"

Floundering around in Tasmania
  |  First Published: July 2017



It’s July and it’s cold – damn cold. The state has shut down to a certain degree as the weather makes life go from hard to real hard. This doesn’t mean that we have to run the white flag up and completely give up. While July has a bit of a bet on with June about who is the coldest and most miserable, we can take comfort in the fact that daylight hours are increasing. They will continue to do so until October 1.

While we are in the darkness of winter we will talk about the pastime of floundering where we can put all this darkness to good use. This month we will also be talking about the battles we can have with certain species here in Tasmania in July.

OFFSHORE

It’s not all doom and gloom in Tasmania at this time of year. There are some shining lights. One such species is the revered stripy trumpeter. These fish are sensational eating and when captured yield a good amount of useable eating flesh from their frames. When they appear from the depth as a shimmering golden nugget there are normally hoots of happiness and excitement.

Finding a stream of them can be like searching for gold as well. You will bring up a gurnard and flathead and be off the pace. Then you will come across a few morwong and you will be close. Next minute – boom! You will have the telltale bite and fight that will be a striped trumpeter – pay dirt!

The smaller fish are in closer around the inshore reefs from 20m or more, while the bigger units are normally found in 100m all the way to 300m. If you have some time on your hands and there is good, calm weather building then you can go and find a patch. A lot of people will rely on other people’s marks or fishing spots to find these fish, but you can quite easily find some ground of your own. The great spots to search are the waters off Bicheno and Schouten Island.

Bicheno has some very good bottom for this type of activity and the water to the north holds treasure. Long Point off Seymour has ground in 50m and beyond that holds striped trumpeter and at this time of the year you can find fish schooling up to spawn. Set up to drop and drift and take note of anything that may give you an idea of the bottom. Braid these days can give you an insight into what’s going on down there in regard to bottom. Of course, what you’re catching will as well. Big tiger flathead are a by-catch while searching for a good stripy spot in these parts.

If you aren’t getting stripies, just move a little further out and drop again. It will be a hit and miss sort of approach. I tend to go in 10m stages; if I start in 50m, the next attempt is in 60 then 70 and so on out to the edge of the shelf at 120m. Fresh squid and fish flesh are excellent baits and if you start to pick up a few banded morwong, you’re close to the vein of yellow gold. One trick I have used when onto some mowies is to send down a heavy slab of one on a big hook. This can have you battling a school shark in no time. While it’s not the prize of the day, it’s a really good consolation.

Sounders are your friend, of course. If you pick up a little bottom movement or some fish arches, always have an inspection. The bottom off here is pretty flat and unexciting, so don’t expect to see anything amazing. The ground off Schouten Island, however, has a bit more contour to look at and search. The water drops away pretty quickly and you can see some nice drop-offs with bait and fish action showing on the sounder.

In this area, try the water as it drops away off Cape Baundin and Cape Sonnerat. There is also some ground to the south of Tallefer Rocks that goes from 40m quite sharply to 60m and flattens out. This ground can be searched for some very nice fish. Bait and circle hooks are best, as is braided line to help with hook-ups.

Setting the boat up for a search mission is good fun. The skipper needs to put a crew together that is aware of the game at hand and that there will be a bit of sounding about and taking time to look for promising ground. The skipper shouldn’t leave the helm and should back any decisions about where the crew goes. The crew need to understand that they are the workhorses here and be ready to go on the call.

This is when the crew will have already set up and have three baited hooks rocketing for the bottom. Teardrop shaped snapper sinkers are the go. In 50m I would start with a single 5oz sinker. As depth and drift increases, so does the lead needed. Once out over 70m, I would be looking at an 8oz.

The bait board should be prepped with a range of fresh baits cut into hook-sized pieces ready to go quickly and smoothly. If you happen to bring a stripy up from the bottom, you need to get down quickly and get another one. When a vein of gold is found the skipper needs to put a waypoint down immediately. If the system allows, name it something that doesn’t require an enigma machine to understand.

Simple things like direction of drift can even have a bearing on how a particular spot fishes as well. Once you have found another target fish on the same spot, you should also note the tide at the time and even the moon phase. This all sounds like a lot of wacky advice and a waste of time, but if you want to spend time in the area building up some information, it can mean the difference between a good trip and an excellent one.

A net or a smaller gaff is a good idea. Finding a patch of striped trumpeter and getting them boat-side is great success. Dropping one off the hooks is a disaster!
NORTH

A fish that can be targeted in winter in and around sheltered bays on the North West Coast is the garfish. These fish love a quiet bay and are very susceptible to a bit of berley. These fish are happy on the surface, so a berley that will sit on top and slowly work down into the water column works well. Bread soaked in tuna oil is a good start.

If you are land-based, there are some really good spots in and around Ulverstone to the west. There are some rocky points that have sheltered bays between them. It can be quite a tricky walk to get to them, so be careful. Get your berley in nice and early while you set up your rigs and baits. The way to really target gar is with light line and the use of a float. Small long shanked hooks suspended under a float with a piece of prawn or small fish strip will bring them undone should they come into your berley.

If you are looking to draw them in and can’t get your berley out far enough by hand, get one of those plastic tennis ball throwers. You can ball up some bread and oil mix. Chook pellets soaked in oil work quite well. Don’t ball it up too tight and then launch it out high so on impact with the water it breaks up a bit. Early on get it out as far as you can, then just lob it halfway, and then resort to laying it out by hand.

At this stage you should see some fish breaking the surface and it is go time. There are other species that will come in for a look during this winter ritual. Australian salmon will cause you some strife should they take your gar rig, so have another rod out with a bigger bait and hook. There will be some berley that makes its way to the bottom, so you can also have a rod set up with a rig designed to take down flatties and gummy sharks.

The Port Sorell estuary is another spot where you can try fishing land-based or in a boat. In the boat you can anchor up and get your surface berley working and going out on the last of the outgoing tide. The tide will turn and your burley should combine and draw fish straight to you.

The latter half of the incoming tide as it slows is when the gar will really come on and you should find some to play with. This area has also been fishing well for King George whiting, so pick a spot that could have you working the bottom for those and you should also see some gar come on with the tide.

The sheltered bays westward of the Sisters Beach Boat Ramp hold some nice garfish and can be accessed by boat. Anglers here can throw soft plastics in the shallows while they are waiting for their berley to work and draw in the gar.

Sisters Beach is also a great spot to try for deep winter calamari. There has been a trend by the squid gurus to try some different techniques to find squid in the colder months. This has seen reef and bottom worked over in 30-40m with great success.

This sort of squid fishing calls for heavy jigs to get to the bottom zone and stay there. Working two rods you can throw one out and let it sink. If that rod hooks up, throw the other one out to sink as you play the first one up. This can lead to a very busy session of stirring up a herd of big calamari off the bottom and boating them.

The rods can be a little heavier, but they still need a soft and supple tip. Ugly Stik have a heap in the range and you can match them to a 3000 sized reel for some heavy calamari slaying.

WEST

It’s no secret in Tasmania that Australian salmon are very common in our waters throughout the year. This time of year you can take some very good fish while casting off the stones. The West Coast of Tasmania has some awesome spots to find these bigger, more powerful units. Sinking Rock in the Marrawah area is a popular destination, but there are many more.

You might like to try the rocky outcrops in and around Nettle Bay, Couta Rocks and the rocky shores around Temma. The best time to try your hand at fishing it is when there is a reasonable amount of swell and chop working. The weather at this time of year is often settled with no chance of that pesky afternoon breeze that springs up in the warmer months.

If you look at the BOM website and it shows a calm spell, it’s often great all day. It is Tasmania, though, and there will be some really good swells and storms that hit the West Coast of Tasmania at this time of year. This is what you are looking for when chasing the big West Coast sambos.

The salmon get hard in along the shore and hunt in the white water created by the bigger sea and swell. They love a bit of froth and bubble and will be quite brave looking for a feed.

Jarvis Wall and Jamie Harris have been doing well and offer this advice: position yourself to cast parallel with the ledge about 10-15m out using medium to large stickbaits (100-150mm) and poppers. Larger soft plastics also go well, but can’t beat the surface take. Surface lures attract the bigger salmon.

I agree that some surface disturbance increases catch rates and gets the salmon to strike. It seems to trigger an instinct in fish that says “Quick – get it before it gets away!” This instinct is strong in Australian salmon.

You will need stout casting gear to get the lures where you need them. Use an 8-9ft rod and a sweet reel to send the poppers and stickbaits as far as you can. Learning to cast strong and hard allows you to cover more area where the fish are swimming and also reach a spot that is trickier to get to.

The temptation is to get closer to the spot by getting closer to the water’s edge, but that can be dangerous. It’s far better to have a sweet setup that casts a mile effortlessly. A 5000 size reel topped off with some 30lb braid will top it off nicely.

White is my preferred colour for lures, closely followed by silver, but they’ll take most. Jarvis says that tides are unimportant for him, but the white water needs to be there. On a recent winter trip, Jarvis and Jamie found some brilliant fighting fish in the 3-5lb range with the odd one at 6-7lb to keep you on your toes.

SOUTH

The Derwent in the state’s south is a massive waterway and holds some real angling treasures. These can be found even in the chilly July conditions you find here in Tasmania. Don’t despair if you wake up in the south and there is some snow on Mount Wellington, as there is still some very good fishing to be had.

This month I asked super keen angler Arron Colgrave to give his thoughts on this great fishing waterway and tell us what he does to find fish, and this is what he said:

The Derwent River is a fabulous waterway and the list of species this famous river holds is quite surprising. Even locals are unaware what lurks below its busy bridges. Some of these include sevengill sharks, gummy sharks, school sharks, draughtboard sharks, skate, southern eagle rays, smooth stingrays, elephant sharks, kingfish, snapper, tailor, silver trevally, spotted trevally, Australian salmon, Atlantic salmon (the odd escapee), resident trout, sea-runner trout, barracouta, long finned pike, yellow-eye mullet, sand flathead, bluespotted flathead, flounder, eel, cod and likely its most famous inhabitant, the southern black bream.

Also frequenting this system are dolphins, seals and the occasional orcas and humpback whales. The river is an enormous system over 40km long with a mix of open bays around the mouth and narrower winding upper reaches. The Derwent River offers a plethora of options for anglers in boats and kayaks or land-based from its shores. The river has many fish-holding features. Every bend has different structure to navigate and target.

I’ve lived here for around eight years and have only fished between a third and a half of it. It is my belief that the Derwent is one of the most accessible and least pressured fisheries anywhere. I target its famous and trophy-sized black bream for the most part and it never ceases to amaze me with its abundance of life and beautiful surrounds. Many traveling anglers are daunted by its size and often don’t know where to start.

Like all fisheries around the country, targeted species change throughout the year depending on the season. Many of the species listed above are juvenile, but with local knowledge and persistence, some bigger sized specimens can be found and caught.

The Derwent River is a shark and ray sanctuary and any caught as a by-catch must be released. The elusive kingfish is a tough nut to crack here. Fleetingly entering the river mouth during our summer months, it can be a ‘right place at the right time’ deal. Usually only a few are caught each year around the Tasman Bridge and Bellerive Bluff. They’re often out of casting range from the shore and the numbers differ greatly from year to year.

Snapper are also quite elusive with only a handful of anglers finding the grounds of these excellent table fish. These fish can still be targeted in July, although we know very little of their travels and habits in this system. Get out in clear, still conditions and have a berley trail going for a great day out. Once you are at anchor with your berley out and working, you can get the footy on the radio and settle in. Get some whole pilchards out over the back on a strayline rig and you never know.

Flathead are abundant throughout the lower reaches. Most fish caught are up to 40cm with a few getting closer to the 50cm mark, if you know where to look. Try the sandy bays down and around the casino and over the eastern shore. Some of the bigger fish for those chasing them on soft plastics are found near a bit of water inflow. These inflows are fresh, but they bring activity and food that bring small fish and in turn attract the larger flathead.

Trout come in two species: the resident trout (a brown trout born in a brackish mix of salt and freshwater – quite elusive and a rare by-catch while targeting bream) and the exciting and ever-popular sea runner. These fish move into the system around July and August. They start to arrive as early as late May or early June in smaller numbers. I believe I caught the first one of the year. Sea-runners are a highly sought-after sport and table fish. They are great fighting fish on light tackle and more often than not show brilliant airborne displays of acrobatics. Many of the river shores offer an opportunity for shore-based anglers or boating enthusiasts alike.

SOUTHERN BLACK BREAM

Now for one of my favourite sportfish – our beloved southern black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri). Among bream fishers Australia-wide, Tasmania is well known for housing the largest number of big black bream. The East Coast of Tasmania, including St Helens, Scamander and particularly the Swansea area, could be the premier bream fishing spot in Australia. The surface bite that is available at certain times in this region is second to none.

Even with the absence of that exciting style of topwater bream fishing, the Derwent River would tower above all others. The abundant availability of large trophy bream for longer periods throughout the year outweighs any other fishery I know. The ABT BREAM Series, which sees Australia’s best anglers compete around the country, has had many of its records broken at this fishery. In fact, the Derwent has broken its own record multiple times. It also holds the record for the heaviest average fish weighed in, close to 1.1kg.

There are reasons why the Derwent’s resident bream are so big. One of those reasons would be that it doesn’t suffer from angling pressure or commercial fishing. There are a good number of local bream gurus around that chase these trophy-sized fish, but the angling pressure is minimal compared to more populated areas on the mainland.

Sadly, another reason is pollution in the river from days past. It has a high mercury content, which many believe may have contributed to the local bream population having the inability to spawn or breed for many years. As a result, the bream inhabiting these waters without angling pressure or commercial fishing all grew to large sizes. There was a time, around eight years ago, when every single bream caught here was 38cm to the fork or bigger.

Thankfully, pollution of the river stopped years ago and the system improves every year. Now a healthy breeding ground again, the river is absolutely full of young bream of all sizes. To a bream angler, that is probably not the best news in one respect.

We don’t want to catch smaller fish. We have become accustomed to our large pets. We are always on the hunt for the 40cm+ trophy fish that the Derwent River is so famous for. However, these are great signs of a healthy system and for the future of this species. The good news for fellow avid bream anglers is those big brutes are still here. They’re just a little harder to find or get past the smaller fish. And it’s harder still to fill your bag of five.

Only a few weeks ago, I hauled in a bag of 6.2kg of the Derwent’s finest on a relatively tough bite. Recently on a cold afternoon after plenty of fresh water flooded the waterways, a friend and I bagged several big blue-nosed brawlers. I’ve caught around 25+ 40cm fork fish this year with at least another 60 close behind them in the 37-39cm range.

Some of the readers may be wondering, what’s all this talk about measuring fish to the fork? It’s a Tassie thing, born from how commercial fish are measured here, I believe. In saying that, on average you could easily add 4cm to these measurements. My PB in the Derwent is 43cm to the fork. That’s right – a 47-48cm bream! I’m sure there are a few bigger ones around too.

A bream of this size is most likely to be over 30 years old. As the age of these fish has become common knowledge these days, a growing respect of this species has formed. With the promotion of sustainable fishing within many areas of professional and recreational fishing, bream have become a catch and release sportfish.

Slogans like ‘fish for the future,’ ‘catch and release’ and ‘let them grow’ are everywhere at the moment, especially throughout social media. Education about sustainable fishing within the fishing communities of this country has always been difficult. Social media has become the greatest platform for it.

I should now help the traveling angler or locals alike by giving some advice on how to target these bruisers. The most popular and favoured style of lure used by locals is a suspending hardbody minnow. It’s a baitfish imitation. The river is full of many species of baitfish from 1-3” in size. A suspending hardbody minnow is the best representation of the food in the system and lends itself to the rocky shores as an artificial bait that is less likely to get caught up. This is especially good if you are shore-based. Let me elaborate.

Until recently, when I bought a small tinny, I spent all of my fishing time wading or walking the shores of the Derwent. Some of the best spots and my favourites for big bream are rocky shores strewn with large underwater rocks. Some are almost bare with small barnacles, while others are covered in mussels. This poses a few problems. One is constantly getting hooked on these underwater obstacles with any type of sinking bait. Then you’re not able to retrieve them. Waders are essential for this alone. Lastly, trying to land fish in amongst this territory is difficult.

These are one of the best brawling light tackle sportfish you’ll ever encounter. They fight hard to return to structure and will bust you off in the process. No matter how much of the territory I know (I know every inch of some places) these fish still win the fight. I’ve lost many lures to this river and these fish. After hearing a tale of the one that got away the locals say, “Welcome to the Derwent” and laugh. That speaks of experience.

Some of these lures can be $20, if not more, and you need to give yourself the best chance of landing that trophy fish. A few techniques have worked for me, especially land-based. Try holding the rod up high during the fight to lessen the angle of your line. Also walk or wade towards the fish as quickly as possible to reduce the fight time and reduce the chances of being busted off on one of those many menacing submerged rocks. It’s easier to steer these brutes away from structure while fishing from a boat, but they will still occasionally win.

Techniques that will get the bite while retrieving this style of lure are quite simple. A rip and pause retrieve is often all that is required. I emphasise the pause. Most of my catches have hit the lure either on the pause or during a slow roll between rips, which I tend to do in lower light conditions or faster current.

Some days, the fish are just loaded up on the shores, seemingly in any direction you cast. Other days your cast must be tight against structure – a structure you know is there and can’t always see – otherwise you’ll miss the bite. It’s a good idea to go and study an area at low tide and really work out where the snags and hidey holes are where the fish will sit. This is good to foil the fish and allows you to avoid snags and lost lures. Sight fishing is available in some locations, although seeing a tailing fish is quite rare.

For me it’s always been about using a search bait like a hardbody minnow. I apply lead tape to the belly of floating lures, between the trebles, so they suspend. This keeps the lure at its running depth and in the fish’s face.

I try to cover as much ground as possible quickly to find the fish. Then I concentrate my efforts on those areas and find similar ground to find more fish. Another great bonus about this system is that, having so many different structures, fish can be found and caught on almost any tide. I favour those few hours after high tide.

I could continue writing about my beloved Derwent River, as I’ve barely scratched the surface. On every trip I find new ground, while often revisiting specific locations. These fish definitely have favoured stomping grounds and are also constantly on the move. This is one reason that keeps me going back for more. It’s an ever-changing challenge in these waters to land your own big, blue lipped Tassie brawler, one I hope you may experience.

I said at the start that the Derwent River is a great year-round fishery and this is just as relevant in July. Get out and wet a line when the weather permits. Rug up and take your kids or a few friends. Nothing is better than the great outdoors. It’s half of the adventure. – Aaron Colgrave

THE WINTER SAVIOUR

As mentioned earlier, it’s super cold and the weather isn’t so good here in Tasmania. It’s dark, too. This falls right into the hands of fishos who want to try a bit of ‘floundering’ (flounder fishing). This should be all fishos, because it’s great fun and you can learn a lot about your local waterway by wandering around knee deep in water with a light. If you have never been flounder fishing then you need to have a long hard look at yourself. It is fun and relatively easy. All you have to do is walk around, find a flounder and spear it… right?

Like all aspects of fishing, there is as much fun in gearing up as there is in actual fishing, floundering is no exception. The good thing for those that like to make things and tinker with stuff is there is a lot to do. Luckily, if you are the sort that hasn’t the time or interest, you can buy it right off the shelf.

Your first port of call is a light, because if you can’t see anything, you can hardly spear it. You can go a few ways here. I like the idea of a big strong light powered by a 12v battery. Back in the day this was a small car battery or a motorbike battery. I liked the car battery, as it meant more light for longer.

Now you can head down to the local Battery World and let them know what you are up to. They will have a heap of modern options and batteries that are light and manageable in a backpack or bum bag. They can be lithium lipo sealed lightweight bad boys.

You can still whip the battery out of mum’s car and head out for the night towing it behind you with some wild device made out of an old car tube and a few bits of wood. Just remember to reset the clock in the car...

The lighting is as varied a choice as any in the fishing world. You can go old school with a sealed beam halogen or try some of the new LED lighting available. There are some cordless lights available, but they are designed to make you furious and stranded in the dark out on some sand spit with a rising tide.

Now you can see the fish, you will need something to spear it. Growing up making spears and playing with all sorts of materials and wild design ideas was a heap of fun. Now I just like to buy something aluminium handled and stainless in the prong… or prongs. If you are a deadeye Dick, the single spike with a small barb is what you’re after. If you take a while to get your eye in, the three prong spearhead that looks like King Neptune’s trident is for you. If after a few trips you find yourself to be hopeless, buy a rake and straighten out the prongs, sharpen ‘em up and come at them with that.

The remaining kit you will need is a good-sized bag you can sling over your shoulder to hopefully put your catch in. A head torch is a very good idea, so you can sort stuff out without having to turn on and waste your underwater light. Clothing at this time of year is easy. The warmest stuff you have is a must. Neoprene waders or a wetsuit is the only way to fly when wading about looking for the little flat fellas.

We have a great Tasmanian company at Goodwood in Hobart that makes some awesome gear just for the job. Give Anchor Wetsuits a ring and they will send you to the closest local stockist. Footwear needs to be stout, as stepping on a sharp rock or oyster shell will put a real damper on your evening.

It may sound silly as you are walking the flats, but if you have a life jacket, I would wear it. The modern jacket style and yokes are not uncomfortable and the jacket will keep you warm. I say this because I have often stepped into a deeper trough or gutter and gone bum up.

WHEN TO GO

There are a few things that must be taken into account when going flounder fishing. You don’t want there to be any wind stirring up the water’s surface and making it hard to see in. A lot of flounder fishing is done in sheltered estuaries, but if you have had a few days of calm weather and there is very little swell, you can walk the edges of most beaches.

Areas with sand and weed patches are great places to find flounder. They like to sit and wait for some food on shale bottom as well. The other thing that is crucial for a successful flounder session is tide. Generally the best time to arrive is on the turn of the tide and fish the two or three hours of the run-in. Also plan your session so you start upstream of the direction of tide flow.

You don’t want the sand and mud stirred up and flowing in the same direction as you’re wading. You want to be going into the direction of tide and keeping the ground out in front clear and not stirred up. Any sand and mud stirred up will be going out behind you from where you have come.

Flounder fishing is not a fast paced activity. You must walk slowly and keep your eyes peeled. You are stalking them and they are hard to see. Once you see a few and have tuned into what you are looking for, you’ll be right. You will know when you are close to a flounder as you will see a flutter and a puff of sand. Walk slower and look harder. Go slow and steady and walk quietly. The sound travels underwater.

FLOUNDER FACTS

The bag limit for flounder is 15 and the possession limit for flounder is 30 per person. The size limit is 25cm and can be hard to judge underwater. You can make yourself a flounder shape out of some thin sheet metal at 25cm and put it in the water before you start to give you an idea of what you are looking for.

There are two common species of flounder taken in Tasmania. The Greenback flounder and the long snout flounder seem to be available all year in the coastal estuaries around Tasmania. The flounder are in these estuaries looking for a feed and will be digging for polychaete worms and small crustaceans in the sand and mud.

The places to try are anywhere that has shallow water most of the time. Kelso and Beauty Point in the Tamar area are excellent. So too are the upper reaches of the Port Sorell estuary right down to the ski beach area. With very good weather and no wind or swell the area off Bakers Beach is good, too.

I have managed some stonkers off Sandy Cape Beach on the west and there are some great spots on the east and southeast. Further south and as far as Southport are great areas to try as well. The secret here is to get into a tackle store in your area and ask where you could try your luck.

BIG SUPRISES

In the still of a dark winter’s night you will be surprised by what you will see swimming around just out of spear range. Garfish are common and if you are quick enough and they are the legal size, you can whack the water and stun them. You may encounter trevally, big bream, elephant fish and all manner of rays. You will also see just about every toad fish ever to have swum in Tasmania, ever.

One surprise you don’t need is to turn around three times and not know where you have come from or where the car is. You don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of a channel or sand bar on an incoming tide either. If you have come in a car or used a boat to get there, it pays to hang a low power light in a tree or in the boat. This can give you a good sense of direction while walking about and have you quickly find your starting point when you need to.

After a while you will wonder why you hadn’t tried flounder fishing before. It’s a good bit of fun and a great night out with a mate. There is also the added bonus of catching a few, as they are very good eating, simple to clean and easy to cook.

TROUT SEASON

Trout season opens up again for all waters on the first Saturday in August. Yes, it’s a month away and I will be talking about the season opening at length next month, but it’s never too early to start planning. The opening weekend is a traditional time for a lot of Tasmanian anglers to get away with mates and have a ball.

If you don’t have a shack and you want to get to a specific waterway, book accommodation early. Grab some new gear, head into your local tackle store and get chatting. They may not have what you need, but if you let them know, they can order it in. Waders need to be checked, as a leak in a set of waders early on in the season can be a real disaster. It’s not good in the warmer months and terrible when you are crunching ice as you walk to the water’s edge.

Last season fished very well around the state, but the northern rivers really fired. The resident browns were in good numbers and good condition. The number of keen young anglers from the coast really took the bit between the teeth and caught some sensational fish. The amount of water flow will tell you where to fish and how to fish waters like the Mersey and the Forth. The Leven will be one to keep an eye on early and so to will the Inglis River as it comes down through Wynyard.

Bryce Purton and his brother Eythan get out and really pit their skills against the fish and reap great rewards for their efforts. Their cobber Aaron Bissett also knows his way around a trout haunt or two. These are only a few of the younger crew that are heart and soul into their fishing and it really shows when talking to them and seeing what pops up on their Facebook feeds.

An angler that is not so young, but loves to plan and execute a trout fishing mission, is Dwayne Evans. Thinking like a fish to outwit and outsmart them is something that Dwayne is very good at.

The common key to these anglers’ fishing success is planning and some solid forethought on where to go and when and what technique to use. Take a leaf out of their book and start to get ready now.

MAINTENANCE

This time of year can be the best time to look at doing some long overdue inspections of gear and carry out some maintenance. Everything that we use outdoors in our pursuit of fishing needs attention at some stage. Some of the items are very important like life jackets and outboards, but maintenance can come right down to waterproofing footwear. Winter is the time to address all these items and make sure they are shipshape and ready to go for another season.

When the season is on in full swing, there’s no time around fishing and going to BBQs. Let’s get busy this month, as next month is trout opening and we start all over again.

Life jackets can be serviced and it is crucial you either do it yourself or take them into a service agent. Most manufacturers have the self-service details on their websites, but if in doubt, get it done by someone with experience. If you head into a tackle store or boat dealership, they’ll know where to send it or may do it in-house.

Boats need a lot of love, as they operate in arduous conditions. Even freshwater vessels can still suffer from corrosion on some level. An experienced eye to head issues off before they happen and prevent misery is crucial. This can be said for wheel bearings and electrical issues.

With a sea-going vessel the salt air and water can cause issues with wiring and controls, as can the constant jarring and vibration of travelling even in mildly choppy conditions. Don’t think for one minute that your pride and joy boat that only ever sees freshwater duty is immune from issues.

The start of summer is the worst time to try and get your boat serviced, so why go through the headache? Dealerships are always busy and have no time for people wanting to book a boat in on Thursday to have it ready for the weekend.

Reels are always getting some love, but never the rods or the line on the reels. Look over rod tips and the eyes on the rod. A damaged eye on a rod can be doing small damage to your line under normal use. When a good fish is hooked it will end in misery. The line needs to be run off and inspected for any issues. If the mono or braid has been on for a couple of seasons, change it out. Braid is awesome stuff, but it hates abrasion and the general wear and tear over a few seasons can weaken the castable section quite badly.

A tackle box clean out is always a good idea on a wet winter’s day. Get rid of any shoddy bits of bait or soft plastics that have shrivelled and stuck someplace hard to see. Reorganising the tackle box and clearing out any damaged or rusty gear is awesome, as it’s a great excuse to get to a tackle store and replace some stuff. Retail therapy is a great way to clear up a bit of winter blues!

Reels will need a bit of a service and mostly it’s easy to do yourself. If there are no real apparent issues, you just have to take the side plate off and check for moisture and make sure there is ample grease on the gears. If you have one that is a bit jerky or making a little noise when the handle is worked, get it into a tackle store and have it serviced properly.

During winter I find a super wet weekend is good for doing some brain maintenance as well. You can sit down and practice a few knots you haven’t tied for a while and even learn a few new ones. YouTube is awesome for knot tying, as there is always a slightly different way to do each knot and you can work out which one is best for you.

This is also a really good time to do some research on an area you have not fished, but have always wanted to. Have a look on Google for how to get there and the best way to fish it when you do. Google Earth is so good nowadays that a bit of study of the area before you get there will have you getting around like a local.

Reads: 129

Matched Content ... powered by Google




Latest Articles




Fishing Monthly Magazines On Instagram

Digital Editions

Read Digital Editions

Current Magazine - Editorial Content

Victoria Fishing Monthly
New South Wales Fishing Monthly
Queensland Fishing Monthly