Rebuilding sand flathead stocks

flathead title

Sand flathead are Tasmania's favourite recreational fish, but stocks are in trouble. Action is urgently needed to improve the future of the fishery.

NRE Tas Fisheries is working with fishers, researchers and the community to address this decline in stock levels, identified in a new report from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).

flathead on sand

Around 1.6 million sand flathead are caught by recreational fishers per year in Tasmania. In fact, 70 per cent of all recreational fish taken are sand flathead, placing a huge amount of pressure on one species.

2022 07 04 Another beauty that fell to the March Brown BugI was in two minds whether or not to go fishing this morning because I was still recovering from a long eight hour spin session one day ago. In the end, I thought why not go because I only require five more trout to reach my two hundredth for this season and with the weather being fine I headed off to the Dasher River. It was 8:45 am by the time I hopped in the river and even then there was a light Easterly breeze blowing straight up the river. The river itself wasn't running all that high today, it had dropped to a nice wading height and was also a light tea colour, just right for chasing trout. I started the session using a Mepps #00 White Miller Bug inline spinner for the first five minutes without a sign of a trout so I changed over to a #0 Aglia fluo brown spinner and it didn't take all that long before a small brown fell to it. The next cast was straight back into the same stretch of water and that's when I picked up the second trout of the morning, another small aggressive brown was landed.

2022 11 26 The Stone Fly Bug did the job on this troutEven though I was a little stiff and sore from the short spin session yesterday, as the morning went on the better I felt so a late start was had in a small tannin stream. In what was pretty good weather it was 11:50am when I finally hopped in the stream, the water level was good and the water itself was a nice medium tannin colour, just ideal for trout fishing. I started the spin session off with the same trout gear as I used yesterday which was the Okuma Celilo Finesse ULS 1-3kg trout rod, Okuma ITX-1000 spinning reel & the Mepps #0 March Brown Bug inline spinner and of course the reel was spooled with the ever reliable ultra strong Platypus Pulse 4lb Mono line. The first few casts and retrieves, not a lot happened until I lobbed the spinner close to the right hand river bank, on the retrieve a dark object appeared behind the lure and followed it for a short distance before it turned and moved off not to be seen again.

2022 10 06 Once in the net the lure came freeThe weather here in Sheffield today was great, it was sunny with a temperature of fifteen degrees so I headed off for a mid afternoon spin session in the upper reaches of the Mersey River. With the majority of rivers that I fish still running high the upper Mersey was the go to place to fish. The long stretch of river I headed to required a long forty minute walk, it once was very good trout water until the 2016 floods wiped the river clean of fish in this area. It's been five years since I last fished this area, so today I'm hoping the long walk to the river will be rewarding by catching & releasing a few wild brown trout, and I'm not fussed about their size either. I arrived at my entry point a little worse for wear after the long walk and it took me a few minutes to settle down before I hopped in the river at 2:20 pm, the lure of choice to start with was a Mepps #1 Aglia Fluo micro-pigment rainbow inline spinner. The river height was still on the high side and pushing quite hard on the legs, with the rocky river bottom being slippery and tough on the body, I knew it wasn't going to be an easy time spent in the river.

2022 09 20 485 grams fish of the daySeeing as it's been a few days since my last fishing session and with the weather being more settled for the next day or so I headed back to one the tannin streams again, mainly because the larger rivers were still running on the high side. One thing I was sure of was that the small stream I headed to would be at a nice wading height, the only problem would be the amount of trees that would be across the stream. A few weeks ago we had a massive storm in the area which brought down thousands of large trees in several areas across the state. A few of my favourite streams just happened to be in one of those areas that was severely hit by the 165kph winds. Anyway, by the time I parked the car and made my way to the river it was nearly mid-day by the time I hit the water.

 Darryl Saunders tagged trout
Darryl Saunders
with his $2000
tagged trout.

On Monday 29 August, Scottsdale resident, Darryl Saunders' wife told him to go fishing. Darryl didn't need to be told twice, despite the threat of rain, it was a perfect fishing day in NE Tasmania.

Darryl drove to Derby and wheeled his Hobie kayak, on a home made trolly using wheel chair wheels, along the gravel track into Briseis Mine Hole. Darryl has been haunting this popular fishing spot for the last twelve months trying to catch a winning tagged fish released as part of the Tasmanian Tagged Trout Promotion.

Launching at 8am Darryl quickly caught and released 4 rainbow trout and lost a couple more on an old green and gold Ashley lure from the bottom of his tackle box. Around 9am he hooked another fish. He saw that it was a brown trout with a tag below the dorsal fin. He lifted the fish from the water in the landing net and realised that he had caught a winning trout.

Darryl rang his wife to give her the good news.

He will use the prize money to buy a cover for his kayak, some will go to his wife (smart thinking) and any remaining will be used on vehicle fuel for future adventures. Darryl's wife is sure to send him fishing more often!

There are still lots of fish to be caught in the Tasmanian Tagged Trout Promotion.



2022 08 01 Another solid brown trout made it into the netAfter having an eleven day break from trout fishing due to bright sunny days, clear water and mainly easterly winds today was the day to go and chase the trout. Why, because it was a cool foggy morning and there was a nice cloud cover, a perfect morning to go trout fishing in the Meander River. The maximum temperature forecast for the day was twenty seven degrees which meant the sun was going to burn the cloud off and that's when it would start to warm up. As much as I wanted an early start I wasn't in the river until 7:30 am mainly due to a change of area I decided to fish, which resulted in a twenty minute walk to my entry point. The reason I made the change was because I knew once the cloud dispersed I would still have shade along one side of the river and I would probably be ready to call it a day as well, that was the plan anyway. I started the spin session off using a well used Mepps #0 March Brown Bug spinner and it wasn't all that long before I hooked and lost the first fish of the day, thankfully it was only a small brown trout.

2022 07 20 It was a hard body day todaySeeing as I pulled up a little stiff from yesterday's spin session I waited until 2:15 pm before I headed off to have a late afternoon spin in the fast waters of the Meander River. My last trip to these fast waters wasn't a good one, all I managed that day was seeing two trout follow the lure and that was it. The water level is down to 57cms which is ideal for wading the fast waters I'm heading to. It was 2:55 pm by the time I entered the river and it looked great, the only thing I had to contend with was the rocky river bottom, the rocks were a little slippery under foot. I started the session off with a #0 March Brown Bug and it wasn't all that long when I had a trout have a go at it, it missed getting hooked. Still, that was a good sign and I felt like I could be in for a good time fishing the fast waters this afternoon. I was concentrating on casting the spinner into the flat waters along the opposite side of the river, they're the areas that the trout will be holding out waiting to grab anything that passes by. It wasn't all that long after seeing the first trout when another fish followed the March Brown for several meters before it turned and moved off.

2022 07 04 A well conditioned small streat troutI am sure that the majority of those who trout fish don't bother to check out small streams to see if there may be any trout in them. Well, for me I am one who loves to fish these small streams because most of them that flow into a large river will have trout in them. When fishing small out of the way small streams you will come across quite a few log jams, some are small and are quite easy to climb over or go around if that's possible. Then there's the large log jams that can be a real challenge if there's no way around them due to high river banks or heavy foliage that's full of blackberry bushes. Log jams are just a part of small stream fishing and one has to take the good with the bad at times, that's really the worst thing one has to contend with. Yes it can be tough at times, it's also very rewarding when you catch your first trout in a small out of the way stream.

2022 06 22 This beauty fell to the March Brown BugOvercast, humid conditions and the perfect water level was enough for me to head over to the Meander River for a spin session. It was 6:45 when I hit the water and it wasn't all that long before I had the first trout of the morning take the #0 March Brown Bug spinner, the only problem was it tossed it as fast as it took it. Two casts later I was onto another trout, this little brown stayed on and I had the first fish of the day in the net. It's been around a month since I last fished this stretch of river and this stretch of water I'm fishing didn't give up a single fish, this was a good start to what I normally have here. The river here was perfect for casting and drifting too which was even better as It's one of my favourite ways of spin fishing. There's nothing better than watching the Mepps inline spinner drift with the flow and a trout sitting right up behind it, then it's up to me to get that trout to take the spinner.

2022 06 01 A beautiful 1.25kg Meander River brownWell, another trout season has come to an end and for me it was one that had quite a few ups and downs in the rivers which had a lot to do with the weather conditions. At the start of the 2021/22 trout season I set myself a target of 500 trout and thankfully I did manage to reach it on the 18th April, I went on to end the season with a total of 536 trout caught in 90 trips, of which four were kept due to gill damage. The three large rivers I fished were the Mersey, Meander and Leven all of which had some problems with them. The Meander & Leven were two that had a lot of green cotton like algae on the river bottom on each and every trip I had to them. The Mersey River was the worst river of all, not only was the river bottom in poor condition with it being full of silt and slime on the rocky river bottom, it was the water weeds that made fishing a waste of time in the upper reaches in and around Weegena. Wading & fishing in the river when it's full of water weeds was near impossible in several stretches of the river, long strands of weed wrapped around one's legs while heading upstream and it was much worse when the water level was low. As for the trout in the three large rivers my catches were mainly small to medium size fish with the odd large fish being far and few between, only twenty three trout of the 341 trout caught in the Mersey, Meander were over the five hundred gram mark. The three trips I had to River Leven, the biggest trout out of the twenty six fish caught went 460 grams, though I did lose a couple of trout that would have been in the five hundred gram plus range. The small tannin waters I fished were down in fish numbers this season for some reason, in thirty one trips I caught and released 119 trout compared to last season's thirty two trips for 197 trout being caught and released. I feel low water levels may have had a lot to do with it throughout the trout season. The other small river I fished (on private property) nine times during the season was the Dasher, that small river gave up 48 trout all of which were very small fish, the best weighing in at 350 grams. Western Creek was a short spin session that I had on the way home where I caught and released two small browns in very low water.

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