Mid-winter on the Derwent can seem a bit drab when the temperatures plummet but there have been a few good signs for Hobart anglers needing a winter fishing fix.
Sea trout have been lurking around the Derwent shores hunting out the prolific amounts of baitfish that seem to be huddled along our rocky shores of late. The strong bait presence has also kept the breamers happy as some solid blue noses continue to play ball in the shallows.
Although the first big cold rains and snow melt will shut down the bream bite, the flush of fresh often tends to congregate the sea runners. Prospecting the shores with minnow-style soft plastic baits is perhaps the most effective way of finding these loose schools of sea runners.
Water conditions are often a bit discoloured at these times and lightly rigged plastics tend to be one of the better lures that hang in the water column. This in turn gives marauding trout a good chance to spot your offering. Stickbait style minnow patterns in 3” are a good choice of soft lure and a dark green or two-tone smelt are both proven trout colours. Prince of Wales Bay, Bedlam Walls and Lindisfarne shores are all worthwhile areas to start looking.
This year’s solid early presence of these silvery sea trout seems to be a very good sign for the upcoming sea runner season. My advice is to get out there and start early as there seems to be no reason to lay in wait for the action to arrive in early spring. It’s already started!
While sea trout are a bit of an enigma for some anglers, the rewards are there for those who take the time to learn a little about the habits of these trout. Here are a few tips to get you started.
As with most trout, sea runners prefer a constant lift and drop or rolling type retrieve when using plastics and a steady winding motion when fishing spoons or hardbodied minnows.
If you do locate numbers of fish, they tend to gradually work along shores and can be relocated the next day or even later on the same day in that same area.
Rig for big trout and don’t run your 4lb bream leaders if you want to land a big trout. I worked this out last year. Enough said! 6-10lb mainline or leader is about right.
Night sessions are a real option especially with a milder, light northerly breeze. Too much wind and you won’t hear the trout. Try surface lures or very lightly rigged but good-sized minnow plastics that stay near the surface while retrieved.
Inland fisheries have continued the stocking of Craigbourne Dam much to the delight of many anglers. The steady stream of keen Atlantic salmon hunters have also kept the local tackle outlets ticking over during what can be a very quiet period. Well done to the IFS for their foresight during what can be the off-season for many trouters.
An additional stocking of 125 1.5kg average brook trout has kept the focus of many on both Craigbourne Dam and Lake Meadowbank over the last few weeks. On the down side, there are reports of some anglers taking trout and salmon in excess of their limit of two fish over 600mm in length. This is very poor form indeed, but it seems there are always a few that just can’t help themselves. Perhaps a few more visits from the inspectors might help.
Other than that issue, the crowds have been excellent with both kids and adults having some great fun with the salmon on light gear. The bigger salmon have been a bit tricky and hard to find at times, therefore mixing up your presentations if often the key to success.
With water clarity still an issue at the dam, suspending baits under a float is a good option if all else fails. Otherwise bright or pumpkinseed plastics have taken plenty of fish as have flashy diving minnows. If in doubt, keep casting; a big salmon is never far away. Salmon to 7kg have been taken recently and a fish like that is definitely worth the trip.
Back on the Derwent, and there will still be some good options for breamers this month. July can be darn cold and the bream do slow down their bite rates a fair bit, but slowly worked soft plastics are often the best way to target fish this month. Heavily scented hybrid or composite soft baits are a good choice right now.
Recently, I’ve been out on the river testing the new Ecogear Aqua Bream Prawns. Other models in this series have always worked well when I’ve used them on bream or trout and the new ‘bream prawns’ similarly provided immediate success. I know anglers will appreciate the excellent texture, flavour and quality moulding when using these new soft plastics. Keep an eye out for them later in the year.
I’ve met quite a few anglers recently that are just starting out in regards to learning about the lure options and how to fish them on the Derwent. Anglers new to breaming these days seem to go straight to hardbodied lures but next month is a good time to soak a few plastics for bream.
Worm patterns slowly jigged around pylons or other large structure can take plenty of bream in July. Minnow and prawn patterns are also good standard patterns as bream plastics. During winter, the bite does slow right down in comparison with the smash and grab style hits you experience with hard lures.
Light jig weights and a more medium action rod tip can help detect the often subtle takes when fishing to bream that tend to nip or hold the lure in their mouth before a proper take. Light 2-4lb abrasive resistant Rockfish type fluorocarbon leaders are excellent for this style if fishing.
Mid-winter is also a great time to get organised for the upcoming trout season. I chat with plenty of lure anglers while at work and have met quite a few that haven’t yet taken the plunge in regards to electric motors on their boats.
An electric upgrade to your fishing vessel is the best thing a fly or lure angler could ever do. Make sure you go for a model with enough power to suit your boat and you will be amazed at the changes the increased manoeuvrability will make to the way you fish.
In short, you will be able to fish a whole lot more ground on electric and be able to fish those areas with much more precision.
And yes, you will catch more fish.Reads: 2003