GT Popping - John Cahill

GT Popping - John Cahill

Big fish, shallow reef, dirty fights . . . this is sport fishing! 


Around a decade ago, specialised gear and technical knowledge to be able to specially target GTs (giant trevally). Since then, their value as one of the world’s best sportfish has really started to be appreciated. GTs now enjoy a cult like popularity both here and overseas and support an entire arm of the tackle industry.


We can thank the Japanese anglers and their innovative tackle gurus for what we now know and love about these sexy fish with an explosive, aggressive and temperamental nature. I have only been fishing for GTs for a few years but what an impact they have had on my fishing life; they are simply my favorite fish bar none. 


Being the largest of the very broad trevally or clan, the GT is a formidable target that takes lures with gusto, displays contempt for inferior gear and is one of the most powerful swimmers going around. When a GT has its head down they arguably win the ‘all species’ pound-for-pound contest. Often calling the reef edge its preferred hunting ground it operates in a particularly nasty playground where it is the undisputed tough kid on the block.


One of the very best images in fishing is the hit of a GT on a surface lure. It is something to behold with the ocean opening up where the lure once was with a mess of white water and a silver flash. Once hooked the sudden and sustained wrenching of the rod in your arms threatens to pull you overboard or at least pull your shoulders from their sockets as they power against the heaviest of drags.

Fighting a GT is a hand-to-hand close quarters affair and a regular occurrence is that no amount of drag will stop them from burying you on the reef. With the drag cranked to stop them, super lines of 100lbs breaking strain and above can detonate within seconds – their hit and run is that brutal! They are a  scary fish – but also one of the most awesome – and can leave anglers trembling at the knees. That’s what makes them so incredibly attractive. If you like some violence in your fishing, read on!


The GT is the king of its family and any structure it inhabits. Big GTs are right at the top of the food chain – their only predators are sharks and humans.

Habitat wise, GTs are most commonly associated with the drop-off along a coral studded reef edge where they maraud at will and rule the roost.


Whilst some of the trevally family can be hard to positively identify, when they get over 25 or so kilograms they are all GTs as nothing else grows that large. Their coloration is predominantly silver flanks with darker blotches, and a brassy/blue upper flank and vertical striations: in my experience no two GTs look exactly the same. During certain conditions, reportedly when in spawning mode, males are known to turn almost black. They are fairly fast growing and are clearly a resilient species that are commercially harvested in many developing countries and still manage to thrive despite the pressure. 

Not regarded as a terribly good food fish, their value is seen in their fighting prowess which ensures that the majority of GTs are returned to the water to fight again another day, the way it should be!