Fishing around town - Devonport
By Leroy Tirant
The Mersey River is just one location around Devonport where some good fish can be caught and it is the one Leroy Tirant is going to give us a closer look at.
Fishing the Mersey River at Devonport is a year round proposition. Most of the bread and butter species can be caught here nearly year round with seasonal migrations of other fish.
This is by no means an in depth report but it will provide those with little knowledge of the area good starting points to at least get the kids onto some fish.
1. Horsehead Creek boat ramp.
This is the best public launching ramp in the Mersey as it is the only ramp with double lanes and a central pontoon which makes boat launching with passengers a hell of a lot easier. Be aware that this is a shallow launch and at low tide there is only a few feet of water at best, so larger boats beware.
Fishing from this pontoon and other pontoons and jetties at boat ramps during the summer months or when there is high boat traffic is not recommended as you will continually be asked to move your lines as boats launch and retrieve.
Fishing here can often produce small mullet and flathead as it is a shallow area but there is rarely any great size in the fish found here. On rare occasions you can catch bream from here that are moving to spawn up river. I encourage anybody catching spawning fish to return them to the water as quickly as possible as these fish provide the future populations of our estuaries.
Baits I like here are crabs and shellfish such mussels and pippies. I don’t bother with lures here.
2. Hightide Restaurant
This area is only a short stretch up river from Horsehead Creek but already you are in completely different water. This spot is the car park of the Hightide Restaurant but they don’t seem to mind people fishing here as it is a large area, but I would highly recommend taking all your rubbish with you and don’t become a nuisance as they can ask you to leave.
This is a point where deep water abuts and has a concentrated current line that runs along the bank here. It is at times excellent fishing for mullet, flathead, trevally and salmon. Most fish caught are juvenile but plate size fish are there amongst them and seasonally you will catch the adults of these species. Because of the current I like using hardier baits from here such as squid. I cut the squid into long thin strips and bash it a couple of times to soften slightly. I fish a single hook rig with the mainline running through an EZI RIG to a swivel. A sinker is clipped onto EZI RIG. Then I run roughly one metre of trace to a number one bait holder hook so that the squid doesn’t bunch up into a ball.
3. Elimatta Hotel ramp
A triple lane boat ramp is here but with no pontoon and little parking it is a much under utilised ramp. The bank from here to what locals refer to as the lighthouse approximately 250 metres up river is rock lined but falls away to sand and mud. The bottom here is undulating (caused by tide influence) but holds good fishing. The current can be fairly forceful but just use enough weight to hold bottom. This area is easily accessibly as you can walk the bank from here all the way to the mouth. Fishing will produce mullet, trevally, flathead, salmon and during spring to late summer juvenile snapper. Snapper have been caught along and off this shore for the past 2 years and will take cut baits as well as soft plastics.
Massive skate will be caught here also and will always bring you undone. Most anglers fishing here fish from the ‘Lighthouse’ but anywhere along the bank can be good. Squid, pilchards and small whole mackerel make good hardy baits for the larger fish you can expect along here.
4. The fishing platform.
At the mouth of the river on the break wall of the Western shore the council has built a fishing platform. All species can be caught from here as well as barracouta, squid and gummy sharks albeit seasonally. The platform is fairly high off the water but is safe. Retrieving fish from the water is difficult but can be done with care.
5. Eastern Shore breakwall
Anywhere along this break wall can be good fishing as there is broken reef along here. The wall is constructed of boulders, so walking along it should be done with care and if you’re along way out at low tide remember that most of the wall will be covered once the tide is in. This is a fantastic spot to catch salmon, squid, leatherjackets and wrasse as well as the regular species. The water here isn’t as deep as the Western side as the channel runs about 50-60 meters off shore but often as with anywhere in the river the fish will be at your feet and not in the deepest parts. There is a small Bay on the other side of the break wall and sand whiting can be caught here as well flathead. Spinning with a metal sliced lure will attract the pelagics and soft plastics account well for other species.
6. Grassed area
Fairly deep water isn’t far from the break wall on the Eastern shore up river along the grassed bank. This is another area with excellent access. All normal species can be caught here but on occasion better than average flathead and salmon can be found. Burley definitely helps here to bring fish into the edges. Be aware of the ferry that crosses the river from here and avoid fishing from his small jetty.
7. Fishing platform near Mersey Yacht Club
This is one of the most popular land based spots on the river. It is a rare occasion to not see someone fishing from here. Be wary of errant casts as there are boats moored in this area. Perhaps it is the moored boats that attract the fish and give them cover. A good cast from here to the 11 o’clock position will put you in an area that sees good captures of trevally and at times whiting. All other species can be caught here also. Fishing around bridge pylons just up from platform will see many trevally and salmon caught her but be aware as it is a snaggy area. Soft baits and fish baits work well here as do soft plastics.
I’ve concentrated on the shore based aspects of the river because it is not a large area to cover with a boat to find the fish. Many small flathead will be caught in the river but there seems to be patches where larger specimens can be caught but they move all the time and most times you will need a boat to find them. Quite often there are some big schools of salmon and trevally that will school up just above the highway bridge on the Western shore side which can only be accessed by boat.
The most important thing to catching fish in this river is two things, bait and burley.
The fresher the baits the better. For some reason Blue bait is very popular and yes it will catch fish but not as well as fresh cut baits or unsalted fish such as pilchards and mackerel. Squid is also under utilized.
Burley is very important whether you are in a boat or fishing from the bank, it will certainly increase your chances ten fold as you are encouraging fish to feed and bringing them closer to where you are. Tides are also very important as with any other estuary I favour the run in and the first of the run out.