Fishing in and around Launceston, Tasmania

The mighty Cataract Gorge in flood.
Carl Hyland
Whilst the Northern Tasmanian city is known for its historic buildings and proximity to some great beaches, it not known for its fishery, which is amongst some of the finest in Tasmania.

With freshwater angling and the briny Tamar River on its doorstep Launceston is the mecca for anglers chasing big sea run trout and bream.

The mighty Cataract Gorge is a huge canyon that was carved from the land millions of years ago and now it has been damned to provide water for Hydro electric use. Its proximity to Launceston means that anglers can fish the lower reaches for trout and in the upper, sea runners, mullet and bream abound.

When in flood, the Cataract gorge is a sight to behold but at the same time, fish try to get back up to the calmer waters of the First Basin, a hole reputed to have no bottom. Here anglers using soft plastics or bait and armed with a freshwater license can catch some magnificent fish.

Getting ready with a worm.
Carl Hyland

In the Tamar River basin itself, silt has become an issue of late. The silt is flooded into the Tamar from farmlands on the North and South Esk rivers which run to Launceston. At this time, there is a silt removal program in place where raking with a metal rake towed behind a boat is seen as a good option.

Here, two rivers feed into Launceston, the North and South Esk
Carl Hyland

When the floodwaters back up into the First Basin, fish tend to feed over flooded verges, in this case the grassy banks surrounding the swimming pool. Worms, soft plastic and bright shiny lures tend to be a hit with big brown trout that seem to congregate here.

Silveries, like this trout are much sought after.
Carl Hyland

Out of the Gorge and down to where the Trevallyn power station empties it’s freshwater into the brine(Tailrace) large sea runners congregate and are usually found in good numbers at the same time and co-inciding with runs of whitebait. Any soft plastic , spun from the pontoons at the Tailrace during whitebait runs will often bring savage attacks from big, hungry trout or ‘silveries’ as they are known.

Eel portions are reputed to be dynamite of a night when used as bait fished on the bottom and this probably would be true as eels in huge numbers amass here to try to get up into Trevallyn Dam.

Also eels are supposedly ‘chopped’ up in the turbines of the power station and discharged into the Tairace. This all happens, right on the doorstep of the city as it is only 10 minutes to the CBD.

Tailrace, where fresh meets salt.
Carl Hyland

Of a night, the Fishcake lure is a great lure to imitate a frog or other marsupial swimming across the water surface, at the Tailrace, it is deadly.

Tasmanian Fishcake lures.
Carl Hyland

For anyone contemplating a trip over and a fish around the lower reaches of the Tamar, a great place to stay and within casting distance of the Gorge and Tailrace is the Penny Royal complex.

Next week, we will cover the North and South Esk Rivers.