Devonport's Mersey Bluff
Home to some great salmon fishing in Brian Cadle's back yard
The story in the last issue, by Stuart Richey, brought back memories of my early fishing days. These were often spent chasing salmon at one of my favourite sots, virtually on my back door. Devonport's picturesque bluff area has been a location, which over the years, has produced regular, and at times impressive, catches of salmon.
The Bluff itself is easy to find and the best fishing is from a well-defined platform where the rocks more or less dog-leg from roughly a northerly direction to more of a westerly one. It's right on this point that most of the damage is done. It's here that a reef extends out for a short distance and then it gives way to sand, and it's on this sand that the salmon are taken. As rock fishing situations go it's a fairly safe one, but caution should always be taken if conditions are at all dangerous. If the rocks are wet and waves and swells are crashing into or over the area, give it a miss. It's not worth the risk.
Another word of warning - there is a boom gate controlling the road to the parking areas near the lighthouse. This gate is closed between 9pm and 7:30am. It may be necessary to park at the end of the main road, near the kiosk, and make the short walk to the point. This only takes five minutes.
Time and Tide
At low tide there is not a great depth of water at this spot, so the best bet is when the tide is two hours in or better, and the first four hours of the ebb. Over the years some of the best dishing has occurred when the Mersey River is in flood. As the tide pushes out the discoloured water from the river moves slowly towards the bluff, if salmon are in the area they are often forced towards the rocks under these conditions.
For some reason the morning tides seem more productive than the afternoon ones. So the preferred times are from dawn to around mid-day, with a fullish tide. That does not mean that salmon are not caught in the afternoon of course they are. However, in general the mornings see the heavier bags. Overcast days with surface chop outfish calm, sunny days.
The salmon can turn up at any time of the year, it's a matter of investigating regularly to check out the action. A good sign is scales on the rocks. As I write (17th January) there is a fair scattering of largish scales to be seen.
When I fished the rocks regularly in the sixties most of the salmon were taken by spinning with the old sliced chrome wobbler. In those days it was fairly simple, there wasn't a lot of choice. Gradually bait fishing on the bottom was introduced and this method is now used almost exclusively. The robust blue-bait is preferred to other types of bait, although local supplies can run short and then it becomes hot property. Popping bugs, those dynamic producers in the East Coast surf, are not widely used. If there is enough turbulence in the water to activate the bay it is probably too rough to be on the rocks. The rig is fairly basic two hooks below a swivel, with a sinker on the bottom. In windy conditions, or if any sort of current is running, the weight needs to be a reasonable one. As with most rock fishing the reel should be a heavy duty salt water model and the rod should have a bit of back bone. Light fresh water gear "pea shooters"or toy rods as seasoned rock fishermen would call them, are not suitable at all. A tough line of 6kg is called for.
Likely bycatch when fishing for salmon: although not in any great quantity, there are several species available, including flathead, couta, silver trevally, cod, mullet, pike, skate, shark and parrot fish.