Derwent River trout an early treat

Steve Bax from Hobart's Fishing Connection previews fishing for sea run trout in the Derwent River.

Some of the best trout fishing in Tasmania is found on Hobart's doorstep in the Derwent River. At this time of the year most anglers catch their fish on bait - using the local pretty fish, but there is also dedicated band of fly fishers. The pretty fish are found all over the Derwent, as are the trout.

This run of pretty fish and trout usually starts in August, peaks in September and continues until early December. At this time there are still resident trout available, but the sea-run trout are gone. At the peak of the run, trout are found all over the river.

What sometimes can happen through is a spate of freshwater can sometimes upset things temporarily. The freshwater sits on top of the saltwater and the pretty fish move down stream with the fresh. Consequently the trout also move.

The pretty fish should not be confused with the white bait that also cause great excitement for the angler, and fish alike. Whitebait tend to come in two distinct runs - in July and October. Most bait anglers are very specific about how they fish to these estuary trout. For the bait angler pretty fish are used and are rigged up with a straight eye number 6 hook. This hook is threaded through the top of the head above the eyes. No weight is used.

A long rod or around 2.4 metres is used with a soft tip. A cast is made, often along the shore rather than straight out. This close in fishing is often more productive at night when fish come in close to shore. They are not as spooky at night when they are concentrating on food.

Very slowly the pretty fish is retrieved, as if to imitate an injured fish. Generally all you will feel on the line is a couple odd taps. Immediately this happens you open the bail arm and let the fish run. Sometimes this run can go for two or three minutes. When the fish appears to stop a bit of line is pulled out to see if the fish is still there - if it is the bail arm is flicked over, slack taken up, and the rod lifted to strike. Nine times out of ten you will be "˜on'.

Some anglers use what is known locally as a "˜Bridgewater drag"to rig up - this consists of a couple of linked treble hooks, while others use some small gang hooked. "˜Bridgewater Drags"are available locally in Hobart.

Other fish that are also encountered as the water warms are Mullet, Australian Salmon and the ubiquitous Cod. Also encountered this year are a run of small Blue Grenadier 200 mm to 300 mm long. These seem to appear every 4 to 5 years, and as theses are normally found in deep offshore water between 200 m and 700 m deep. These small fish are juveniles, probably around one year old and are quite common in bays and estuaries around southern Tasmania.

The main breeding ground for Blue Grenadier is centred off Cape Sorell on the West coast of Tasmania. Blue Grenadier grow to just over 1 metre in length and are fished for commercially around southern Australia.

Tides; generally incoming tides are better, but don't seem to make a lot of difference. A full moon is not favoured and night time is certainly best for the above technique.

The most productive day time fishing is with either lures or flies. Lures to try are Wonder Wobblers (Greenfin, Black/Gold, Brown Trout), Tassie Devil (numbers 5, 6, 54) and a Tillins Fintastic. Trolling is another technique that can be rewarding. It pays to run several different lures until the right one is found.

Flies to try are dark wet flies up to 50 mm long. Two local favourites are the Grey Ghost and Highland Special. Why it is called a Highland Special I don't know?

Both are available at Fishing Connection and other Hobart stores.

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