Golden Trevally

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus

The Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus, whose common Spanish name is jurel dorado, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. Globally, this is only species in the genus Gnathanodon, and it is one of the few species found in Mexican waters of both the Atlantic (although just in the locks of the Panama Canal) and the Pacific.

The Golden Trevallies have deep moderately compressed bodies with a depth that is 35 to 44% of standard length. Juveniles have wider bodies than adults and are silvery with seven to eleven black bars on their body. Adults are silvery-gray with yellowish bellies, scattered black spots on their sides, yellow fins, and a black tip on their caudal fin. Their mouth is relatively large and ends at eye level. They have fat fleshy lips and no teeth. Their anal and dorsal fins are similar in length. Their caudal fin is forked and they have a distinguishing keel at the junction of their body and tail. Their pectoral fins are longer than the head. Their lateral line is moderately arched with 17 to 26 scutes. Their body is covered with scales.

The Golden Trevallies are a demersal schooling species found over soft bottoms, within deep water lagoons, and around seaweed covered reefs at depths up to 130 feet. They reach a maximum length of 1.2 meter (3 feet 11 inches). Juveniles act as “pilots” for sharks and other large fish and reside among jellyfish tentacles seeking protection from predators. They feed on crustaceans, small fish, and squid. Reproduction occurs via the release of pelagic eggs during the summer months.

The Golden Trevally are a wide-ranging species found in the Atlantic (having transited from the Pacific via the Panama Canal), the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. In Mexican waters they have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Golden Trevally can be confused with the Black Jack, Caranx lugubris (black scutes; no bars on sides), the Bluefin Trevally, Caranx melampygus (blue fins; no bars on sides), the Cocinero, Caranx vinctus (no black spot at pectoral fin base), and the Pacific Crevalle Jack, Caranx caninus (no bars on sides).

Due to their rarity, the Golden Trevallies are of limited interest in most parts of the world from a fishing perspective, however, they are a focus species along the coastal waters of Australia, where bag limits are in place. They are known to be fierce opponents and head straight for the rocks when hooked.

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus, Juvenile. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, May, 2010. Length: 30 cm (12 inches).

Golden Trevally (2)

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Fish caught off the beach  at Punta Lobo, Baja California Sur, April 2014. Length: 60 cm (24 inches).

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Fish caught off the beach at Conception Bay, Baja California Sur, January 2007. Length: 58 cm (23 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Barry Mastro, Escondido, CA.

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Two very nice speciosus caught in a mystery location in Baja California Sur, November 2015. Ah…. we add a little spice to this WWW site to keep things interesting. Photo courtesy of Barry Mastro, Escondido, CA.

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Very nice head-shot of a fish caught from shore at Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, January 2017. Catch and photo courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, December 2017. Length: 81 cm (32 inches); Weight: 12.7 kg (28 pounds). Catch and identification courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Photo courtesy of Derrick Mizuyabu, Steveston, British Columbia, Canada.

Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, December 2017. Length: 84 cm (33 inches); Weight: 14.5 kg (32 pounds). Catch courtesy of Derrick Mizuyabu, Steveston, British Columbia, Canada. Photo and identification courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.