Tasmanian's South West Australia's undiscovered frontier
Rod Green of South West Adventure Tours the Strahan area on the West Coast.
Great fishing, variety and spectacular scenery is what awaits any fisherman and their families venturing into the West coast.
Strahan, the perfect base for the area, is located on the Macquarie Harbour, Australia's second largest behind Port Philip Bay covering an area of approximately 260 square kilometres. The region is a major tourist destination as well as becoming a popular fishing locality. The entire area a fisherman's haven, having the waters of the Harbour to fish along with the coastline and a number of readily accessible rivers within ten minutes of Strahan.
Macquarie Harbour is accessible to most types of angler, the most practical is by boat, this allows easy movement throughout the harbour and some of its hot spots. The Harbour itself is home to many large Rainbow Trout and Atlantic Salmon, these are a combination of escapees from the local fish farms as well as a healthy local population, these are generally caught along the many headlands jutting out into the Harbour. Fish up to 18 pounds have been caught within sight of the Strahan township. Methods for fishing include bait, spin and fly fishing. On the still warmer evenings fly fishing is great when casting from the boat toward the shore, on one recent evening I was fortunate to watch as trout rose throughout a number of bays and could choose which one of a number of rises to cast to.
Sea-run trout are also common from the beach at the heads and produce some excellent results in October and November. During the warmer summer months, the experiences an influx of green water as the Harbour levels drop, this influx generally attracts schools of Australian salmon which can be caught on the edges of this green water and the usual brown water of the Harbour, the favoured options here are trolling (the most rewarding), spin fishing or bait fishing. A favoured spot for the Australian salmon is just inside the heads at Hells Gates. From this position you can cast out to the channel that leads out to a long sandbar, this area is a great spot for there is the camp ground right near the beach.
Flounder have been caught in large numbers in recent times by spearing along the sandy shores and have been of a reasonable size. The most popular areas for these have been around the heads down towards Swan Basin and around Neck Island. The Harbour at Strahan offers visitors with their own boats a number of launching sites that will cater for all sized trail able boats. Within Strahan there are two concrete launching ramps, one at Mil Bay and the other at Letts Bay. Macquarie Heads also offers two gravel ramps with quick access to the fishing spots. The variety of species caught within the Harbour include: Atlantic Salmon, Trout, Australian Salmon, Flathead, Flounder, Juvenile Trumpeter, Trevally, Couta, Morwong, Cod, Mullet.
For those who prefer river fishing, the area provides plenty of options that can produce great rewards. The best and most popular being the Henty River, here you can launch at the bridge on the Zeehan road and troll either upstream or downstream. If you have a four wheel drive you can get to an area known as Green Banks down towards the mouth. Here you can launch a small boat or shore fish. During October and November where the sea-run trout chase the whitebait upstream the trout form an incredible sight by launching themselves half up the banks - chasing the whitebait. I usually head out before daybreak so as to be on the river just as the sun peeks over the horizon. Once the sun gets too high the fish are easily spooked and the only likely spots are the shadows at the bases of the hills. The small white bait flies that are purchased from stores such as Youngs in Burnie are excellent here early in the whitebait season but a few changes will be required later in the season as the trout become a little fussy.
Those who prefer to troll can do so literally from the mouth of the river to well upstream of the bridge. Another river in the area, as small as it is, is the Tully River. This river is mere conducive to spin fishing, due to its narrow and very snaggy nature. The fish are often smaller than those from the Henty River, but none the less are in good numbers and condition.
The Little Henty River is another of the West Coast Rivers that will produce fine fish but it is difficult to access unless equipped with a good four wheel drive. The most picturesque of the rivers is definitely the Gordon River. Of late, there have been good catches of large trout up to 15 pounds caught over the last hew weeks. The Gordon River is a World Heritage Area so any one fishing here must comply with all Parks and Wildlife regulations.
Ocean Beach offers some great beach fishing that is comparable to anywhere (when the rugged seas permit). Ocean Beach is Tasmania's longest being 34 kilometres of unbroken beach. The main fishing from here is Australian Salmon, Sharks and Skate. One excellent spot here is at the mouth of the Henty River. Anyone wishing to drive along Ocean Beach to access its fishing spots should be very wary of the quick sand, common throughout this area. It is suggested to obtain a little advice from the locals before the trip.
Outside the Heads
If you have the right boat and good weather it can be worth your while to venture just beyond the heads to Cape Sorell or Pilot Bay where fishing can be excellent. In this area trolling or bait fishing with light gear can yield good results for a number of species. The main fish caught immediately outside the heads are: Trevally, Couta and Striped Trumpeter. The most prized catch though is certainly the local crayfish (South Rock Lobster).
Not only has Strahan got its variety of fishing on offer but makes for an excellent family holiday destination. Tours on offer include the river cruises to the Gordon River, Jet Boat rides up the King River, Trail Rides, Sea Plane tours to a variety of areas, helicopter joy flights and Four Wheel Drive and Fishing Tours. The town of Strahan boasts a multitude of accommodation catering for everyone.
For those of you wishing to utilise the fishing charters, South West Adventure Tours can cater for all your needs including helping with accommodation bookings. The local YHA has A frame cabins at excellent value for money where anglers can stay in privacy and comfort. For further information, call South West Adventure Tours on (03) 64 717157 or (03) 64 717462 AH Fax/Phone.