My eyes were squinting. The sun was shining bright, very bright throughout the week we fished the Maldivian flats. The sun’s ray reflecting off the water’s surface and the waves make it hard to spot fish.
After two days of non-stop casting and wading my muscles were beginning to ache. The pain is more noticeable due to the lack of fish.
I begin to hallucinate. Seeing swimming fish when they are not there. Or maybe they are? I take a few deep breaths and exhale. I stretch my neck and can hear pops and creaks.
I am losing my cool. And it wasn’t from the hot weather.
A couple of false casts and little pink Charlie lands on top of a dark patch. I let the line sink a little. Strip, strip, strip, tug! Finally a bite. The line did not shoot off and my reel did not scream but it is fish on nonetheless. In comes a little grouper, then another, and another. Three in succession and I begin to think they may be the same fish!
But number four was different. Lines shot out of my stripping basket. The line went left and right cutting across the surface quickly and my reel finally sang!
It was a Bluefin Trevally and it took my blues away
The Bluefin is the most beautiful of all the jacks and trevallys. Beautiful Bluefin Trevally (Caranx melampygus) are one of the most common gamefish found in the reefs and flats in Maldives.
Like most trevally species, the Bluefin Trevally is a very powerful and fast swimming fish. They are also good at spitting-off hooks. In gin clear waters such as those in the Maldives I can clearly see them shaking their head vigorously attempting to shake off the hook. They do this while darting left and right and sometimes stops to do a few head-shake before blasting off again towards the reef. Sight fishing at its best.
How to Fish for Bluefin Trevally
Strip fast if you are fly-fishing and crank fast if you are casting. These fish are fast and the often hunt in pairs or more. They are so quick they can miss your lure or fly. Slow stripping and retrieve often results in follows that does not result in strikes. Solution? Pick-up the pace as much as you can!
How and Where
The species grows to a maximum known length of 117 cm and a weight of 43.5 kg, however, it is rare to catch ones above 80 cm. Bluefin trevally are easily recognised by their electric blue fins, tapered snout and numerous blue and black spots on their sides. Juveniles lack these obvious colours, and must be identified by more detailed anatomical features such as fin ray and scute counts. The bluefin trevally inhabits both inshore environments such as bays, lagoons and shallow reefs, as well as deeper offshore reefs, atolls and bomboras. Juveniles prefer shallower, protected waters, even entering estuaries for short periods in some locations.
The bluefin trevally reproduces at different periods throughout its range, and reaches sexual maturity at 30–40 cm in length and around 2 years of age. It is a multiple spawner, capable of reproducing up to 8 times per year, releasing up to 6 million eggs per year in captivity. Growth is well studied, with the fish reaching 194 mm in its first year, 340 mm in the second and 456 mm in the third year.
Fish and Chips
The bluefin trevally is a popular target for both commercial and recreational fishermen. Commercial fisheries record up to 50 tonnes of the species taken per year in the west Indian Ocean, and around 700 lbs per year in Hawaii. The rapid decimation of the Hawaiian population due to overfishing has led to increased research in the aquaculture potential of the species, with spawning achieved in captivity. Despite its popularity as a table fish, many cases of ciguatera poisoning have been reported from the species.