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Tasmanian winter fishing

by Carl Hyland 12 Jun 01:04 UTC
Rob Bessell with bluefin © Carl Hyland

The Island state is going through a very productive time with fish being caught right around and through Australia's Island state. From tuna, to rainbow trout, to bream and even large King George Whiting, it's all happening.

Bluefin tuna are about in abundance and boat anglers fishing the South East corner tell of some wonderful captures with the average fish being around 50kg. Some larger models have been taken over this past week with some even over the 100kg mark, certainly of a world class standard. Rob Bessell, of Hobart tells of a great capture, not only be himself, but also by another angler in another boat.

Seals are a real problem, but anglers who are prepared to get in and have a go are getting the odd one or two fish. Here's Rob's report: Launched at Fortescue to beat the crowds before the long weekend and we were in the tin dish hoping for good conditions.

Mission was to catch fish on stick baits and as such only brought the casting rods with a 5000 reel and a 6500 reel loaded with braid. Upon arrival the bay was glassy and could see the line where the wind was further out towards the mouth. Upon getting to the mouth, the conditions were ideal with a gentle 5 knot wind with small gusts to about 8 knots. Enough to put a ripple on the surface.

Found birds working straight away but there were already a few boats working so fish had been put down. First fish came on a Hueys diver whilst we were scoping out the schools. A nice schoolie of about 15kg came to the side of the boat only to get sealed! Bloody big bloke took the fish and the lure.Re-tied and motored over to the lanterns where some birds were continuously circling. Two other boats were there but they left after circling around a few times. We cut our engines and just drifted with the wind for a while hoping the school would resurface. About 10 minutes later, bait fish started flying everywhere about 20 metres in front of the boat and the tuna started free jumping straight towards the boat. A 50kg fish came flying out of the water and nearly hit the boat. I cast right in front of the main pack and started winding flat out....

Stayed on this school for a while but could not entice anymore fish.

Redeployed some divers and headed towards little rock. Found some more birds starting to circle and we were first to arrive.Had a red stabicraft following us and we past a big bait ball in the water. No sooner had we past the bait that the water erupted with big tuna and our lures were about 10 metres away from the fish. The stabi was a bit luckier and had all four rods go off!

The stabi was obviously onto a big fish.We continued and found some more fish but smaller models. Whilst fighting one, the stabicraft came directly towards us. We were gesturing for them to move away as we had a fish on, but they just kept coming. I was getting a bit angry and as they came into voice range we told them to move away.They didn't and at this point we realised something was up. They had a big tuna boat side and couldn't get it into the boat as there was a husband and wife only on board. We kept fighting until we were sealed and lost another lure, and then went to the aid of the stabi. Luckily it was calm as it was quite hairy jumping from one boat to another but still got my feet wet. The tuna was a biggun. A tail rope was already in place but there were seals trying to get at the tuna still. The rear door was just not big enough, but after jumping on, I was able to help get the fish onto the boat.

Andrew was more than happy (introduced after the boat was in). I guessed about 80kg as it looked a bit short for the 100kg. Andrew pulled stumps and headed back in, as he had more than enough for the day. We kept at it and found a nice patch of birds south of Hippolytes. Even better, there were no other boat in sight. And to top it off, there were tuna free jumpingGot the stickbaits out and it finally happened. A few fish slashed wildly behind the lure before a almighty splash and we were into them on the top water. Managed to boat a few and lost another to a seal.My mate cast right into the thick of the birds it basically landed on a seal that was also working the bait. A few turns of the reel and a black hole developed in the water and a huge fish took the lure. A bloody barrel on the cast. What happened next was just chaos. The 5000 reel was screaming and line was blistering off the reel at a rate of knots. We had to chase the fish down to keep line on the reel. After a lengthy fight, the fish won the battle and snapped my mate off.

My turn next.The fish were still working and I pelted the lure into the school. The first cast resulted in a big slashing follow, but no hookup.The next cast was on the money and a few winds in another big tuna took to the air with my lure in its mouth. My reel was on full burn. Knew this was a big fish as well!We again had to chase, but managed to keep the fish under some sort of control. After 20 minutes, we got the fish to the boat only to get sealed again. Not happy.

The fish was too big for the seals to throw and we were able to see that it was a fish of about 50kg.

We made a few good attempts to get the fish away from the seals, but again lost the battle after being tag teamed by seal. While all this was happening, big tuna were busting everywhere. Another boat saw us and the inevitable happened. They came over and drove straight through the school and all fish disappeared.

Funny that we were able to keep the fish up on the surface for 40-50mins and keep pulling fish out of it by drifting up onto it with engines off and casting.

Anyway, decided we had enough and went in to try the back-up option. I think we must have had 12 hookups and a fair bit of lost tackle. But geez, seeing massive tuna taking stick baits is awesome.

Pulled into the bay and deployed some burley while cooking lunch. Had an aquarium of fish behind the boat in no time, which included wrasse, massive amounts of jack makerel and 60cm couta.

In other news, big bream are being taken by anglers fishing Browns River in the south of the state and most are being taken on soft plastic lures. Whilst not huge fish, they go hard and are awesome on light gear.

As most are aware, Tasmania is hosting the world fly fishing championships in December and teams from around the world will be competing in the state's pristine waters, trying to take home the trophies and stories of jaw dropping fish. A lot is being done to prepare for the some 200 entrants with infrastructure being upgraded plus stocking levels increased into the waters where competition will take place.

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