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July 09, 2007

Sensational Sight Casting

Our editors share their favorite fisheries for the ultimate thrill of seeing each strike in this series.

Danger - High Explosives: Indo-Pacific Giant Trevally

"There he is! Don't stop: Keep it coming!" I yell over the intercom. (I learned long ago when casting to giant trevally to use a loud hailer or intercom or lose my voice.) High in the tower, I see a massive brown streak - sometimes as many as a dozen - coming up from deeper water.

Though the novice angler can be alerted, he can't possibly be prepared. Water bulges and then parts as a bucket-size hole opens and closes with an enormous explosion. The body behind the mouth could weigh well over 50 pounds.

"Did you see that?" anglers often yell back. I grin and start having my own brand of fun, putting an agile sport-fishing boat through its paces, trying to keep the line away from the coral's jagged underwater hills and valleys.

Any large surface-popping lure designed for striped bass or snook will work for GT; you just have to be able to cast it a country mile. Many GT pros use big Penn 850 or 950 SS spinners or the equivalent; GT will tear up lesser gear. However, a few marlin fishermen can cast conventional gear like Hatteras surf-casters. Non-stretch Spectra braid with a  wind-on mono leader and short trace of wire makes it easy to pop the big lures.

Because this is a sight-fishery, it depends on good movement of water from either ocean currents or tidal flow. Since we cannot predict the vagaries of the ocean, we prefer to fish the big spring tides during the moon's full and dark phases. If the water isn't moving, I don't even bother to target GTs.

A little baitfish called the fusilier is common around the peaks, pinnacles, and steep drop-offs of outer reefs and around coral heads on Australia's Great Barrier Reef and throughout the South Pacific. If you can  find a school of these colorful little morsels swimming on the surface against the tide as they snack on nearly microscopic plankton while creating the ripples that Californians refer to as "breezing," you're in luck. You're about to hook a giant trevally.

The breezing bait signal a major bottom contour below, and unless other anglers have been there recently, big brown predators will be waiting in the depths.

On windy days, you can see the ripples and light-blue glow of dense fusilier schools once close enough, but when the sea is slick-calm, I can run at speed and, from the tower, watch hundreds of yards ahead and to the side for any disturbances.

We approach slowly, circling when windy so we don't have to cast into a stiff breeze. It's always best to make long casts downwind, to an undisturbed bait school. Casting across the wind also works, but into a strong wind is a last option that we use only when any other approach means hitting bottom or getting into the surf on the outside of the outer barrier reef.

"You can't throw it too far!" I tell anglers, adding: "Don't let it sit still at all. Start winding and jerking just before it hits the water, and don't hesitate until you pick it up."

When the giant jack settles into a steady slug fest and finally starts to pinwheel, I leave the boat out of gear and look into the distance for another patch of ripples.

I might even catch one myself when I  wear out all the anglers, just to show them how it should be done - but only one. These things are tough - like a jack crevalle but bigger ... lots bigger!

- Capt. Peter B. Wright, Contributing Editor


Capt. Barry Cross, Joe Joe, Port Douglas, Australia -
Capt. Damon Olsen, Nomad, Cairns, Australia -
Capt. Ross Findlayson, Sea Baby IV, Cairns, Australia -

Keep checking back to for our next great sight fishing destination