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Fishing on the Wild Side

Fishing on the Wild Side

Mike Fry doesn’t only live on the Wild Side of Tasmania, but also goes fishing in probably the wildest boat ever to troll for trout—certainly in Tasmania. 
When your mate says ‘What are you doing tomorrow, want to come up the Gordon for the night?’ it would be pretty hard to say anything else except “you bet” and start checking out your tackle box and packing your overnight bag. But if your mate was Troy Grining and he wanted to give his new 52ft, high speed cruiser a run across Macquarie Harbour, test the new onboard dory with a chance of landing a nice Gordon River Brown you would have to feel privileged. I didn’t say anything about getting on my hands and knees and kissing his feet…just having a lend of ya’ but I did feel very appreciative.

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Tamar River turns it on

bey Michael Bok

The Tamar River has always been a bit of a bogey area for me whereas I generally get a feed I haven't had too many days that I would class as great. The last being several years ago when a mate and I caught five kingfish. All this changed recently when a non fishing friend, Ian Brickhill, and I decided that a days relaxation was in order.

I was just getting over an illness and couldn't be bothered with the return trip to Coles Bay (my preferred stomping ground), so took the soft option and headed to Beauty Point.

After an eventful launching and putting some serous scratches on the boat, we headed for the mouth of the Tamar to so some trolling with some new Storm Lures that I was trying. The trolling produced results and I thought we might head out into Bass Strait and try bottom fishing for some large flathead.

There was a nice gentle swell running, and I noticed that Ian looked a bit dubious about the conditions as he said he was prone to sea sickness. As I have suffered from it myself, I was not about to torture him and decided to try and find a snapper hole and try our luck, but there was a slight snag. I had left my Lowrance X70A sounder at home, now once you get used to using one of these units you miss them when you don't have them.

We headed up into East Arm and tried to find a hole I knew from previous experience was there. Anchors down and we were set for a bit of peace and quiet - I thought.

The tide was incoming and it was just pass a full moon, all good signs in my book. We had a 6 kg and 10 kg Silstar Crystal Power tip baitcaster outfit and two 3 kg spinning rods on board. The 10 kg outfit was baited up with a large pilchard on a running sinker rig and thrown out while the 6 kg outfit was prepared with the same running rig, but baited with a whole small squid.

Before I had a chance to put the 6 kg outfit out the 10 kg rod bent rather severely and line started to strip out at a fast rate. This must be one of the greatest sounds to a fisherman. I picked up the rod and set the hook firmly only to have more line peeled out. During the fight I felt what I thought was a thumping of a fish tail and my heart skipped a beat and I thought, at last a snapper.

I was somewhat disappointed when a large gummy shark showed his head at the boat. He was quickly released as the Tamar is a shark nursery and all sharks caught are supposed to be released and return to the water unharmed. We need all the breeding stock we can get.

The rod was rebaited and both rods cast out and set. The spinning rods were then rigged and cast out and Ian called out that he had hooked something. His Silstar Crystal Power tip was bent double and line was peeling out at a rate of knots then all of a sudden, snap. This was to be the first of four hard break off that afternoon. During all this activity, the 6 kg outfit decided to have a bit of a go and line started to peel off at a fast rate. Pick up the rod, set the hook again. Another gummy I thought, but this fish fought a bit better. My hopes went up that I might get my snapper after all, it was not to be.

When the fish was sighted I wondered what it was until it was landed. It was an elephant fish of about 3-4 kgs. This was the first one of those I had ever seen or heard of caught in the Tamar. I am sure they have been caught by other people, but its just not the type of fish that you about much.

By the end of the afternoon we had boated and released an even bigger gummy shark and caught our second and larger elephant fish. This fish charged around the boat during the fight and I was just waiting for him to tangle in the anchor rope, but this didn't happen and a fish of about 6 kg was boated.

Bot the elephant fish took squid in about 10-20 metres of water and both gave a very good fight. I am sure there must be a lot more of them in Tamar. These fish also have the advantage of being great to eat. When you handle them, watch out for the large spike on the top as it is apparently venomous.

After a good day like this I cant wait for the weekend to have another crack at the elephant fish and who knows, maybe I will finally catch that elusive snapper.

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