Strahan and Macquarie Harbour
Great fishing, variety and spectacular scenery is what awaits anglers venturing to Tasmania's wild west coast.
Getting there takes about three and a half hours from Launceston or four and a half hours from Hobart (add half an hour if trailing a boat).
The major angling species are Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, Australian salmon, shark, flounder, striped trumpeter, morwong, flathead and couta.
Warning; Tasmania's west coast has some of the wildest seas in Australia. Each year commercial fishermen are lost to huge seas that seemingly appear from nowhere. Take extreme care, especially when fishing the ocean. Seek local advice and check those weather reports....strong winds often precede a change. However it is the extreme weather that also holds an attraction for many.
Strahan, the perfect base for the area, is located on Macquarie Harbour, Australia's second largest harbour after Port Phillip Bay and covers an area of approximately 260 square kilometres. The west coast region is a major tourist destination and the entire area is a fisherman's haven, having the waters of the harbour to fish along with the coastline and a number of readily accessible rivers within ten minutes of Strahan.
Macquarie Harbour is accessible to most types of angler, the most practical though is by boat. This allows easy movement throughout the harbour and some of its hot spots. One of the most sought after fish in the harbour are the many large rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon. These fish are a combination of escapees from the local fish farms as well as a healthy local population. Casting lures from the many headlands jutting out into the harbour using sliced and minnow style lures often results in tremendous sport.
When fish of up to 9 kilograms have been caught within sight of the Strahan township it certainly encourages the locals and visitors alike to pick up their rods. Popular methods include bait, spin and fly fishing. On the still warmer evenings fly fishing offers good sport casting from the boat toward the shore. Trout sometimes rise throughout a number of bays and it is possible to choose one of a number of fish to cast to. Sea-run trout are also common from the beach at Macquarie Heads - particularly between October and November.
During the warmer summer months, the harbour experiences an influx of green water as the harbour level drops. This influx generally attracts schools of Australian Salmon, which can be captured on the edges of this green water and the usual brown water of the harbour.
The favoured options here are trolling (the most rewarding), spin fishing or bait fishing. A popular spot for the Australian salmon is just inside the heads at Hells Gates. From this position you can cast out to the channel that leads out to a long sandbar. There is a camping ground here right near the beach.
The harbour at Strahan offers visitors with their own boats a number of launching sites that will cater for all sized trailerable boats. Within Strahan there are two concrete launching ramps, one at Meredith Street and the other at Dick Clarke's Jetty. Macquarie Heads also offers a gravel ramp at the Back Channel near the camp caretakers office with quick access to the fishing spots. Small tinnies can be launched at Swan Basin also.
Ocean Beach, six kilometres due west of Strahan, offers some great beach fishing that is comparable to anywhere, (when the rugged seas permit). This beach is claimed to be Tasmania's longest with 34 kilometres of unbroken beach. The main fishing from here is Australian Salmon, sharks and skate. One excellent spot here is at the mouth of the Henty River.
Anyone wishing to drive along Ocean Beach to access its fishing spots should be very wary of the quick sand, common throughout this area. It is suggested to obtain local advice before the trip and best for 2 vehicles to travel together just in case.
There is a boat launching ramp at the bridge over the Henty River on the Zeehan Road for those who are serious about the sea runners in the Henty.
Outside the Heads
If you have the right boat and good weather it can be worth your while to venture just beyond the heads to Cape Sorell or Pilot Bay where fishing can be excellent. In this area trolling or bait fishing with light gear can yield good results for a number of species. The main fish caught immediately outside the heads are; trevally, couta and striped trumpeter. Drifting with soft plastics for flathead in Pilot Bay will provide a lot of fun and a bag of fish. Crayfishing is excellent around Cape Sorell but take care with the swells. For those chasing some big fish the first shelf is about 10km out. Currents can be strong but in the right conditions big stripey, shark and morwong can be the result if you can get your bait past the big couta.
Not only has Strahan got its variety of fishing on offer but makes for an excellent family holiday destination. Tours on offer include the river cruises to the Gordon River, jet boat rides up the King River, trail rides, sea plane tours to a variety of areas, helicopter joy flights, four wheel drive tours, fishing charters and 4 wheeler bikes on the Henty Dunes.
Strahan can also be the right base for fishing the west coast lakes of Burbury, Rosebery, Plimsoll and McIntosh. Also the Pieman river north of Zeehan at Corinna.