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Derwent fires up for all species
  |  First Published: December 2011



Well what a month November turned out to be.

I’ve had some hot sessions on the bream as they continued to group up in several locations throughout the Derwent estuary as well as experiencing some of the best sea trout action for the year.

Sea Trout

Just when we all thought the sea trout action would finish or couldn’t get much better, it did. The trout condition has kept on improving as the year has rolled on providing anglers with some real challenges when attempting to land these feisty trout. Sea trout over 1.5kg and in top nick can be a bit of a shock as just when you think you have everything under control, they explode into that first rocketing jump and things turn nasty.

The estuary trout action has faded for now but imagine how fat they will be next year. Until then there will be quite a few big resident trout on offer for those willing to put in the hours.

Bream Central

The bream concentrations have been very scattered for this time of year, maybe due to the ongoing fresh water flows into the system this season. There have been smaller schools of bream patrolling the rocky shore in many areas in the lower Derwent between Sandy Bay and Elwick Bay. Usually this zone doesn’t offer up many bream during November and December but perhaps there is enough food on offer this season to attract the fish in numbers.

These schools do seem to be in transit to upriver spawn areas and don’t seem to bite that freely when present with lures, especially hardbodies. Yes you will get some on hardbodies but you will generally do better when using well-scented soft plastics. With the water conditions very clear in these lower river zones it can pay to run a straight through fluorocarbon set up if you do wish to run hardbodied shallow minnow or deeper crankbaits.

There will be some good options for bream anglers during the next month or so as the bream schools thicken up. The top half of the system above Austins Ferry is the better area to focus on right now. As usual, the start of the run out tide is frequently the best bite period when angling for bream with lures.

Small jerkbaits aren’t a bad searching lure when working along the extensive river grass edges in the upper estuary. There are also some weeded shallow margins in this area as well. Shallow running minnows perform best in these shallow sections.

At times the bream will hold deep in 4-8m of water, usually during slower bite periods. Heavier jig rigged soft plastic set ups are good for this deeper work as are metal vibe lures. Slow patrolling of the drop-offs employing a good quality sounder is one way to located groups of bream.

The bream can become focused on baitfish as a food source when in the upper river. Anglers should keep an eye out for swirls and panicked baitfish as this visual cue often signifies the presence of active bream and or feeding trout. Please release bream where you take them while they are in spawn mode as these fish are the providers of future stocks.

Health Warning

Recently the Inland Fisheries Service has reissued the health warnings in regards to the high levels of toxic heavy metals present in our Derwent bream. The average Derwent bream has somewhere between 2 and 2.5 times what is recognised as a dangerous level of toxic residue in their flesh. Not great if you are looking for fish for the table. There’s absolutely no way I would feed fillets like that to my family or friends.

Stream fishing

Stream trouters will now be out in force about the Derwent Valley, Coal River and Huon Valley streams. December always sees the start of some really warm weather and the explosion of food that this creates for trout. Hence this month is a popular time for fly anglers to get out and into some decent dry fly action.

Well-hackled dries with a touch of colour are always a good choice at this time. Reliable patterns such as the Royal Wulff, Red Tag, Blue Dun, Black Spinner and a Deer Hair Beetle should all have their day. A grasshopper pattern like a Wee Creek Hopper should also do well towards the end of the month as ‘hopper numbers build.

Many still run a two fly rig these days even during the warmer months but there shouldn’t be any need if the fish are taking well. The Upper Tyenna should be the pick of the local streams during December but I’m looking forward to exploring parts of the upper Coal River if time allows this month.

Bay Fishing

On the bays there has been a real upturn in flathead activity as water temperatures slowly climb and the fish move into shallower waters. Trolling large bibbed minnows just off the bottom is emerging as a great way to locate concentrations of sizeable flathead if you don’t have a favourite spot in mind. Try minnows in the 10-16cm size range as this will eliminate most of the smaller fish from your catches. Drifting jigging with soft plastics is another popular and very successful method that is now well established in Tasmania.

Anglers are also getting into the scenting game as their plastics lose their initial layer of flavour. Gel type scent offer the best value for your dollar as a small container will usually last for ages. Spray scent are quicker and easier to use but don’t seem to last as long. Both are worth every cent.

The yellowtail kingfish hounds will be on the lookout this month as juvenile calamari and cocky salmon invade the inshore zone. Last years show of these prized sports fish was a bit of a non-event but all fingers and toes are crossed for the summer months ahead.

Dunalley Canal, Port Arthur and the outside of Bruny Island are the type of areas that these fish can be found at. Live baiting with salmon or calamari is a good method to try if you are one of the anglers that seem to see these fish but just can’t entice a strike on lures. It takes a bit of organisation but the extra preparation will pay off in the end.

And finally, don’t forget the calamari as this month is when the squid become a very reliable catch, especially if you’re after the great eating new season fish.

Fish light and give some quality jigs a go for some fun sessions about the local headlands.

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