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.