West coast - Home of big fish and spectacular scenery

by Barry Wicks and Jaynee Coleman

For the low budget fishing and sight seeing holiday the Far North West Coast, and West Coast of Tasmania is well worth considering. Whereas large fish are dreamt of in many areas - the West Coast often rewards anglers with fish of leviathan size - both in fresh and salt water.

The Pieman and Arthur Rivers both regularly produce large fish - as does Lake Burbury. With low cost trips now a reality across the Bass Strait, many mainland anglers will probably make the trip on the "˜Spirit'.

It is 3 hours drive from Devonport to the beginning of the Arthur River - Pieman protected area, via Burnie, Smithton and Marrawah. One of the most popular bases for camping and fishing is the Arthur River camping grounds, set in hundreds of acres of natural bush it is 15 kilometres from the Marrawah/Arthur River T junction. The amenities are basic; cold showers, BBQ areas, bush toilets and plenty of water. However, there is plenty of space for tents and caravans to spread out. If you want creature comforts, take your own. Most importantly - the fishing can be sensational, as can other activities. The coastline offers great surfing, surf fishing and beach walking, photography, four wheel driving, trail bike riding, spot lighting for flounder and snorkelling for crayfish and abalone. Arthur River is a river that can leave anglers with both it's beauty and it's fishing. The annual "˜Cocky and Blackback Salmon"(Bay Trout) run usually starts in November and continues until April. From early morning until sundown the fishing can be "˜full on'.

Casting lures at the river mouth and along the sandy Northern river bank can be very rewarding using chrome wobblers or green and gold spinners. Bait fishing with pilchards, blue bait, and squid is also popular and fruitful. The most productive method though is trolling from a small dingy using chrome wobblers, Tassie Devils, cobras and a popular lure - clear or green plastic tube with a treble hook attached. These fish will run up the river several kilometres - depending on the amount of fresh water coming down. This spread of fish leaves plenty of room for everyone. There is also plenty for the trout fishing enthusiast. Trolling close to the reeds and creek mouths is a "˜sure"way to hook the big one - some of which run to over 7 kilograms. Methods that seem to get the best results are lead lining, paravanes, 6" Nilsmasters, Celtas, Rebels, Rapalas and Cobras. Deep diving lures are necessary to get down to some of the deeper areas, as some holes are up to 20 metres deep. There are some big fish in "˜them there"holes. Down riggers should also do well, although they are not often used. Then of course there is the rising trout that take up residence around some of the logs and snags. This is a mecca for the accurate lure and fly caster. Many anglers overnight up the river fishing for Blackfish, trout and the abundant eel. The best baits are bush worms and grubs. One of the best places for Blackfish is the Frankland River, 13 ½ klm upstream from the Arthur River township by dingy. A good nights sport is assured. An adjunct to the fishing is sightseeing. The MV George Robinson departs on a daily 27 klm round trip. Taking 5 hours, it departs at 10 am and returns 3 pm daily. It is said that the West Coast has the world's purest air and it is no wonder that wildlife abounds. Along with the magical rainforest you are likely to see Sea Eagles, Wedge Tail Eagles, Azure winged Kingfishers, Black and White Cockatoos, Platypus and more. Just seeing some of these make the trip worthwhile. South of Arthur River is Couta Rocks, a Cray fishing port, and from there you can return to the Western Explorer Highway via Savage River and take in Zeehan and Strahan. A shuttle bus operates from Stanley - Smithton - Arthur River (return). Dingy and boat hire and information are available from Arthur River Canoe and Boat Hire, phone 03 64571312, fax 03 64571111. Arthur River Rangers station 03 64571225. This is one of the last frontiers - there are big fish, magnificent scenery and friendly, helpful locals. Put it on your list.

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