by Carl Hyland
Unbelievable is the term being used to describe the game fishing season which has just taken place in the Island State. It’s not over yet either, with huge Bluefin turning up as they traditionally do in Southern waters. Charter operations are still in full swing with overseas and local visitors clamouring to be part of the action. You never know how it’s going to go from one day to the next with some fantastic fish which include Broadbill swordfish, snapper and big Bluefin all being taken.
Ken Smith’s broadbill swordfish
We’ll start with the capture of the broadbill swordfish which in itself was a remarkable feet and no doubt will be remembered for a lifetime by the lucky anglers on board Hapuka.
Bottom fishing for morwong and striped trumpeter, the group of four anglers were having great success, when they noticed a large fish ‘flash’ under the boat. Thinking it was a large mako, they baited a wire trace, hook with a striped tuna and threw it in the water, the fish, very hungry and aggressive took the bait and the lads settled in for a long fight. When they glimpsed the fish, they knew they were on to something different. Jason Smith, son of skipper Ken Smith knew they were on to something big when the fish took the bait. It turned out to be a long fight and a team effort with all anglers battling the fish ending up with injuries. Taking an hour and forty five minutes to land the 225kg broadbill swordfish took all of their efforts to get it aboard.
The broadbill just after capture.
Bluefin action has been running hot and bigger fish alongside the average school tuna (30-40kg) have also been landed recently.
One lucky angler was Bill Milonas fishing aboard Mark Watsons boat, Reel me in, where he landed a huge fish near the Hippolytes in Southern Tasmania. In a massive fight which took an hour in which to land the fish, Bill also indicated that he knew he was on to a potential record because of his line class, 37kg which at this time is a pending state record. The fish was eventually bought alongside and weighed in at a whopping 127.8kg’s
Bill Milonas with his 127.8 pending state record Bluefin
A regular taker of fish, Jack and his father Greg have had lots of luck with many Blues being hooked and tagged also around areas like Pedra Blanca and The Lanterns. This is an area where you need your wits about you and being in a large boat helps. Here’s an excerpt from a report on Fishtas 'Action was hot for hours, only going 5-10 minutes between hits. After about 15 , with three on deck five going back and me tagging seven we had a bash at the stripy's. Well well. Wasn't going to trouble the scorer here, tried three good looking bits of bottom, pulled everything up except stripey's. After an hour or two we decided to drag some lures again. Banged a couple more, I tagged one or two more then The great Normy and I tossed the idea around to run a set of fin nor Offshore's and Fin Nor marquessa's. Got the spread out, and soon after my new fin nor outfit, a spanking new 9500 matched to a 100lb fin nor 5.6 rod Went absolutely mental. Picked it up, drag sounded like a jet engine, lost a good 200 metres, probably underestimated the fish and the 20kg leader exploded. There went my precious red bait. Oh well onwards with the marquessa's norm was desperate to hook something on his new two speed MA30. I put my trusty king brown on it and put a max back on my 9500. Worked a washy rocky heaven like patch up against the rocks as most of the boats were bottom bashing by now, and bingo away they went. Same sort of mental squeal but this time we were prepared. two fish on, 25 odd minutes later, after a good tangle and some swear words; Normy had his fish on deck, holy feck. Called it 50 plus, I battled a 40 odd kg fish for another five minutes, got him up and back in pretty quickly, and he tore off at the speed of light.'
Josh with his school blue. Pic by Jack Gard
The tuna capture.
Other memorable catches have been occurring around the state, but one of the most surprising was made by Jona Yick who was fishing at Blackmans Bay in the south of the state recently. Whilst not big by mainland standards the snapper, which was 82 cm’s long, gave Jonah the fight of a lifetime. Weighing in at 6.5kg, the snapper took a small fillet of flathead and caused Jonah to snap his rod in 4 places. This meant that Jonah had to jump into the water and grab the fish with his bare hands. Jonah indicated that he thought he had caught an elephant fish but it put up a pretty good fight which lasted about 5 minutes. The fish was donated to the University of Tasmania so it can be analysed for further data.
More info on this capture is available here.
Ashlee with the Derwent snapper. Photo by Jonah Yick
Here is a list of charter operators within Tasmania.