Scott Species – golden trevally, hard-fighting and determined beasts

Since May, Western Angler editor and fishing guru Scott Coghlan has taken our readers to WA’s many amazing fishing locations in his weekly series, Scott’s Spots.

The popular segment, written exclusively for Recfishwest, featured spots from the Rowley Shoals in the State’s north to Kalgan River, near Albany.

Today, we’re proud to unveil Scott’s new and exclusive series — Scott’s Species. With WA recfishers spending $2.4 billion on fishing annually, Scott’s Species aims to help you catch some of the amazing species the State has to offer. To launch the series, Scott discusses hard-fighting golden trevally.

Species: Golden trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus

Eating: 3 stars

ID: Thick blubbery lips. Golden colouring when young, silver with black spots as they get older.

Scott Coghlan with a fun-sized golden trevally!

Easily recognised by their thick rubbery lips, golden trevally are one of my absolute favourite fish to catch.

Striking looking and capable to pulling like a Mack Truck, they often show up in big numbers, appearing as if from out of nowhere to liven up proceedings.

I reckon pound-for-pound goldens are the toughest of the big trevally to stop. They are usually found from Shark Bay in WA across the north to northern NSW and really start to appear regularly from Carnarvon north.

Goldens can grow to about 15kg, which is a horse of the specie sand some of the biggest are found around Exmouth.

The artificial reef in the Exmouth Gulf has been producing some huge fish recently, and the shoals in the gulf are also renowned for big goldens.

The Mackerel Islands is another location where we catch a lot of big goldens. They are a fantastic inshore species that are a favourite of light tackle and sport anglers like me, moreso than those chasing a feed.

That is not to say golden trevally aren’t good on the plate, because they can be, it’s just that they really are a great sportfish.

They are a beautiful looking fish, with those striking thick lips used for hoovering food off the bottom, and fight with great determination when hooked, making every capture a good one and especially in shallow water.

When they show up it is often in packs and hooking one golden will often see several more follow it to the angler during the fight, offering the opportunity for other fishers to get in the action.

How’s this great golden for Glenn Edwards!

Goldens can be found in a variety of locations, including around offshore structure and reefs, on shallow flats and even under large patches of floating weed. On sandflats they will often follow just behind stingrays.

Although their mouth appears to be largely designed for bottom feeding, golden trevally are a very aggressive predator that will hit a large range of baits and lures, including on the surface.

They do respond well to burley if they are in the area and will take most fish baits. They are often taken by trollers on bibbed minnow lures, but are also a good target for lure casters.

They are usually happy to hit top-water lures such as poppers and stickbaits, while jigs and soft plastics will also work around structure.

I have found soft plastic vibes to be very effective on goldens. Once hooked, they have great power and will stubbornly use their broad sides to their advantage to prolong the battle.

They are also not shy about using any nearby structure to their advantage.

However, in all but the most rugged terrain the gear used doesn’t need to be super heavy and 10kg to 15kg line is ample if patience is used. Wire is not needed, although some tough mono leader of 23kg to 27kg is a good idea.

They are a great target for light tackle and fly fishers on shallow sand flats in the north of the country, as they will come right into the shallows looking for a feed.

Sometimes they will ‘tail’, with their head down on the bottom and tail breaking the surface. These sorts of behaviours mean they are often easily spotted and cast to, and  on sandy flats the angler can enjoy the fight without the fear of being buried in structure by a golden.

Even little goldens can be a lot of fun on suitable gear, as they will chase lures in ravenous groups and strike hard. Their golden colouration is also most striking on juvenile fish and they are quite stunning in the water when lit up.

We’ve had a lot of fun in recent years stalking and casting at schools of 1kg to 2kg fish on light gear at the west end of Thevenard Island. Any day I catch a good golden I regard as a day well spent on the water!

Recfishwest’s Zach Relph with a solid golden from the Exmouth Gulf!