Arthur River Salmon make the dive worthwhile
by Vance Murphy
While the far NW tip of Tasmania can't be referred to as the sunshine coast, it does have some very good fishing. The mainly revolves around the annual run of Australian salmon. These fish usually start to appear in November and stay through till the first major floods in the rivers push them out. This usually occurs from March to May.
The Arthur River is in the centre of this activity, and with it's camping grounds and boat ramp it is an ideal base from which to fish this area. Salmon move into the estuary of the Arthur river and provide anglers with a variety of fishing opportunities. The beach on the northern side of the river allows shore base anglers to fish in safety. Vehicles can gain access to the beach by turning off just before crossing the bridge. The sand is usually hard and easy to drive on. While surf and fishing with bait and popping bugs is the most popular for of fishing, good catches are also taken on spinning gear and fly fishing is starting to become popular also. A good boat ramp exists on the southern side of the river (take the turn left over the bridge). The estuary is safe for small boats, but care should be taken near the bar, a number of boats have come to grief here. Trolling with metal slices, cobra wobblers and flies are all successful. When the salmon are on the go, they will take almost anything. At times the schools of fish can be hard to find, moving from just inside the bar to several km's up stream. A good sounder can be invaluable in locating the salmon in the dark water.
The Arthur river is negotiable some 18 km's up stream from the mouth and is one of the most scenic and accessible rivers on the west coast. A regular cruise service operates daily. The trip is well worth it, just to see the sea and wedge tail eagles on the way. Trolling for trout in the upper reaches of the river is gaining popularity with catches of trout u to 5 kg's being common, especially during the white bait runs.
While fishing the river is popular, a number of people love to fish the beaches and rocky headlands for the larger salmon. These can run up to 6 kg's and at this size they don't seem to school. Sandy Cape, Sandy Cape Beach, Arthur's beach, Browns hole, Netley bay and Sinking rock are all popular spots for the surf, proving there is not too much sea running (easterly weather is better). Other species that are caught include gummy shark, skates, sweep and Yellowtail Kingfish (of sinking rock).
The area south of the Arthur river is managed by the parks and wildlife service as a recreation area and is popular with 4wd and motor bike enthusiasts. Many areas have been cleared and bbq's provided for campers, and a caravan park is available in the Arthur river township itself. Self contained units are available for hire as are dinghy's and canoes. Fire restrictions often are in place in this area so a gas cooker is essential. It does not matter whether you are a camper or a comfort person you can enjoy your stay and at the same time enjoy your fishing.