|Demi Lambert showing
how it is done
Presented from Issue 102
The humble Flathead is without doubt the Tasmanian anglers most sought after recreational saltwater species.
They can be found virtually anywhere there is a sandy bottom, from our estuaries to our bays, they are easy to catch and as an added bonus, are fabulous on the dinner table as well.
Mike Stevens has asked me to pen a few words together aimed at those that want to start targeting this species and perhaps aren’t really familiar on how to go about it, so here goes.
There are three distinct species of flathead found around Tasmania and perhaps the most common is the southern sand flathead.
They can grow to around 50cm in length and over 2 kg in weight, but due to them having to be around 16 years of age in order to reach this size; fish like these are the exception rather than the rule.
Their colours vary depending on surroundings but they are usually a light brown or mottled pattern on top with a white belly.Read more ...
Tasmania is blessed with some of the most beautiful, scenic beaches in the world, all containing various numbers of sought after sportfish.
Often species as rare as Tailor, enter out waters with there being a ready supply of Rays, Sharks, Flathead, Whiting, Mullet an the more elusive Blackback Salmon. The fact is, that these secluded beaches are not heavily fished and publicised, like the more popular mainland destinations. As in all fishing there are certain techniques, rigs and baits which will give you the advantage and swing the odds back into your favour.
Lure fishing for Bream is quite popular on the Mainland. It is not widely practised in Tasmania. Dwayne Righy of Hobart explains his techniques and the lures that have brought him success in the South of Tasmania.
On December 27 a young man lost his lucky hat. This incident took place somewhere on the Tamar River at around 3:00 pm. The Hot Tuna hat is grey and faded, and has a picture of a fish on the front.
Yellowtail Kingfish - or "Kingies" as they are referred to often - are a fish found in all Australian states. They are an elongated while some of larger fish can be fatter - more like an Albacore in shape. Colour of dark blue to purple above, silvery below, the two colours separated by a broad yellowish-green longitudinal band. The spinous dorsal and pectoral fins are light bluish, the other fins including the tail are yellow. The Kingies are a totally different fish from Yellowfin Tuna. Kingies are a schooling fish, where there is one there are usually a lot more.
Especially, Flinders Island has not been discovered yet. It has no crowds, traffic jams or rip, rush and tear. The weather is mild by Tasmanian standards with frost free winters and more sunshine than the Gold Coast. It has spectacular natural beauty, lots of fish and friendly people. James Luddington reports on one of Tasmania's most productive fishing areas - Flinders Island.
Best shore based areas are Black and Red Rocks at Cooee Point west of Burnie. The Penguin boat ramp is a great location as is Penguin Point just to the west of the ramp. Boat Harbour is good from the beach and the point is also good from the rocks. The Bund Breakwall in front of the Burnie Yacht Club is fast becoming one of the hot spots around Burnie. A lot of salmon are taken during the day and good catches of squid are also caught. Small snapper are also taken here occasionally.
Blackmans Reef off the main Burnie wharf is a terrific hot spot when the salmon are running and if it is too rough here the water on the inside of the main breakwall will give good fishing and protected waters.
Also near Burnie, to the west, is the Cam River at Somerset. This a great place to take the family with grassy banks adjoining the river and a playground to keep them occupied. Mullet are plentiful and there is always a bream or two to be caught.
Wynyard has some fantastic fishing - from Table Cape just west of the town to the Inglis River on which it is situated. Table Cape and Fossil Bluff are especially productive. The Inglis River adjoins Wynyard and fish are caught virtually in the main street. Fishing off the wharf is always productive. At night, salmon are almost guaranteed and it's a lot of fun. Off the mouth, trolling for salmon is virtually a local custom with a sliced piece of plastic tube as the lure. There is some great bream fishing in the Inglis River.
Moving west from Port Sorell you'll find Morelands Beach, which stretches from Port Sorell to Wrights Island - around five kilometres east of the Mersey River at Devonport. Access is from opposite the mill at Wesley Vale and surf fishers often drive along the beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in the area with good gutters. Best fishing for large flathead is October/November. Salmon are caught all year.
Wrights Island is directly off the airport. A boat is needed and good pike and calamari squid are found inside the island, while outside wrasse, leatherjacket and flathead. Good pike are trolled up off the eastern side of the heads, but these are also caught off the shore.
The breakwater on the eastern shore is popular for cocky salmon, snotty trevally, flathead, mullet and couta. Half to three quarter incoming tide is the most productive.
The western breakwater is blocked off to fishing and the next popular area is the Mersey Bluff. Access is good either from the beach or the car park at the top. The best fishing is on the eastern side where salmon, shark, couta, flathead, and pike are taken over sandy broken bottom. On the western side there is reefy bottom and wrasse, leatherjacket and other reef species are found here. Luderick are also found off the bluff, although only a few Tasmanians target these.
Back Beach and Coles Beach are easily accessed between the Bluff and Don heads. A lot of fishing is done from boats around the Don heads for pike, couta and salmon. The heads are also easily accessed from both sides.
Further along is the Forth River. This is a popular areas for large Australian salmon. Local boat fishers claim trolling is only successful when undertaken in an east - west direction. No one seems to know why. Skipping plastic lures or squid imitations across the surface is most successful and trolling fast is essential. Occasionally shore fishers can reach these fish, but the size is usually smaller.
Ulverstone is a lovely town with friendly people and a small estuary that gives easy access to the sea. The area is not as productive as one would think though. The Leven River estuary contains mullet, Australian Salmon and a few trevally, and apart from some good sea-run trout in spring little else. A few couta are also caught around the mouth.
The breakwall on the eastern shore is one of the most popular fishing spots. Fish this on an incoming tide for wrasse, cod, couta and salmon. The western side is not as popular, but a silver wobbler cast into eddying water will often be worth the effort.
There is a good boat ramp and pontoon on the western shore of the Leven River. Beach fishing around Ulverstone is generally not as good as further east around Turners Beach.
All the coastal area from Ulverstone to Rocky Cape is similar in structure, accessibility and species. Most rivers are navigable only at high tide, which is often the best fishing time anyway.
Flathead are readily caught all through this area, gurnard perch are another good catch which are ugly, have poisonous spines, and some claim good eating. Couta are somewhat seasonal, while Australian salmon are caught all year round. Much of this area was, in the past, subject to some unsavoury and dirty industry, but this has all changed. Pollution is now virtually non-existent and the fishing has improved enormously. Regularly sighted off the coast are dolphins, whales, and seals.
If you have access to a boat, occasional snapper and school shark are available off shore. Inshore rock cod, leatherjacket, couta, yellowtail kingfish, squid and salmon are the reward. It is an abundant area that deserves some closer attention as the water quality improves.
Bicheno is home to many commercial rock lobster fishers and quite a few recreational fishers also try their hand as well. Rock lobster can be taken in pots, rings or by gloved hand by divers. All methods must be licensed. Another expensive shellfish, abalone are also eagerly sought. It is a delicacy that can be taken by divers. A licence is required.
Due to Bicheno's open exposure to the Tasman Sea many recreational anglers are either rock or beach fishers. A vessel capable of coping with large, unpredictable seas is needed here. Some beach fishing occurs north of Bicheno and also south towards Coles Bay at Friendly Beaches. Australian salmon, flathead and shark are targeted in the surf, while striped trumpeter, barracouta, morwong, leatherjacket and cod are taken offshore.
Rocky shores abound around Bicheno and many areas are suitable as fishing platforms. A silver sliced lure is the most common hardware and bait fishing techniques here are less common.
There is a marine reserve around Governors Island, opposite The Gulch, which provides an excellent opportunity for diving.
The wharf at the Gulch is a popular place to visit in the evenings for salmon, mackerel and trevally to name just a few. It is also a great spot for kids.
North of Bicheno are a few accessible beaches that are worth a try if you can find some gutters. In particular the beach from the turn-off at Four Mile Beach all the way around to the bluff at the southern end of the beach can be good, but look for gutters for the best results.Scamander
Getting there; 3 hours from Hobart, 2 hours + from Launceston.
Major angling species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and striped trumpeter, albacore, southern bluefin tuna, marlin, Australian Salmon, bream.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, diving.
Scamander River is one of Tasmania's great bream locations. Fish are not as big as in some of the other estuaries, but they are plentiful. It fishes well all year, but the best time is from November to March. Usual methods such as bait fishing and lure fishing are the way to go. Pretty fish and shrimps are some of the best baits, but it pays to have a variety. Locals comment that the fishing now is as good or better than fifty years ago. Bait is available from the shops in Scamander.
You can also expect to catch a few nice salmon, silver trevally and mullet. There are also luderick around the bridge pylons at the mouth of the river. Very few people fish for these, but they are there in good numbers for the angler with the skill and perserverance.
You can drive for quite a way up the river by heading to Upper Scamander. The meandering upper reaches are home to bream as well as trout.
Fishing is quite easy along the easily accessed banks, but a boat can open up a few more opportunities. There is also a Professional guide operating bream and inshore tours from St Helens.
The beaches around Scamander provide some first class fishing. Big Australian salmon, large flathead and sharks are the main targets. Possibly the best beach around this area is Beaumaris Beach. The northern end is the most productive, and often only a short cast is needed to put your bait into the deep water where salmon up to three kilos are caught.
Pulfers reef, directly off Scamander is highly renowned as a good striped trumpeter location as well as big flathead and morwong. In the summer months, yellowfin tuna, albacore and striped marlin come close to shore. There is no good quality, sea access, boat ramp around Scamander so it is best to drive up to St Helens and launch from there.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 2 1/2 hours from Hobart, 2 hours+ from Launceston.
Major angling species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and striped trumpeter, albacore, southern bluefin tuna, Australian Salmon, bream.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, National Parks - Douglas, Apsley and Freycinet, wineries.
The mid-east coast of Tasmania boasts some tremendous fishing with St Helens, at the northern end of the east coast and Tasman Peninsula at the southern end rated as Tasmania's premium game fishing areas.
The 15 kilometre run from Coles Bay at the northern end of Freycinet Peninsula out to open water - through Schouten Passage is probably the reason more game fishing is not undertaken here. Most game fishing is undertaken by holiday home owners in the area. Coles Bay is a superb protected bay with many holiday homes.
Flathead are the prime target in Great Oyster Bay as are seasonal squid. Large wrasse are also easily caught, but rarely kept as food. Whiting are targeted by a few anglers, but these seem to be in isolated pockets.
Shore and boat fishing is popular in the Swan River, just north of Swansea - especially for bream. One kilogram specimens are common and 2 kg fish regularly taken. There are several easily reached access points on the Swan River - mostly along the Dolphin Sands road. Crabs, prawns, pretty fish and nippers all make good bait. The Swan River also has good fishing in the lower reaches for large garfish and leatherjacket. While a boat can be useful here it is not essential for success.
On the southern side of Dolphin Sands is Great Oyster Bay. Nine Mile Beach and the many other beaches and rocky outcrops that flank the northern and western sides of Great Oyster Bay are great and popular fisheries.
While boat owners can access more water, the flat, mostly featureless sandy bottom of Great Oyster Bay yields little more than those outlined earlier. Most boat anglers drift for flathead with baits. Recently some anglers also successfully use large, bibbed lures in the more shallow areas with great results.
Anglers without a boat need not despair as fishing from many access points beside the main highway, on the western side of Great Oyster Bay, is often just as productive as from a boat in the more open waters.
The main pier at both Swansea and Coles Bay often has good congregations of squid that can be caught by anglers with jigs especially at evening. Schools of small Australian salmon and long fin pike are also common off these jetties as are mackerel.
A day on Great Oyster Bay can reward anglers with schools of dolphins, seals and whales as well as sea eagles and other extraordinary sights of nature.
A run down Great Oyster Bay takes you to Schouten Passage a deep water channel between Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island - a channel that is rich in food, fish and often turbulent currents. Down deep there are big flathead and wrasse with an infrequent striped trumpeter. It is often difficult to fish the bottom through the channel and large sinkers are needed.
Out through "the passage"striped trumpeter and large flathead are more common, yet certainly not prolific. A daily catch of four or five trumpeter is considered good.
Tuna can be caught close to shore. Albacore are more common here, while southern bluefin and sometime yellowfin are caught. Mako and blue shark are also taken. The southern tip and eastern shores of Schouten Island are the most productive.
A charter boat operates from Coles Bay and as well as fishing, offers sight-seeing and dive charters. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful parts of Tasmania. It would be a rare day when you couldn't catch a fish or be held spellbound by the beauty of the area.
It's early February, and with the water temperature starting to rise, and the appearance of the small pelagic tuna off the north east coast. Wade Pelham and myself decided it would be a good time to seek out a highly regarded game fish; the Blue Pointer or more commonly known as the Mako.
Click above for current issue content. The current issue of TFBN is extensive and topical. In Tackle Stores, Newsagents and by subscription.
Delivered to your door for $60 for 2 years (10 issues). To subscribe, send Mike $60 via www.paypal.com.au . (Basic instructions are here) The email is at Contact Us. Your address will be included from PayPal. Please ensure your details are correct, for Mike to organise delivery.
Here is a list of all of the Article Categories. The number in Brackets, eg (13) is the number of articles. Click on Derwent River and all articles relating to the Derwent will be displayed in the central area.