Trevally have traditionally been considered Winter fish but in my experience they are much more prolific and bigger in Spring and early Summer.
They are a great fish to catch and very under-rated as eating fish. Cooked properly (rare) they are as good as any of the best pelagics and are most similar to their close relatives, kingfish. They are sensational raw and in Japan are among the highest rating sashimi species.
Trevs generally like deep, clean water and can be found well upstream during dry conditions. I’ve seen them caught as far up as Roseville bridge in Middle Harbour and Cockatoo Island in the main Harbour.
The upstream fish are big but they are usually on their own and not found in the large schools common on the lower reaches. They are mostly taken as a welcome by-catch of bream fishing
Down in the lower Harbour they are widespread and are found around the channels, headlands, boat moorings and deep holes. At night and low-light periods of dusk and dawn they move into shallower regions. Sow and Pigs is a classic dark spot, as are the shallows around Balmoral and Washaway Beach.
Unlike most fish, trevs are not so fussy about fresh bait and, in fact, I’ve found they have a preference for fare like salted mackerel, day-old pilchard fillets and slightly iffy prawns instead of live nippers or bloodworms. Maybe it’s a symptom of the competitiveness created by living in large schools.
Use heaps of berley and fish your baits with as little weight as possible. A light 3kg eggbeater outfit works best because it allows you to fish with the bail open and allow a natural drift down the trail.
Don’t rush hooked fish because you should be using small hooks (No 4 baitholders) and they have soft mouths, with a good likelihood of a tear if you go nuts.
Occasionally you see trevs feeding on top, at which time they can be caught by flicking small 10g slices or tiny soft stickbaits.
Sometimes they follow under surface-feeding salmon and you can pick them off by letting a small chrome slice fall through the salmon and use a jigging retrieve. Keep in mind that we now have a new size limit of 30cm and a bag limit of 20 on trevally.
By the time you read this kings, tailor and salmon should be congregating around the lower reaches and feeding on top.
If you want to catch the kings and salmon consistently you need to gear up quite specifically. You’ll need a light threadline spinning outfit in the 2kg to 4 kg range loaded with 2kg to 4 kg braid.
If you really want kings or salmon, tie on a tiny unweighted stickbait. You’ll soon understand why you need the ultra-light casting gear but the Catch-22 is that some kings will do you on the bottom and the salmon will take forever to land. At least the wide-gape hook used with stick baits will give you a good hold.
Cast into the boil and use a flick-and-pause retrieve. There’s no need for speed with stickbaits.
Fortunately the tailor aren’t so fussy and will take bigger cast or trolled lures. The bonus with tailor is that even if they are feeding on tiny bait, they don’t get obsessed with it like the kings and salmon and will happily take almost whatever you throw at them.
Blackfish are on the chew and will stay on until Christmas. They are a bit scattered at the moment but will school up soon for spawning.
On the lower Harbour try Sow and Pigs and the Wedding Cake if you have a boat or Dobroyd, Little Manly and Fairlight points if you are shore-based.
You are bound to pick up a few pigs and surgeon fish in these areas so it pays to go a little heavier on the tackle and stick with cabbage weed for bait.
Luderick are not everyone’s cup of tea to eat but, treated and cooked properly, I reckon they make a top feed.
I would not suggest cooking them whole because I believe that the strong taste that turns people off comes from the skin and the black lining in the gut.
Skin and fillet them and cut out the ribcage, which will include the black lining. Roll them in a bit of flour or Cajun spice and pan-fry them and you won’t be sorry.Reads: 747