Issue 89, December 2010
Mythbusters – Excuses or fishy trends
Too windy, not windy enough, wrong wind direction. Too bright, too dull, too wet, too dry: excuses—or are they? Farmers and fishing guides have two things in common: firstly, they’re both in the weather everyday, working with Mother Nature. Secondly, both groups will tell you that the animals in their lives all react differently according to subtleties and vagaries of wind direction, atmospheric pressure and lunar cycles. In the case of fishing guides and experienced anglers, you can add a list of hatch and water level factors to the nuances of Mother Nature, vagaries which become plausible excuses at the end of a tough day. After the question of weather patterns and their affects on fishing came up on the FlyLife internet forum, I thought it might be a good time to do a bit of myth-busting with the aid of my fishing diary.
Myth 1: Frontal weather systems shut the fish down!
The facts: There’s no doubt about it, my fishing diary shows a strong positive correlation between frontal systems heading onto the island (Tasmania), and decreased catch rates. Experiences also show that trout aren’t the only animals affected by incoming frontal systems: cattle and sheep surrounding the rivers lay in a daze among their pastures, terrestrial displays of the same lethargy apparent in the aquatic world. From this evidence it is easy to pronounce myth-proven—but wait for the fine print. If you move to the next column over, detailing the number of takes (fish that eat the fly) for the day, the numbers are often close (within 20%) to that of an average day. The problem is that trout ‘nip’ the flies more often in these conditions, so more are missed or lost. On top of this, less trout are seen actively feeding, rather they are found hidden among undercut banks, reluctant to travel more than a foot for a well presented fly. The upside is that by using a few tactics for the conditions, the fishing can be almost as good. By focusing on polaroid-fishing, the fish that are still feeding can be found easier, and subtle takes can be better capitalised on by using quick, almost instantaneous strikes. Strip-strikes work best (lift the rod with one hand and strip line with the other for a super quick strike). I like canopied rivers on these days as the polaroiding is always reliable in the glare-free shelter of the trees, and fish populations are usually comparatively higher leading to more chances.
Myth 2: The fish bite least when the winds blow from the east!
The facts: As with myth 1, myth 2 affects the fishing strategies, but not the fishing possibilities. This one is definitely Myth-busted!
Flicking through my diary pages, it becomes obvious that the easterly is a terrestrial fishing wind. I would hate to be on the Lower Macquarie or on the western side of Arthurs Lake looking for dun feeders, and the fish will act differently in many waters—but put me on the eastern shore of Great Lake or on a river in Tassie’s North Eastern Highlands, and I’d be having a ball on terrestrial falls. Easterly is a terrestrial wind at the lakes, probably because it is usually warm (follows a high pressure system), bringing winged beetles, cicadas and ants out of the scrub and onto the water. On the rivers, easterlies can bring humid conditions over the north-east in particular, as afternoon northerly sea-breezes collide with warm easterlies forming thunderheads over the North Eastern Highlands—perfect ant-fall conditions. Easterlies are a poor mayfly wind however.
Myth 3: Waters fish better when they are on the rise!
The facts: The subjects of this myth needs to be separated into four sections to match the results: lakes, lowland rivers, tailrace rivers and freestone/fastwater streams. The simple answer is that for the first three waters (lakes, lowland rivers and tailraces) there is clear and well defined positive correlation between the fishing and rising water levels: Myth-proven! The anomaly within this trend is found on the faster freestone and headwater river sections, where fishing often shuts down on a quickly rising water. The explanation for this is pretty easy really: in these rivers, a rising water level often leaves the fish fighting massive rough-and-tumble currents, without the advantage of being able to move out onto fertile floodplains filled with drowned insects to grow fat on. Therefore, floods are a serious event for a lot of fastwater inhabitants rather than a trigger for feeding activity.
Myth 4: Lots of wind is bad!
The facts: If you fish in Tasmania, you’re fishing on a small island in the middle of a massive ocean, so strong wind is a probability rather than an exception to the rule. From my diary entries, the resultant fishing is related to the consistency of the wind strength and direction rather than strength. Given that the wind speed is under 20-25 knots (less than 50km/h), with a constant direction and steady speed, great fishing can still be had. This is particularly the case when hoppers, cicadas and beetles are about—I would definitely say Myth-busted as a rule. The exception is when the wind is gusting and the direction is ever changing. During these conditions on the lakes, wind-lanes carrying and concentrating the food are broken-up and dispersed, while foamlines and seams on the rivers doing a similar job are blown apart and food dispersed. In relation to making casting too difficult, time and time again I find that wind is more psychological in effect—the angler pushes the rod harder, which leaves them casting bigger, less effective loops. Relax, rely on timing and technique to cast tight-loops, master the wind, and harness the opportunities it can create.
Myth 5: Full moon at night is bad for the next day!
The facts: Fish love to feed at night, it’s safer, and a full moon offers ideal conditions. Trout cruise the moon-lit waters, picking up buggy flotsam and jetsam like gum beetles at the lakes and corbi moths on the rivers during summer. This can result in a shadow of dull fishing into the next morning when the fish take a break, more likely than not just to digest the previous evening’s all-you-can-eat servings. Based on these conditions, I would say with confidence Myth-proven. I don’t let it deter me though, as there is always a sneaky, fat trout or two willing to hang around into morning for ‘just one more wafer’ of food, and by midday the fish are out and about, again reassuming their normal activities.
Myth 6: Overcast conditions are best for mayfly feeder fishing opportunities!
The facts: Some of the most memorable lake-based dun hatches in my diary have all occurred during drizzly conditions. The best have been during January in the Western Lakes, with a soft rain falling. With that noted, there has been dozens and dozens of awesome mayfly hatches and spinner falls during bright days, particularly on the rivers, complete with excellent rises. Based on this I would definitely proclaim Myth-busted! When a mayfly nymph swims to the surface and hatches into a winged dun, it is on a race against to the clock. With inoperable mouth parts, the dun is racing to shed yet another layer of skin, turn into a spinner and reproduce, all before dying of dehydration. Dull days keep duns on the water for longer as their wings dry slower, giving the possible appearance of more mayfly than a dry day would when duns leave the water after a couple of seconds. The mayfly survive longer in overcast conditions, but bright days have their own set of advantages: during bright conditions, polaroiding is at its best. I would confidently say that your chances of catching a fish increase by 90% if you can spot and target a specific fish, so these polaroiding opportunities are not to be ignored, and offer a major tactical advantage. The mayfly still hatch just as much on bright days on the lowland rivers as they would in dull conditions, so relish both conditions if you’re looking for mayfly feeders.
Well there you go, a bit of myth-busting. Remember, most of the detrimental conditions can be overcome by adjusting your tactics and destinations for the day.
Daniel Hackett, RiverFly Tasmania.
Inland Fisheries News
The Lowdown on Anglers’ Access in Tasmania
Tasmania’s inland fishery is essentially a ‘public’ fishery; that is, the fish and water are public property. However, the land that surrounds the water or lies beneath it may be privately owned. In this case, it is the right of the landowner to control public access and it’s the responsibility of the angler to seek the landowner’s permission to gain access to the water. If permission has not been given, then they could be charged with trespassing.
The rules governing angler access to inland waters, particularly in the case of rivers but also in regard to some lakes and dams, can be confusing due to the complexities of land tenure and they are often ‘site specific’. Even in the case of publicly owned land, there may be a lease agreement in place and permission from the property manager required for access. It makes sense, therefore, to do some research first, to always ask permission and to follow the general principle promoted by the Service, which is that ‘access is a privilege not a right’. The following information provides some general guidelines on angler access rights and responsibilities at lakes and rivers around the State.
The majority of lakes in Tasmania are surrounded by Public Reserve land (Crown, National Parks, State Forest etc) or land owned by Hydro Tasmania. Public access is generally permitted across reserve or Hydro land to the lakes and around lake shores but Hydro does control access to areas where it has infrastructure or there are public safety issues. These areas are generally signposted with appropriate warnings.
Forestry owned land is generally managed for multiple use and angler access is allowed. There may be exceptions however, when spraying or harvesting is being undertaken, or in cases where the land is leased. There are a few fishing waters around the State, managed by local authorities for town water supply where specific issues may apply for angler access and there are also a good number of farm dams on private land that have been stocked with brown trout by the Service at the request of the landowner and are designated for public fishing. In these cases, it is a requirement of the landowner and signed as part of the written agreement for stocking, to allow ‘all reasonable access to members of the public to fish’. Access to these waters is often controlled informally by local angling clubs, which have earned the trust of the landowner.
Public access to rivers is often more confusing than still waters firstly because they may traverse a number of different land tenures along their length, ranging from private land to public reserve. Secondly, private land titles mostly extend to the river bank but occasionally to the middle of the river. Where the title extends to the river bank, anglers are legally allowed to wade up the river but they are still not legally allowed to walk on the river bank without permission. Where the title extends to the middle of the river, which is a far less common situation, it is illegal to wade in the river without permission. Where river reserves exist, anglers may access the river across the reserve provided the reserve is not leased or requires access across private property. In all cases anglers are able to traverse the river in a canoe or boat but entry and exit points are governed by the same property title and trespassing rules.
One way to determine the land tenure is to become a subscriber to the LIST Tasmanian Property Database at www.thelist.tas.gov.au where you can search the status and ownership of individual blocks of land. Another useful tool is the Tasmanian 1:25000 map series available from Service Tasmania and outdoor shops, which show river reserves where they exist and which provide public access points.
Finally, when in doubt, ask. Most reasonable requests for access are met with a positive response by Tasmanian landowners. Having gained access however, it is essential that you ‘do the right thing’ by respecting the property and the needs of the landowner in regard to property management. This includes care for privacy, vegetation and livestock, closing gates, sticking to tracks and not leaving rubbish or lighting fires. ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Property’ signs should always be respected as these warnings may be designed to ensure public safety, quarantine, or privacy issues. Finally, if the fishing was a success, show your gratitude by offering the landowner a share of your bounty on the way home.
Helping foster good relationships with landholders is particularly important given the recent work of the Service in negotiating public access under the Angler Access Program. This program is steadily improving angler access to some of the State’s premium trout fishing rivers by formalising landowner’s permission, as well as providing practical solutions to river access through the installation of infrastructure (eg fence stiles, gates, foot bridges and signage) and the identification and removal of fishing hazards (eg river bank willow infestation). To date, projects have been completed for the Huon, Macquarie and Lake Rivers, the River Leven and Brumbys Creek, but work has now commenced on the Meander River and further projects are planned for the Tyenna River and River Derwent.
Red Alert on Carp
With the onset of summer, the daily battle against carp in Lake Sorell, is critical. This involves monitoring, catching and removing fish. Rising water temperatures, combined with higher lake levels from recent rain, provide ideal conditions for carp spawning. Members of the Inland Fisheries Service carp team are now on red alert.
These are similar conditions to last year when carp spawning occurred in Lake Sorell, resulting in the recruitment of thousands of juvenile carp. However, no spawning occurred in Lake Crescent and all the signs are that the population there has been eradicated. This is a major achievement and a unique result for pest fish management in Australia.
Despite this and the ongoing success of the program in terms of the development and implementation of innovative pest fish management strategies, the events at Lake Sorell last year were a set-back for the carp team. The Service was so close to achieving its ultimate goal of eradicating carp from Tasmania and the war against carp is a personal crusade for many who work on the carp program. These staff are dedicated to the job, passionate about the cause and committed to winning the war.
The team has been spurred on this year by the support of the State Government, which has injected an additional $400K towards carp control at Lake Sorell. The extra funding has enabled the construction of a levee bank to help protect Lake Crescent against any water spilling from Lake Sorell during floods, which is in addition to the existing carp screens that separate the two waters.
The money has also provided for an increase in staff over the season and equipment in the lake. That is, more barrier nets, fish traps and fyke nets have now been installed, creating an even bigger job in terms of the daily monitoring and capture of fish but with an increased return for effort.
Lake Sorell, as many anglers would know, has areas of expansive marsh that, when inundated as they are at present, provide fabulous habitat for trout. Unfortunately, they also provide perfect spawning grounds for carp and the sheer extent of wetlands makes the prevention of spawning a challenging job for the carp team.
Barrier nets are the first line of defence against spawning. Approximately 10 km of netted fencing has been strategically placed around the lake shore to protect priority spawning habitat from carp, with an extra 3 km added this winter. Last summer, the environmental stimuli to spawn were so great that carp jumped the barrier nets to gain access to the marshes. This year, gill nets have been installed behind the barrier nets in some key sites as added protection.
The number of fyke nets has also been increased this year allowing for greater coverage of the lake and more intensive placement of nets. In addition, local eel fishers at Lake Sorell are collaborating with the carp program by collecting carp caught in their fyke nets and delivering them to the carp team.
The fyke nets are set in a range of shore locations from sheltered rocky areas, known to be favoured by juvenile carp, to the shallow marshes which attract spawning adults. Some of the large fyke nets have been strategically placed in drainage channels which carp use to access the marshes. Others include custom made traps containing live carp, which are used as chemical attractants to lure other carp into the fyke nets.
These live ‘bait’ fish, either female or male, have been injected with a hormone to induce egg ovulation or milt production, respectively. This triggers the release of pheromones (sex odours) that affect the behaviour of other fish, drawing them towards the chemical source and into a trap.
The team is also assisting with a study at Lake Sorell commissioned by the Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre in collaboration with an international researcher from the USA. This involves the use of several live fish traps to investigate the effectiveness of specific carp pheromones as attractants for carp. The results of this study will have application in carp management across Australia, the USA and elsewhere in the world.
Apart from nets and traps, radio-tracking is used at times to monitor carp behaviour and importantly, to target possible spawning activity. A number of adult male carp have each been implanted with a radio transmitter device and since carp aggregate prior to spawning, monitoring their proximity to one another is an effective means of detecting when an aggregation is occurring.
In this way, staff are able to target their fishing effort more effectively and hopefully, prevent a spawning event. Over the summer, they will also investigate the use of radio-tracking in juvenile fish to learn more about the habits of young carp since they appear to behave differently to adults.
The follow up strategy after detection is fishing with nets and/or electro-fishing, a modern fishery management tool which results in the fish being electrically shocked and stunned so that they can be removed from the water. The final step is the elimination and disposal, or use as live bait, of the captured fish.
Then there’s the documentation of results which goes hand in hand with the practical work. All the information on the number of carp captured and where they were captured, along with details on the fish size, gender and sexual development must be noted. Data is also regularly collected on water temperature, lake levels and weather conditions. This information is then correlated against carp captures, and is analysed and used in predictive modelling to gain greater understanding of carp movements, to predict their behaviour and assess the effectiveness of specific control measures.
This work continues on a daily basis no matter the weather conditions. It can be hard going and disheartening at times yet the success of the carp program ultimately hinges on its people. Not only is there a huge accumulated knowledge base and experience amongst the carp team but there is also a very strong team culture, which has been developed and maintained over the 15 years of the program. This culture is infectious and continues to generate team members who are dedicated, hard working, and passionate about achieving the ultimate goal of eradicating carp from Tasmania.
Sarah Graham IFS
Mako sharks – Daniel Paull
The Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is the most streamlined, spindle shaped member of the Mackerel Shark family. Along with its distinctive long and conical snout and triangular dorsal fin, this species has short pectoral fins and a crescent shaped caudal fin. Their slender teeth, which curve inward and have no cusps at their bases or serrations along their edges, are easily separate from Great White, Blue, Thresher and Porbeagle Sharks. There is evident countershading on this particular species of shark; dorsally, they are a metallic blue colour whilst ventrally, they are a snowy white. These sharks are pelagic, solitary and fast swimming and have been known to travel vast distances of water in search of breeding grounds and prey. One individual shark is known to have travelled 1322 miles in 37 days with an average of 36 miles per day.
Shortfin Mako Sharks thrive offshore in both tropical and temperate waters, from the surface down to depths of over 150 metre. These sharks are potentially dangerous and have attacked people on some occasions, most of which have occurred when a shark has jumped and landed in a boat after it has been hooked by recreational game fishing anglers. Whilst breeding, litters of 4 to 16 pups are common. Older embryos eat some of the eggs while still in the uterus. Female Mako Sharks usually reach sexual maturity once they attain a length of over 3 metre s. It is believed that large female specimens may rest for up to 18 months before the next batch of eggs are fertilized by a sexually mature male.
Overfishing of the Shortfin Mako Shark, mostly in the northern hemisphere, has seen it listed on the world’s endangered list, making this species more vulnerable than ever before.
Mostly known for their large size and fighting ability, Mako Sharks are targeted by many anglers around the globe. They are also known for their acrobatic ability that is far superior to many other game and sports fish on the planet. As most people would agree, the Mako Shark has only really just scratched the surface as a popular Tasmanian game fishing species. This specific shark has been the reason why many people have taken up game fishing, purchased boats and joined various clubs and forums. Along with only a few other rival species such as the Southern Bluefin, Yellowfin an Albacore Tuna, the Shortfin Mako has attained the crown as one of Tasmania’s premier game fish. On the North West coast, many people are limited with the option of targeting a specific game species. The Mako, along with other species of shark, is a great fish to target. They are grand and as illustrious as many other popular game fishing species on the East and South East coasts of the state.
I have been effectively targeting Shortfin Mako Sharks for a number of years now from our 6.70 metre Caribbean Reef Runner and 4.20 metre Quintrex Hornet. Fishing from the Hornet has adds another element to catching the sharks altogether. When I first began targeting sharks with my father, the thought of just leaving for the boat ramp was enough to get me keen and interested in the sport. On my first shark fishing adventure, I was lucky enough to witness Jamie Harris fight a solid Mako of about 150kg to the side of the boat. Along with the capture of my very first Mako of about 50kg, this particular Easter fishing expedition would boost my fishing experience to a whole new level. Fishing became my own personal ‘frontier’ and I was only too keen to get out and wet a line at any place, at any time.
As the main driving force behind my fishing, the Mako Shark has become my favourite species—especially on the North West coast where I live. There is something special about attracting a shark to the stern of your boat while having a leisurely bottom bash. Once lured to the back of the boat, you can literally decide the fate of the fish and who gets to catch, film or hand feed it. Although not as difficult as working hard bodies around a sand or mud flat for large Black Bream in an East Coast estuary or casting for flighty Brown Trout on a really bright, calm day on the Great Lake, shark fishing affects people in many different ways. Whether braving the elements on a nasty, rough day in a game fishing tournament or heading out on your own little mission, I believe that pursuing sharks is one of those elements to really complete a keen angler.
While attempting to target the Shortfin Mako, or any shark for that matter, I believe it is vital to have some level of understanding about the fish you are looking for. Each shark has its own individuality and personality. Some specimens will be placid and gentle once lured to the boat but others can become aggressive and dangerous if provoked. As mentioned before, Mako Sharks have the ability to leap to astonishing heights and can become very dangerous once hooked. Sharks that have not eaten in a while will play up to the best of their ability while those who have had plentiful supplements of food will often be docile and dive deep once engaged. Many people, including myself, would agree that fighting the fish to the boat is the easy part, landing the specimen is a completely different and difficult matter.
Summer is the best time of the year to target most Tasmanian game fishing species. Sea surface temperatures between 15.0 and 20.0 degrees seem to suit the Shortfin Mako Shark better than any other. Prey is another important element to consider while targeting sharks, as apex oceanic predators, these fish will follow bait species across the globe. Here in Tasmania, prey items consist of Albacore and Striped Tuna, East Australian Salmon, Barracouta and Arrow Squid, if these species of fish are around, you can almost guarantee that a hungry Mako will be following closely behind. Locations such as the shallow and nutrient rich waters of the Bass Strait and the Continental Shelf off the East Coast of thee state are typical hot spots for Mako Sharks.
Enticing makos to you
Burley is the most important element while trying to catch many cartilaginous species. Bulk loads of fresh, natural burley is the key to success, whether it is minced Striped Tuna or Barracouta, some form of oily attractant will need to be in the water in order to draw a fearsome Mako to your vicinity. I personally favour minced burley over that of simply dropping a Tuna frame into a burley bucket, not only is it a more clean practice, it is far more effective. With minced burley, you can create a wide spread burley trail that will stretch for miles with a constant stream of small fish fragments and chunks. Mincing selected fish can be an issue, unless you have an industrial grade mincer or garden mulcher. People can choose to purchase burley from selected fishing and tackle stores located across the state or to simply create their own.
Baits are probably the easiest element to fathom while targeting Mako Sharks. Fresh, oily and natural baits are usually the way to go while fishing in any salt water scenario. Once lured to the stern of a boat with burley in the water, Mako Sharks will readily eat just about anything. I have even heard of one incident where a 140kg model swam up to the back of a boat and scoffed a well presented Brown Trout! East Australian Salmon, Barracouta, Arrow Squid, Calamari, Striped Tuna and large Yellow Eye Mullet are by far the best baits to use while bottom fishing and burleying. One method of actually catching Mako Sharks is to attach a party balloon with a rubber band above the snap swivel on a doubled line. This method allows anglers to float large bait items out behind the stern of the boat. To present the shark bait, pierce the hook through the bait item only once, a well exposed hook will almost guarantee a mouth hook up and a healthy fish. If the hook is hidden within the bait, the fish will often swallow the bait resulting in a damaging gut hook up.
Gear you need
Mako Sharks can be successfully caught on most conventional gear, ideally, an overhead reel with a smooth and reliable lever drag system is the way to go. Shimano make an excellent range of overhead game reels to suit all elements of game fishing. The Shimano Tiagra 50WLRS would have to be the best all round reel for pursuing Mako Sharks and many other pelagic species. Loaded with 24kg monofilament line and a pre set drag of approximately 8kg, a Tiagra 50W will never let you down. Light line class game fishing has become pretty popular over the past few years with many anglers choosing to downsize their outfits and line classes for more sporty and drawn out captures. Small overhead reels such as the TLD 30A 2 Speed and Tiagra 30WLRS are leading the light weight game fishing scene by a long shot. Personally, I think that most people will use a rod and reel combination that they feel is suitable for the job. If you can’t decide on what particular outfit to purchase, ask around at your local tackle store for any information on gear speculations or general advice.
15kg to 24kg stand up outfits are the undisputed way to capture Mako Sharks. Taking a little more skill than simply sitting in a game chair, stand up tackle allows you to feel the immense strength and fighting capabilities of the fish. As most hardcore shark fishermen will agree, standing up to fight is the best and only way to hook, fight and defeat any aggressive pelagic species, including large, raging Mako Sharks. The Beastmaster, T-Curve Tiagra Game and Backbone Elite range of saltwater game fishing rods are far superior to many other rods on the market. Custom built rods are another great way to go while targeting Mako Sharks. Created from a trusted rod builder, custom sticks can often be stronger, better built and better looking than other factory made products.
Terminal tackle tips
Terminal tackle is the most important element to consider in many aspects of fishing. Shark fishing requires tough and durable terminal tackle to stand against the brutal fighting strength of the species. Hooks, snap swivels, crimps, wire traces and monofilament lines will need to be in top shape in order to tackle a Mako Shark. Along with the more reliable J-hook, the circle hook is starting to get more popular than ever before. Using sharp, 12/0 to 20/0 circle hooks will nearly guarantee a perfect mouth hook up. Not only does a circle hook ensure the survival and safety of the shark during and after the fight, it often improves the fighting and aerial displays of the fish. Plastic coated wire traces are a must while fishing for many shark species, using multi strand wire traces ensures that the shark will not bite through the trace once it has been hooked. Try to avoid using stainless steel wire traces as these will take longer to rust away if the shark is lost. Pre rigged shark fishing traces can be purchased from nearly every tackle store in the country. I prefer to produce my own traces with the methods and tackle that I know and trust. 4 to 5 metres of trace is usually enough to tackle any sized shark that may swim up to the stern of your boat, I try and use smaller traces with smaller specimens as longer traces can often cause chaos on the deck. Monofilament traces of up to 500lb accompanied with circle hooks have been proving successful in some scenarios, with the hook often being removed completely from the fish.
Once a Mako Shark is hooked, the most important task to complete is to start the engine and move away. Some Mako Sharks can be unpredictable and will dive under the boat, attack the boat or even jump into the boat. Some sharks will swim straight to the boat once they are hooked so it is important to move away from them as soon as possible. Take the fight slowly; wear the shark out before bringing it alongside the starboard side of the boat. Some anglers will rush and wind the fish straight to the boat; this will often result in disaster. A shark is no different to any other species of fish, just be patient and fight the fish calmly. Don’t get over exited and blow your chances of landing a fish of a lifetime. Once the shark has been defeated, the next step is to decide what you are going to do with the fish.
There is really no possible way to subdue a Mako Shark peacefully, except for the usage of a 12 Gauge, which, obviously, is banned by the IGFA. Over the years, people have used an arsenal of techniques and weapons to dispatch large Mako Sharks, from flying and fixed handled gaffs to baseball bats and firearms, all of which create a lot of havoc. How to dispatch a shark is completely up to the angler, I personally favour the more peaceful methods requiring a blunt object. Having said this, I will probably never take a Mako Shark outside specific shark fishing tournaments. I think that the method of tag and release is by far the best and most satisfying way to target Mako Sharks these days and I encourage all game fishermen anglers to pick up the tag pole once in a while.
The Waiting Game
With the usual by catch of familiar species such as Barracouta, Striped Trumpeter, Ocean Perch, Arrow Squid, Tiger and Sand Flathead, Gummy, Seven Gilled and School Sharks and the occasional Snapper or Nannygai, burleying in the Tasmanian waters can be very enjoyable. With more species than you can throw a rock at, patience becomes no longer an issue for beginners and children. Most bottom and mid water species can readily be captured on simple paternoster, running sinker and weightless rigs, along with artificial lures and plastics such as chrome slices, knife jigs, Gulps, Squidgies and squid jigs. While burleying off the East Coast, depth can be an issue with some people as dropping an enormous paternoster rig into 300 metre s of water is harder than it looks! Most thread line outfits will do the job as far as bottom fishing goes, Shimano and Diawa both make excellent rod and reel combinations for bottom bouncing. 30lb, 50lb and 80lb braided lines are needed whilst fishing in any deep water scenario, using thin diametre braid allows you to feel every single bite up until the imminent hook up.
I believe that conservation is our ultimate goal, fishing for the future as it has been said. With numbers starting to slowly decrease, the fishery needs to be managed in some shape or form. We have all faced the possibility of the species being banned in Australian waters; I would hate to see the Mako, and other popular species of pelagic game fish, banned from being captured by recreational fishermen. Once you have successfully caught and landed a mako, you will never forget the experience—it is a species that most anglers will set out to catch at least once in their lives. So with that said, get out on the water and catch your very first Mako Shark, just beware of the consequences of overfishing, greed and environmental debate! I personally believe that once you have gained an understanding and appreciation of these fish, you might just want to take a photograph and release them to fight another day.
Bream on Fly
Tasmanian Bream are a fantastic sports fish that offer the Tasmanian angler a challenging and rewarding day on the water. Black Bream, in Tasmanian waters, have been able to grow to impressive sizes due to the limited angling pressure they receive and the healthy estuary systems they live in. Bream up to 2.5 kg are not uncommon in our waters and these very old fish are often seen and caught amongst schools of bream in the upper tidal reaches of a river during the spawning season.
As spring approaches and the flood waters subside, bream begin to school up and move further up the estuary systems towards the river or rivers that feed an estuary. During this time bream are actively feeding in preparation for the up and coming spawning season. This is good news for the angler and is evident with the popularity of bream fishing at this time of year.
Once the bream have reached the upper reaches of tidal influence where fresh meets salt, the school will hold there until the optimum spawning conditions are met with salinity, dissolved oxygen, water temperature and the all important presence of zooplankton for the young bream lava to feed on.
The research undertaken on Tasmania’s Black Bream by Dr James Haddy has been extensive, and reveals some interesting facts about the life cycle of our local Black Bream. Most bream spawn between spring and early summer in Tasmania. The timing of the spawning run can be affected by prolonged floodwater due to its influence on the water temperature and salinity. Research has shown that bream spawn for about an hour at dusk each day and that females will spawn more than once during the spawning season. Although Black Bream have been known to reach sexual maturity in 2 to 5 years, it is the much older and larger fish of say 50cm in length that really have an impact to the number of eggs released. A fish this size could release between one million and three million eggs in a season while a smaller 25cm female may only produce three hundred and fifty thousand eggs a season. Research such as this is so important to the recreational angler because it offers a wealth of knowledge that can be used to make more informed decisions on when, where and how to catch them.
This research also puts into perspective how long it takes for our large bream to achieve their massive size. For instance Dr James Haddy’s research has shown that our bream only gain approximately 100 grams per year, after reaching maturity. Do the maths and that 2 kg trophy bream could be 20 years old, or more. Keeping a fish of that size for the table just doesn’t seem right to me. I’d much prefer to keep the smaller ones for the table and release these big breeders so that fish of this size can be seen in our estuaries for many years to come.
Fly fishing, why do it
There are many productive methods used to catch bream with the use of bait being the most widely used in Tasmanian waters. Soft plastics and hard bodied lures are a great way to actively fish for bream and are now a proven and exciting way to target bream. Of the last two methods, fly fishing for bream would have to be the least effective method.
So why would you want to change to a method where you would catch less fish? Well I think it’s for the same reason people are drawn to fly fishing for trout. It starts out as a method to catch fish that are very spooky and selective under certain conditions and becomes a very challenging and rewarding way to fish that never looses its appeal once you have mastered some basic casting skills. Catching one fish can feel like a major milestone, just as it was when you caught your first fish on a lure.
The other appealing thing about fly fishing for bream is that they can be sight fished to, just like a trout. You may be lucky enough to find them tailing, as they move in on an incoming tide. But the most reliable form of sight fishing will be polaroiding them amongst the snags and the clear shallow waters of an estuary, lagoon or river. Above all, it is just another fun and rewarding way to catch a few fish.
Spring had arrived and I was eager to once again feel the power of a hooked bream on fly. My good friend Simon Hedditch had recently moved to Scamander on the east coast and was keen to get to know this famous bream water at his back door. I don’t usually need too much of an excuse to wet a line and the fact that I needed some more video footage for my Tassie bream DVD, made it even easier to make the time to head to the east coast.
We launched the boat at the upper Scamander River boat ramp. A quick look under the small jetty at the boat ramp revealed several bream stacked up along the pylons. By this stage they were obviously spooked but seeing fish this early was a good start. It just goes to show that bream are drawn to the safety of structure and that by using a jetty such as this as merely a fishing platform to cast a line out into the middle, you could well be sitting on top of some thumping bream stacked up beneath you.
The scenery on the upper Scamander River is truly spectacular and you can get carried away traveling up rivers such as this, just to see what the next bend has to offer. We made our way up the river to the clear shallow riverbeds and could see bream holding on every snag as we motored past.
This was bream sight fishing heaven, but we were about to realize that these spawning bream are not always easy to catch. From here we utilized the electric motor for a stealthier approach. These fish were very spooky and ignored most of our offerings. We had the occasional heart stopping moment where a big bream would move over to the fly, but then spook off the moment the fly was moved. This was frustrating stuff, so many fish, with no results. I was steadily going through different presentations and flies in an attempt to find something that worked. My foam patch I use to dry used flies was rapidly running out of room.
The river deepened as it ran along a rock wall. Simon had replaced his fly rod with a spinning rod and began casting a small hard body along the rock wall. Success came relatively quickly as the light spinning rod buckled over under the weight of the first bream of the day. Simon had a grin on his dial as he slid the net under the bream. Here we go I thought, I am about to get a lesson in why use a fly rod to catch nothing when you can use a lure to actually catch a fish. I was happy for his success, but I do like a challenge and changed tact once again in an attempt to take one on fly.
I was fishing with a clear floating fly line at the time so I tied on a small 1/22oz green and white buck tail jig head fly to get down to the bottom in the deeper water. These flies have the same fast sinking attributes as weighted soft plastic. I think many fish species that feed on small fish and crustaceans see this as a natural instinct for prey to flee down to the bottom and hide in amongst the sand and stones. This fast descent to the bottom often provokes a strike before the suspected prey, being your fly, escapes to the bottom of the riverbed.
Prior to tying on the jig head I had lengthened the leader out to fourteen foot to allow the fly to reach the bottom and to search more water beyond the end of the fly line. As the fly sank down I watched the leader and fly line for any signs of a take, before retrieving the fly back in slow deliberate strips to make the fly rise and fall close to the bottom. Simon had just hooked up again on the lure, when I noticed the tip of my fly line being pulled down. A quick strip strike produced a solid hook up as a bream powered off up stream. Black Bream can certainly put a bend in a 6wt fly rod. Their first initial run can feel like it is unstoppable. Get past the first run and the rod will buckle over as they use their deep profile to stubbornly slog it out midway through the fight until they roll on their side and come in quietly to the net or hand.
The deep rocky bank continued for another 200 metres. A stiff breeze rippled the water, which only helped the presentation of the weighty fly. The quick descent of the jig head fly was doing the trick with four more fish taking the fly. Some would pick it up on the sink while others would follow the undulating fly until the thought of this prey escaping to the bottom became too much, triggering an instinctive nip.
The river changed once again with long shallow rocky runs and fallen timber scattered along both sides. Every snag seemed to hold bream and in this crystal clear water they were very spooky. These bream were holding hard in along the edge and needed a light presentation in this shallower water. Simon decided to switch back to the fly and tied on a size 10 green Woolly Bugger. The small trout fly dropped in amongst the bream and hung there until it was teased out past the snag with short pulsing strips and long pauses. In the clear water we could watch the body language of individual bream as they reacted to the presence of the small woolly bugger. Knowing when to move the fly or let it hang motionless mid water was guided by the interest shown by the bream on each snag. Some would spook off on the first strip while others would move over to the fly for a halfhearted look, before returning to the snag.
As it is with fishing, sometimes you just have to find that one fish that is willing to go to the next stage and mouth your offerings. The refusals continued until one bream moved to Simon’s fly then stopped as it flared out its pectoral fins to size up the small woolly bugger. Simon waited and waited until he finally twitched the fly back to life. The bream lunged forward and engulfed the fly. Simon struck as the fly disappeared, and was on. Extracting this fish from this fallen tree was never going to be easy but Simon managed to coax this one out into the open without getting broken off in amongst the snag. After a short fight a typical Scamander River bream was landed and quickly released. Needless to say, Simon was more than happy to have caught bream on both lure and fly.
Deep Water Jig Head Flies
If you can get accustomed to casting these heavy flies they can be a valuable option to cover fish in deep water situations, especially if you are limited to fishing with a floating line. Having this ability to easily switch from a shallow running fly to a fast sinking jig head fly enables you to quickly adapt to the changing depths throughout a river or estuary.
These jig heads let you fish depths of up to three metres of water quickly and effectively with a floating line. Flies tied on jig head hooks can be allowed to rest on the bottom where a bream will quite often pick them out from between the rocks just as they would with some of their natural prey. In the clear waters of the Scamander River, Simon and I have watched bream moving rocks the size of your fist in search of food.
After the success of the jig head fly Simon had came up with a nice compromise to my 1/22oz rod busting jig heads, by tying up some size 8 black and red marabou cone heads. These flies were tied just like a Dog Nobbler with a body of chenille and a black marabou tail, but instead of using lead split shot at the head Simon used an extra large gold cone head. Dog Nobblers have been used on trout for many years and were one of the first fast jigging trout flies I can ever remember reading about some twenty five years ago.
Simon put his cone head flies to work on our next outing with some positive results in the overcast conditions. The black and red cone heads had a steady run of hook ups along the edge of the deeper water and their slightly lighter presentation also took fish from the shallower water closer to the edge. Having a good range of flies that will cover a wide range of depths and situations will always give you a better chance of finding something that will work on the day.
Casting Heavy Flies
Many people shy away from using heavily weighted flies because of their rod busting reputation. For the average caster such as myself, trying to cast a heavily weighted jig head using the traditional overhead casting action would no doubt see the heavy fly striking the rod at some stage. This impact could easily fracture a graphite fly rod and is something that I personally want to avoid at all costs.
The safe way to cast these rod busters is to tilt the rod to the side on the back cast and then roll the rod overhead on the forward cast. This casting action will keep the fly well away from the rod at all times. The other thing to consider is the wind direction. Always use the wind to your advantage by laying the rod over on the down wind side during the back cast. This will ensure the wind will always blow your line away from your rod. Once you have mastered this simple casting stroke you can then safely add some seriously heavy flies to your bream box to finally achieve that fast descent that may just do the trick when all else fails.
Sorting the tackle box
What is it about catching bream on lures, or any fish for that matter, which makes an angler, buy all kinds of weird and wonderful lures to try and trick them? After spending the winter re organising and sorting out the tackle box, (numerous times) I discovered that there were lures in my collection, which have not caught a fish let alone seen a drop of water. There were hard bodies of all types, deep diving minnows, shallow water minnows, shads, surface lures and assorted soft plastics.
The first thing to come to mind is how easy it is for tackle shops to sell us anglers all kinds of lures. We are like kids in a lolly shop. We can not resist. We see the bright coloured lures displayed in neat rows and just can not help grabbing them with all kinds of thoughts, (or illusions) going through the mind on how we are going to catch that elusive bream, trout or whatever fish is our preferred flavour. Then we hand our hard earned cash over to the smiling tackle shop owner behind the counter, walk out of the shop and wonder what just happened. Before we know it we now own a box full of assorted lures which may, or may not work.
The second thing which comes to mind is to give them all a go. Justify the purchase. To see if bream can be caught on any of the lures in your collection, from soft plastic right through to a hard body surface lure on any given day in the same waterway.
After reading stories on the various internet forums on how well the Scamander River was fishing with the bream schooled up in spawning mode, and with an invite from Jamie from St Helens Bait and Tackle, the opportunity came to test some of these untried lures and the techniques required to make them work. The fishing gear was packed, and down the East coast on Saturday afternoon for a planned early start on Sunday morning. The mail around St Helens was that the fish had finished the spawning run and gone off the chew put a bit of a damper on the enthusiasm. The weather was another thing. It belted with rain all night and into Sunday morning. Around 9:00am the rain eased to a drizzle. Boat and trailer on the back of the vehicle, full wet weather gear on, we set off and had the “SS St Helens Bait and Tackle” on the water at around 10:30am. Then the rain stopped. Our luck was in….!
The first lure of choice was a small hard body lure made by Luckycraft called a Pointer 48DD. Considering that the bank we started to fish was quite deep with fallen timber laying 1 – 2 metres under the water, it seemed a good choice. Jamie is a bit of a Squidgy fanatic, some would say fanatical enough to even look like the guy who created them. He had been saying how Squidgys were the only way to fish the Scamander. A Squidgy fishing clinic was something to look forward to…! As we drifted along the river edge, casting the Pointer hard against the bank with a slow wind and pause to get the lure down deep into the fallen logs, it wasn’t long before a bream hit the little hard body. It was an undersized bream of around 20cm, but still a fish. Always great to break the duck no matter how big the fish is.
As this little fella was de hooked and released for another day, a shout and some words of wisdom on catching fish with soft plastics came from the front of the boat, the weighted Squidgy Wriggler Jamie was throwing into the bank did the job, and a nice bream pulled from the snags, brought to the net and released. Convinced, a small lead head jig and a 100mm Squidgy Wriggler was tied onto my rod.
Anyone who has fished lures casting at river banks in a small boat propelled by a bow mount electric motor will know that the captain, in this case Jamie, gets the prime water. Prime water is the best structure, snags and rocks, on the banks likely to hold bream. Maybe it was a bit of payback from previous sessions? Anyhow, with limited access to the snags on the bank to cast at, and deep water at the rear of the boat, I had no option but to fling the Squidgy Wriggler into the deep water at the rear of the boat. The cast went out and a bit of a wait until the lure hit the bottom of the river. With a slow lift and drop retrieve the Wriggler was back in the boat for no result. Something read from an article on how to fish Squidgies came to mind… If you think you are fishing too slowly, slow it down even more. The second cast with the Squidgy went out, a long pause as the lure went to the bottom, gentle lift, count to 10 slowly, lift again and drop... Whack... fish on! A bit of wrestle followed to pull the healthy 30cm bream from the deep water and into the net. As expected, some special comments on how good these Squidgies are coming from the pointy end of the boat. After repeating this method and pulling a couple more bream, a move to another part of the river to try another technique was suggested.
The next spot was a steep rock ledge. After moving quietly along with the electric motor, bream were spotted feeding on the rock edges. The bream were chewing away at the barnacles growing on the rocks and any other crustacean game enough to poke their head out from their homes. To extract these fish the answer from “the captain” was a resin head jig and a surprise, surprise, a Squidgy Wriggler..! The technique is to cast as close as possible to a feeding bream on the rock edge and allow the lure to slowly sink. If ignored a slow lift and drop of the rod will normally get some attention. The bream will, if you can get them interested, slowly swim over and suck the lure in, and you are on..! Exciting stuff…! This was witnessed 3 or 4 times until we (more like Jamie) had covered the rock face and went on to look for a change of scenery.
After being shut out from getting a crack at the bream feeding on the rock ledge I was looking forward to the next challenge of fishing more of the fallen and over hanging timber at the rivers edge. This is perfect terrain for a small shallow diving hard body such as a Luckycraft Tango. A technique where searching for bream hiding amongst the snags and the skill of casting tight into a small gap between overhanging tree branches and fallen timber challenges the best of anglers. This is both exciting and frustrating at the same time as a lot of time is spent retrieving lures from timber due to an errant cast. Not to mention spooking plenty of fish when doing this. Though, if you are not bumping your lures on the timber you are unlikely to catch the fish..!
As we motored up to the first fallen tree, a small school of nice sized bream were spotted hanging amongst the sunken limbs. Having some etiquette, I allowed the Squidgey man first cast. There is nothing like the pressure of trying to pin point a cast with a soft plastic into some heavy timber loaded with fish to bring the best to their knees… Straight into an over hanging branch and snagged…! Beauty, finally I get a crack at some un “Squidgied” water. Handling the pressure, and some abuse from the front of the boat, an accurate cast with a Luckycraft Tango neatly lobbed right in some clear water between the fallen logs. The trick here is to keep the lure in the strike zone as long as possible. With a slow wind of the reel the lure was pulled under the water under the water around 1/2 a metre or so then paused. Another short quick wind of the reel to give the lure a bit of action, then pause again. One of the bream slowly swam over to the lure and stopped just short of it. The challenge here is to do nothing, try to not pull the lure out of the strike zone. Aware that other bream were sneaking up look at the Tango, the temptation of an easy meal became too much, and the bream sucked the lure in. Watching this, waiting for the bream to turn back into the snag with the lure in it mouth, a short, quick strike and then holding the spool to lock up the drag, the bream was wrenched from the timber and after plenty of commotion into the boat. Not much time for finesse here.! Heavier leaders, 6lb or more, and locked drags required for this job...!
The best part about fishing these snags, as long as you can get your lure in the right area, is the bream are generally keen to have a crack at your lure. Whether this is because bream are territorial, or it is competition from other bream, or it is the shelter of the snag makes them feel safe to eat anything unusual. Either way this is a challenging and exciting way to catch bream.
We managed to pull several more bream from the snags, even the Squidgies pulled a few, though bust offs were common as the plastics were well in the timber before the lure was hit so the bream had the upper hand. I didn’t mind this as while someone was re tying leaders and jig heads, clear water was mine. It is surprising how few hard body lures you lose fishing snags. A few hard body lures are lost fishing the timber, but mainly to a bream belting it when not paying attention or not checking leaders and knots for damage. Though, losing a lure to a fish, kind of makes it a little less painful for the pocket? At least you now know it worked and can justify replacing it.!
As we fished along the edges, the river structure changed to shallow and rocky bottom. A few bream were spotted cruising in the shallow water less than a metre deep. Time for a lure change…! Going through the tackle box, we had tried and succeeded using deep diving hard bodies, weighted soft plastic, unweighted soft plastic, and a shallow diving minnows. All that was left was a surface lure. Having read plenty of articles about, but never caught a bream on a surface lure, why not give it a go? A Lucky Craft Bevy Pencil 60mm long was tied on. The beauty of these lure is they can be cast long distance so can cover a lot of water, and hopefully fish.
A long cast was put out, parallel with the riverbank, across the shallow water. The retrieve consisted of a slow wind of the reel with some action from the rod to cause the lure to dart sideways and bob up and down on the water surface. Then, pausing, a slow count to 5. Start the retrieve again. This was repeated a couple of times when on one of the pauses, a swirl of water was seen behind the lure. The temptation was there to strike, or move the lure again, but leaving the lure stationary, a splash and the bream sucked the lure under. The biggest surprise was the fish was only about 25cm long..! So much for big lures big fish..!
The highlight of the day came while using the surface lure. With a long cast parallel to the bank, the surface lures was worked with a slow wind, and with action imparted from the rod tip to make it appear like a wounded bait fish followed by a regular long pause. In site of the boat a large bream spotted the lure and cruised over, seemingly with all the time in the world. The lure was paused. The bream stopped and inspected. For what seemed like minutes, the bream stared and the lure sat in the surface of the water with the rear end submerged. At the risk of spooking the fish, the rod was twitched ever so slightly, enough to just make the lure wobble on the water surface. This triggered the bream into action and it engulfed the lure right under our nose sucking it down with a load slurp. On a short line the bream played up nicely, around and under the boat a few times before being guided into the net. A quick measurement showed 38cm. Not a bad Scamander River Bream. Then back into the drink for its efforts.
Throughout the session, we probably landed and released over 20 bream from undersized 20cm up to very healthy 40cm long. Using untried lures and techniques adapted to the environment we were fishing, whether rock walls, heavy timber snags or open shallow rocky bottom it was possible to catch fish consistently.
So rather than let those lures you have purchased on impulse rust away in the tackle box, tie one on and work out how to use it and what will make a fish want to eat it. With perseverance it will catch you a fish. You may notice a preference for a particular brand used above. This is really only about being comfortable and confident in the particular lure brand being used. Confidence in the tools used generally leads to better results…!
The best thing about going through your tackle box, is trying new and innovating ways to catch a fish which makes the challenge of lure fishing so much more rewarding.
It’s Christmas time again and that means dry fly fishing is well underway. There are not many fly fishers who don’t look forward to fishing the dry. Seeing the fish take the fly really starts the adrenalin flowing.
The fly this time is a very well tested emerger which I suppose is nearly a dry but does sit rather low in the water surface. The entire fly except for the tail is tied out of CDC feathers. The cul de canard, or CDC, feather comes from around the oil preen gland of the duck it is this feather fly tyers love to use.
These feathers are not impregnated with oil as some think, but rather they are coated with the oil from the gland, which gives them bouyancy. The barbules trap air in the form of air bubbles and this gives floatation. So with oil and air this feather is a very useful addition to any tyers kit. Never put floatant on this fly. Adding to the oil already there overdo it and crush out the air.
The following pattern is one I use a lot. It is great for mayfly hatches yet it will work as a caddis pattern. The feather is a natural coloured one which is greyish in colour I tend to try and stay away from dyed feathers as in the process of the dyeing most of the oil is removed.
Hook: Light weight shrimp or buzzer hook size 10, 12, 14
Tail: Black cock fibres
Body: Barbules off the CDC feather
Wingcase: Two fairly broad CDC feathers
1. Take the thread at least two thirds the length of the shank tie in four black cock fibres for tail.
2. Strip some CDC barbules off a CDC feather. Roll and dub together and place them on the thread. Whilst spinning on the dubbed barbules make sure the ones at the top are much finer than the bottom so you end up with a yarn like strand. Shaping this into a nice tapered body.
3. Wind the dubbed body forward two thirds back along the shank. Finish the body there.
4. With two nice wide CDC feathers pull the bottom barbules off each feather stem leaving the top half with barbules on. Place the feathers together tie them in so they lay over the shank of the hook so you should have the feather stems over the eye of the hook. Tie them in very firmly and cut off excess feather stems.
5. Now with some more dubbing form a nice thorax in front of where the feathers are tied in finish this back from the eye a little.
6. With your fingers pull all the barbules toward the top of the feather now with them all pulled up together roll the feathers over toward the eye forming a nice sized loop for a wing. Tie down firmly.
7. You should have two wing tips left protruding over the eye. Pull one each way and tie them back so you have a little wing and tie them back so you have a little wing on each side of the fly. If these wings happen to be too big trim them to the desired size. These little wings will give the fly balance.
As this is the last article for 2010 may I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year with some great dry fly fishing.
This year’s brown trout season is already half over and it does not go down in my diary as one of the best. I have been lucky enough with time off and holidays to fish all my favourite waters including Echo, Great Lake, Woods and Arthurs but all have disappointed so far. One water however that stands out as being consistent is Huntsman Lake at Meander. I have had a great season here so far and eagerly anticipate the start of the dry fly season of this hopefully gum beetle encircled lake.
Huntsman Lake was in the planning stage for decades and after the many issues which delayed it, including the local quoll populations swimming abilities, the lake was finally completed and opened in 2008. The lake has flooded the upper reaches of the Meander River about 5 kms south of Meander. It is encircled almost completely by native bush and forestry plantations. It is an extremely picturesque lake with magnificent views of the surrounding Western Tiers, Ironstone Mountain and Mother Cummings Peak. Apart from the upper reaches of the Meander River it is also fed by three large inflowing waters namely Warners Creek and Dunning and Sales Rivulet. With this year’s high rainfall the lake has maintained a very high level and has spilled several times.
Only a few hundred metres off the boat ramp the lake plunges to just over 110 feet deep but the majority of the western and southern shorelines feature extensive areas of shallow water. The water has not been as clear as expected but the high rainfall and constant wind has not helped. Despite this the lake has visibility of around 6ft which has remained fairly constant all season.
The trout stocks in Huntsman Lake were initially supplemented by 1000 Great Lake 2 pound brownies which were stocked into the Lake just prior to its opening in 2008. These fish would have supplemented the already sizeable number of half pounders that already existed in the Meanders upper reaches. Only brown trout exist in the lake and a bag limit of 12 trout over 220mms applies. For the first 12-18 months a number of fish of 3-4 pound were taken, most in excellent condition. This season has only yielded a few of these larger fish with the vast majority being around the one pound mark. The biggest I have personally seen taken was a well conditioned two pounder. With numerous spawning streams, Hunstman Lake was never destined to be trophy trout water.
The Huntsman Lap
Beginning at the Meander Dam and boat ramp it does not take long to appreciate the excellent amenities that are on offer. There are several excellent viewing areas around the dam which are well worth a look when the lake spills. The boat ramp is dual lane concrete construction with parking nearby for around fifty cars and trailers. A convenient toilet is situated a short distance from the ramp.
Once the boat is launched the entire northern or road shore is fishable from the boat or shore. There are several small side roads which lead to the water’s edge but for the most part the water is only casting distance from the road. The lake plunges deeply along most of this shore, there are some shallow areas at the obvious points and these have produced trout on most outings either spinning or trolling. A particular hotspot is the small bay about half way along the northern shore where a small drain flows into the lake. Do not drive or boat past it without a few casts. The other hot spot along this shore is the western most 300 metres of timbered shoreline. It features several sharp drop-offs and many sunken stumps and needs to be fished thoroughly. Wet fly fishing from the boat is productive here, back casts from the shore are difficult. Spinning here from boat is probably the best method.
The western shore or Paynes Landing is within walking distance from the Huntsman Road and many anglers have chosen to park at the Dairy BBQ area and walk either north or south along the shore from here. There are four angler access points along this road providing easy access to this most productive shoreline. The entire 1.5ks of shore has ample unrestricted casting available with only a few sunken fences being the biggest obstacles. For boaters the entire shore is relatively shallow, snag free and very productive. This is a stand out area for fly fishing on the lake with some perfect flood plain fishing available when the lake spills. The high water mark is quite obvious along the whole shore and reveals the tussocks that are inundated when the lake rises. This shore has also been a productive soft plastic area as the snag free water enabled the lure to be dropped right to the bottom. A hot spot on this shore has been the small inflowing creek on the northern side of McNeil Bay. The sounder has revealed the creek channel to quickly drop off into over 15 feet and continue into the lake. We have caught trout around this channel on ever trip. It can be fished from the shore or boat.
The forestry road which runs into the southern end of McNeil Bay effectively ends the grassy unrestricted shore fishing around Huntsman. From here the southern forestry clad shore make up the rest of the lake. This shore includes the inflows of the four major feeder streams including the Meander River, Sales Rivulet, Dunning Rivulet and Warners Creek. The Meander is the first encountered and from a boat is actually quite easy to miss as it flows in via small bay. On our most recent trip however after 75mm of rain the inflow was quite pronounced with the current extending visibly into the lake for several hundred metres. We caught fish spinning all through the faster water with the largest specimen, a slightly slabby two pounder nailed hard up against some trees on the edge of the current. The Sales Rivulet mouth is smaller but still worth several casts. The next and possibly best hotspot in the lake is the mouth of Dunning Rivulet situated about half way along the southern shore. The distinct creek channel shows up clearly on the sounder and needs to be explored fully. Our best fish including a nice two pounder have been taken from this area. Beware some notable snags on the eastern side of the inflow which already support a number of my soft plastics and lures. This southern shore is productive its entire length and with the prevailing westerlies that sweep the lake boat anglers are able to fish the whole shore without much repositioning. We have concentrated on the 8 -15 foot mark using plastics and rapalas for best results. The remaining shore from Warners creek back past the dam to the boat ramp is deep an unproductive.
I would describe Huntsman Lake as an ideal all round water with scope for boaters and shore anglers alike. Spinning, trolling, soft plastic fishing and fly fishing all have their place here. Remember the Lake is artificial only. A boat is an obvious advantage as all the areas described can be more easily reached. At a little under an hour’s drive from either Devonport or Launceston it is conveniently situated for many anglers. Despite this it is certainly not being overfished, 7 boats the most I have yet seen at once. Stand out lures have been the ever reliable CD 7 rapala in Hot Mustard Muddler colour. Having caught his bag on this lure last trip I’m sure Roger will back me up on this recommendation.(I still haven’t worked out what repellent he placed on mine) As always a fast twitchy retrieve will yield better results when spinning with these lures. Soft plastics in the form of 50mm Gary glitter have accounted for most other fish. I’m not a keen wet fly fisherman so I can’t recommend a favourite pattern here. Others I have spoken to have caught reasonable numbers on fur flies, woolly buggers and nymphs. Our best days by far have been in the worst weather conditions when lake has been filling or spilling. Like most waters when the levels start to drop the trout quickly retreat from the shallows. I now just wait for the hopefully great dry fly action that may occur on Huntsman Lake if we ever see the sun this season.
King George Whiting
There are a number of Whiting species found throughout Australia, and many Tasmanians would be surprised to learn that recreational fishing surveys report around 10,000 Whiting are caught in Tasmanian waters every year. These would mostly be sand whiting though.
The King George Whiting is the prize. It is the largest and most well renowned species and is considered one of the best table fish around.
Normally South Australia is spruiked as the KGW capital of Australia but in recent years Tasmanian waters have started to produce some regular numbers of good quality, well sized KGW.
The King George Whiting, or Sillaginodes punctatus, is sometimes known as the spotted whiting. Predominantly a coastal marine fish, it is a member of the smelt-whitings family.
The KGW inhabits the south coast of the country from southern Western Australia right through to New South Wales and as far down as North East Tasmania.
The KGW can grow to a length of 72?cm and 4.8?kg in weight and is distinguishable from other species of whiting by its unique pattern of spots, as well as its elongated shape.
The King George whiting forms the basis of one of southern Australia’s most important commercial fisheries, reportedly worth over five million dollars per year.
There is very little known about the KGW movements in Tasmania however generally speaking spawning takes place in April through June in mainly offshore areas. The larvae end up in the coastal estuaries with the aid of water currents and tides and during the summer months, when water temperatures warm up, growth is quite rapid with most fish reaching a size of about 28cm at about two to three years old.
By the time the fish have reached 35cm they can be up to three to four years old and at this stage start to move out from the bays, progressively moving into deeper offshore waters as adult fish.
KGW can grow to around fifteen years old.
One key factor I have learnt very quickly while targeting King George Whiting in Tasmanian Estuaries is the specific location in which the fish chooses to feed, if you are not right in the zone you will not be successful in catching the KGW. What the angler needs to look for are areas of some current flow, either in or adjacent to a channel, where there are patches of sand or shelly bottom in amongst patches of broken weed or weed beds, anywhere there are good shellfish beds close by is even better. The KGW will sit in schools just off the edge of the weed in the current and pounce of food items being stirred up flowing past them. In order to consistently hook these fish you must place your baits right in the little area a foot or two from the weed edge. If you hit the right zone the result will be an almost instant bite and hopefully a hookup, if you find yourself too close to the weed Leatherjacket and Wrasse will be the dominant species and too far out onto the sand will generally see a long wait between fish.
If you start to look closely at your local waterways you will start to see the type of environment described above is quite common, you too may have a good population of KGW right under your nose and didn’t even realise. Many estuaries on the East Coast of Tasmania are now starting to produce good numbers of KGW.
Techniques & Tackle
Here is where the old school style of rods really come back into vogue, I favour a longer rod of 7-8 foot with a soft tip action, a nibble tip style is perfect. The KGW have a very quick but subtle little bite so fast action stiff rods don’t allow the fish to be able to grab the bait without feeling to much resistance and letting go. A nice soft little tip allows the fish the scoff the bait and lets the angler detect the take, a classic nibble is what we are talking about here so sensitivity in a rod tip is the key. Reels in the 1000-2500 size, Shimano Sienna or Sedona are perfect, spooled with some supple 6-8lb monofilament or a light 3-4lb Braid, the new Crystal Power Pro Braid is ideal for this purpose, will compliment the rod and handle any KGW thrown at them.
My favourite rig for Tassie waters is ideal for use in deep or shallow water, fast tides and is the perfect rig for those times where the KGW can be touchy. It is a simple running sinker rig with a small sinker attached to a trace with a ring or swivel at the other end running down the main line to another swivel to stop it. I find small bomb style sinkers are best suited and only ever use just enough weight to get the rig to the bottom but still allow some natural movement; you don’t want to anchor the rig to the bottom. This style of rig allows you to change the sinker weight to suit the conditions without having to change the whole rig. Then a trace of about 3 feet from that swivel down to a #2 Gamakatsu Red Baitkeeper hook finishes off the complete rig. KGW mouths are relatively small and are adapted to sucking up such bottom organisms.
This rig allows the bait to move around naturally in the current attracting their attention and getting them to bite, it also allows the fish some room to move and play with the bait, before a good hookup occurs. As with any rig, you should also consider allowing your trace to be slightly heavier or stronger than your main line and another little trick is to put a small red bead on top of the hook for added attractiveness.
The baits need to be tossed right into the “Hot Zone” discussed earlier and stay in touch with the bait as soon as it hits the water, once the bait hits the bottom provided you are on the fish they will be on the bait almost immediately so be prepared for a fast, quick nibble type bite and strike quickly but not too violently, you don’t want to pull the hook from the KGW small mouth.
KGW will eat a wide range of baits but prefer worms, yabbies, prawns and without a doubt their favourite Pippies (or Cockles depending where your from).
To catch KGW the angler must make the effort to have premium bait, bloodworms and beach worms are difficult to find in Tasmanian waters however Dynabait do a Freeze Dried series of worms in Bloodworm, Sandworm and Tubeworm. They can be kept in your tackle box and only need a few minutes of rehydrating in some water to leave you with a quality top rate KGW bait. I found the Pippies were also a favourite as were small strips of Tasbait Squid.
The best time to fish for whiting is usually with a rising tide although the fish will bite right through the day. When the tide falls, the fish retreat to the deeper water of the channels and drop offs.
The King George Whiting are starting to turn up in good numbers in various locations all over Tasmania, especially in the East Coast estuaries, whether this is due to water temperatures, “Global Warming”, a reduced effort in commercial pressure and recreational netting in our bays and estuaries or just simply anglers using better fishing tackle and techniques to target specific fish species……..I don’t really know but what I do know is King George Whiting are great eating and if the evidence we have at the moment is anything to go by than Tasmania is fast looking like adding another great species to its ever growing list of fantastic fish.
Tasmania’s angling future is looking great but remember one thing, limit your kill don’t kill your limit and help the fishery grow, wouldn’t it be great if Tasmania becomes as good a KGW fishery as South Australia and can be caught for many more years to come.
Saltwater shore bashing
The Christmas season is now upon us, many anglers will begin to pursue popular inshore species such as East Australian Salmon, Silver Trevally, Black Bream and Sand Flathead. Fishing from the shore has been one of my favourite methods of targeting specific species of fish for some time now and the very thought of discovering a new location is enough for me leave the boat at home. With Georges Bay and some North West hot spots being my favourite places to fish, many other destinations have either been discovered or successfully fished. Typical locations such as Red Rock on the North West coast has been producing many different species for a while now with the captures of good sized Silver Trevally, Gummy Sharks, Elephant Fish and Southern Garfish becoming more common. Some people worry and stress about not being able to access a kayak or boat in order to venture out onto the water but in reality, most anglers will have at least two great fishing spots that they can easily access from the shore.
When I began fishing from Red Rock on the North West coast with my good mate Jeremy Shaw, the possibility of encountering a Draughtboard Shark or Eagle Ray was enough to keep us coming back each weekend. Many days were spent fishing at Red Rock with colossal amounts of burley and junk food. Back then, captures of small East Australian Salmon and Sand Flathead were cherished and we never thought of leaving the rock for any reason other than the occasional trip out in the boat for a Mako Shark. During at least five years of fishing from Red Rock, we caught numerous and memorable fish including that of a rather large Seven Gilled Shark. It wasn’t until I began to seriously fish around the plentiful beaches and jetties of Georges Bay that I realized that fishing was the thing for me. Like the many hobbies that people enjoy, I got better at the sport and eventually became unstoppable. I believe that every angler needs to start off somewhere, land based fishing is a great way to begin the life long journey.
Tasmania has some of the best beach fishing that this country has to offer. With large quantities of Gummy, Draughtboard, Port Jackson and School Sharks, fishing from a beach greatly increases your chances of catching a toothy critter without the access to a boat. Most coastlines around the state will support long stretches of beach and anglers will have the option of picking one of many to fish from. Most of my surf fishing occurs on the gigantic stretch of beach below Peron Dunes. Usually fished with heavy duty surf outfits, many anglers often make the mistake of forgetting to take lighter gear for working soft plastics, metal slices and surface poppers. Popular destinations such as Sandy Cape, Peron Dunes, Seven Mile Beach and Nine Mile Beach have been producing great beach fishing opportunities for years and should be visited. Like most anglers, I like to get out and discover my own fishing spots that are secluded and almost untouched. There are a few beaches that many people drive past that produce large quantities of fish, anglers that want to find a stretch of beach that they can actively fish without having too much pressure from the public need to get out and have a look for themselves. Google Earth is another great and easier way to discover new beach fishing hotspots!
As the most popular beach fishing species in the state, East Australian Salmon will readily take a wide range of lures worked both slowly and quickly. I would have to say, that in my experience, metal slices, slugs and wobblers are the undisputed ‘Salmon Slayer’ on Tasmanian beaches. Whilst using metal lures, you can usually manage to cast out in to deeper water away from any breaking waves. Soft plastics have also made a difference in catching Salmon in deep gutters along beaches. Working large plastics such as Berkley Gulp 5” Jerk Shads in Camo, Nuclear Chicken, Sardine, Blue Pepper Neon and Anchovy rigged on a ¼ oz TT Tournament Series Jighead have sometimes proved just as effective as metal lures and even bait. As the 5” Jerk Shads are rather large, a 2/0, 2/0HW, 3/0 or 3/0HW size hook will be required.
Nearly every single species of fish that you will ever encounter on any beach can be caught on the simple, yet effective, paternoster rig. Consisting of at least two droppers, the paternoster rig is one of the most popular surf, rock, estuary and deep sea fishing rigs in Australia. Accompanied with either a pair of 2/0, 3/0 or 4/0 O’Shaughnessy Duratin Hooks and a suitable pyramid or teardrop sinker, the paternoster is the only rig to use while fishing from the beach. Fresh, oily and natural baits are usually the way to go while fishing from the beach. East Australian Salmon, Barracouta, Arrow Squid, Calamari, Striped Tuna, Yellow Eye Mullet, and Yellowtail Scad are the best baits for attracting beach dwellers to your vicinity. Along with the usage of oily baits, burley can also be used to increase your chances of caching most beach species, and in particular, Gummy and School Sharks. I find that burying a few pieces of blue bait in a small hole along with a few litres of tuna or fish oil a few meters below the high tide mark is just as effective as using a burley bucket or cage.
Fishing from a jetty is probably one of the most popular methods that Australian anglers use by a regular basis. Most jetties along Tasmanian coastlines are easily accessible and anglers from all walks of life can enjoy them. Old wooden jetties may be an eyesore in the overall scheme of things, but as most anglers will agree, they are often the most productive. Some species of fish such as Purple and Blue Throated Wrasse, Rock Cale and various Leatherjackets actually spend most of their lives feeding off the pylons and ladders of an old wooden jetty. While these fish aren’t as popular as other Tasmanian sports fish, they will always be there to catch. Other fish that tend to move around a little more like Silver Trevally, East Australian Salmon, Blue Warehou, Tailor and Barracouta can also be caught depending on what the tide is doing. High tide is usually the best time to hit a jetty, deeper water obviously brings in with it larger predators and bait fish.
Since the creation and evolution of soft plastics, fishing from jetties and wharfs has become easy. With all sorts of weird looking invertebrates and bait fish moving around selected jetties, Berkley’s range of Gulp soft plastics have really taken this fishing scenario by storm. Berkley Gulp 6” Sandworms in Camo, New Penny and Natural work wonders while fishing with light braid and jigheads. Other Gulp soft plastics include that of the 2” Baby Shrimp in Lime Tiger and New Penny, 3” Craw in Pumpkin Green, and 3” Fry in Pumpkinseed, Lime Tiger and Camo. Most of these plastics can be weighted with most small jigheads on the market. I favour TT Tournament Series or Head Hunter jigheads as they support strong Gamakatsu and Mustad hooks that have the strength to stand the brutal pressure applied by all kinds of jetty dwellers. TT jigheads and their bullet shaped head also perform better and look more natural on invertebrate and crustacean imitations.
Prawns, Calamari, Yellowtail Scad, Blue Bait, Chicken and Striped Tuna are all good baits to use while jetty bashing. Fresh, unweighted baits are generally the best way to go with most species, including Black Bream and Luderick. Size 4 long shank hooks are suitable for fishing with unweighted baits as prawns and chicken strips are best used with smaller hooks. With a bucket or cage, burley can also be used from a jetty. Small burley canisters that can be purchased from just about every tackle store in the state are cheap and easy to use. Even hand burley such as chopped up bread, fish scraps and shredded potato will work. Usually all that is needed in any jetty fishing scenario is a loaf of bread and some tuna or fish oil, this seems to bring everything around from Eagle Rays to Yellowtail Kingfish.
The Rocky Point
Rock fishing or ‘rock hopping’ has been the most popular form of recreational fishing for many anglers. Fishing from the rocks can be rewarding if you have the correct methods and techniques needed to target a specific species. With large numbers of Silver Trevally, East Australian Salmon, Yellowtail Kingfish and the occasional Black Drummer being caught on a regular basis, there is no doubt that rock fishing is one of the most popular forms of recreational fishing in the country. I started fishing off Red Rock, a small rocky point near the suburb of Cooee, a few years ago and I have never looked back. Back then, the capture of even one half decent ‘Black Back’ Salmon was enough to keep me coming back for more. The best thing about fishing from the rocks is the multitude of fish species that you can catch. With species living off the rocks, there are always fish to be caught, even if they are just members of the Wrasse family! You would be surprised of just how many pelagic species can be caught from the rocks, land based game fishing is even becoming popular on the east and south east coasts.
With the target species usually being that of the East Australian Salmon, Silver Trevally and Sand Flathead, choosing a method to catch these fish can be confusing at times. Whilst bait fishing is very productive, I have found that soft plastics have been out fishing natural items by far. I have found that soft plastics such as Berkley Gulp 6” Sandworms in Camo, New Penny and Natural and 7” Turtle Back Worm in Green Pumpkin, Pumpkinseed and Watermellon work wonders while fishing from the rocks. Any invertebrate or crustacean imitation soft plastic will readily be eaten by any fish swimming around in your vicinity. Other bait fish imitations like Yep Flappers in Pearl White, Red Rascal and Smoke Cloud, Berkley Dropshot 3” Minnows in Pearl Watermellon, Pearl Blue, Pearl Olive and Bloodworm also work very well. Jigheads can vary while fishing from the rocks, usually 1/16th, 1/12th, 1/8th and 1/6th oz TT Head Hunter jigheads are the best way to go. Try to match the size of your plastic with the size of the hook on the chosen jighead.
Baits can depend on what species you are targeting. Striped Tuna, East Australian Salmon, Garfish, Yellow Eye Mullet, Arrow Squid, Calamari, Barracouta and Yellowtail Scad all make exceptional baits whilst fishing from the rocks. As most rocky structure will support large quantities of weed, floating a piece of bait out is generally the best way to catch fish and to avoid snags. Paternoster rigs work well on sandy patches with smaller fish such as Sand Flathead, King George Whiting and Goatfish. Burley is one of the most important elements to consider, having some sort of attractant definitely makes fishing much easier. Minced fish is the undisputed burley while fishing in many land based scenarios. With frozen minced fish, you can usually deploy a log or block of burley straight into a bucket, cage or canister. Don’t be afraid to burley hard, you never know what may find its way to the source of your attractant!
Beach, jetty and rock fishing can be enjoyed by everyone, even those who prefer to use artificial methods to catch fish. I have had more successful fishing trips while working the shore than I have flying around in a boat. Summer is upon us, get out and have a look around, you never know what you may find, especially if you have a quick look at a local map or on Google Earth! If you are stumped on where to start looking for some land based action, ask around at your local tackle store. I believe that discovering your own personal secret locations one of those special elements that makes fishing a lifelong hobby.
Polaroiding Central Highlands
The highlight of any season usually revolves around the best days sight fishing. Memories of the hunt, approach, cast and hook set will remain in your mind long after those of another ‘flogged up’ have gone. The main prerequisite for this style of fishing are sunshine and cloudless days – two things that should become more plentiful from now until the end of the season. Good polaroiding water is not hard to find but some places are easier than others in which to find fish while others are simply better.
Here are some waters in the highlands that I think are worth considering on the next big blue sky day.
Flora and O’Dells
These two lakes are a short walk from an informal car park area near Lake Ada. O’Dells, is the first lake you will arrive at. Much of the lake has a silty bottom making wading difficult but the willingness of the trout to swim close to the bank means that wading is rarely necessary. Traditionally, a walk around the top of the lake and then down the western shore is the best approach and I see no need to break with tradition here! Fish will cruise hard in along the undercut banks and are quite easy to see against the uniform bottom. Once you get to the bottom of the lake, a firm but small sandy beach extends a few metres out from the bank and can be easily waded. Although the eastern shore is rocky and the light rarely good enough to have polaroiding of equal standard, it should not be over looked and is a worth while fall back if other people have walked the opposite shore
A short stroll down to Flora and a similar approach will apply. Again, the western shore provides more options and by this time of the day, the sun should well and truly be behind you. The beach at the southern end is extensive and don’t neglect the very shallow water! Fishing these two lakes is a great way to spend the day, and the walk, although not tough, adds to the adventure.
This must surely be the most popular of all the Nineteen Lagoons. A very popular lake among locals and especially mainland visitors, Botsford is a very easy lake to polaroid. The wading is generally very good although be mindful of a few silt patches such as the one immediately to the left of the initial car park! The bottom is very uniform and the fish as easy to spot as you could imagine. The down side to Botsford is its popularity. Being a lake with great access, good wading, good size fish (although not as big as in years gone by) and a light coloured contrasting bottom, its patronage is understandable. Don’t neglect the lagoons which extend beyond the main body of the lake towards Lake Kay. Due to its popularity, the fish can sometimes become well educated although a well placed small nymph seems to do the trick when dry flies are being ignored. Dun hatches can also bring about good rises and this is a rare place where fish can be polaroided while they eat mayflies with regularity.
Little Pine Lagoon
Not noted as a polaroiding water, this lake has already experienced exceptional polaroiding this season. Lake levels are important to make the most out of a day and when they are low, the fluro green substrate provides a wonderful back drop on which to polaroid. The surrounding hills often funnel the wind over the dam wall and this means that casting into the wind is common place. My first ever fly fishing trip was on Little Pine and I can clearly remember watching Jim Ferrier catch fish after fish in front of me polaroiding with a stick caddis – nothing has changed. The fish are not always easy to spot and presentation needs to be spot on but when it is good, it is more than very good. There is no one shore that I would suggest but don’t fall into the trap of always fishing with the wind at your back. It is often easier to get closer to the fish when fishing into the wind. Fly selection will also become less of a mystery as mayflies start to appear in numbers.
Without doubt the most under fished lake in Tasmania is the Great Lake. I could write volume and volumes on polaroiding this lake but will try and summarise it here. Shore based fishing is exceptional and boat based fishing is ten times better than exceptional when conditions are right. If confined to the shore, there is not one shore I would refuse to fish. The best of them however will have black silt extending from the lake edge and a seep running through the rocky shoreline. These are everywhere. It is rare to find a fishery where fish seem to prefer the dry fly to the wet and will rise from such depths to eat it. Look for a greeny colouration over the rocks and this will surely be a fish. A northerly is the best wind but in fact, it hardly matters when you are on foot. At the end of November a fish estimated at over eight pounds was spotted cruising across a concrete boat ramp just as the boat was being put into the water. Two years ago I had the same experience when I stopped the boat before the waters edge, stood on the back of the boat for elevation and caught a rainbow and a brown which were cruising where my wheels were about to be.
For those in boats, there has been a lot said about ‘shark’ fishing. It is not rocket science and the presence of sunshine and a northerly wind should have you calling in sick for at work. Beetles have been over plentiful this season and the trout are hunting them. Although slightly more fussy than the shore based fish, the deep water dwellers are sucker for most beetle imitations.
I bet you didn’t think this would make it into a list of good polaroiding waters! The edges of Penstock have always held big fish. Due to its poor colouration, it is not a lake that people immediately think of going to when the light is good but think again. If you are after numbers, it would not be number one on my list but for quality, it is right up there. The clay around the strap weed on the south eastern end of the lake is well worth a look as are the dam walls and the Ladies Walk. Fish will often lie ‘dogo’ so move slowly. A nymph or Red Tag often works well although I have had enough success polaroiding in front of the reeds around the canal with a loop winged CDC emerger to keep these at hand. Be patient and success will come.
One of the beauties of Tasmania is the options that we, as fishermen have got. The most difficult decision to make is not which lake to go to, but which one to miss out. It is easy to keep going back to the waters we know well but without experimentation comes complacency. You will be astounded at the quality of the polaroiding in places you didn’t think were worth visiting. Sun, wind and a handful of your favourite dry flies is all that is needed. With a warm but wet summer forecast grab every opportunity possible to use the sunshine and broaden your horizons. It is ‘our’ way of fishing and to have the world’s best waters for it on our door step and not be making the most of it would be tragic. Having said that, it would leave more fish for me!
RECREATIONAL SEA FISHERIES NEWS
Recreational Sea Fishing Guide
This season’s Recreational Sea Fishing Guide which outlines the rules for all types of sea fishing is now available free from Service Tasmania outlets and tackle shops. This year’s Guide includes a pull-out fishing planner so fishers can see at a glance how fishing seasons fit in with holidays and weekends.
Free fish measuring rulers and abalone, rock lobster and scallop measuring gauges are also available at Service Tasmania to make it easier for fishers to measure their catch. With these practical measuring tools freely available, there is no reason for recreational fishers to exceed any size or possession limits.
Two projects are being undertaken to better understand gillnetting practices and impacts. Graball nets and mullet nets, including those used as flounder nets, are types of gillnet.
A Fishwise Community Grant sponsored survey of recreational fishers will gather information on gillnet usage and catch. A linked three year project funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation will assess recent management changes including banning night netting and reducing soak times. This project will also evaluate the impacts of gillnetting on the biodiversity of inshore ecosystems.
The research will increase knowledge about recreational and commercial netting practices prior to the 2014 Scalefish Review.
How Many Gillnets are Used?
• The number of recreational gillnet licences issued has remained constant at around 10 000 during 2007-08, although recreational gillnet usage in 2007-08 was less than half that in 2000-01.
• Gillnetting is one of the less common recreational fishing activities, being used on only 3% of all fishing days.
What’s the Catch by Gillnet?
• During 2007-08, 2% of the total finfish catch was taken by recreational gillnetting.
• The total gillnet catch included trumpeters (mainly bastard trumpeter) (27%), blue warehou (10%), sharks and rays (9%), mullet (9%) and Atlantic salmon (7%).