King Island - unfished and waiting for youOne of the great things about King Island is just that - it is an island, and relatively compact as well. There are two main centres, being Grassy and Currie. Like virtually all major population areas in the world with coastal access, both have harbours. Grassy Harbour is on the south east coast and Currie Harbour is around a third of the way up the west coast. Both have good weather protection and both have some excellent fishing within their confines.
It is so isolated I have heard people say, but that is not the case at all. That argument just manages to keep the casual visitor away, but for anyone who wants a fabulous stay away from the world's troubles should take the effort to visit. As one new resident explained "this place is like the world used to be. Everyone waves as they pass in the car. If they don't you know they are tourists'.
Is there anywhere else you can buy a crayfish pie? I doubt it, and it would be the easiest place ever to not need a watch. Time seems to go by more slowly, and I suspect people age more slowly as well.
Tasair flies from Wynyard and Devonport everyday and King Island Air flies from Moorabbin.
King Island most likely offers the best landbased fishing in Tasmania, and probably equal to any location in Australia. You won't catch a marlin from the shore, but you can target very large Australian salmon, kingfish, snapper, sharks-both school and gummy, garfish, mullet and sweep.
For years sweep has been the focus for many locals and is highly sought as a table fish. This is quite a turn up for visitors because there is nowhere on mainland Tasmania where the sweep is as common, nor held in such high regard. Not that it shouldn't be held in high regard, it is just an incidental catch generally.
Snapper is another fish that is highly regarded, and interestingly, becoming easier to catch on King Island. Anecdotal evidence has it that snapper are seen by divers in many places that they have never been seen before and it is not uncommon at all to catch them when fishing for salmon, flathead and gummys from the shore.
Australian salmon and squid are the other two favourites on King Island and we will take a look at some of the hot spots with a few locals.
Terry Perry, proprietor of the local store at Currie has lived on King Island all his life and has travelled all over it fishing-mainly from the shore.
"I haven't visited the north for more than 12 months though, as I can find all the fish I want just ten minutes from my door. I used to go up there for salmon, but no more.
"I can finish work, go home for dinner and then get three hours fishing in after that. Where else could you do that?'
"There is some fabulous sweep fishing five minutes away, and in recent times the snapper we have been catching have really been great. When I was much younger Pat O'connell told us, Bill Scott had told him where to catch them at the back of Netherby's, just south of Currie, but we didn't bother, and just fished for sweep, but it appears he was right. Now, when we target snapper we catch many more, and we know where to find them.'
Terry Perry's top spots
Currie Harbour is a great place to start. There is a lovely jetty that you can catch calamari squid and silver trevally from. They are both very good to eat. It is protected from most weather and very convenient.
The rocks anywhere between Currie and British Admiral Beach you will find sweep. There are some great rocks that you can access, virtually in your slippers at low tide, but make sure you do watch the tides and water. You don't want to get stuck. These rocks are generally safe to fish from, but with any rock fishing you do need to take care.
I once fished with my baits about two metres off the bottom, but a commercial wrasse fisherman told me years ago that the big sweep were close to the bottom, so now I put my baits half a metre up and have caught fish to 3lb 10oz. I have found the best sweep fishing has been in April.
Every now and then I catch a luderick, and I am sure if they were targeted, by skilled luderick anglers they would soon find some excellent fishing.
I used to drive all over the island looking for the best fishing, but don't anymore. The best sweep fishing is still likely to be at Seal Rocks down south where water close to shore is 80-90 feet deep. The rocks can be dangerous down there and with fishing so good five minutes from home I find no need to go there anymore.
Martha Lavinia up north east has seen some good fishing for salmon, mullet, gummys and school shark over the last couple of years. I have heard of school shark to 9" being caught there. So it is worth a visit if you fancy catching some good sharks from the shore.
British Admiral Beach is a little south of Currie and offers some fantastic fishing for salmon, snapper and gummy shark off the beach. Salmon can be caught on most tides with 30 grm slice or slug lures off the beach, and I have noticed over the last few years a low tide can actually be best. Don't get too concerned about the tide though. It is a great beach that fishes well in most weather except a howling westerly.
Just ask for "Bear', they'll know.
It seems Bear is one of those blokes who is happy to go through life under a pseudonym. It took an age to find out his real name, but Tony Alexander is a commercial cray fisherman that lives in Currie. His cray boat is a beautiful 80 year old boat that has outlived most people on King Island and is still in superb condition and lovingly cared for.
As a fisherman, much of his spare time is taken up fishing. Some of it out of a dinghy, but much of it from the shore.
Bear's top spots
"Well what do you want to catch" he asked. "Righto here we go, and you'll have to write fast'.
For all my fishing I don't worry too much about the tide, moon or anything else-apart from the wind that is. If anything, I try and fish the change at the top of the tide if it suits, but don't worry too much.
Salmon are good on a chrome lure and if you find some kingfish lurking up the retrieve speed and wind as fast as you can. Big poppers and 70 gram metal high speed lures are also great on the kingfish. On the beaches I like a whitebait on the bottom of a Paternoster rig and a red and white, or blue and white surf popper on the top.
Phoques Bay is a top spot, and one of my favourites-all the way from Yellow Rock in the south to Springs Road at the top. You can get to the beach, but don't drive on it-you will disappear in the soft sand patches.
There is a track in the middle and this is where I go. There are some gates and make sure you leave them how you find them. My best advice is to get on top of the dunes and check out where the gutters are in the beach. There are usually three or four, and this is where you'll find the fish. Salmon are good here, as are gummys, school shark and snapper.
At the top of the island is Pennys Lagoon and this is the only place you might catch a trout. You can see a few moving and accasionally catch one, but there has been no stocking in recent years.
Disappointment Bay. Check out the western side where the sand stops for salmon and around number one rock you'll get shark, salmon and flathead.
At Three Sisters, White Beach in calmer conditions we have caught good gummys, kingfish, flathead and salmon from the shore.
Boulder Point is a great spot going east and from here to Lavinia Point you'll find salmon, school and gummy sharks and flathead. You can get out to Boulder Rock, but you'll get wet doing it so take care. If you cast into the sandy patches you will pick up snapper and kingfish.
Along Nine Mile Beach to Cowper Point you'll get good flathead and gummys and sometimes a few salmon.Just south of Sea Elephant you often find some excellent flathead and in Elephant River itself there is usually a plague of small salmon.
Naracoopa Jetty is not accessible at the time of writing, but after it is rebuilt during the early part of 2009 it will be a great place to go. It was a great place to fish for squid, salmon, couta, salmon, gummy shark and often a snapper or two where caught here.
Just above Grassy there is Bold Head and just north of here is a little sandy beach that holds all manner of fish and is well worth a look.
My best advice is go fishing anytime you can. There is always a protected shore or bay on the island you can fish. I never worry too much about the time, tide or moon. Ask the locals where to go and they will always put you right.
Lastly, but most importantly wave to other drivers. The locals all do it so get into the habit. Don't be too enthusiastic though-just raise one finger is more than enough.
Other things to do
Play a round of golf on Currie's scenic and challenging seaside golf course.
Drive to Cape Wickham lighthouse on the northern tip for great views.
Visit the Lavinia Nature Reserve, an internationally significant wetland bird habitat.
Dive or even snorkel some of the many shipwrecks. Incidentally, Australia's worst maritime disaster happened here in 1845 when the Cataraqui ran aground.
You can take a coach tour of the island.