by Carl Hyland
Being an Island state and surrounded by cool water, one would be forgiven for thinking Tasmania would be too close to Antarctica to play host too many species of sharks, but if the truth be known, Tassie has one of the most prolific populations of sharks anywhere in the world.
Tasmanian shortfin mako.
What this means is that humans are in close contact with species such as Great Whites and Makos almost as an everyday occurrence. What it also means is that the fishing for sharks is often nothing short of spectacular. As an angler who targets minor species such as gummy shark and school sharks, I am often surprised at the quantity and size of the fish taken from our shorelines. Tasmanian sharks are known estuary visitors, in fact many estuaries such as the two major rivers, The Derwent and The Tamar are designated shark nurseries, but it wasn't always that way. Hobart Town was built on the back of a very vibrant whaling industry as Southern Right Whales were regular visitors to our shores. Many whales were bought into estuaries by harpooners in the late 1800’s and flensing and trying works attracted many species of sharks, not only Great Whites but also the minor species such as seven gillers and blue sharks. This in turn led to many shark attacks in those estuaries and also around the many areas of the state not only where whaling took place but in latter years, abalone diving and other recreational activities.
Gummy sharks are a popular catch.
Whilst there are many books published on the subject of shark attacks in and around Tasmania (one such excellent publications is White Pointer South by Chris Black) Wellington Bridge Press Hobart, more reports and information is forthcoming all the time. Personally speaking, I have had great success as not only a land based angler but also from my 5.3 metre Monark using not only rod and line but also set lines of 30 hooks which are permitted under license here in Tasmania.
The author with a Low Head gummy shark.
As I’ve mentioned in previous writings, Mako shark fishing is a popular game fishing activity in the state in the warmer southern months and as I write this, Mako shark fishing methods are under review by the government department responsible and any outcomes will be announce. I’ll certainly let you know of any developments. Currently, bag limits for mako are two fish per angler per day which many consider to be too high. More details here.
There are bigger sharks out there.