by Sarah Graham
Many anglers are preparing for the opening of the new angling season on Saturday 7 August and it's shaping up to be another good one with the fishery in excellent health as a result of last year’s drought breaking rains. There are many great fishing locations around the State from which to choose for the opening weekend and early season fishing but here are a few suggestions.
Travelling west from Smithton, taking the coastal road over the Duck River bridge. A 15 minute drive will bring you into the small farming community of Montagu. Old Port Road takes you to the Montagu camping area which is a good place to start fishing. The boat ramp at Montagu is excellent and is really the only spot to launch a boat. Shore fishing is quite rewarding and places to fish are the jetty (near ramp), off rocks and beaches all along the foreshore.
Montagu is a huge channel and successful fishing there can depend greatly on the tide. Some days the mix of tide and wind that rips through this channel, makes boating very interesting, and an enormous amount of care should be taken. Species that inhabit this spot are Australian salmon, pike, couta, shark, tailor and flathead. Spinning or trolling on high tide from shore, jetty or boat with wobblers, soft plastics, flies and bait will all catch fish.
A 45 minute drive west from Montagu or Smithton finds you at Marrawah. Marrawah is a prime dairy farming and world known surfing location on the west coast. A short drive down Green Point Road, will take you to a car park at Nettley Bay. From there you may fish the rock directly off the car park. A 45 minute walk along the beach, over sand dunes to the north will bring you to Sinking Rock.
Big runs of blackback (large Australian salmon) are found congregating around the rocky edges, feeding on small bait fish and krill. Successful fishing methods are either spinning or bait fishing. Good lures to use are large silver wobblers (30-60 gm) with a fly dropper. Bait fishing quite often takes the bigger specimens, using a large float or balloon with a pilchard below.
Blackback up to 2-3 kg are landed for most of the year, with the occasional yellowtail kingfish and tailor being snagged. The weather plays an important role on the fishing there, with the ruggedness of the west coast sometimes making these hot spots unfishable.
Located 20 minutes down the west coast from Marrawah, is the holiday destination of the Arthur River. This thriving fishing spot is positioned in the Arthur - Pieman Protected Area.
In recent years, holiday units, camping, boat hire, shop, cruises and guided fishing trips, have started to operate around the river. From November, Australian salmon make their way into the river mouth, staying there (depending on the freshwater flow) right through until late February.
Both boating and shore angling from rocks or beach, are equally as productive - making it a perfect recreational fishing location for the whole family. Boats do give access to much more river and trolling is popular along the entire navigable length.
Lures to try are green and gold wobblers or spinners, silver wobblers and soft plastics. Pilchards, anchovies and sand worms work very well for the patient bait angler. Fly anglers may try a green or silver streamer fly, which is most effective.
October - February in more recent times has seen more trout anglers journey to the area. Large resident and sea-run trout are landed from this water every year. From early October sea-runners can be seen near the river mouth, charging and swirling through huge schools of white bait, sending them fleeing across the surface. At this time a fly or small wobbler imitating these bait, may fool them. As the bait schools move further up, so do the trout. Trolling along the banks, is most productive. Lead lines with green, gold, red or bronze cobras, is a deadly trolling rig. Nils Masters, Rapalas, Stump Jumpers along with other bib lures, flicked around snags take a lot of trout and sometimes estuarine perch.
A 30 minute drive further south from the Arthur River, bypassing commercial Rock Lobster fishing villages, will bring you to Temma Harbour. A 4WD or off road vehicle is then essential if you wish to continue south further down the west cost, to Sandy Cape. A permit from Temma to Sandy Cape is needed, and may be collected from the Arthur River rangers station. Sandy Cape mainly consists of vast white sandy beaches, breathtaking dunes and catches of big blackback salmon. These fish which are commonly caught around the mid to end of the year period, or when access to this area can be made. The Sandy Cape Beach, which is just north of the Cape has a history of treacherous quick-sand and has seen many vehicles lost. These salmon are caught from the beaches around the cape, they can be found in the deep gutters not too far off shore. Big heavy silver wobblers and large salt water flies work best. Fish in the 4 - 6 kg range are beached frequently, therefore a strong surf rig with a 2.5-3.5 m rod and low geared reel makes fishing a lot easier. Gang hooked pilchards or anchovies fished with a heavy sinker on a deep sea rig, take their fair share of big salmon and gummy shark.
Stanley would have to be the most well known small town on Tasmania's north coast. It is steeped in history, which makes it a popular spot for visiting tourists. Stanley wharf is the most popular recreational fishing spot on the north west coast. It boasts good catches of snotty trevally (blue warehou), Australian salmon, couta, mullet, leatherjacket, squid and even the odd yellowtail kingfish and shark. The snotty trevally frequent this area from December through to April and these can be most productive times. It is not uncommon to see 80 to 100 anglers shoulder to shoulder on the wharf. The trevally run along the edge of the wharf in large schools, multiple hook ups can see 20 or 30 anglers all hooked up at once, making it very interesting when it comes to landing these fish.
A strong rod 2.5-3.5 m long with a reasonably light tip is very effective, Hi Vis monofilament line 7-9 kg must also be used, this is to be tied to small running sinker rig. Best bait for trevally is uncooked chicken on size 1 or 2 chemically sharpened hook. Fish with the drag locked up completely, because if a fish runs you will tangle with other anglers and end up in an almighty mess.
Other fishing around Stanley includes Godfrey's Beach on the northern shore, where good catches of Australian Salmon, flathead and even tailor are caught both from the beach or rocks.
Stanley sits out on a quite large headland and two bodies of water occupy each side, East and Western Inlets. These inlets are popular fishing places. Since the ban of netting in these spots fishing has improved with Australian salmon, flounder, couta, pike, gummy shark and BIG spawning flathead being the main targets. Spinning or baiting these particular species on the incoming tide is great fishing. For boat fishing, the Stanley area is very good. Drifting with either bait or plastics is effective. Trolling lures such as wobblers, large flies and bib lures can produce good catches of, Australian salmon, couta and pike.
Positioned on the edge of Duck River, Smithton offers the recreational angler with a number of fishing opportunities. All your fishing requirements and local information on the area, can be found at Smithton Sports in the main street of town, open seven days a week. Shore based anglers have the potential to catch silver trevally, large flathead, Australian salmon, tailor and more often than not sea-run trout. These fish can be found right in Smithton fishing from either the reclaimed land on the western shore or around the boat ramp on the eastern shore. Fish can be caught from around this area, by spinning, fly fishing or bait fishing.
Fishing the Duck Bay estuary a boat is essential. From October to early April Australian salmon are readily caught either by trolling or bait fishing. With the estuary being basically two large sand flats east and west of the channel, there is great opportunity for the salt water fly fisherman. Polaroiding big flathead over the sand is a fantastic sport, these fish can also be taken with larger bib lures and bait.
From the oyster leases "The Duck"continues further out through a fairly narrow mouth. Near the mouth, trolling for couta, pike, Australian salmon and tailor with wobblers, flies and surface lures, pick up quite a few fish. Good catches of gummy shark and elephant fish on bait, are taken commonly and recently King George whiting have also been caught in good numbers.
The mouth access by shore can only be made via Seven Mile Beach on the eastern side (4WD Track Only). Off the Duck River mouth lays 4 large islands all of which hold a plentiful number of fish, all year round. Boat access is necessary to these islands. Recreational diving around this area is also popular with rock lobster, green and black lipped abalone being taken during the open season.
The whitebait run up the Duck River is around the months of October - January. During their season, they are fairly heavily fished. With the whitebait, sea-run trout and Australian Salmon move further up into the tidal area. Small Lures and Flies are a good option for snagging these fish.
Detention River and Hellyer Beach
Detention River lies about a five minutes drive west from the Rocky Cape turn off. This offers the shore angler with a few species of fish that can be targeted. They include sea-run trout, Australian salmon and flathead. Spinning for sea-run trout and salmon towards the mouth is the most common form of fishing. These fish can be caught further up the estuary when the tide is full. Good lures for these fish are small bib lures, silver wobblers, cobras and smelt type flies. Bait fishing is also quite common for catching flathead and salmon. Squid, pilchards and prawns are very effective. From the mouth of the Detention River, on the western shore, starts Hellyer beach. This gives the fishermen a chance to do some surf fishing. With the right breeze, and sea, gummy shark frequent the area and can be caught when the water temperatures are warm. A particularly good time to catch shark is of a night. A deep sea rig with 6/0 hook and a big bait works best.
Situated 15 minutes west of Hellyer Beach, Black River is easily accessed through Peggs Creek camping area on the eastern side of the river. Most shore angling and boat access is done from here. A short walk puts you in prime Australian Salmon territory, from the months through October to March. Most shore anglers tend to concentrate at the mouth area, whilst boat fisherman follow the tide up. Lures that are most common on these fish are silver wobblers, bib lures, plastics. Bait fisherman use pilchards, squid and berley washing off the shore is most rewarding. Good catches of flathead, couta, pike and tailor are also caught every year, generally by the unsuspecting bait and spinner fishermen. Big sea-run trout are also frequent visitors to this area.
The fishing either side is terrific and off the end the water drops off significantly. This is mostly a boat fishing area and boats can be launched at the Wynyard Yacht Club or in the Inglis River. Athletic and rock climbing skills are an advantage if you want to fish the cape from the shore, but the rewards may be worth it..
Surf fishing off the beach is fantastic - natural bait is best. Yabbies, mussels and sandworms can be found in the area and these outfish anything else by a country mile. There is a good ramp for boat access and the boating angler will find this is one of the most productive areas on the north west coast.
Rocky Cape is situated in a National Park, with many well defined bush walks and excellent views. This is one of the premier locations for the recreational diver on Tasmania's North Coast. Unfortunately for the shore angler the Cape itself offers limited access to safe fishing areas, this is due to the steep drop offs and many spots are inaccessible to the average angler. Successful boat fishing on the other hand is a different story with Rocky Cape offering two boat ramps. Excellent fishing can be found on both sides of the cape, this is due to the large sand bottom that surrounds the point. Over this bottom many fish species can be targeted, drifting over the sand can produce good catches of flathead. Most effective in hooking these big flathead is to use either soft plastic baits or try squid or octopus bait. Australian Salmon, couta and pike are readily caught by all means of fishing. Trolling for these fish using silver wobblers, brighter coloured bib lures (reasonable size), Tassie Devil or a clear piece of plastic tube. In late Summer, large schools of blue warehou (snotties) pass by the Cape. Many of these large sport fish are caught by waiting anglers using running sinker setup with a small piece of skinless chicken.
Best shore based areas are Black and Red Rocks at Cooee Point west of Burnie. The Penguin boat ramp is a great location as is Penguin Point just to the west of the ramp. Boat Harbour is good from the beach and the point is also good from the rocks. The Bund Breakwall in front of the Burnie Yacht Club is fast becoming one of the hot spots around Burnie. A lot of salmon are taken during the day and good catches of squid are also caught. Small snapper are also taken here occasionally.
Blackmans Reef off the main Burnie wharf is a terrific hot spot when the salmon are running and if it is too rough here the water on the inside of the main breakwall will give good fishing and protected waters.
Also near Burnie, to the west, is the Cam River at Somerset. This a great place to take the family with grassy banks adjoining the river and a playground to keep them occupied. Mullet are plentiful and there is always a bream or two to be caught.
Wynyard has some fantastic fishing - from Table Cape just west of the town to the Inglis River on which it is situated. Table Cape and Fossil Bluff are especially productive. The Inglis River adjoins Wynyard and fish are caught virtually in the main street. Fishing off the wharf is always productive. At night, salmon are almost guaranteed and it's a lot of fun. Off the mouth, trolling for salmon is virtually a local custom with a sliced piece of plastic tube as the lure. There is some great bream fishing in the Inglis River.
Moving west from Port Sorell you'll find Morelands Beach, which stretches from Port Sorell to Wrights Island - around five kilometres east of the Mersey River at Devonport. Access is from opposite the mill at Wesley Vale and surf fishers often drive along the beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in the area with good gutters. Best fishing for large flathead is October/November. Salmon are caught all year.
Wrights Island is directly off the airport. A boat is needed and good pike and calamari squid are found inside the island, while outside wrasse, leatherjacket and flathead. Good pike are trolled up off the eastern side of the heads, but these are also caught off the shore.
The breakwater on the eastern shore is popular for cocky salmon, snotty trevally, flathead, mullet and couta. Half to three quarter incoming tide is the most productive.
The western breakwater is blocked off to fishing and the next popular area is the Mersey Bluff. Access is good either from the beach or the car park at the top. The best fishing is on the eastern side where salmon, shark, couta, flathead, and pike are taken over sandy broken bottom. On the western side there is reefy bottom and wrasse, leatherjacket and other reef species are found here. Luderick are also found off the bluff, although only a few Tasmanians target these.
Back Beach and Coles Beach are easily accessed between the Bluff and Don heads. A lot of fishing is done from boats around the Don heads for pike, couta and salmon. The heads are also easily accessed from both sides.
Further along is the Forth River. This is a popular areas for large Australian salmon. Local boat fishers claim trolling is only successful when undertaken in an east - west direction. No one seems to know why. Skipping plastic lures or squid imitations across the surface is most successful and trolling fast is essential. Occasionally shore fishers can reach these fish, but the size is usually smaller.
Ulverstone is a lovely town with friendly people and a small estuary that gives easy access to the sea. The area is not as productive as one would think though. The Leven River estuary contains mullet, Australian Salmon and a few trevally, and apart from some good sea-run trout in spring little else. A few couta are also caught around the mouth.
The breakwall on the eastern shore is one of the most popular fishing spots. Fish this on an incoming tide for wrasse, cod, couta and salmon. The western side is not as popular, but a silver wobbler cast into eddying water will often be worth the effort.
There is a good boat ramp and pontoon on the western shore of the Leven River. Beach fishing around Ulverstone is generally not as good as further east around Turners Beach.
All the coastal area from Ulverstone to Rocky Cape is similar in structure, accessibility and species. Most rivers are navigable only at high tide, which is often the best fishing time anyway.
Flathead are readily caught all through this area, gurnard perch are another good catch which are ugly, have poisonous spines, and some claim good eating. Couta are somewhat seasonal, while Australian salmon are caught all year round. Much of this area was, in the past, subject to some unsavoury and dirty industry, but this has all changed. Pollution is now virtually non-existent and the fishing has improved enormously. Regularly sighted off the coast are dolphins, whales, and seals.
If you have access to a boat, occasional snapper and school shark are available off shore. Inshore rock cod, leatherjacket, couta, yellowtail kingfish, squid and salmon are the reward. It is an abundant area that deserves some closer attention as the water quality improves.
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.
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Presented from Issue 100
Considering the world class quality of our sea trout fishery, these fish are not sought after by enough anglers. Sea runners live in the salt water and run up our estuaries and rivers from the start of August to the middle of November. At this time of the year, they are here to eat the many species of fish that are either running up the rivers to spawn or are living in and around the estuary systems. Trout, both sea run and resident (Slob Trout) feed heavily on these small fish which darken in colouration as they move further into fresh water reaches.
The majority of these predatory fish are brown trout with rainbows making up a very small percentage of the catch. They can be found all around the state but it would be fair to say that the east coast is the least prolific of all the areas. They still run up such rivers as the Georges (and many others) but their numbers along with the quality of the fishing elsewhere make it difficult to recommend the area above the larger northern, southern and western rivers.Read more ...