Tasman Peninsula

Kayaker, Craig Vertigan takes us to his favourite spot. It is a great place to catch fish all year around.

Tassie has many great spots to take your kayak. One of my favourite spots is the Tasman Peninsula. Hundreds of kilometres of shoreline start at Dunalley Bay and finish opposite at Blackmans Bay. Norfolk and Frederick Henry are the most friendly for kayakers offering protection in many small bays and coves.

The whole Tasman Peninsula area is a great spot for paddling and with beautiful scenery, you can always manage to find a sheltered bay somewhere and the fishing is great. There are many options for kayak fishing on the Tasman Peninsula. The peninsula waters hold all your favourites such as flathead, salmon, couta, flounder, leather jacket, wrasse, whiting, trumpeter, trevally, cod, mackerel and reportedly yellowtail kingfish too.
For some bread and butter flathead fishing the Norfolk Bay side is a great place to start. The shallow bays from the Coal Mines all the way around to Eaglehawk Bay are full of good sized flatties, and schools of salmon and barracouta too. The shallow areas from 1.5 to 3 metres are also ideal for fly fishing for flathead and salmon. The rocky drop offs and weed beds are prime spots to find hard fighting wrasse as well leatherjackets and pike. After you've caught a feed, then it's time to enjoy the paddle. Beautiful clear waters and shallow sandy bays make for some great kayaking. Eagle rays frequent the shallow bays and can be stealthily sneaked up upon while paddling your kayak, to get a close up look at these graceful yet powerful creatures. And then there's the sunset on the sandstone cliffs, the abundant bird life and the schools of baby flathead and flounder in the shallows are a great sight.
If the wind is blowing the wrong way, then I take a trip around to Lime Bay or Sloping Main beach on Frederick Henry Bay or Parsons Bay at Nubeena. There are atlantic salmon farmed in Parsons Bay and the odd escapee means that there's always the opportunity to pick up one of these fine fighting table fish while trolling a lure about.
Always be on the lookout for flocks of feeding birds or any surface activity such as schools of fleeing baitfish. That's an indication that there's schools of feeding fish such as salmon or couta and you could be in for some thick and furious action. The presence of a kayak doesn't seem to deter the appetite of feeding salmon the same way a motorboat can. They'll continue on feeding even while you drift over the top of them. The weed beds around the salmon farms are also prime real estate for squid. These delicious denizens of the dark can be found hiding amongst the weeds and a slowly worked squid jigs will be their undoing.
Swing round the coast a bit further and you find yourself at popular White Beach.  A great spot for a swim as well as a paddle and a fish. If the weather's a bit windy head on up the creek at the end of the beach. There's the odd salmon and bream in the creek to provide some catch and release sport.
The next spot to try is around at Port Arthur. You can put in around Carnarvon Bay, just south of Port Arthur. The bay has all your usual species found around most bays on the peninsula. Depending on the direction of the wind it may be your best choice to find some sheltered waters.
One of my favourite spots is Fortescue Bay. It's an awesome spot for a paddle, with big rocky cliffs, a beautiful white beach, and a boat wreck to check out. The last time I paddled there I picked up some monster sized squid and paddled with a pod of dolphins who were probably enjoying a good meal of squid themselves.  I found a good concentration of squid in the deep weed beds behind where the sets of breakers were forming behind the beach. The sun was high and bright making polaroiding easy. Each time I dropped a jig head down to the tips of the weeds an ambush party of half a dozen squid would come and inspect the jig. I tried some gentle jigs to get them to take, but they'd just follow it up and down. Some more aggressive jigging and dropping would get them more excited until finally one of them would take it. It was great to observe their behaviour to the different retrieves.
By this stage the surf was up fairly high, so a well-timed attack was called for to ride the waves in for a surf landing. I then spent an hour or so playing with some mini bream and trevally on mini soft plastics in the lagoon behind the beach. These fish were around the twenty centimetre mark, so I used my smallest jig heads with 2 inch wrigglers and minnows.
The next spot I need to try on the peninsula is Pirates Bay. I was talking to a tuna fisherman recently who said he came across a 4m tinnie pulling in tuna 200m off the blowhole. So if you can be there at the right time with the right gear tuna from a kayak is a real option down there. I reckon that would have to be the pinnacle of saltwater kayak fishing in Tasmania.
As you can see there's plenty on offer down on the Tasman Peninsula and it's only an hour and a half from Hobart.

Craig Vertigan

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