Australian Salmon On Fly - Location Cremorne
Mark Simpson with a nice Australian salmon taken from the Cremorne Channel. This is an easily accessed southern Tasmanian water that can be very productive. Mark explains his methods.
Targeting Australian salmon on fly is the perfect fall back for the avid fly angler with the blues from the trout season ending. The salmon I'm talking about here are the larger (black-back) variety found in most coastal estuaries of Tasmania. The smaller Australian salmon are commonly called "cockies'.
Black back salmon are an extremely fast and powerful fish for their size. They can grow to about ten pounds, and so on light fly tackle, Black back salmon are a strong fishing sport fish. A fish in the 2kg range can spool half a reel of fly line and backing with several searing runs.
The last couple of years has seen this fish return in large numbers, with excellent runs in southern estuaries common place. The best times to target these fish is after some unsettled weather from the east or south-east. You might have heard the old saying "east is least" but don't be fooled by old fisherman's tales because it is certainly not the case here.
In southern Tasmania, I have found the best fishing conditions for these fish are when the poorest weather days from the east occur. This usually occurs within the period from March through to July although other times of the year can provide fruitful. During the rough weather the schools of baitfish, which salmon chase, are driven into the calm water found in estuaries and channels.
Tidal movement is also a major factor as an outgoing tide drags the small baitfish from the safety of the channels or estuary out into open water where the salmon are waiting in ambush.
My favorite place to catch black back salmon is Cremorne. Fish in the region are up to 2kg, but the fish grow much larger so be prepared. Cremorne is located twenty five minutes drive South-East from Hobart (towards South Arm). It is a small coastal town flanked on the southern side by Pipe Clay Lagoon. The lagoon, one of the largest in southern Tasmania, spills out through a narrow channel into Frederick Henry Bay.
The sand pit adjacent to the channel is a good spot to launch the boat and park the car for a days fishing. I prefer to use a boat when fishing for salmon in this area because it is the best mode for locating and then chasing the schools of salmon. However, I have experienced a lure in the front of my boat when an extremely close shore-based angler mistook my boat for a salmon. The channel is very narrow at Cremorne, so be mindful of other anglers.
Tricks of Cremorne Channel
If you have trouble locating the schools in the channel or around the seaward marker buoys, you can use a fairly unorthodox technique by trolling your fly behind the boat until you get a hook-up. To do this you will need to let your fly line out to its total length or where it joins the backing. However, this technique is purely used to locate the fish. When fishing from a boat, care needs to be taken as the noise of the motor can put the fish down. The trick here is to idle over the school and then cut the motor. If there is heavy current, set your anchor to prevent drifting. If not, drift though or past the school.
If fishing from a drifting boat, cast your fly across the current, and allow it to sink to about one meter. From my experience I have found at least one meter below the surface in water with strong current. Leave your fly in the current for as long as possible, and if this does not provide a savage take, retrieve your line slowly and recast.
If fishing from an anchored boat cast your fly up into the current at a forty-five degree angle to the boat's bow. Let your fly line get level with the stern of the boat, and then let it hang for a minute before retrieving with some slow pulls. Be ready, because this is when you will get the most takes.
My favorite spot to fish from the boat is in line with the point and the sand pit. There are two deep holes in this area that are clearly visible as you drift or motor over the top of them. The holes tend to attract the small baitfish and other treats the salmon like to eat.
If you are a shore based angler, you will need to be skilled at casting as the salmon tend to hang around the middle of the channel. You have to be able to layout nearly a full fly line so that the fly will sink to the required depth. Don't be deterred though, as I have caught salmon in quite close and it gives you good casting practice. The cast needs to be across the current at a forty-five degree angle like discussed in the previous paragraph.
Another problem you may encounter at the channel is the crowd. It becomes a popular spot once the word gets out that the salmon are running. However, if you have a good set of chest waders, you can wade towards the mouth to get an un-crowded fishing location that is still close to the channel.
To fish for salmon, you will need a nine or ten foot fly rod, six to eight weight, with a sinking line, or a sink tip on your floating line. I prefer a D17 or an intermediate sinking line because they eliminate the hinging effect when trying to cast a sink tip with a weighted fly.
If you use your freshwater fly fishing equipment as I do, remember to wash it thoroughly in fresh water. Otherwise, the saltwater will cause serious corrosion. If you are planning on tying your own flies, keep them simple because the salmon are not fussy and takes are very savage. After a couple of good fish you will find there is little left on your fly.
On a recent trip to Cremorne, a mate turned up at home and found he had no flies. We decided to quickly tie some flies, and half an hour later we were on the water fishing. To my friends" amazement, after unhooking his first fish, it was found the araldite used to create the head of the fly was still tacky. He said: "Salmon really aren't fussy". Tying the Philmonator to catch salmon, I suggest tying the following fly, named after my fishing partner Phil. If you are not a fly- tier, most fishing tackle stores will have a good selection of saltwater flies.