Plan a Game Fishing Charter Now
There is some amazing game fishing, right on Tasmania's doorstep. The amount of albacore, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, striped tuna and striped marlin is the envy of most areas of the mainland.Many Tasmanian anglers head out off the east coast to seek some of the brilliant fishing available, but often come up short in results when compared to their expectations.
Many others would love to try gamefishing but either can't afford the tackle or the large personal investment in large blue water boats. The answer to these problems lies in every major coastal port on the eastern coast of Tasmania. We have a wonderful fleet of professional operators who can unlock the secrets, make the most amount of your precious time, and get you on the water without spending huge amounts of money on specialised tackle and big budget boats.
The coastal and open water or blue water game fishing is not a case of drive around in open blue water waiting for the fish to jump all over you. It is a myriad of conditions, water temperatures, reef structures and local experience and knowledge. It is for this reason that many of the best and keenest game anglers in Tasmania and interstate use the experience of local Tasmanian charter operators to get them to the fish.
Tasmanian charter boat operators are without doubt as professional and experienced as any other group of skippers anywhere else. They know their waters intimately, know the fish like their mothers, and can handle boats in any conditions for the best comfort of clients and fish alike.
So why would you hop aboard a charter boat in preference to heading out in your own boat? Just why anglers engage charter boats is quite varied, and I will explain some of the major points in this article.
Who goes game fishing on charter boats?
The anglers that seek out gamefishing are those who are predominately looking for big fish that fight hard. Gamefishing is a technical sport with just as many subtleties as other branches of sport fishing; however the underlying element to it all is that the fish you hook pull hard - really hard. It is a contest between man and fish on one to one terms. There is also something wonderful about being out on the open ocean in a comfortable boat operated by a skilled skipper.
Many people choose to go game fishing on charter boats instead of their own boats due to the relatively short peak season, the amount of money that needs to be invested in a suitable blue water boat, and also the time factor - in this day and age of 45 hour weeks for many people there just isn't the time to spend trying to work it out for yourself.
From a personal viewpoint as a fishing guide myself, I simply don't have the time to spend working it out for myself when it comes to gamefishing. I would rather jump onto a charter boat, sit back and relax while some one else worries about where the fish are (or aren't!). Even when Nicole and I fish the east coast for bream and so on we usually pick up a guide or charter operator so we don't have to worry about boats, fish, food or anything else. We just fish - oh bliss oh joy!
When to go fishing with a charter operator
The real answer to this to this lies in the type of fishing you are after. If you are seeking some great reef fishing then any time from November onwards will suit. If the pelagic game species such as the tuna family and marlin are more your scene, then January and February and on into the months of May and June will be better suited. Predominantly the game species arrive on the warm water current that comes down the eastern sea board of Australia, from Bermagui and down on into Tasmania. As a result the "beginning" of the game season can vary, but over the past few years the albacore have shown up in reasonable numbers by Christmas, give or take a week or two!
During January, February and March you can expect to find plentiful numbers of albacore and striped tuna as well as good numbers of yellowfin tuna. In good years there are quite a few striped marlin about, in poorer years not so many. By the end of March and on into April the bigger fish in the tuna family tend to make their presence felt, such as the southern bluefin tuna. These fish like the colder sea temperatures, even as low as 13 degrees. The world record for southern bluefin tuna was caught of Eaglehawk Neck by Jim Allen a number of years ago during June, so this will give some sort of indication of timing. Conversely I have been on charters in mid March where we have caught over 70 tuna in a day, but not many of them over 10kg. It's horses for courses, lots of moderate or smaller fish, with the chance of thumping yellowfin and striped marlin, verses small numbers of big southern bluefin.
Where do they operate out of, and where do they fish?
Most of Tasmania's charter operators are based on the east coast between St Helens and Eaglehawk Neck, with some operating out of Hobart. Some are flexible enough to base themselves where the action is located at any particular time of the season and depending upon which species is being sought.
The main location for reliable fishing is where the warm water current is located. In some years this will be right out on the continental shelf, in other years it will be less than a kilometre off the shore. This factor and the location of the relevant schools of bait fish influences where they will fish. This knowledge is built up with plenty of time on the water, local knowledge, advanced computer and satellite equipment and finely honed observation skills.
Most of the operators are based within easy striking distance of the fish, although the continental shelf is a fair way offshore (up to 20kms), often the charter boats will fish all the way out, and all the way back in again. Often it isn't necessary to go all the way out to the shelf, as was the case a couple of years ago, when honking big yellowfin were less than two kilometres off the coast!
What makes a good charter operator?
This is a good question, and I am glad you asked! Good charter operators have a huge amount of knowledge of the sea, the fish, the latest technology, plenty of skill in finding fish and matching the technique to suit the prevailing conditions and are also good company. Good charter operators have well skilled deck hands; in fact a great deckie can make or break the trip. The deckie does all the hard work in many ways, setting rods, baiting rigs, gaffing fish, cleaning the catch, making morning tea, comforting those with a case of mal de mere (sea sickness) and generally making everything work.
However the charter operator can't deliver what he doesn't know about your expectations, so be up front with what you want to get out of the trip. If you want heaps of smaller fish rather than the odd bigger fish you need to tell him, as they may be found in different areas. Wanting to catch a marlin will require a different game plan to catching albacore and so on. It isn't much good getting back to the marina disappointed that you didn't see species X when you didn't tell the skipper what you wanted.
The same goes for groups of anglers. If you just want a great day and to catch anything that comes along then tell the skipper. If you are all serious and hardcore fly fishers who want a world record mako on fly tackle, then again, he needs to know that before you head out.
Communication is the key, good operators will ask you what you want to do, of course, but if there is anything specific in mind, don't wait for ESP, let him know up front.
The same goes for learning about gamefishing. Most skippers are only too happy to tell you why they are doing what they are doing. There is a lot of decision making going on inside their heads, and if you don't ask, they might not think you are interested.
The other major factor is the equipment. All good charter operators have their boats in commercial survey and comply with all facets of the law. They will be members of the professional organisation, SCBOOT, and will be accredited and licensed to provide the services to the public. They will provide all the game fishing equipment such as reels, rods and lures (often boats will have tens of thousands of dollars of tackle onboard) for your use.
Other issues such as meals, drinks and snacks may vary between boats and skippers, so ask before the day, there is nothing worse than being hungry and thirsty when out fishing.
How to I find a charter operator?
The easiest way is to look for their advertisements in magazines like this one. The phone book is another avenue as is the internet. The other great way to find a charter operator that will suit your needs is to simply ask around. There are heaps of people who go gamefishing every year - word of mouth is a fantastic way to find out other people's experience. Good tackle stores are a great place to start.
If you still aren't sure which one, just get on the phone and talk to them all, you will soon sort out who will offer what you are after.
The charter boat industry in Tasmania has probably never been as vibrant and professional as it is now. The fishing seems to be getting better every year, and the charter operators are right at the cutting edge of this ever expanding fishing experience. If you want to learn about gamefishing, if you don't have the time to spend ages sorting it out, or you can't afford the big dollars for a blue water boat of your own, then hiring a charter operator is the way to go - easy, cost effective and very enjoyable, just as fishing was intended.