Presented from Issue 105, August 2013
Bob is a professional fishing guide and guides for trout and estuary species. Check him out at www.fishwildtasmania.com
There are several things we look for in our early season trout waters. It is still winter and cold, so some of the things to consider are: Altitude as this dictates the water temperature and therefore feeding activity. Food for the fish. Availability of trout food is generally dictated by the quantity and quality of weed beds.
Quantity of fish.
Three waters which I believe fit all three requirements are:Read more ...
West of the Tamar River is Badgers Head and Badgers beach. This area is accessed from the West Tamar Highway, about 5 kilometres before reaching Kelso. The beach has a shallow gradient and gutters are not too common. Beach catches are usually restricted to flathead, Australian salmon, or a few sharks at night. Badgers Head on the other hand has some deeper water and catches can be made up of many species, including Australian salmon, pike, couta, sweep, wrasse and flathead.
Port Sorell is one of those rare gems of waters. Situated half way between the Tamar River and Devonport it offers a protected estuary with a great variety of fish. Small flathead are common, while larger specimens to 3.5 kg are also taken within the estuary.
A north west wind will give boat fishers a good drift for whiting from The Carbuncle Island off the mouth back into the estuary.
From around November each year The Rubicon River arm on the western side is renowned for large bream to 3 kg. Prawns are usually most effective and good bream fishing can extend up river past the main road bridge on the Frankford Highway. This area can be fished from the bank as can the area around Port Sorell to Hawley Beach. The eastern side of the estuary has good access through the National Park. The best fishing is from November to March.
Bakers Beach, outside Port Sorell, is also accessed through the National Park. This beach is renowned as a large flathead haunt. Every year flathead to 5 kgs are reported. It is worth noting large flathead are territorial and catches can be few and far between.
There are good boat ramps at North East Arm (eastern shore) and Squeaking Point (western shore) The ramp at Port Sorell has been upgraded. Further information can be found here.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 2 1/2 hours from Hobart, On the doorstep of Launceston.
Major angling species; Flathead, couta, silver trevally, whiting, mullet, Australian salmon, bream, kingfish and snapper.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, excellent wineries and tourist attractions.
The river from a boat
The best fishing is below Windermere and Rosevears where the river deepens somewhat. Once you get to the Batman Bridge, the fishing changes remarkably. This section of the river is narrow, deep and features very strong currents and tidal flow.
A common belief is that the deep holes in the river are where all the fish are, however, the secret to the Tamar is in the shallows.
Water less then 10 metres deep gives up the most fish. Use some berley and then drop down some baits, and you never know what you will pull up.
The most prized fish is snapper, and perhaps the least loved is the rock cod. In between these, it is possible to catch a myriad of fish species.
As you move down towards the heads, the river opens up and has some shallower flats - in some places sand bars pop their heads out of the water at low tide. Flathead fishing is almost too easy in these sandy parts of the river, but they are mostly small.
Lures are worth a try in shallow water for flathead, and they often turn up better specimens, while those willing to cast a fly will have a great time.
Yellowtail kingfish inhabit the lower parts of the river during summer and autumn months. Best method is to troll baits such as small garfish or salmon, livebait or lures.
From the shore
Fishing from the shore of the Tamar can be just as good as out of a boat - especially on the pontoons situated along the banks of the river. Fishing from these can be very good. Mullet, salmon, trevally, couta, cod and many other species can turn up - with the flathead as present as ever.
The best spots to fish from the shore are all the pontoons, particularly those below Rosevears and areas such as Deviot, Bonney Beach, Inspection Head wharf, Redbill Point Caravan park (only at low tide), Low Head and West Head.
The Inspection Head wharf is at Beauty Point - about thirty five minutes to the north of Launceston. The species you may encounter include the big four; flathead, mullet, salmon and barracouta. It is also home to Seahorse World - a seahorse aquaculture and interpretation center.
Flathead are probably the most common catch from the wharf. Mullet are also caught hard up against the pylons. Australian salmon are a common predatory fish that take advantage of the bait that lives around the wharf.
Kelso jetty is a top spot for squid, and tide turns are best if squid are the target - dawn and dusk are best. Many other species can also be caught here.
The flats around Kelso have become a popular area for saltwater fly fishers chasing salmon and flathead. Wading waist deep exploring with a Clouser Minnow or Lefty Deceiver does the job - especially at low tide when the dropoff can be reached.
Further down the river, West Head offers a great rock fishing ledge, and if variety is what you want this is the place to fish. Species include Australian salmon, flathead, jack mackerel, slimy mackerel, kingfish, sweep, luderick, wrasse, squid, cuttlefish, pike, rosy perch, gurnard, couta, leatherjacket, sharks, garfish, mullet and more. Tide turns are the best times. Southerly weather is best as there is less swell to cope with. West Head is in a National Park, therefore a National Park fee will need to be paid.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 3 1/2 hours from Hobart, 1 1/2 hours from Launceston.
Major species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta, striped trumpeter, bream, Australian salmon, kingfish and snapper.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, National Parks, wineries.
Salmon, flathead and sharks are the most popular species here, however, there is a great potential for a kingfish and snapper fishery with these prized fish often caught over spring and summer.
From the shore, areas such as Cape Portland, Waterhouse Point, Tomahawk and Croppies and South Croppies Point provide some terrific fishing for salmon, couta, pike and snook. Spinning off the rocks is a popular method. Sliced lures are the most effective using a fast retrieve. Schools often travel through in tight groups and often an hour or two with no fish can turn into a fish with every cast for the next half hour.
The beaches are most productive for big flathead which can be taken all year round with bait, lures and even fly. Fishing around the turn of the tide is best. By-catches from the sand include sharks and rays, whiting, mullet and salmon. Most sharks are taken at night.
There are boat ramps at Tomahawk and Bridport which are both marginal from half tide. Waterhouse Island is the most popular spot for boaties. Trolling for big salmon, couta and snook is popular. Yellowtail kingfish and snapper are also caught.
The fishing potential is largely untapped for this area and it is waiting to be explored.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 3 1/2 hours from Hobart, 1 hour from Launceston.
Major species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and Australian Salmon, bream, snapper.
Other attractions; Shops, Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, National Parks, wineries.
Bridport is a largely undeveloped snapper fishing location. In recent years catches of snapper up to 15 kg have made the locals excited. When the reds are about, one boat can land four or five in a session - all over 7 kg. They can be taken from the land as well. The rocks and beaches around Croquet Lawn and the Caravan Park don't look very snapperish, but each November a good number of reds are caught in the ultra shallow water by fisherman.
Also from the shore, good catches of snook, pike, couta, salmon, flathead and whiting can be made, as well as some nice gummy and school sharks. The Brid River offers limited fishing, however, trout are available through out the season and the tidal estuary also holds some big flathead.
Southern Cross Reef is just over two miles off the township. At times during summer, anything can turn up in these bait rich waters - with sharks like makos and blues, kingfish and snapper a common catch.
Anderson Bay offers fairly flat and featureless bottom. Drifting for flathead is very popular as is trolling for couta and salmon.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; Flights from Launceston, or by ferry from Bridport.
Major species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta, striped trumpeter, snapper, Australian salmon, kingfish, striped marlin, yellowfin, albacore and more.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing.
Flinders Island is an awesome fishery. Home to just a few hundred permanent residents the fishing is some of the best to be found in Tasmania. Very big flathead can be caught from almost any shore, whilst large Australian salmon are commonplace. Kingfish are often found chasing baitfish under the jetty in Whitemark. North East River and Holloway Point are renowned salmon hot spots. Only one or two charter boats operate from Flinders, but these are kept very busy. In March of 2001 several gamefishing boats ventured to Flinders in search of striped marlin. Imagine their surprise when at one stage most of the boats had multiple hookups at the same time. Flinders Island is a largely untapped fishery, and gamefishery that offers some of Tasmania's best fishing.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 3 1/2 hours from Hobart, 2 hours from Launceston.
Major species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and striped trumpeter, albacore, southern bluefin tuna, Australian salmon, bream, mako sharks and striped marlin.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, National Parks.
North of St Helens boasts Tasmania's mildest weather. It has long, white beaches and deep water next to the shore. It is quiet, uninhabited, providing some of the best camping in Tasmania.
The Bay of Fires area provides great beach fishing, like most of the East Coast. Camping around The Gardens is first class, with camping grounds scattered all up the coast.
Ansons and Great Musselroe Bays provide some top fishing. All species mentioned in the St Helens section can be taken. What makes these two bays attractive are big bream. Fish to four kilos have been taken, while two kilogram bream are regulars.
Off shore gamefishing is fantastic, however, it is Eddystone Point that can, in the summer months, provide gamefishing off the shore. The deep water runs up to the rocks and tuna often come close enough to be taken.
Land based game fishing is under-developed in Tasmania, so if you think you can do it, you will be pioneering the fishery. Yellowtail kingfish are also known in this area throughout summer.
Best time to fish; All year.
Getting there; Around two hours from Launceston, three hours+ from Hobart
Major angling species; Australian salmon, flathead, garfish, albacore, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin and mako shark.
Other attractions; The town has many craft shops, secluded beaches, a nearby National Park, swimming and surfing.
The township of St Helens is nestled on Georges Bay, a sheltered area of water situated a quarter of the way down Tasmania's East Coast. St Helens is recognised as the saltwater sportfishing capital of Tasmania and provides a large range of estuarine and offshore species all year round. Relatively mild weather is experienced even over winter due to protection from the prevailing westerly winds. Five boat ramps service the area, three in Georges Bay, the other two giving direct ocean access via Binalong Bay and Burns Bay, eliminating the need to cross the St Helens barway.
Best time: December-June.
Species available: Albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, southern bluefin tuna, striped marlin, striped tuna, mako and blue shark.
Several factors combine to make St Helens a world-class game fishing area. These include; Good water depth (100 metres) only three miles from shore. Oxygen rich warm water from the north (eastern Auastralian current) combining with nutrient-rich cold water from the south creating upwellings and current lines. Inshore reef systems such as Merricks, Pulfers and Eddystone rise from 60 metres to within 6 metres of the surface and provide huge baitfish holding areas. Low fishing pressure and close proximity (only 13 miles) from St Helens Point to the Continental Shelf make St Helens a great gamefishing base.
From December gamefishing takes over from reef and bottom fishing. As the temperature starts to rise above 16 degrees Celsius the gamefishing action really begins. If it is mako sharks you want to chase though these are available all year.
Albacore are the first of the tunas to arrive around the end of December, but this really depends on the water temperature, which starts to rise around October from 14 degrees and peaks around 22 degrees usually in February - March. The 22 degree water can be running in a current line right next to cooler nutrient rich water and it is often here that the action excels.
School size southern bluefin tuna often feature in catches around December - January, whilst bigger bluefin and yellowfin peak in size from March until the end of April.
Yellowfin appear when temperatures rise above 17 degrees and striped marlin activity peaks when temperatures hit 19 degrees, which is often in February - March.
The importance of finding current lines, the best water temperatures, baitfish and consequently gamefish can not be overstated. Without doubt the best way to do this is with one of the several charter operators that are based in St Helens.
Estuary and bay fishing
Best time: Large sea garfish; March-July. Small garfish; all year round. Salmon; January-June. Most other species are resident all year.
Rivers and lagoons to the north and south of St Helens provide good bream fishing, however Georges Bay at the heart of St Helens is large and offers a diverse range of species. A combination of the deep channel water running quickly at half tide, exposed sand flats at low tide split by deep gutters and extensive sea-grass beds make it an ideal area for fish such as garfish, bream and flathead.
Schools of small salmon are probably the most common species targeted and fish such as silver trevally are often caught off any jetty around the bay. Other fish not often targeted, probably due to the greater difficulty in catching them are, small snapper, luderick and bastard trumpeter. The main wharf in the middle of town is one of the best places to catch a fish and it is rare to find it void of anglers.
Georges Bay lends itself ideally to those wishing to use a fly-rod on salmon, garfish and bream. A boat is needed though and berley is the best way to attract these fish and keep them in range.
There are also a few elephant fish that can be caught over the summer months. One of the best spots to try for these is around Akaroa.
Offshore reef fishing
Best time: All year round. Striped trumpeter and silver morwong are present in greater size and number from May-December.
Species available: Striped trumpeter, silver morwong, tiger flathead, cod, perch, pike, squid and latchet
The many scattered reef systems within close proximity of St Helens Point provide good quality, quantity and variety of fish. Georges Bay and its associated nutrients and baitfish enhances the quality of the fishing. The large flathead at St Helens are offshore in 30-90 metres of water, often accompanied by large arrow squid, latchet, gurnard and occasional gummy sharks.
For bottom fishing, the main advantage St Helens has is the large amount of broken reef within a five miles of Burns Bay ramp. These reefs are home to most of the species targeted.
Deep sea fishing
Best time: All year, but best November-June.
Species available: Trevalla, rays bream, hapuku, gemfish, blue grenadier, pink ling.
Deep sea fishing takes place over the edge of the Continental Shelf only when conditions are favourable and in craft that are suitably equipped to travel well offshore - such as large trailer boats and charter vessels. This is quite a different style of fishing - the calibre of which can be quite sensational. Many of the best eating fish in the sea come from these great depths. Trevalla and hapuku up to 20 kg come from these depths.
Rock and beach fishing
Best time: September-May.
Species available: Salmon, mullet, bream, flathead, gummy shark, skate and rock species.
Beaches and rocks from St Helens Point and up to 15 kilometres north are popular for this type of fishing. Australian salmon to 3 kg are the most common species. Areas such as Taylors and Swimcart Beach drop away steeply into deep water and often form sand banks 20 metres or so from the beach.
The gutters formed either side provide good hunting grounds for mullet, salmon and flathead. Rock fishing these shorelines will uncover a variety of fish including: leatherjacket, jack mackerel, pike, wrasse, luderick and bastard trumpeter. Swimcart Beach is considered as one of Tasmania's best surf fishing beaches and hosts the annual Surf Fishing Championships around April every year.
Land-based game fishing has been tried by a few keen anglers, with Grants Point and St Helens Point being two areas worth considering.
Bicheno is home to many commercial rock lobster fishers and quite a few recreational fishers also try their hand as well. Rock lobster can be taken in pots, rings or by gloved hand by divers. All methods must be licensed. Another expensive shellfish, abalone are also eagerly sought. It is a delicacy that can be taken by divers. A licence is required.
Due to Bicheno's open exposure to the Tasman Sea many recreational anglers are either rock or beach fishers. A vessel capable of coping with large, unpredictable seas is needed here. Some beach fishing occurs north of Bicheno and also south towards Coles Bay at Friendly Beaches. Australian salmon, flathead and shark are targeted in the surf, while striped trumpeter, barracouta, morwong, leatherjacket and cod are taken offshore.
Rocky shores abound around Bicheno and many areas are suitable as fishing platforms. A silver sliced lure is the most common hardware and bait fishing techniques here are less common.
There is a marine reserve around Governors Island, opposite The Gulch, which provides an excellent opportunity for diving.
The wharf at the Gulch is a popular place to visit in the evenings for salmon, mackerel and trevally to name just a few. It is also a great spot for kids.
North of Bicheno are a few accessible beaches that are worth a try if you can find some gutters. In particular the beach from the turn-off at Four Mile Beach all the way around to the bluff at the southern end of the beach can be good, but look for gutters for the best results.Scamander
Getting there; 3 hours from Hobart, 2 hours + from Launceston.
Major angling species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and striped trumpeter, albacore, southern bluefin tuna, marlin, Australian Salmon, bream.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, diving.
Scamander River is one of Tasmania's great bream locations. Fish are not as big as in some of the other estuaries, but they are plentiful. It fishes well all year, but the best time is from November to March. Usual methods such as bait fishing and lure fishing are the way to go. Pretty fish and shrimps are some of the best baits, but it pays to have a variety. Locals comment that the fishing now is as good or better than fifty years ago. Bait is available from the shops in Scamander.
You can also expect to catch a few nice salmon, silver trevally and mullet. There are also luderick around the bridge pylons at the mouth of the river. Very few people fish for these, but they are there in good numbers for the angler with the skill and perserverance.
You can drive for quite a way up the river by heading to Upper Scamander. The meandering upper reaches are home to bream as well as trout.
Fishing is quite easy along the easily accessed banks, but a boat can open up a few more opportunities. There is also a Professional guide operating bream and inshore tours from St Helens.
The beaches around Scamander provide some first class fishing. Big Australian salmon, large flathead and sharks are the main targets. Possibly the best beach around this area is Beaumaris Beach. The northern end is the most productive, and often only a short cast is needed to put your bait into the deep water where salmon up to three kilos are caught.
Pulfers reef, directly off Scamander is highly renowned as a good striped trumpeter location as well as big flathead and morwong. In the summer months, yellowfin tuna, albacore and striped marlin come close to shore. There is no good quality, sea access, boat ramp around Scamander so it is best to drive up to St Helens and launch from there.
Best time to fish; All year
Getting there; 2 1/2 hours from Hobart, 2 hours+ from Launceston.
Major angling species; Rock lobster, flathead, couta and striped trumpeter, albacore, southern bluefin tuna, Australian Salmon, bream.
Other attractions; Swimming, surfing, sight seeing, National Parks - Douglas, Apsley and Freycinet, wineries.
The mid-east coast of Tasmania boasts some tremendous fishing with St Helens, at the northern end of the east coast and Tasman Peninsula at the southern end rated as Tasmania's premium game fishing areas.
The 15 kilometre run from Coles Bay at the northern end of Freycinet Peninsula out to open water - through Schouten Passage is probably the reason more game fishing is not undertaken here. Most game fishing is undertaken by holiday home owners in the area. Coles Bay is a superb protected bay with many holiday homes.
Flathead are the prime target in Great Oyster Bay as are seasonal squid. Large wrasse are also easily caught, but rarely kept as food. Whiting are targeted by a few anglers, but these seem to be in isolated pockets.
Shore and boat fishing is popular in the Swan River, just north of Swansea - especially for bream. One kilogram specimens are common and 2 kg fish regularly taken. There are several easily reached access points on the Swan River - mostly along the Dolphin Sands road. Crabs, prawns, pretty fish and nippers all make good bait. The Swan River also has good fishing in the lower reaches for large garfish and leatherjacket. While a boat can be useful here it is not essential for success.
On the southern side of Dolphin Sands is Great Oyster Bay. Nine Mile Beach and the many other beaches and rocky outcrops that flank the northern and western sides of Great Oyster Bay are great and popular fisheries.
While boat owners can access more water, the flat, mostly featureless sandy bottom of Great Oyster Bay yields little more than those outlined earlier. Most boat anglers drift for flathead with baits. Recently some anglers also successfully use large, bibbed lures in the more shallow areas with great results.
Anglers without a boat need not despair as fishing from many access points beside the main highway, on the western side of Great Oyster Bay, is often just as productive as from a boat in the more open waters.
The main pier at both Swansea and Coles Bay often has good congregations of squid that can be caught by anglers with jigs especially at evening. Schools of small Australian salmon and long fin pike are also common off these jetties as are mackerel.
A day on Great Oyster Bay can reward anglers with schools of dolphins, seals and whales as well as sea eagles and other extraordinary sights of nature.
A run down Great Oyster Bay takes you to Schouten Passage a deep water channel between Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island - a channel that is rich in food, fish and often turbulent currents. Down deep there are big flathead and wrasse with an infrequent striped trumpeter. It is often difficult to fish the bottom through the channel and large sinkers are needed.
Out through "the passage"striped trumpeter and large flathead are more common, yet certainly not prolific. A daily catch of four or five trumpeter is considered good.
Tuna can be caught close to shore. Albacore are more common here, while southern bluefin and sometime yellowfin are caught. Mako and blue shark are also taken. The southern tip and eastern shores of Schouten Island are the most productive.
A charter boat operates from Coles Bay and as well as fishing, offers sight-seeing and dive charters. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful parts of Tasmania. It would be a rare day when you couldn't catch a fish or be held spellbound by the beauty of the area.
Best Time; All year
Getting there; One hour from Hobart on the Tasman Highway.
Major Species; Flathead, Australian salmon, bream, flounder, jack mackerel, tuna, morwong, striped trumpeter, whiting, couta and squid.
Other attractions; Swimming, golf, diving, bushwalking, ferry to the National Park and Marine reserve on Maria Island.
Orford is a holiday area close to Hobart, providing access to a wide range of fishing.
The Prosser River, which runs through the town, has sea-run trout and some resident trout up stream. Flathead, mullet, Australian salmon and mackerel can be caught from the banks of the river and there are a few jetties that are great for kids. Spinners and lures give good results, or if you prefer bait, fish, pilchards, prawns, sand worms or even red meat or chicken will do the trick.
Fishing from the sheltered beach on either side of Orford will produce salmon, flathead and whiting. From the boat, drifting will nearly always produce flathead (some big "kings"at certain times) and morwong are quite common.
Both Orford and Triabunna provide access to Maria Island. Tasmania's largest marine reserve is located on the western side of the Island and extends one kilometre off shore from Cape Boullanger to Return point. No fishing is allowed in the reserve.
The eastern side of Maria (accessible by boat) is well known for the full range of game fishing particularly tuna (southern bluefin, yellowfin and albacore). Reef fish including striped trumpeter are taken in selected areas. Charter boats are available which will increase your fishing results. Take care if boating in Mercury Passage and particularly the off shore waters of Maria Island as conditions change quickly.
Best time to fish; All year.
Major angling species; Flathead, whiting, flounder, Australian Salmon, barracouta, bream, trumpeter, trout, squid, leatherjacket, mullet, pike, garfish, silver trevally, shark.
Other attractions; Swimming, yachting, boating, lots of long, deserted beaches.
Perhaps the most productive fishing along this area is the beach fishing. Species that you can expect to encounter are big Australian salmon, flathead, mullet, sharks and skate.
Australian salmon are common to around one kilo, but two and three kilo fish are not rare. Salmon provide wonderful sport and are for best eating results they should be bled as soon as they are caught. Pilchards or squid on a paternoster rig works well. Some use flies and popping bugs instead of bait. These bounce around in the surf and can be very effective.
The best areas to fish are in the deep gutters that form along the many beaches. Simply watch the waves for a few minutes before fishing to determine where this deep water is.
Best time to fish is around the turn of the tides, dusk and dawn and into the night for sharks and rays.
Some of the most popular beaches are Marion Bay, any area of sand around Triabunna, Boltons Beach, Mayfield Bay and Nine Mile Beach.
Fishing from the rocks is also productive and can turn up a huge variety of fish.
Spinning results in salmon, couta, and jack mackerel. Just find a rock ledge, throw a out a slice lure and then wind it in fast. Experiment with depth for the best results.
Bait fishing is also exceptional. The most common fish are wrasse, or "kelpies"as they are called by locals. Wrasse provide good sport but few people keep them for the table, despite them being highly regarded by the Asian restaurant market. Catches also include morwong, trumpeter, cod and flathead.
Estuaries and Creeks
The estuaries and creeks between Tasman Peninsula and Swansea hold some very big bream. Light lines and natural baits are best. Spinning with small bibbed lures is not as productive but more exciting when a three kilo bream smashes the lure.
Triabunna and Swansea are the best places to launch from with a few other ramps scattered up the coast. Fishing can be excellent for all species including salmon, flathead, couta and if it is calm and you can get out further tuna and marlin can be caught offshore.
Mayfield Beach and the Little Swanport area are good places to try with Little Swanport especially good for very large bream.
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Presented from Issue 105, August 2013
Christopher Bassano fishes over 250 days a year. This interview was recorded just before he headed off to fish for Australia in the World Fly Fishing Championships in Norway 14-17 August 2013.
I live on a small stream and at the start of the season I like to go off on a bit of a discovery mission and fish the headwaters of the creeks and rivers I feel an affinity with.
These small rivers include the St Pats, Meander, Forester, Little Forester and others. The further up you go on these rivers the clearer and lower the levels. They are often less affected by the rain and runoff and you get some good opportunities. Get as close to the source as you can and you will find some good dry fly fishing. Don’t limit yourself to those I have mentioned. Most headwaters will hold trout.Read more ...