In January the bay and lower estuary action really heats up as the lower Derwent, Fredrick Henry Bay and Storm Bay receive their standard annual influx of arrow squid and even a yellowtail kingfish or two if we are lucky.
January will be the month that the kingies should show up in decent numbers. I haven’t heard many whispers from the north east yet so perhaps we may have another quiet year from the yellowtails. January is one of the best times to get out after a feed of flathead on one of our local bays. In good conditions, drifting for flathead can be a real family affair as this type of angling is usually a very simple process.
At times you can find things a little quieter than normal and it can be a good idea to change your approach to flathead fishing. The most popular option to plain old bait fishing is a soft plastic lure. These can be the multi-dropper Sabiki type rig or as I prefer, single or jig head rigged.
Simply rig one weighted jig with a single plastics lure and fish it on light to medium weight 6 or 7’ spin rod. You should use light 6-10lb braided line or say a 12lb monofilament line in conjunction with a jig weight of around a ½ oz. Rig this type of set up with your favourite plastics and you have a very good all-round bay fishing rig that will suit shallow bay plastic jigging, fishing squid jigs, casting metal slice lures to salmon or even trolling of mid-sized diving minnows for big sand flathead.
All of these techniques are real winners and are well worth trying if things are slow. Most local bay anglers can’t believe that anyone actually uses a rod over 4’ long in a boat. Once you get accustomed to using longer rods a lot more techniques and presentations become available to the angler. Change can be a good thing.
Derwent and Huon Valley streams will be on the menu for local dry fly fishing enthusiasts right now. Grasshopper imitations will be the order of the day as trout feast on what should be a good crop of hoppers. The hopper hatches can be a boom or bust type of bite so look for them before assuming that the trout will be feeding on them. At times beetles tend to dominate daily hatches and using a standard beetle pattern is often a good call until you notice to aggressive slash like takes of ‘hopper feeding trout. Black foam beetles, Red Tags and Humpies are all good beetle patterns to try.
Craigbourne Dam may also offer fly fishers some good angling if the younger rainbow trout start to take off the top this summer. The water conditions are improving and this should allow trout to cruise and sip as growing rainbows in particular love to do.
Fisheries may well give the dam a top up stocking around Christmas as they often do. Regardless, the dam holds some very good specimens of all trout species right now and is worth a trip if you have limited time for a trouting fix.
Calamari are there to be had at the moment with a good spread of growing squid eager to attack jigs as they hunt about inshore shallow reefs and weed beds throughout the south east.
Try mid-tide periods around headlands or rock ledges as the squid often use the tidal push to move into reefy outcrop zones then moving back into the shallow bays. When searching for calamari, I would usually start fishing over some sea grass beds against or near a headland. If I’m unable to find any active squid, I’ll then move out into 3-4m of water where I know there are scattered weed beds that tend to hold squid. Rarely will you need to try many more options than these two before coming across some squid or calamari.
The December breaming on the Derwent has been just what you can expect from this iconic fishery. Outstanding fishing has been the order of the day for those that immerse themselves in current bream lure fishing techniques. I’ve found myself fishing vibes more than ever of late and getting back into the soft lures.
With bream on the move back to their mid-system haunts this month, they can be found schooling in deeper water adjacent to where you find active fish in the shallows. This is where I’ve found metal blades to be most useful to me as a fishing tool.
January is when we really start to get back into the shallow rock shore breaming on the Derwent. Shallow running minnows in the 50-80mm size range are perfect for these zones with natural baitfish tones being a common theme with colour choices. As I often point out, you don’t need a boat to find some very good bream angling during summer and autumn.
Land-based anglers can do very well at times and in fact, I still look forward to getting out on foot and battling the big Derwent bluenoses. While it can be a bit heart in mouth when tangling with good-sized bream around oyster encrusted rocks the rewards are there for those that fish hard against the rock structure.
Just don’t get too precious about losing a few lures here and there.Reads: 1939