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 ...
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.
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.
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Hello everyone, I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself.
My name is Stephen Smith and I have been managing the website tasfish.com since May 2009.
It has been an epic journey of learning and discovery and I am indebted to Mike Stevens for his help, support and patience.
I am developing a new venture Rubicon Web and Technology Training ( www.rwtt.com.au ). The focus is two part, to develop websites for individuals and small business and to train people to effectively use technology in their everyday lives.
Please contact me via www.rwtt.com.au/contact-me/ for further information - Stephen Smith.
During the trout off-season I tend to spend a bit of time chasing bream, to continue getting a fishing fix, and spend time tying flies and dreaming about the trout season to come. It’s a time to spend doing tackle maintenance, stocking up on lures and dreaming up new challenges and goals for the trout season ahead. When the new season comes around I usually spend the first few months targeting sea runners. Sea run trout are simply brown trout that spend much of there lives out to sea and come in to the estuaries for spawning and to feed on whitebait and the other small endemic fishes that spawn in late winter through spring. Mixed in with the silvery sea runners you can also expect to catch resident fish that have the typical dark colours of a normal brown trout as well as atlantic salmon in some of our estuaries that are located near salmon farm pens. Living in Hobart it is quick and easy to do a trip on the Huon or Derwent and is a more comfortable proposition compared to a trip up to the highlands with snow and freezing winds to contend with.Read more ...