Inshore Fishing the Tasman Peninsula – Pirates Bay and Nubeena

by Matt Byrne
Visitor information
Two popular fishing locations on the historic Tasman Peninsula are Pirates Bay and Nubeena. Pirates Bay and Nubeena are located approximately 1 hour and 1.5 hours drive south of Hobart respectively. These locations are highly popular and are jam packed during the peak holiday periods and this is partly so due to the great diversity of fishing that is on offer.

The Pirates Bay and Nubeena areas are very well serviced with a full range of accommodation options and in the case of Nubeena there are two supermarkets. More specifically on the fishing side of things, there are good launching ramps available at Pirates Bay itself and in the case of Nubeena, the Nubeena jetty, Apex Point (near the White Beach caravan Park) and White Beach itself where there are both concrete ramp and beach launching facilities.

Pirates Bay fishing
Pirates Bay will always be more popular as the hub of gamefishing activity, where into April trailerboats and charter boats are off in search of hard fighting gamefish such as big southern bluefin tuna as they start to make a regular appearance offshore.
Swap the big game rods for some light tackle inside the bay though and you will be surprised at just how good the fishing can be for a variety of species. At this time of year there are good numbers of Australian salmon, mackerel, calamari squid and king flathead to keep some interest.
The Pirates Bay jetty is probably one of the most popular land based fishing locations on the Peninsula but comes into its own as a night time fishing platform. It is here that the highly sought after calamari squid make a big appearance, attracted to the lighting that surrounds the jetty. Standard prawn style squid jigs are popular in red/white and orange/white but importantly use a jig with a slow sink rate that can be worked over the sea grass beds, especially at low tide. If you plan to fish here at night, I would suggest arriving at least one hour earlier so you can take up a spot, it is that popular because it is a productive area.
For those that like the mackerel, try using one of the pre rigged sabiki bait jig rigs which the mackerel do find particularly attractive. Other than that, a small chemically sharpened size 6 – 8 hook with a small piece of fish flesh will do just fine as an alternative method.
If you have access to a boat, the opportunities as usual are opened up significantly. If heading out towards the heads it is always worthwhile trolling a large 30 gram silver slice or two on your way out. There are big Australian salmon to be caught and with good reports of kingfish being caught in the region of late, you may well be a chance to connect with something much larger and much stronger! Fishing with a good quality 6 kg braid is a good investment not only for trolling but it also serves its purpose well as a very good line for bottom fishing.
Barracouta start to make a regular appearance at this time of year so be ready and equip all lines with wire traces. The barracouta near Pirates Bay will mostly be of a larger size and for those that enjoy their eating qualities, there are usually enough to go around. Don’t be fussy with what lure you use here as they will just about eat anything!
Once you get out towards the heads there is some good fishing for king flathead and Arrow squid to be had. Keep it simple and in the way of the flathead all that is required is a paternoster rig with a good sinker to keep you on the bottom, two chemically sharpened size 2/0 – 3/0 hooks and some squid or octopus bait. It is here that your braided line will come into its own as far as being able to detect even the smallest of bites.
Top cover all bases, drift an unweighted squid jig on another rod and you will be in with a better than average chance of catching a feed of quite large arrow squid. In this situation, a bait jig rigged with a pilchard or small garfish is another very deadly way of presenting a bait for a squid.
Out past the Pirates Bay heads, the fishing opportunities are endless but assuming that most anglers will be fishing in smaller vessels, the weather will largely decide what is both safe and practical. If you do strike one of those days where you can safely venture a little further out, catching an albacore or a striped tuna is definitely a reality. Try running some small skirted or feathered lures such as Boone’s or Williamson’s in lime green, purple or blue and white and get ready for an adrenalin rush as your reel heads into overdrive!

Nubeena fishing
With Easter nearing, Nubeena still has plenty to offer on the inshore saltwater fishing scene. As we head into April there are good numbers of Australian salmon, barracouta, flathead, squid, bream and the occasional Atlantic salmon to be caught.
White Beach is renowned for its huge runs of Australian salmon that are very common virtually in the whole of Wedge Bay from November until the end of May. Trolling a silver Halco or Spanyid 25 gram silver slice or a medium bibbed saltwater Rapala out from Wades Corner right along the front of the sandy flats of White Beach is guaranteed to get you into some action on these hard fighting speedsters. Most fish are between 1 – 2 kg, although there are occasionally much bigger specimens there ready to clean you up.
Once you have located a reasonable school of Australian salmon you have the option of continuing to troll or as we prefer to do, have some fun on light tackle. Try casting your slice into the school using your light 2-3kg spin outfit or even a 7 weight fly rod matched with a size 1 -2 white clouser fly – you are guaranteed to have a heap of fun as these fish really do put your gear to the test.
A light wire trace is always a good idea as we have found not surprisingly that big schools of barracouta inevitably turn up where the salmon do as well. Tying the wire trace on will certainly save you a few dollars in lost lures!
If its flathead you’re after then a drift anywhere along white beach sand flats is a good way to pick up a feed of these delicious fish. On most days, a standard paternoster rig with some squid or octopus bait will do the job but as with a lot of inshore areas these days, you are likely to catch a number of under sized fish for every feed of sized fish. What we have found though, is that by using soft plastic lures such as Berkley power minnows or slowly trolling large bibbed minnows that you are likely to catch those larger flathead, making lures a very handy tool to have on hand.
April is a good time to be targeting squid and although most squid in the Nubeena area are often arrow squid (or Gould’s squid if you prefer) they are a welcome catch. Good areas to try are where there is a good amount of sea grass present and good places to start are the White Beach boat ramp as well as the Nubeena jetty. Standard prawn style squid jigs in white/red seem to do well. If fishing at night, the Nubeena Jetty is also home to big numbers of mackerel for anglers that enjoy targeting these fish.
For the keen bream angler there is a healthy population of good sized bream in Cripps Creek that will readily take baits and small lures with good presentation. For the bait angler, a running sinker and crabs are all that is required and for the lure angler it is hard to go past Berkely worms in camo and sandworm colour fished slowly on ultra light jig heads up to but no greater than 1/16th. As is the case now with other bream fisheries, catch and release is a must as these fish are not easily replaced when they may be up to 40 years old. Another good reason to fish for the future!
As with most southern regions these days, fish farms and escaped fish creating fishing opportunities seem to all go hand in hand. Regular escapes of Atlantic salmon occur in the Nubeena area and as such It always pays to keep your ear to the ground – if you get onto this information early these fish can indeed be targeted with lures or flies. Two years ago we had the good fortune of getting onto some 10 -12lb Atlantic salmon which were a welcome catch to say the least.

Endless opportunities
While the line fishing is excellent, so is the cray potting and diving and these activities are highly popular. For something entirely different, this area is the home of the Southern Rock Lobster and there are literally abalone everywhere. Although different to the norm, they are some further fishing options worth considering and exploring if you are planning a trip to this region.
So there you have it, there is some quite diverse fishing to be found in this area and now is the time of year to do it. Best of luck and happy and safe fishing over the easter period.

Matt Byrne

(Click on the map for a larger image)


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