So you want a GT?

When we talk about bucket list fish, one species that many, many Aussie fishos would place somewhere near the pointy end of their own lifetime must catch list is the giant trevally. GTs – or more specifically, big GTs – have a fearsome and well justified reputation as one of the toughest fish that swim.

Having one of these mean mothers mow down a big popper or stickbait and then going toe to toe with it in a pure tug of war is an experience few sporting minded anglers can resist.

Chasing GTs – or more specifically, big GTs – lies at the extreme end of the sportfishing spectrum for good reason. To successfully extract these powerful thugs from their coral reef home takes bulletproof gear and more than a drop of sheer willpower. You just can’t expect to get the job done with anything less.

So with this in mind, what follows are some of the key elements for success on big GTs.

GT Gear

Because of the kind of coral studded territory big GTs typically call home, there’s no choice other than to lock up and go hard on these fish. They’re not as dirty a fighter as their reputation would suggest – certainly nothing near as below the belt as a big yellowtail kingfish or dogtooth tuna – but any fish that has the pulling power of a GT and looks to bolt back into reef country when hooked is always going to require beefed up tackle and heavy handed fighting tactics.

The ideal outfit to take on a fish like this would be a high leverage set up that provides the angler with as comfortable a base as possible, but with GTs this just isn’t possible. Because these fish tend to haunt shallow, reef edge areas, the need for casting distance to put lures in the strike zone dictates that long rods in the vicinity of 8ft are the go. Unfortunately, the longer the rod, the less comfortable it will be to pull on a fish, therefore GT gear is compromise between casting ability, pulling power and light weight.

Anytime you need an outfit to essentially be three different things at once you can bet it will come with a serious price tag, and this is certainly the case with GT rods. Although you’re looking at a very significant investment, these sticks are worth the money as you’ll appreciate a purpose specific, well designed and light weight rod when you’re casting and working those big lures.

Before the advent of thin, zero stretch, super strong braided polyethylene (braid) lines, big GTs were near impossible to catch from coral reef edges. Braid allows us to cast big lures long distances thanks to its thin diameter, yet still have unbelievable pulling power when a big fish jumps on.

While we often talk about ‘locking up’ on big GTs and trying to drag them clear of the reef, the truth is that it’s basically impossible and inadvisable to simply muscle them clear. These fish are just too powerful to be skull dragged, so trying to do so will most likely end in gear failure.

Therefore, spin reels for GT fishing must be able to fish heavy, working drag settings. By this we mean still give line smoothly at a near maximum setting, and be able to fish this setting without burning out on just a couple of good fish. There’s a big difference between maximum drag and maximum working drag in spin reels, which means there’s really only three or four spin reel choices on the market today which can fish 15kg plus working drag settings without imploding, all of which are high end. Again, the spend really is worthwhile.

GT Lures

While GTs will eat all sorts of lures, surface luring for them on poppers and stickbaits is the only way to go, simply because there is no more exciting way to target these fish.

If you really want to catch big GTs and big GTs only, don’t be afraid to throw big poppers or stickbaits. Even a relatively modest sized GT will have no hesitation inhaling a 30cm lure, as the prey these fish eat is generally quite large.

Make sure your stickbait collection includes a few sinking versions in amongst the floating models too. Sinking stickbaits can be killers in choppy conditions where a surface stickbait may struggle to get noticed or conversely in very calm conditions when the fish may be a little shy of coming right up to the top to attack a floating lure. The downside is you do lose some of that visual entertainment with sinking stickies, but on slow days that’s a fair trade-off.

The best GT lures are those that are handmade from timber, and therefore, expensive. There are plenty of more affordable yet still very effective GT lures on the market today, but as rule the pricey poppers and stickbaits are that way for a reason. So reach deep into those pockets to ensure you’ll be fishing lures that the gees will climb all over.

The cash hemorrhage doesn’t finally stop at lure purchase either. Terminals for this fishing need to be extra heavy duty too, which yet again has the cash register ringing. Nothing but the absolute strongest, welded treble hooks will cope with the immense pulling pressure and crazy powerful jaw strength GTs dish out, which again means only a handful of premium hook models to choose from.

Many experienced GT fishos prefer to rig their lures with heavy gauge single hooks, rigging one single hook riding point upright on the rear and two back to back cable tied (aka Baker rigged) point downward rigged hooks on the belly. Attach these with 200kg tensile strength split rings as a minimum and most of the time everything should stay together long enough to land that beast of a gee.

GT Mindset

In my opinion, mindset is the most important yet most often overlooked factor to achieving your goal of spinning up a big GT. So many first time GT fishos fail in their quest simply because they are mentally unprepared for what this fishing requires from an angler.

It’s easy to see why this is the case. The thing that inspires any of us to chase these brutish fish are visions of huge, aggressive trevs smacking big poppers or stickbaits off the surface in a bellow-invoking explosion of foam. Nowadays such expectations are just a YouTube search away. But what you don’t see is what goes on between these eye-popping surface strikes.

In truth, GT fishing is usually all about the grind. Hurling big poppers or stickbaits on heavy gear and then working those lures vigorously cast after cast is energy sapping stuff, particularly as it’s done under a hot tropical sun. An hour or so of this work without a fish is all it takes to turn a super-keen first timer into a heartbroken mess!

So expect to have to work for your GTs, even if you’re fishing near untouched, far flung waters. A decent level of fitness helps, but not as much as a goal focussed mind that is prepared to put in.

If you’re finding the physical demands of this fishing hard going – and on multiday trips that happens to all but the most athletic of us – try fishing in intervals. Cast for half an hour (or as long as you can before you start to tire), then have a break. Not only does this help prolong your enthusiasm but also tends to mean you’ll work your lures better when you are casting as tired arms make for lazy lure presentation.

If all this sounds like a lot of money to invest and effort to put in, then know this. When that black shouldered brute of a GT detonates on your surface lure, the every last dollar and drop of sweat will have been worth its spend!


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