. Trevally being the most prominent. As the 'soupy opaque' water was only about the top 3 metres of the water column along it's edge, and had a distinct line between the 'clean and dirty' to troll along, on calm days, you could often see the trevally sitting en masse along the edge and they were easily caught with small lures, particularly 3-4 cm long white bucktail jigs or 'Canada jigs'. or simply some white "Firetail" fly-tying nylon bound onto a 3/0 34007 (O'shaunessy pattern) hook. These fish were usually in the 1-1.5 kg range.

To catch them from the rocks, the simple technique was to run a size O, 1 or O1 ball sinker between a swivel and hook, size 1, 1/0 or 2/0 (Mustad 92647 or 92247- baitholder with the baitkeeper slices on the shank) Bait would be cast out as far as you could get it with the small lead, let sink so it was down 3-5 metres, the rod tip dropped low and to one side and a slow but continual retrieve started. Using sidecast reels, this was an easy technique and the angler stays 'in-touch' with the bait. When the fish started to 'tap' the bait you just kept slowly winding without striking until the weight of the fish was there and even then when striking, only a short sharp rod movement of about 30-45 cm of a 3 mtr+ rod was necessary to set the hook. The best bait for this technique is peeled green prawns. Pilchard tails would be second pick. Trevally of course will take a variety of other baits such as worms, nippers and small fillet baits, but for the 'winding technique' prawns are best as they stay on the hook better and are eagerly accepted by the fish. In conjunction with a decent burley-trail of crushed and soaked white bread, with some tuna or pilchard oil and the crushed-up front 1/3rd of a pilchard,(keep the back 2/3rds for bait) really large numbers were caught by this technique, particularly after dark, from the deep water ledges along the Sydney coastline, with most fish in the .5-1.5 kg range.

Catching them in the estuary the technique is pretty much the same- peeled prawn and small ball on the hook rig. At spots like the Sow and Pigs reef in Sydney Harbour, night time fishing sees large schools of Trevally sitting all around the general reef area and western side. As the current runs fairly strongly on the bigger tides, getting the bait down to the right level can be a bit trickier, with the retrieve method only practical when the tide slows. Anyone who has fished Sow and Pigs at night would be aware of the huge numbers of large Yellowtail that inhabit the reef and they can pose a problem when Trevally fishing, as they like the same (or pretty much any) bait. They are generally a little higher in the water column, with the larger mass of them sitting only 2 to 3 mtr's under the surface of a night time and often taking bait right up on the surface. When berley is flowing from your berley dispenser, there will often be masses of these large Yellowtail within a couple of metres of the back of the boat, luckily, the larger mass stay close to the eddy formed by the back of the boat. To fish for Trevally, get your bait out 10-15 metres behind the boat (this is also where your berley will have sunk to a couple of metres when the current is strong). Personally, I found that using a handline with about  6-10 pieces of sheet lead (2 cm x .3 cm) crimped on about 20 cm apart was the best method. You could simply add or subtract a couple of pieces to match the tide, as you want to get your bait down about 3 metres into the Trevally 'zone' but avoid the surface Yellowtail. I found it easy to throw out the side of the boat , let the bait sink in the current and pay out line to keep it in the take zone, it doesn't take long to successfully work this technique with the handline- you just want the bait down between 2 and 4 meters and staying at that level. 

That's how we used to do it. They are good fun to catch and aren't too bad in the smoker. Hope this helps you catch a few. 

Cheers Waza

 

Hi Waza - this is an old threat but just stumbled on it.  Great write up.   My fishing heyday was the late 70's and early 80's.  August was the prime trevally month off the rocks around Dee Why.  The fish were often so thick that it was a great time to introduce friends to rock fishing.  The fish were typically all the same size maybe 32/34 cm - not huge but they did fight pretty well.  Cube of pilchard with a #1 hook was my rig - sometimes with no sinker but usually a 00 or an 0 size.  There were times when you could cast, wind in the slack, count to ten, give a quick strike as you have described and a fish would be hooked more time than not.   Bought a CR5126FT blank from the old Graham's fishing store in Narrabeen specifically for trevally and bream - the rod is long gone but still have the 55A5 Alvey that I bought to go with it.  Great memories - reading some of the comments seems the trevally aren't as thick these days?  We were a fair way from the North Head so not sure schools near Dee Why were attracted by the sewerage but perhaps the Sydney Murks boosted the whole population.  Went back to some my old spots a few months ago with my sons - we got a couple of trevally so some still a few around around.   Hopefully everyone in Sydney can get back to fishing soon

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Hi Waza, somehow I must have missed this one. Great story again.

We used to get them down here in the calmer water by berleying them up with bread floated out on the surface and then hitting them with floating bread crust baits. 

Bream, luderick and drummer were always a welcome bycatch.

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1 hour ago, Dee Why Jim said:

Hi Waza - this is an old threat but just stumbled on it.  Great write up.   My fishing heyday was the late 70's and early 80's.  August was the prime trevally month off the rocks around Dee Why.  The fish were often so thick that it was a great time to introduce friends to rock fishing.  The fish were typically all the same size maybe 32/34 cm - not huge but they did fight pretty well.  Cube of pilchard with a #1 hook was my rig - sometimes with no sinker but usually a 00 or an 0 size.  There were times when you could cast, wind in the slack, count to ten, give a quick strike as you have described and a fish would be hooked more time than not.   Bought a CR5126FT blank from the old Graham's fishing store in Narrabeen specifically for trevally and bream - the rod is long gone but still have the 55A5 Alvey that I bought to go with it.  Great memories - reading some of the comments seems the trevally aren't as thick these days?  We were a fair way from the North Head so not sure schools near Dee Why were attracted by the sewerage but perhaps the Sydney Murks boosted the whole population.  Went back to some my old spots a few months ago with my sons - we got a couple of trevally so some still a few around around.   Hopefully everyone in Sydney can get back to fishing soon

Hi Jim hope you're well- although they are available throughout winter from the coast, during the years when the murks were flowing there were just millions (literally!) of them and you could see them in the water everywhere.

Since the treatment outflows were moved offshore, the massive schools are no longer visible and I don't know if the Trevally moved out to the new deep ocean outfalls as they were always sitting in the top few meters of the water column. Perhaps they just adapted and feed lower?

There are still plenty at places like Sow and Pigs reef in the harbour

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1 minute ago, Green Hornet said:

Hi Waza, somehow I must have missed this one. Great story again.

We used to get them down here in the calmer water by berleying them up with bread floated out on the surface and then hitting them with floating bread crust baits. 

Bream, luderick and drummer were always a welcome bycatch.

Hi Pete thanks! We used to call them "next door neighbour fish" and outside of comps just mucked around with them with light line- better stuff to eat, but they turn out real well if you smoke them. Rather eat the bycatch!

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