Stanley - where the Warehou aren't mentioned and the Trevally are tempting
North - west coast angling identity Brian Cadle tells how to catch the elusive snotty trevally, trevally or warehou (depending where you are from)
From early December trevally mania hits the historic, laid back town of Stanley on Tasmania's North-west coast. When the run is well and truly underway, hundreds of anglers swell the population of the small town. In days long gone the old time fly fishers that used to fish the Shannon Rise waited to call "The rise is on'. Similarly the saltwater anglers on the north-west coast, and many from further a field await the call "The trevally are on'.
Local businesses also eagerly await the call, as the influx transforms the local economy, and everyone benefits.
Although these fish are known as trevally they are in fact warehou, and shown as this in Victoria and N.S.W. But, to the locals they are trevally, and that's that. Call them anything else and you risk a questionable sideways glance. You may get by with the rather uncomplimentary title of 'snotties'.
Stanley is situated around 130 km from Devonport and the scenery is dominated by it's guardian "The Nut'. This unique land form towers impressively over the town, and the wharf area.
There are several wharves, but there is only one for the old timers. Most of the trevally are taken from the one bordering the deep water adjacent to the breakwater. The deep reefs alongside this wharf are home to the tough hard fighting quarry.
In the past vehicle access was permitted onto the wharf proper, but this is no longer the case. Ample parking is usually available near the fish processing factory. This leaves a short stroll to your favourite fishing position.
The best fishing positions are limited, with areas towards the end of the wharf being favoured. The keenest anglers take up position a couple of hours before dawn. This leaves ample time to anticipate what the day may unfold, and this time can also be spent profitably fishing for squid or cod.
The trevally often puts in an appearance in December, but the main runs occur from January, with peaks in late March and April. In good years a few stragglers can still be encountered in June.
If you like peace and solitude as companions when fishing, Stanley wharf is not for you. This is blood and guts fishing, shoulder to shoulder with multitude of other anglers. There is little room for crafty manoeuvres once a fish is hooked. On instinct most fish make for the barnacle encrusted piles, or for the line of the angler next door. Some horrific tangles occur. Good will, a good temperament and a lot of patience is necessary.
On a good day huge schools of trevally sweep around the end of the wharf and the fun begins. As if synchronised, all the rods bend, and buckle in turn. Quite often the fish then decide to stop, turn around and repeat the performance. All hands are busy.
Often the bite is hard to detect, they suck in the bait, a long and sensitive rod is preferred.
A sensitive tip lets you see when a fish is nearby. The reel must be smooth running and ideally have a rapid retrieve rate.
Lines should be in the 6 to 9 kg category, most opt for the heavy end, while the adventurous go for the bottom end. Some of the more successful anglers use fluorescent green, red or yellow line. The colour, they claim, helps detect sensitive bites especially in a strong current or windy conditions.
Hook preferences vary greatly, but something like the size 2 Eagle claw, suicide is fine. Others prefer a long shank hook. A simple running rig with the hook suspended 30cm below the sinker is fine. Use a swivel for the stopper.
Everyone has their favourite, with rabbit, chicken and fish, such as mackerel being offered. Years ago it had to be rabbit, but now it seems to have changed. Trevally will attack almost anything when they are "on the go"but, in my mind, there is nothing better than chicken fillets.
It is expensive but there is a bonus. If the trevally aren't biting you can always go home with chicken for tea. I leave a supply in the esky in the car, if I run out it is just a short stroll to get some more.
For some reason, best known to the fish themselves, little success is met with in easterly weather. South westerly conditions can be testy. It is usually bitterly cold, especially predawn as it sweeps across the bay to meet you head on. There is no shelter.
The fish, however find it acceptable. A howling northerly can see huge waves crashing of spray all over the gathered anglers. Fishing can be virtually impossible. A westerly is fine as the "˜Nut"offers some protection, and a north westerly is also okay.
So the trevally aren't on?
Well all is not lost. The wharves are also the haunt for many other species. These include mullet, garfish, Australian salmon, flathead, cod, shark, barracouta, squid, luderick, leatherjacket, the odd snapper and an occasional silver trevalla. The crystal water gives a great stadium to watch the fish swim around under the wharf. Some of these fish require different tackle and techniques, but that is another story.
If the fish aren't firing, take a look at the town, Stanley is alive with history, charm and character. If this isn't your cup of tea, why not take the chair lift to the top of "The Nut'.