Giant trevally being caught inside the reef

Tuesday October 22, 2019 Written by Published in Local
The Cleave brothers Darren (left), Jeff and Martin, with a 60kg Giant Trevally caught near the shore at Avana harbour. 19102111. The Cleave brothers Darren (left), Jeff and Martin, with a 60kg Giant Trevally caught near the shore at Avana harbour. 19102111.

They call them the piranha of the Pacific. Except, Cook Islands’ predator giant trevally are 20 times bigger than any piranha. 

Rarotonga’s giant trevally are the biggest in the world.

That bold claim is made by brothers Darren, Martin and Cleave, experienced fishermen and TV stars who have travelled the globe for the love of fishing.

The brothers are presenters on the Maori television series “Matau Bros Gone Fishing”; they are filming 13 episodes of the programme on Rarotonga.

“We have fished in the South Pacific and all over the world,” Martin says. “Rarotonga has the biggest GT’s in the world, consistently – that I know.”

They call them “GTs”. And they are amazed at their size, and the fact they are caught within the confines of the reef.

Giant trevally are some of the largest, fastest predators in the world’s oceans; they are renowned worldwide for their tough fighting ability.

They can grow up to 170cm, or 80kg.

Fishing near the shoreline at Avana harbour on Friday, they couldn’t believe their luck when they hooked a big one.

For anglers globally, the area where the species are caught here (within the reef) would not be where you would catch these elsewhere; you would be out at the reef, casting with poppers, he says.

“GTs hit poppers all over the world, except here.”

“This fish is a big draw card for the fishing fraternity, marlins are cool, but the GTs are big news in the fishing world.”

Giant trevallys are predators, so they actually aren’t supposed to eat bait – they hunt live fish.

The show is primarily about food for the table, unlike other fishing programmes that are about “catch and release”, explains Martin.

“Here, everyone catches fish and it’s on the table somewhere, people here are eating A grade fish.”

Jeff, another sibling who has also appeared on the show, is presently residing on the island.

Their iwi is Ngatiwai, from Taranaki: “We are connected intimately to the ocean, we three brothers are mental about fishing.”

The siblings have been fishing since they were toddlers. “Any type of fishing for us is exciting.”

What makes a good fisherman? Perseverance and passion, says Darren. “We actually love fishing here, it’s great being out on the water too, it’s warm.”

Darren suggests good gear, sharp hooks and just have fun, when out on the ocean fishing. “Don’t take it too seriously, listen to music, have the right attitude and put a smile on your dial.”

Co-producer Trevor Conn and director of photography Phillip Davis crew are also on the island filming the series that is scheduled to screen in New Zealand next April.


GTs are known for their fighting spirit and sheer power, and are sought-after catch, whether you are a new or seasoned fisherman.

•               They hunt on their own, or in large schools, at speeds of more than 60 kmh.

•               A trevally will attack and kill a much larger reef shark. The trevally ignores its own injuries, like multiple cuts to their heads, and keeps ramming the shark until it sinks to the bottom and dies from loss of blood.

•               A Hawaiian spearfisherman was rammed by a large giant trevally, suffering three broken ribs.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Don Pierce Friday, 29 November 2019 12:55 posted by Don Pierce

    I enjoyed this article.

Leave a comment