Fishing Bruny Island Part 1 Trout and Bream fishingIntroduction
Bruny Island is an island off the South East Coast of Tasmania. It is situated around 40 minutes South of Hobart and is accessed from Kettering via the Mirambeena vehicle ferry. Bruny Island features the most southern hotel in Australia and was also where the first apples in Australia were planted. It has very little habitation with the bulk of the island being forestry areas or national parks and farms. The coast line is dotted with shacks and there are a few small residential areas. It has beautiful beaches and exceptional surfing at Cloudy Bay.
In the first part of the fishing Bruny island series I am going to discuss the freshwater and bream fishing options. Freshwater I hear you ask, there wouldn't be any freshwater fishing on Bruny Island. Well there is quite reasonable trout fishing available in Big Lagoon which is on North Bruny situated near Cape Queen Elizabeth. This lagoon is around 20-25 minutes walk from the parking area along a wide walking track. There are also a few small creeks on the island that can offer excellent bream fishing at times.
Trout fishing at Big Lagoon
Although it is only a small lagoon, it has a healthy population of brown trout and is a well respected fishery. It is annually stocked with 500 brown trout fingerlings and due to this I release all of the browns I catch in here so there is always some there for another day. It is heavily weeded over most of its area and has a large population of golden galaxias which seem to be a good food source over the cooler months. The browns can often be seen in here herding the golden galaxias against the Eastern shoreline which generally offers the most productive fishing.
Many local trout anglers avoid this small lagoon due to its heavy weed growth which can make fishing difficult and frustrating unless tactics are changed to avoid your lure getting embedded in the weed. The weed beds are with out a doubt the best fish holding structure in the lagoon. This is due to the shelter they provide from the local sea eagle population as well as the smorgasbord of food items the weed beds provide for the trout such as the galaxias, nymphs as well as mud eyes, tadpoles in spring and frogs all year round.
With this offer of food and protection, it makes sense for the angler to target these areas as all of the trouts needs are met and as such, trout will be cruising alongside of or in close proximity to these weed beds. While the weed can and will foul the hooks on your lures, this can be minimised to the point where maybe one in ten casts return with weed on the hook.
Weed avoidance tips
I think that the best options for lure fishing the weed beds in this lagoon fall in to three basic types. The first type is a small shallow diving floating minnow. One that has performed for me particularly well in this water way have been small Rebel Frogs. These lures being floating minnows can be paused during the retrieve if the lure touches weed which quite often will result in the lure floating above the weed allowing the retrieve to be recommenced without the lure's hooks getting fouled by weed. Small floating Rapalas have also performed well for me in the lagoon particularly in the 5cm size range.
The second type of lure that performs well in these shallow heavily weeded areas is the small spoons such as the Toby style or small gold wonder wobblers and 4gm Lofty's Cobras. All of these lures in this category should have the treble removed and a single size 4 chemically sharpened single fitted. This greatly reduces the occurrence of weed fouling the hooks but doesn't seem to affect the hook up or fish landed rate even on jumping fish.
The third basic type of lures that are performers and the ones that I most commonly use are small 2 or 3 inch single tail grub style soft plastics. Rigged on a 1/16 oz jig head they are incredible fish takers. The single tail grub is the best soft plastic for this style of fishing due to the fact that constant retrieves are required to keep the lure out of the weed and this style of retrieve suits these types of plastics as they still have a magnificent action on a constant retrieve. My favourite grub pattern for this waterway are Berkley 2 inch Powergrubs, as well as Berkley 2 and 3 inch Gulp Minnow Grubs both of which have produced outstanding fishing for me in this waterway particularly in the pumpkinseed colour.
I work the edge and clear passages through the weed beds when fishing this lagoon. I will manually close the bail arm just prior to the lure landing on the waters surface as this limits the amount of slack line out and doesn't let the lure sink down in to the weed. I hold my rod tip up high when working shallow weed beds and my rod tip low when working deeper water. During some retrieves where the depth to the top of the weeds vary I will constantly raise and lower my rod tip as necessary to avoid the weed and to allow the lure to run deeper where possible. Good polarised glasses are essential so the weed beds are visible as the water here is generally tannin stained.
Bruny Island Bream
Bruny Island has several small creeks that offer productive bream lure fishing during the warmer months. As these are small creeks, the bream in them should be considered a catch and release option only. This is firstly due to the slow growth rates of bream with a good specimen being upwards of twenty years old. Also these creeks can not support a large number of fish due to their small size and as such it makes good sense to sustain the fishery by releasing all of these quality sports fish.
Adventure Bay creek which as the name would suggest is at Adventure Bay is an excellent location from which to have a productive session lure fishing for bream. A canoe or kayak is essential as bank side access is limited and it is far easier to land a bream by pulling it away from rather then through the snags or structure it is trying to snag you in. During high tide periods, a small dingy can be used in this creek in addition to a canoe or kayak.
The ideal plan of attack in small creeks such as this is; using a good pair of polarised glasses; firstly identify any structure that will be likely to hold a bream. This structure includes fallen or submerged trees, a weedy or rocky bottom, rock walls or the entrance of small feeder creeks. Upon identifying a likely looking area, cast you lure as close to the structure as possible. The tighter the cast is to structure the more likely you are to get a hook up. Some days bream will be very aggressive and will hammer your lure the instant it hits the water. Other days, though they will be more cautious and they will follow your lure some distance before striking.
Your retrieve is very important on days where the bream are being cautious and on days like this a small soft plastic stick bait or grub fished utilising a 1/16 or a 1/24 oz head is the best way to entice a strike. This is due to you being able to increase the amount of time your offering is in the strike zone due to a slow and intermittent retrieve. Subtle flicks or lifts of the rod with pauses in between will generally entice a strike response from the most cautious fish.
On days where the fish are more aggressive small hard bodied minnow style lures are excellent and allow a larger area of the creek to be fished more quickly due to the faster retrieves. The right retrieve speed will be obvious to you as you will feel and see the lure working properly. During low light conditions bream can be taken on small fly rod poppers and other surface presentations. Bream are excellent targets on fly right through the day however use wet saltwater flies such as a minnow, worm or yabby patterns during the day.
My favourite hard bodied lures for catching bream are Rebel Crawfish, Predatek Micro Minn Minns, Attack lures, Deception Palemons and RMG Scorpions. These are not the only hard bodied lures that will take bream just a small selection of what has regularly performed for me. Any small minnow style hard bodied lure will generally take bream and if you were to ask ten bream fisherman what their favourite hard bodied bream lure was each would detail different lures although the Attack lure and the Rebel Crawfish would generally be on every one of their lists.
The trend in the last decade has been the increasing use of small soft plastic lures for bream fishing and on days when the bream are being cautious or you want to slowly work an area of excellent structure this is by far the most productive way to lure fish for bream. Ideal soft plastics to use on bream are 2 or 3 inch stick baits such as the Berkley Bass Minnow, Berkley Gulp Minnow or the Ecogear S Minnow. My favourite soft plastics for bream are 2 and 3 inch grubs with the Berkley Powergrubs, Berkley Gulp Minnow Grubs and the Atomic Fatgrubs being ideal. Yabby patterns such as the Berkley Bulky Hawg and River 2 Sea Yabbies are also excellent. Natural bait fish shades are excellent colours but as with the trout, the standout colour is Pumpkinseed.
An ideal outfit to lure fish for bream would be a light spin outfit such as you would use for trout although a bit more power in the butt is a good idea for trying to steer a solid bream out of structure. I favour a short rod for increased casting accuracy and use a Loomis SJ6400 which I find ideal. Lightweight baitcasting or over head outfits can be used when fishing the hard bodied minnows but are not suitable for the soft plastics as they are unable to cast the 1/16 oz jig heads. A graphite rod is a huge advantage when trying to set the hooks in a bream's bony mouth. The main line should be 6 pound fireline and a mono or fluorocarbon wind on leader around 10 -12 pound should also be used. I use an improved Albright tied using the fireline doubled to tie the wind on leader connection. For the fly fisherman, a 5 to 7 weight outfit is ideal again with around a 10 - 12 pound leader.
While the bream and trout fishing options are limited on the island, there are quality fish of both species to be caught. The island has the added attraction of while you are chasing these species you will rarely if ever see another angler as all of the fishing pressure from the locals and visitors is generally focussed on the excellent flathead and gummy shark fishing available in Storm Bay and the channel which in addition to the relatively untouched and unfished beach and rock fishing will form the basis of the second and final part of the Bruny Island fishing experience.