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Tasmanian Atlantic salmon

by Carl Hyland 22 Feb 04:47 UTC
Kerry Bradley with a Craigbourne salmon © Carl Hyland

Tasmania is unique in that the Inland Fisheries Service has allied itself with fantastic partners in the form of some of Tasmania's' top Atlantic salmon producers. These include Tassal, Petuna and Huon Aquaculture who supply the I.F.S with what is usually surplus brood stock.

Whilst this fact is well known and probably not a first anywhere in the world, what it means is that Tassies grass roots anglers and visitors, can now experience the once in a lifetime opportunity of chasing and perhaps, catching a truly trophy Atlantic Salmon of magnificent proportions usually once only read or dreamed about.

There are many, like myself, who whenever the opportunity presents, usually coinciding with the release of surplus brood salmon into selected waters, venture forth with all types of equipment and some of the latest gear, to try and do tackle with these monsters.

These fish are large by anyone's standard and are not easy to catch, which is a matter of much debate. Some say that big salmon will take anything and I'll tell you now, that is not always the case! That is why a lot of anglers go home with an empty bag at day's end-do a little homework on this species and you will reap the rewards. You don't need a boat; some of my many odd salmon catches have been land based using lures, soft plastics and bait.

Whilst I personally prefer to fish with all manner of lures, there are many anglers who prefer bait or even flies to get amongst the action.

I have found with Atlantics, the larger the lure, the more successful. I suppose they (Atlantics) are just like Brown trout, they only move when they have too and if a toothsome morsel comes their way in the form of a big bait or lure, they usually strike without hesitation. On many occasions, whilst lifting lures from the water, I have had explosive takes either right beside a boat or alongside the shoreline. This speaks a lot for the fish's enthusiasm for moving targets. I have even had big Atlantics in the 5-7kg range try to take stemmed floats off the water surface or even bubble floats, totally ignoring baits in the form of mud eyes or wattle grubs suspended underneath.

Whilst there is no hard and fast rule for catching Atlantic salmon, at times they can be extremely frustrating, cruising along shorelines or underneath boats, totally ignoring all offerings. This is often where most anglers are left for gibbering idiots, especially those who have not tangled with such large fish before. Everything in the tackle box is thrown at them with no success. I remember a time recently at Brushy Lagoon in Tassie's North, where a seasoned angler advised me that the salmon do not bite after 11.00am, as it is too bright and they go deep. He proceeded to pack up and leave. I thought" what the heck-I'll give it another 30 mins". I am glad I did as the salmon were seen by yours truly to" bottle up" in a corner near where I was casting and at exactly 11.45am, I caught on a big minnow type lure my first fish of the day, which weighed in at 3.2 kgs. This is all right, I thought and proceeded to cast again, when behold, my very next cast produced another fish from the same spot. This one played up something chronic and I noticed the time to be 11.50 am, after several heart stopping moments of trying to coax the salmon into my oversize landing net, I had him in the bag, a big brood male at5.3 kilos. (I'm glad I stuck around).

I learned a lot that day and since then have been fortunate to have landed many salmon in the years since.

Many trips with a favored fishing mates have seen us get amongst some huge fish, all being land based which makes it that more special.

My favourite places for chasing the big salmon are Craigbourne Dam in the south and Brushy Lagoon in the North. What is really fantastic about chasing big salmon is that quite often the by catch is usually a big brown or huge rainbow.

I make no secret that I produce my own big minnow type lures in the 8-10cm range. I believe in sharing any information on catching these big fish and I get just as much enjoyment from either helping an angler land a fish or giving someone one of my lures and watching them hook-up.

Atlantic salmon love red, yes that's right, red and anything that has the scarlet colour in it will often succeed. I mentioned earlier where salmon will often eagerly attack floats or corks, well if they are red, they go for them too. At Craigbourne Dam in the state's south, big salmon will crunch a red lure before all others; add to the lure, rattles and you are usually well away.

Many big fish have been taken on Minnow lures, Danny Holmes from Somerset can testify to that with his 15kg Atlantic being caught on a Hueys Deep diving Spotted Dog. I find other lures in the form of Cobras can work just as well.

If you are planning a trip to the Apple Isle, please feel free to visit the web site, fishtas.com where you can find out the latest stocking rates for Atlantics and view some great Salmon shots.

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