Trevally on fly in Collingwood

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Trevally on fly in Collingwood

Saltwater fly fishing has come a long way in the last couple of years. Its been great to see so many new comers to the sport who have brought bucket loads of enthusiasm and photos to the social media realm. This summer we had some special catches in NZ waters - from 20lb snapper on fly all the way through to fly caught Marlin from a trailer boat! These captures are exciting and provide inspiration to the rest of us to push the boundaries and target new species and travel to new destinations. 

Having extra time on my hands this summer allowed me to hone my saltwater fly fishing skills. With the addition of a custom designed DNA center console in my arsenal I could break new ground in my area. It was a constant battle throughout the summer to ignore the plague numbers of Ray riding Kingfish on the flats in favor of trying new things. One of my goals was a sighted flats snapper and the other was to dial in on catching NZ Silver Trevally. I did end up achieving a sight cast Snapper on fly, however I now know that on the flats of Golden Bay these are very rare visitors. I put a lot of hours in trying to find snapper. I tried all times of day, low light in the morning and evening and at all other times of the day. I only managed one sighting in 5 feet of water which was converted into a captured fish.

What was very interesting in my quest to find Snapper I saw good numbers of Trevally on the flats. February and March provided the most Trevally activity. I saw fish swimming in small schools of 5 to 10 fish and also a couple of times in densely packed large schools moving quickly. Most trevally were seen in 7 to 8 feet of water and until they saw the boat or the fly they were searching on the bottom for food. Trevally are definitely a touchy fish in the shallows, any sign that something was up and they would get out of dodge. I found I could find them at low tide near the entrance to the channels that extend up into the flats particularly at the area in front of the cockle factory. In previous year I had seen Trevally riding on the Short Tail Rays, this was not my experience this year.  

The approach was fairly standard for bottom feeding flats fish. In some ways despite the fact they are so spooky, they were not too hard to fool. It seemed to come down to making a presentation in their path before they spotted you. A natural colored Bucktail Clouser in a #1 or #2 fished on the bottom on a 12 - 14 foot leader did the job. A good long cast is needed to attack the fish before they get too close to the boat.  The thing that I felt made them easier to hook than the bottom feeding Kingfish was that they seemed to generally track in the same direction rather than swimming quickly around over large distances - even with Ray present. Once the fly is down deep in the Trevally's path it was just a matter of giving a short strip to get the fishes attention. Most times the fish would race over and inhale it. Once hooked the Trevally gives a good account of itself, They run fast and take line. They took me into backing a couple of times and were very dogged in the final stages of the fight. With the soft mouths, consideration needs to be given to not prolonging fights and causing a hole to wear in the mouth that the hook can fall out of. Also going too hard on them will also tear the mouth. 

So it was a great summer here in Collingwood. With plenty saltwater fly experiences had and new learnings under the belt its time to look forward to next season. 

Anton Donaldson