Types of Trevally: All You Need to Know
Aug 28, 2019 | 4 minute read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Trevally have a reputation as the bullies of the sea. Strong, and tough, but maybe not too smart. That’s certainly true of many types of Trevally, but it doesn’t mean that they’re all the same. In fact, different species of Trevally vary massively. In this article, we’ll dive into the warm waters these fish love, and show you some of the most interesting members of the family.

Bigeye Trevally

An angler in a hat holding a Bigeye Trevally with sea and sky behind him

Bigeyes are one of the most widespread types of Trevally. You can find huge schools of them in tropical waters from western Mexico all the way to the east of Africa. Bigeye Trevally normally live inshore, but they’re just as at home around offshore seamounts. They can even make their way upriver into freshwater. In short, they’re everywhere.

Just because they’re common, don’t think for a second that they’re boring. Bigeye Trevally put up a serious fight, grabbing at any lure or bait that comes their way and tearing off with it in a scream of drag. The average catch is in the 6–8 lb range, but monsters double or even triple that size show up from time to time.

Bigeye Trevally are caught more for sport than for food. They’re certainly edible, but there are probably a dozen other fish that taste better swimming about in the same waters. That being said, they’re a popular commercial catch in places like the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. So, if you can’t release it safely, why not give it a try?

Bluefin Trevally

An angler holding a large Bluefin Trevally on a boat, with a fly fishing rod in his lap and clear, shallow water behind him.

Bluefin Trevally may not be the biggest member of the family, but they’re definitely the prettiest. Catches start at a couple of pounds and are normally well under 15 pounds. Even small fish make a striking impression, though, with their speckled backs and vividly blue tail and fins.

Bluefin Trevally live in tropical seas everywhere except the Atlantic. They’re just as adaptable as Bigeyes, making their home in inshore waters, estuaries, and around rocky structure on the seafloor. However, they don’t hang out in large schools like Bigeyes often do.

Bluefin Trevally are more than just a pretty face. They’re aggressive and powerful. Known for their strong, long runs, they’re great fun on light tackle. What’s more, they’re one of the tastiest types of Trevally. We’d recommend only keeping the smaller ones, though – eating large Bluefin Trevally regularly causes ciguatera poisoning.

Giant Trevally

A female angler with a huge Giant Trevally on her lap

Cue the music. Cut the lights. The star of the show has arrived. Giant Trevally are the biggest, baddest, most brutish fish in the family. They’re the kings of the reef, and they know it. Often known simply as “GT,” these monsters regularly reach 50 pounds, and trophy catches can hit 150 pounds or more.

Giant Trevally are stong, but they’re not just mindless brutes. They’re famous for using clever hunting tactics, hiding behind other large fish to sneak up on prey. Once they’re in range, they rocket forward, smashing into it with their hard, bony heads or swallowing it whole. Still not impressed? GTs are often seen devouring birds mid-flight!

Unsurprisingly, this combination of strength, speed, size, and sheer intelligence makes Giant Trevally an incredible game fish. Anglers travel from around the world for the chance to fight one. If you want to be one of them, Hawaii supposedly has the biggest GTs out there. In fact, Hawaiians revered this fish as a god in ancient times.

Golden Trevally

An angler in a cap and sunglasses holding a large Golden Trevally on a boat, with sea and sky in the background. The fish has a lure hanging out of its mouth.

What lives in the sea, starts as a bee, and ends as a zebra? Apparently, a Golden Trevally. These guys start off black and yellow all over, but their color fades to white as they get older. By the time they fully mature, only their fins and face give away the origin of their name.

Most Golden Trevally weigh under 15 pounds, with the occasional 20-pounder, and even 30 lb fish on very rare occasions. Size is only half the story, though. Golden Trevally always put up a good fight, snatching your lure and plummeting straight for cover. You have to keep your wits about you if you want to bring one in before it breaks your line on rocks or coral.

Golden Trevally are pretty hit and miss at the dinner table. They have a strong, slightly tangy flavor that some people love, but many hate. Either release them, or bleed and ice them immediately to preserve the flavor.

Silver Trevally

A school of Silver Trevally swimming underwater

Silver Trevally are the runt of the group. Most of the time, they don’t weigh more than a couple of pounds – enough for a decent meal, but hardly a heavyweight. What they lack in size, they make up for in sheer numbers, patrolling reefs, wrecks, and inshore waters in schools a hundred strong.

Silver Trevally may be small, but they sure do get around. You can find them on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in the Mediterranean. They also live around Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Hawaii – you get the picture.

Unlike most types of Trevally, Silvers aren’t just caught for sport. They’ll put up a fight on super-light tackle, but more importantly, they’re delicious! They have a lighter, less oily taste than other Trevallies, while still keeping plenty of flavor. Apparently, they’re ideal for smoking.

And More!

These are the most popular types of Trevally, but there are plenty more out there. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The thing they all have in common is a fighting spirit and a love of warm water. That, and some pretty outlandish looks.

Which species of Trevally have you caught in the past? Have you eaten any of them, and if so, what did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below!

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