The Golden Trevally is a species of large marine fish classified in the jack and horse mackerel family Carangidae, and the only member of the genus Gnathanodon.
It is known to grow to 120 cm in length and 15 kg in weight. The Golden Trevally schools as a juvenile, often closely following larger objects including sharks and jellyfish. The species uses its protractile jaws to suck out prey from the sand or reef, and consumes a variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Spawning aggregations gather at night at different times of the year throughout its range.
It is similar to most other trevallies and jacks in having a compressed, oblong body, with the dorsal profile slightly more convex than the ventral profile, particularly anteriorly. The species' mouth is one of its defining features; the mouth is highly protractile and fleshy, with specimens greater than 90 mm having no teeth on the jaws, vomer or tongue. Smaller individuals have a series of small villi form teeth in both jaws. The dorsal fin is in two parts, the first with 7 spines, the second with 1 spine and 18 to 20 soft rays. The anal fin has 2 detached spines followed by 1 spine and 15 to 17 soft rays, while the pelvic fin consists of 1 spine and 19 to 20 soft rays. The curved part of the lateral line is moderately arched; containing 62 to 73 scales, and approximately equal in length to the straight section containing 15 to 27 scales and 18 to 25 scutes. The breast is completely scaled. There are 27 to 30 gill rakers and 24 vertebrae in total.
Golden Trevally are strong fighters but 5-8 kg line will be enough when boat fishing. However shore-based anglers are advised to use 10 kg to keep sizable fish away from pylons and coral. Golden Trevally with take trolled bibbed and bibless lures, but far more fall to baits. Fish with a single hook because these trevally tend to be decisive when they feed, and getting a solid hookup is generally easy. Avoid sinkers in shallow water - Golden Trevally like to suck the bait as it sinks slowly. Just about any fish bait is good, ranging from mulies to fillets and cubes. Try a steady stream of berley, but don't overdo it.
The Golden Trevally is widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the Indian Ocean, the species is distributed from South Africa along the east African coastline, including the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Its distribution extends east along the Indian and South East Asian coastlines, and south through Indonesia and northern Australia. Golden Trevally are recorded from many Indian Ocean islands including Madagascar, The Seychelles and The Maldives. In the Pacific, the species is spread throughout the South East Asian and Indonesian archipelago north mainland China and Japan and south to eastern Australia and New Zealand. Golden Trevally have been recorded from many central Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, with their distribution extending to central America. Here its range extends from the Gulf of California in the north to Colombia in the south.
The Golden Trevally predominantly occupies inshore waters of varying substrate, although is known to occur on deeper continental shelf reefs in Australia. In coastal areas the species inhabits rocky and coral reefs as well as open sand flats where it forages for food. A systematic study in northern Australia indicated it to be one of the only species to be approximately equally distributed in both reef and soft-bottom habitats. Golden Trevally appear to prefer clear water to turbid waters, and thus is only encountered rarely in low turbidity estuarine environments.