It’s ‘Go Time’ In Tasmania

  Its ‘Go time’ in Tasmania, the weather has started to come good and there is defiantly light at the end of the tunnel. The wet and windy conditions of winter are hopefully far behind. Daylight savings has fired into gear and the footy is over for another year. Let’s now turn our attention to what anglers can get up to in October.
A thumper bream ... one of Tasmania's finest.

A thumper bream … one of Tasmania’s finest.

Gear Maintenance

This is a great time to make sure everything is sweet with the pride and joy. Boats that have been hidden away for the winter will need a once over as nothing ruins a day faster than some mechanical gremlins. If you are quite the handy type by all means get stuck in and make sure everything is ship shape. There is a lot to consider when giving a boat a safety and condition check, so if you are not confident, it may be a good idea to get it done at a local boat dealer. Wheel bearings, tow points, electrics and engine all need to be given some attention before heading out. While the boat gets a bit of love don’t forget to check your safety equipment. Flares, EPIRB’s and life jackets should all be part of a vigorous going over. hooch 6

Electrics and Wiring

Often forgotten about when talking boats and fishing, but that coloured spaghetti up under the gunnels and dash of our fishing craft needs attention. I have seen a few well planned and organised trips fall foul of an electrical issue. Once wiring and contacts have seen a few years of use it pays to have a look from time to time. Things to look out for are chafing and anything that has come loose. We all know even the softest riding hull will be exposed to vibration and the odd hit from traversing the constantly changing sea surface. When wiring and connections cause issue it is most likely from a loose connection or a joint terminal failure. This will result in an instant equipment failure that is very hard to trouble shoot on the water. What is even worse is a dead short. When this happens not only can it fry your expensive equipment, but it can cause a spark or even fire.

Preventing A Fire

  Fire is my worst ever nightmare on a boat. Well actually, it is having a fire in the boat and having to dive into a 4hour old Burley slick we’ve laid for a mako shark! It’s a jungle in there. Plenty of issues here for the unwary But anyway you get the picture. If you are unsure get to a boat dealer or auto electrician to have things checked over. While you are at it ask them to show you where every fuse is in your boat and keep a few spares in a small plastic container. Just sneak into the kitchen. The wifey will have a heap of cool clip lock lid containers they buy and hardly use. Some of them even have wicked silicon rubber seals!
Wiring nightmares like this can be a serious hazard when boating.

Wiring nightmares like this can be a serious hazard when boating.

Freshwater Fun

The diehard trout men and women battled the conditions in September and did quite well. Now the weather is on the improve and the footy is done and dusted there will be a huge increase in anglers making their way to their favourite spots. The pressure will have come off the lower altitude lakes as the rivers start to slow and the highlands become a bit more hospitable.

Arthurs Lake – How can you go wrong?

It is a fabulous waterway and a favourite of many and why not. Spectacular fishing for all disciplines. No matter if you like to troll wobblers of flick small hard bodies into the sticks or flooded margins, there are fish there for the taking. In Arthurs it is just a matter of which spot? When spoilt for choice fish to the weather and look for a shore that is exposed to the weather. Lake Crescent – It’s the land of a thousand casts and given its murky turbidity can be likened to fishing for Murry Cod. Getting your presentation off the end of the nose of a trout in this water can be difficult. It can also be a life changing moment as there are Brown trout in here well over the 10lb mark. Cracking fish in sensational condition. Big, flashy wet flies and larger than normal trout lures find favour.
Ash with a Lake Crescent hen tamed on Hardy fly gear.

Ash with a Lake Crescent hen tamed on Hardy fly gear.

Great Lake

Great Lake is open all year round ,but of course as the good weather returns so do the shack owners. I love the place and its highland lifestyle. Nothing is too much of an issue and if the fishing is slow the fire at the Great Lake Hotel is always warm. Unlike Arthurs which is more a lake for the boaters Great lake has many shores for the land based angler. Here the tried and true technique of walking a windblown shores working soft plastics and hard bodies works very well.

Faithful Old Friend

We shouldn’t forget the faithful spinner. Another thing not to forget when spinning is an anti kink. This little jigger will help alleviate line twist. Spinning is a technique where you can put a bit of speed on the retrieve after we are now all used to slow winds, pauses and drops.

Sea Runners

The Derwent river gave up some very nice sea run trout in September, as it always does. It was a brown coffee colour for the first two weeks, but eventually cleared up. This will continue right through October. The Derwent river is a godsend for those anglers that can knock off work or get a fish in at lunch time in Hobart. The rocky shores can hold some trophy sized sea run trout that are foraging for a good meal to feed their ferocious appetites.

Sea Run Systems

The legendary sea run river systems of the Arthur river and the Gordon river will be starting to get into the hearts and minds of Tasmanian anglers. These rivers are legendary for holding massive silver football shaped trout that have and will gorge themselves on the annual whitebait. There are a large number of anglers that treat their annual trips to these rivers as a pilgrimage. The plan the weekend trips to the mecca of sea runners as if it were a military operation.

Attention To Detail

No detail is left to chance and as important as the fishing is, so to is the right stubby holder and something to put in it. These hungry silver torpedos are feeding heavily on the annual Whitebait runs this month. Whitebait is a general or collective name for Tasmanian native fish that collect along our coastal areas and migrate in large numbers upstream. The key here is to develop a sound understanding of which rivers have good numbers of migratory whitebait and where on the river the feeding trout will congregate.

Fishing Fallen Logs

Tassie guru Mason Paull put this chap onto a monster from a western river In the slack water against fallen logs is a great place to start as reduced river flow allow the Whitebait to head upstream easier and the logs create cover for the trout to ambush from. Rocky covered shallows out of the flow of the main river is another area worth some attention. There is something very exciting about stalking a river bank to see a shower of Whitebait bursting clear of the water with their best ‘I am outta here’ expression on their cute little faces. Normally means there is a nice big sea runner hard up their clacker about to dine out!

Secret To Success

Obviously a hard body or soft plastic that resembles the small whitebait is a key to success. Being able to find a design small enough to mimic a whitebait while also swimming correctly is the trick with hard bodies. When thinking of colours remember that white bait are predominantly translucent as they head up the river or stream and darken up as they reach their destination and spawn. I grew up learning from local angler Warren Fisher from Forth. He would catch a lot of fish using a fly made with paint brush bristles. These bristles were pulled from one of his used paint brushes and tied with black cotton.

Pro Tip

A dob of clear nail polish and once that was dry a dob of tippex and the trap was set. Pistol grip rods with closed faced reels were used to cast the fly with 3 very light split shots (closed gently on the line about 30cm apart) between the drowned logs between the banks. In the modern era the amount of amazing and life like fly representations of whitebait will blow the mind. Fly fishers have the upper hand here as the runners can be zoned in on the tiny bait. Split shots or fishing a fly with a bubble float will have the spinstick fisher in the game.

Squiding In Tassie

Squid have been a fisherman’s bread and butter for many years here in Tasmania and it is seeing a huge increase in interest. Southern calamari have more often been an afterthought or by catch when chasing something else. This mentality has been slow to change, but in the last 12 months has picked up steam dramatically. Heading to target them specifically is huge amounts of fun and having an impromptu squid catching comp amongst mates is even better.

A New Focus

The changing attitudes are due to the fun you can have deliberately targeting squid and the fact they are pretty good on the chew. Growing up as a young tacker it was adults that got to use the rods and reels and my brother and I would be master of the handlines. This was the way to catch squid ‘back in the day’ with primitive looking jigs you could buy a handful of for 10 bucks. Well not anymore.
A sensational Tassie squid - great eating and sensational sport.

A sensational Tassie squid – great eating and sensational sport.

Gearing Up

More and more anglers are targeting squid as a sought after species. When other species are quiet they are heading out to their favourite squid haunts with specialist Squid gear with a heavy Japanese influence. Mainland Australia and in particular the squid rich grounds of Victoria have really gravitated to the Japanese domestic market gear available. JDM squid gear is high in quality and very specific in its purpose. Rods are light weight yet finely balanced and matching with correct reel is very important. This is brought about by the distinctly different action used to lure the squid.

Giving It A Rip

The new crew of squid experts favour a very aggressive rod action when enticing a squid bite. Traditionally in Australia we rely on a gentle lift and drop rod action and hope for the best. I have personally changed my squid rod action and have had great results. There are a couple of things to think on because there is a bit at play here. If you try to use the very aggressive rod ripping action of today with your old squid gear you may just wear a jig in the moosh.

Up The Ante

Heavy rods and cheap squid lures will work right out of the bottom zone and be quickly at the surface before you know it. The specialist rods combined with quality Japanese jigs that are heavier and designed to allow control of the jig in the water column. This will have your jig in the bite zone for longer and hopefully enticing your very own movie title ‘Attack of the MONSTER CEPHLEPODS’ The jigs from the Japanese manufacturers are of exceptional quality and very hard wearing. The colour ranges are fantastic and you could do worse than to stock up on GanCraft, Vally Hill and Geecrack jigs.

Horses For Courses

There is no doubt that when the squid are grouped up and in their aggressive spawning patterns you can catch them on just about anything. Southern calamari are an all year prospect in Tasmanian waters and that is a little known fact. This is the case because at certain times of the year you need to actively target them with the right gear and a better designed offering. The broken ground and weedy sections of Tasmania hold lots of squid all the time. Be aware there are some seasonal closures in some East Coast waters, check tas gov sites for information on those.

Squid Over 3 Kilos!

Big squid, and it is not uncommon to find them over 3kg, are great fun on light gear. If you are like me and love targeting squid in clear shallow water, get into a local tackle store and kit yourself out for some squid stalking. There is a heap to discuss and learn about squid fishing so keep an eye out in future months for a Tasmanian squid special.
Want to catch monster squid? Head to Tassie.

Want to catch monster squid? Head to Tassie.

Fishing Tassie’s East Coast

In Tasmania when you start to talk of weather improvements and longer days the East Coast starts to call anglers. The area from Eddystone Point stretching all the way down to The South East at Orford is very productive fishing grounds. The St Helens area is hard to beat for an angler looking to increase their species count. October will see the localised Bream spawning runs up the rivers and creeks really start to build. Further down the coast word from the locals is there are “1000’s of Bream in the Scamander.” This can be said for the Swan River as well. The Bream course up and down these rivers trying to make up their mind if they want to be active in the shallows or in the deeper pools. Its up to the angler to work out what they have decided on any given day. The Scamander area and Ansons bay will still be holding some good Garfish schools, as should St Georges Bay.

Chasing Big Salmon

St Georges Bay continues to go from strength to strength in regard to fish stocks. The schools of big Salmon come into the bay and often have some Taylor mixed in with them. Remember they don’t call them “chopper” Tailor for nothing. Should you be getting bitten off try for a longer slender lure where the hooking point is further from the line. If this doesn’t work you will have to go for a fine wire trace. Speaking from experience don’t, in all the excitement of catching some big salmon with the kids, dive your thumb into what looks like at first glance to be another salmon. The resulting smiley face in the end of your thumb will leak a lot of blood. The teeth on these tailor are wicked!

What You Waiting For?

October is also a good time for some nice Flathead offshore and a few gummy sharks. This month can have a bit of wind about so the opportunity to head offshore may be limited. Don’t forget also that the season on Striped Trumpeter will still be closed for the month of October. November the Trumpeter season fires up again and so to does the cray fish. We will talk about that next time.
Until then, have a great month of fishing and tight lines.
Kelly Hunt

About Kelly Hunt

Kelly “Hooch” Hunt grew up on the North West coast of Tasmania, right on the river FORTH. Spending many hours on its banks chasing trout, at the estuary chasing salmon or knee deep at night floundering. It’s just what you did, nothing special. What is special and why Kelly has fished all his life is the friendships and adventures fishing has delivered. The life skills and amazing moments along with gut splitting belly laughs can all be attributed to his fishing exploits. The adventures now days are often offshore chasing mako shark, marlin and tuna as a member of Team PENN. Game fishing has been a massive part of what Hooch has been involved in recently and he puts this down to a trip as a teenager to Hervey Bay. The Hervey Bay pier was his playground for 2 weeks and the trout fishing took a serious back step. The lad’s eye’s where opened to a world of hard charging salty critters and he was hooked deep. Hooch is passionate and enthusiastic about his home state of Tasmania and the life skills that the outdoors and fishing have bestowed him. Family and community engagement is very close to his heart and with four kids of his own has his own little community. Developing fishing events that deliver benefit to regional coastal towns is a something he loves to do. Never is he ever likely to profess to be an expert or know everything about any one thing, however his general knowledge on boating and fishing is generous. So too is his willingness to share that knowledge. Recognising his down to earth approach and nothing’s a problem attitude Navico Australia and PENN reels Australia put Hooch to work as a national brand Ambassador. He also enjoys generous support from BRP Australia and Surtees Boats New Zealand. Kelly writes for several print magazines and contributes to a number of national blog pages, holds down a spot on radio’s Geelong Fishing Show and speaks at tackle nights when ever asked. Sharing stories, successes and failures with the same outgoing and extroverted manner that generally keeps all amused. He was also part of the crew that fought a fish for 20 hours only to have it break the line. If we ask and the scars have healed he may share that epic tale as well.


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