Presented from Issue 115, April 2015
The boys had been pestering me for quite some time, ‘dad can we go out to Port Sorell and have a fish off the jetty soon’. Admittedly I had been trying to put it off, I didn’t like to tell them but I was a bit out of my comfort zone with the whole jetty/saltwater fishing thing. I could happily take them anywhere in the state and confidently fish for a trout or two, but this was different. But and it was a big but, the time had come to give them what they wanted. Please keep in mind as you read on that I am merely just a fly fisherman who loves his trout with virtually no conventional gear saltwater experience. But, I am a father who wants his two boys to grow up experiencing as many different fishing opportunities as possible. Then they can decide which fishing path they want to wander thru life exploring.
Getting sorted The first job was to find the couple of old tackle boxes that had been buried in the shed somewhere and see if we had anything that would be of use to us. Apart from an old squid jig and a few crappy looking hooks that was a big no. I decided to let them use their Berkley Challenger 2-4kg rods and matching reels that had been used on countless lakes trips and buy them new trout rods as they would get more use in the future. They were only loaded with 6 pound mono line but I said to the boys “Let’s leave it on there and if we lose too many fish on the first outing then I will address that issue”. Next up it was off to see Leroy at BigFin and grab some basic hooks and sinkers etc. (doesn’t it suck that we can’t do that anymore!). The boys loaded up with a range of differing sized terminal tackle, a few squid jigs and some Berkley Gulp minnows and jerk shads in their favourite colours along with a varying range of jig heads and we were good to go. I’m not quite sure how anglers choose their favourite coloured lures/ plastics art times. I certainly wouldn’t have chosen what they did as my best colours! But like I said, I am no expert in this field!
Squeaking Point Jetty
After a quick detour into Port Sorell to grab some bait we were finally sitting on the jetty a couple of hours before high tide ready to do some fishing, and that is where I discovered my first mistake. No knife to cut the frozen squid into bait sized chunks, rookie mistake that Gav! Oh well I would just have to tear it apart with the cutters on the plier jaws. I set both rods up with a sinker on the bottom and a dropper about two feet or so above that to accommodate the single hook. I thought it best to only run single hook rigs first up to eliminate any tangle issues, this was about having fun after all! There was only one thing left to do now, get those baits in the water. And wouldn’t you know it, within a matter of minutes Kai had a very small salmon on the deck beside us. Then it was Jobie’s turn to hook up but to a squid this time, on a single hook of all things. I did the right thing and took the rod off Jobie to lift the squid onto the jetty as I knew it was a good chance of getting off. I only had it a foot out of the water and it did exactly that, leaving some ink behind as it disappeared back out of site. Needless to say I wasn’t the most popular dad in the area right at that moment! A new tactic was in order and we swapped Jobies rod to a pink squid jig.
Very next cast we were watching the jig just about to come out of the water right next to one of the pylons when out from the shadows came another squid and nailed it. Jobie did a great job controlling the rod and when he was ready I told him to steadily lift the squid up towards us as we would be right this time with the jig hooks firmly embedded. Well we were nearly right, but just as he was about to swing it over onto the jetty bugger me it also fell off and disappeared in the same fashion as its mate previously. This time he was really wasn’t happy and asked me ‘’Dad why don’t we have a long handled landing net?’’ It was all I could do to just stand there and agree with him as I really didn’t have a decent answer, mistake number two!
In the meantime Kai was using bait at such a rate that he had berleyed himself up a nice little number of puffer fish that he was happily trying to hook all in plain view only a few feet underneath where he sat. A couple of small flathead and salmon later it was time to call it a night, well almost. We had swapped Jobies rod back to a bait rig and as he was winding it in the rod bent over hard. He was doing his best to control the situation when all of a sudden we had a fairly long fish that I had no idea about what it was putting on an amazing aerial display in front of us. We managed to walk the fish around the jetty and beach it and a local there said ‘that’s a pike mate, and it’s a good size too’.
Jobie was pumped, we snapped off a couple of photos on the IPhone and released the fish to fight another day. On the way home we called into the local fish and chip shop to get the boys some tea and they just happened to have a Sea fish of Tasmania poster on the wall. It turns out our pike was actually a snook, not that Jobie cared either way. All in all a successful first outing and one that I had to admit was a lot of fun!
After spending the main part of January doing 12 hour shifts the Australia Day long weekend arrived and I had a week off. Allison had hired a holiday home and we were off to South Arm for four days. It was somewhere neither of us had been before and I was pumped to get away for a few days. The boys had googled images of the area and noticed a couple of jetties and rocky ledges that looked interesting. You guessed it the fly rods were left behind again and the saltwater tackle loaded up instead.
I did get a bit of a compromise though, if I couldn’t take a fly rod I could at least throw a bike or two on the roof and ride some new roads whilst I was down there. The car was loaded, dog thrown in and we were away, and what a brilliant spot it is for a short get away. If you haven’t been there do yourself a favour and check the area out. We had barely unpacked and the boys were ready to go exploring the local hot spots.
We called into the general store and got some info off one of the locals as to what was happening and where. It was all bad news unfortunately as he told us the fishing had been strangely quiet in the last fortnight or so, bugger!
Anyway our first stop was the main jetty in South Arm itself. It was fairly obvious by the look of the concrete that the squid had been fairly active in recent times but it wasn’t to be for us. But the boys didn’t care, they were armed with a bag of blue bait and pilchards and the local mullet kept them interested for the afternoon. Next day it was back to the local to load up with more bait and then out to Opossum Bay to try out their jetty. It looked very squiddy if that is a word, with some nice weed patches in the water but again the squid jigs proved unsuccessful. Back on with the same single hook bait rigs and straight away the blue bait brought some action. This time we added small salmon and flathead to the list with the mullet.
I didn’t like to admit it but this sort of fishing, laying back on the jetty with my old pointer beside me and the boys having a ball was proving to be quite enjoyable. On the last day with the weather a bit more settled we decided to have a look at a rock ledge for a change of scenery. We swapped rigs to a bigger sinker and bit bigger single hook and baited up with a full pilchard. With a pretty dodgy looking half hitch around the tail to help hold him in place the pilchard was launched into the depths on the end of our 6 pound line. It just didn’t look right and I said to the boys to be prepared to lose some tackle here if we hook something. It was only a matter of minutes and we did hook what turned out to be the best sized salmon of the trip so far. Whilst he wasn’t huge at around a pound or a bit better he still gave the boys a good run for their money.
It was when the second rod bent over that I thought we were going to be in trouble. We were losing line at an alarmingly steady rate and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. Then all of a sudden we started to gain some ground and fill the reel back up a bit, it was then that I caught a glimpse of a skate/ray in the water (like I said I’m no expert). I said to the boys we might lose some gear here but after a few tense minutes we got him in close enough for me to scramble down the rocks and cut the line as close as possible to set him free. You could imagine the two excited boys I had there on the rocks with me after that encounter, it didn’t matter what happened for the rest of the trip now they were stoked.
We fished the rock ledge till dark catching and releasing a few more salmon the same size as the first one all on whole pilchard baits. Even though we swapped one rod and threw every lure and plastic we had into the depths we could only catch them on bait this time. I think I will be heading back there armed with the seven and eight weight fly rods! As with any time away it was all over way to quickly and the next day was spent packing up and driving back home to the north of the state.
Just do it
Whilst I will never be without some brown trout scales running thru my veins I have definitely had my eyes opened to a whole new world of fishing fun to explore with the boys. Sitting on a jetty with your feet hanging over the edge watching the fish below fight for your bait really is plain old good fun. An added bonus is we did it without having to spend money on new saltwater tackle. Just a couple of beat up trout rods and reels that have already done a power of work. Throw in the fact that you could end up with a few nice fillets to put in the pan and it’s a win/win situation really. Now could somebody please take me to the Great Lake!