The recent capture on March 18 of a giant trevally off the Pacific coast of Panama is certain to stun fishery biologists and recreational fishermen alike.
In an exclusive report to Sport Fishing, Panama fishing-resort manager Olivier Charpentier shares a photo of his catch — leaving no doubt of its identity as a giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis)— that he caught on a popper off Montuosa Island (clearly visible in the background).
Historically, GT have been limited to the western Pacific, found as far east only as Hawaii. GT, one of the world’s most powerful nearshore game fishes, are also one of the post popular among anglers from Hawaii to Australia. They are known to reach weights in excess of 160 pounds.
Ross Robertson, Ph.D., and colleagues have termed the vast distance between Hawaii and islands far off the coast of Central America as the “eastern Pacific barrier,” noting that it presents a formidable open-water obstacle, discouraging transpacific migration of shore-bound species.
However, upon seeing the photo of Charpentier’s catch, William Smith-Vaniz, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading experts on carangids — the family of jacks and trevallies — agrees that “This fish is definitely a giant trevally.” Smith-Vaniz tells SF that a comprehensive search of all electronic fish-collection data bases would seem to confirm this as the first GT caught along the coast of Central America.
Recently, a GT was reported sighted well off the coast of Ecuador in the Galapagos, says Robertson, an expert on fishes of the tropical Eastern Pacific.
Scientists now have documented evidence supporting a dramatic giant trevally range extension.
Several western trevallies have made it across the eastern Pacific barrier, becoming well established and today common off Panama and Costa Rica, including bluefin and bigeye trevallies and black jacks. Atlantic tarpon, having crossed into the Pacific through the Panama Canal are also becoming increasingly numerous in these waters, apparently breeding in the Pacific now.
Will giant trevally join their ranks as yet another great game fish available to anglers off Central America? That remains to be seen, but it is an interesting and for many fishermen tantalizing prospect.
(Any angler catching what he or she believes to be a giant trevally off Central America is encouraged to contact [email protected])