For those of you that have never fished Flinders Island, do yourselves a favour! Take John Orchard's advice and DO IT.
For an island that only takes an hour to drive from one end to the other, it is packed with some of the best recreational fishing to be found in Tasmania.
I have been fortunate enough to fish this scenic island on numerous occasions over the past six years and have enjoyed not just the fabulous fishing, but also the warm friendly hospitality of the local islanders, some of whom are now friends for life.
If you have never been there before, it can seem a rather daunting task to organize - how to get there, when to go, what to take with you, transport on the island itself, where to stay and where to fish.
The following tips will take most of the hassle out of what I am sure will be the first of many trips and the start of a long association with Flinders Island, the fisherman's paradise.
Although Airlines of Tasmania run a service from Launceston airport to Whitemark in the "centre" of the island, I prefer to use Flinders Island Aviation based out of Bridport in the States North East and arriving at Lady Barron on the southern end of the island.
The proprietor of the airline (Gordon Rorison) and his chief pilot (Frank) are both keen fishermen and are always good for the latest up to date tips on what is being caught and where - handy information to know each time you set foot on the island, especially if it's your first trip there!!!
Where to stay
Lady Barron township is reasonably well sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds and offers a number of comfortable self contained holiday cottages for rent in the area, most within easy walking distance of the airport, local shop, Tavern and of course the fishing.
For your first trip, I would suggest you stay at the scenic Furneaux Tavern, it is comfortable, affordable and I doubt there is a better place in the world to enjoy a beer and a feed at the end of a great days fishing than here, the views across the Furneaux Sound are simply breathtaking.
This will make a great base for most of your fishing whilst you get a feel for the island and give you time to check out some of the other great alternative accommodation that is available in the area.
There are a number of car hire establishments on the island including
Bowman Lees car hire and Flinders Island Car Rentals just to name a couple. Both are reasonably priced, based in the Whitemark area and will arrange to drop a vehicle off at either airport for you. At least one of these businesses offers a mini bus for those that need extra seating. It is important to check availability prior to booking your trip as they are sometimes fully booked out at peak times of the holiday season.
Food, fuel and tackle
Due to the cost of transport getting to the island (where excess luggage is charged on a "per kilo basis"), you will need to purchase the bulk of your groceries on the island.
Lady Barron store in the south offers fuel, a wide range of groceries and most of the basic fishing tackle you will need on the island.
At Whitemark, you will find the islands butchery (which also has some basic fishing tackle!), a hotel that offers a great counter meal, Bowman's General store which offers fuel and a wide range of groceries, a great little bakery plus the post office, newsagent, and a couple of touristy gift shops.
When to go
As with anywhere else in Tasmania, the calmest months on the island are predominantly March till May inclusive however, there is excellent fishing to be had on the island from October right through until the beginning of winter.
From June to October the weather can be cold, windy, unpleasant and just too risky to reliably plan a good fishing trip.
Where ever possible, try to plan your trip when the weather pattern is relatively stable or when there have been at least a few days of westerly weather prior to your trip. The best of the surf fishing beaches are on the eastern side of the island and westerly weather offers at least some shelter in the advent of stronger winds and more importantly helps keep the beaches on the eastern side of the island "weed free".
What to take
A good quality 12" surf casting outfit is a must for targeting a number of species from the beaches. Monster flathead, gummy shark, Australian salmon and silver trevally can all be caught on a days fishing from the beaches around Flinders Island.
A general purpose combo around 7 or 8 foot is ideal for targeting Australian Salmon from rocky outcrops and doubles as a superb outfit for catching squid from the wharves at both Lady Barron and Whitemark as well as from the shore at picturesque Trousers Point and Salmon Rocks on the Big River Road.
A light weight "soft action" combo suitable spooled with light line for those keen fishers wishing to target the island's monster garfish.
A good quality soft plastic outfit spooled with braid is a must for those wishing to target flathead in the shallows.
Finally, a tackle box filled with an assortment of good quality surf rigs, hooks, sinkers, silver slices, soft plastics, squid jigs, floats, a torch and a good map of Flinders Island.
WHERE TO FISH
Whitemark and Lady Barron wharves.
Trousers Point immediately below the barbeque/camping area.
Salmon Rocks (Eastern end of Trousers Point beach).
Although Australian Salmon can be normally taken from all of the surf fishing beaches, by far the most exciting salmon fishing is to be experienced from the large rock outcrop at the mouth of the North East River.
Extreme caution should be exercised in this area due to strong tidal currents combined with unpredictable swells and slippery rocks.
Garfish are most prevalent amongst the sea grass beds close to the shore around the Island. My most successful gar fishing spot has been from the granite shoreline between the Lady Barron slipway and Lady Barron wharf.
Surf fishing from the eastern beaches can be extremely productive for catching the extra large flathead. Places that I have had good success include Dick Davey shoal, Pot Boil Point and the entire eastern shore from the Pot Boil break out to Sellar Point near Babel Island, Patriach Inlet and North Beach on the western side of the North East River. Many of the western beaches in easterly weather will also produce flathead. These include Tanner and Marshall Bay, Lillies Beach and Long Point.
The latter western beaches I have just mentioned may not look appealing due to the vast amount of weed beds and shallow water but don't be fooled, they are superb locations for wading whilst flicking soft plastic lures.
When the moon is full it's the time to target Gummy Shark from any of the Eastern beaches.
Lady Barron wharf in January and February can often produce excellent fishing for those intent on chasing these bullets of the sea. Red Bluff on the Eastern side can also be productive when the tide and weather conditions are right.
Deep sea fishing
For the more adventurous fisher, a telephone call to James Luddington or Leigh Cox of Flinders Island Adventures is all it takes to target all of the previously mentioned species plus tuna, snapper, striped trumpeter, blue eye trevalla, hapuka, sharks and more.