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Drifting boats and etiquette afloat

by Neil Grose

Fishing is a past time that by its very nature is intended to be both relaxing and enjoyable. As the pressures of the modern world increase by the day, many people are increasingly becoming infatuated with the ability of fishing to wash away the stress and anxiety that the working week generates. Yet having said that, the amount of aggression displayed out on the water is becoming greater all the time. Most if not all of this is caused by boats, and in particular the way they are handled.

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When you have finished for the day, why not have a brag about the ones that didn't get away! Send Mike an article on your fishing (Click here for contact details), and we'll get it published here. Have fun fishing - tasfish.com

Tamar River has much to offer at Beauty Point

Andrew Hart and Damon Sherriff discuss the fun that can be had from a wharf

Approximately 35 minutes North of Launceston on the West Tamar is Beauty Point. The water is clear and yields many sport and tackle fish. The wharf,  and in particular, the Inspection head wharf, is a popular fishing platform, all fishing can be done in relative comfort and the fish can be caught by almost anyone.

You can drive the car onto the wharf and if the weather is miserable you can fish out of your car. This is a privilege Please move if asked by the P.L.A.

The wharf is a hot spot due to the amount of food available. Much of this either grows, hides or lives under the wharf. Supporting pylons have barnacles, sea cabbage, mussels and other crustaceans growing on them. These pylons provide a smorgasbord for mullet, luderick and leatherjackets.

 It is not unusual to catch five or six different species of fish in one session. You can fish specifically for a species, but you never know what you will hook.

Here are some species that can be caught and how to catch them.

Flathead
These are by far the most common catch from the Beauty Point wharf and there are many methods that can be used. Spinning, live bait and dead bait are all effective. Hook sizes that are best range from 2 to a 1/0, depending on the bait used. The sinker should be the smallest possible; just enough to hold the bottom. Best baits are bluebait, whitebait and pilchards. Flathead average around ¼ of a kilogram.

Mullet
Mullets are commonly caught close in the wharf. They can be caught by the bucket load, and respond very well berley. Hook size is critical; the smaller the better. Mullet respond best to squid and fish flesh.

Australian Salmon
Salon, blackback or cockies are usually found in schools and once found are easily caught. The most effective way is with a lure.  Productive baits include bluebait, pilchard and whitebait. Off the wharf Australian Salmon average ½ a kilogram.

Barracouta
Couta, as they are known, are also an aggressive lure taker. However, the best way to catch a couta is to drift a whole dead pilchard or a live poddy mullet. Try a 3/0 hook. An average couta is around 600mm long and weighs ¾ of a kilogram.

Other species
There are many other species of fish available to the angler, these include trevally, gurnet perch, blue and jack mackerel, red gurnet, snook, bream, octopus, southern calamari, and the occasional snapper.

Want something larger?
Some fish the wharf for larger predators. The previous tips are the way to catch bait. Many species of ray, skate and sharks are available to the adventurous. These include eagle ray, smooth ray, fiddler ray, great skate, Melbourne skate, gummy shark, school shark, thresher shark, angel shark and bronze whalers.

The baits used to catch sharks and rays are big. Whole mullet, squid and mackerel are all favourites for the smooth rays and bronze whaler shark.

To catch the smaller rays and shark, such as the skates, eagle ray, Port Jackson shark, and gummy shark, a salmon or mullet head is a top bait.

The rig is simple and includes large free running sinker, then a trace (usually wire) with a LARGE hook. The hook depends on the bait, but as a guide, when using a whole fish use a 10/0. Hooks should be kept very sharp. Use a small file to keep them keen.

Line size depends on the reel. Fifteen kilograms is a good choice, but some of the heavyweights, such as the smooth rays, require up to 24 kilograms.

Best times are around high, or low tides and an hour either side. Also from just on dark there is often some action. Rays and sharks often feed well after dark.

Hot summer days, with a light sea breeze and warm balmy nights seem to encourage the most feeding activity. Warm water is essential and if the Tamar receives a decent flood water, try somewhere else.

Keep an eye on the barometer as well, if it is dropping don't waste your time.

The Tamar is a listed shark nursery. This applies to gummy and school sharks, so return them carefully if you do catch one. There are no restrictions on rays, but they are not a good eating. Keep the smaller fish to eat and leave some for the future.

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