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Tasmanian winter fishing

by Carl Hyland on 12 Jun 2017
Leo Miller with a SBT from Eaglehawk Neck. Carl Hyland
Winter action has put a dampener on recreational activities in Tasmania but some anglers, even though the weather is crook, are prepared to get out and have a go. Many species like low water temperatures and these include blue warehou(snotty trevally), blue spot flathead and Eastern Australian salmon and the staple of our gamefish, Bluefin tuna.
For thinking anglers prepared to put in the hard yards, the rewards are there, you just have to know where to look and what to look for. Vast volumes of fresh water are currently flowing into saltwater estuaries creating that fresh water wedge, driving pelagic species back into the brine.

Some species, such as blue warehou, thrive on that mix of fresh and salt and anglers seeking fish should look for that area where salt meets fresh.

One such place is the Tamar River Northern Tasmania, where the salt runs along its length to Launceston where the South Esk and North Esk rivers meet. This means that most of the estuary is saltwater with the afore mentioned species everywhere.

Blue spot flathead are a regular capture along the river length and land based options include places like Inspection Head wharf and the many pontoons that have been placed. Best baits appear to be whitebait, chicken or soft plastics. The legal length for flathead in Tassie is 25cm, and all the fish seem to be around this size with the occasional thumper being taken.

Rock cod are popular amongst ethnic anglers and I don’t know why. Personally, I can’t come at them and whilst they are a clean fish they are reputed to be the bottom dwellers of the river. Cod are often caught when other species go off the bite. Best way to prepare this fish is to gut and leave overnight in the fridge to firm up before filleting. I am told they are delicious smoked.

Other captures during winter months around the state and not just the Tamar, include red gurnard perch and these are delicious. Whilst they have many venomous spines (the venom they inject is protein venom and is very painful) they are good adversaries on light gear. Most thinking anglers break off the spines before filleting the fish which give beautiful pearl white flesh.

I mentioned that Australian salmon and snotty trevally are popular captures and they are usually available all year around in the river. Whilst the snotty love structures such as moorings, pontoons and weed beds, Australian salmon are a true predatory and pelagic fish, liking the faster rips and strong currents that are found at places such as Brickmakers Point or Paterson Monument near GeorgeTown . Chicken and sabaki rigs are favoured for the snotty and Aus. salmon will take bait, chrome sliced lures, plus a range of saltwater flies.

The Tamar River during winter in Tasmania is full of currents and rocky underwater gorges along its length, well suited to all forms of angling. Spinning lures is but one method as is dropping down bait. Soft plastic action is especially good around the West Arm area and up into East Arm but don’t forget to give places such as Hillwood or Supply Bay a try. Up closer to, Launceston, Trevallyn Tailrace is where the outflow of fresh water from Trevallyn Dam meets the salt, and is a fantastic place for all sorts of action on big sea run trout.

Bluefin captures are going well with many bigger school fish being captured in Storm Bay in the state’s south and well within reach of the average fishing punter. Those fishing around the Hippolyte Rock near Eaglehawk Neck tell of some big hook-ups but not many landed. One specimen did fall to a local angler last week and it weighed in at 120kg.

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