Tasmanian game fishing has thrown up some real surprises this year.
2013 has once again seen the start of a good season. Not spectacular mind you, but defiantly solid.
The staple filling in any blue water angler’s freezer is albacore. The ‘chicken of the sea’ once again made an appearance in excellent numbers. Schools of albies over 15kg were common with superb examples of the species to 25kg swimming amongst them.
Marlin are the top rung of all game anglers species ladder. Every year we watch the sea surface temperatures hoping we will see a run of striped marlin off the east coast. Indeed they came and there were a number of nice fish landed and more impressively released. Darren Cherry waltzed out of Burns bay one afternoon for a few laps across Merricks Reef and BOOM! He has a nice little video of himself and the kids doing battle with a nice striped marlin which he later released. A week out from the St Helens Classic and the fishing forums were running hot. The competition this year being taken out by a marlin caught by Julian Overton fishing on Ofishal Business.
The first surprise was the numbers of dolphin fish or mahi mahi that have been caught. Not totally unheard of being caught off St Helens but a welcome by-catch. On finding a large raft of sea weed floating out off the shelf, a few casts with some bigger soft plastics would find a dolphin or at the very least some yellowtail kingfish living underneath.
The second surprise for the season has been the lack of reported catches of yellowfin tuna. They are traditionally taken early in the season when they roll down past St Helens feeding on their merry way. The recreational and competition fishing failed to report of any captures on that initial run. Later in the season around Easter yellowfin are often reported to be encountered. This year I can only recall of one yellow of 63kg being reported taken in shallow off St Helens.
Third and final surprise is of much brighter disposition and very exciting.
Big southern bluefin tuna have been rounding the corner and heading to all the usual haunts. The school blues that have been taken early are in fabulous condition and are pulling the scales down past 30kg.
Bill Milonas from Navico was down in Tasmania outlining all the new product lines for Lowrance and SIMRAD. He was asked by a retailer would he like to go out for a fish while he was down. I overheard the conversation and it was mentioned “If we don’t do any good at least the scenery is fantastic!”
The next time I saw Bill and the crew of “REEL ME IN”, skippered by Mark Watson, they were posing by a fish that pulled the scales down to 127.6kg. This fish was in excellent condition and measured 196cm in length.
Here is hoping these bigger fish are here for a while and stay hungry.
The weather starts to crack right up, but for those diehard anglers that are addicted to big bluefin the allure of Pedra Branca cannot be ignored.
The opportunity to have a crack at larger than average bluefin tuna off Southern Tasmania at Pedra Branca in Tasmania’s wild southern ocean should be on all keen anglers bucket list. The trip takes some planning and it is a fabulous idea to travel in a group if using trailer boats.
The bulk of the planning is to be done around weather and finding that right combination of swell and wind that opens a safe window.
Once the decision has been made, sort some accommodation and enough supplies to allow for a minimum of two days. It’s a long way to go for a day trip.
The ramp at Southport is a popular starting point. The ramp will handle all trailer boats at most tides. It’s the sand bar and the run-out that will take some concentration. The gung-ho approach is to get up on the plane and skitch across. Given the distance from medically available morphine I would suggest a measured and careful approach.
Follow carefully the track you plotted on your GPS the night before and once you’re clear of Whale Head you have 23km to travel. Slowly Pedra will loom up out of the ocean and as you get closer there will be a realisation that this is a big trip!
On arrival the birds and seals will catch your eye as should the large 50m rock structure towering out of the water.
Pedra Branca is a mysterious place and as mentioned a bucket list item. The fish are plentiful and above average in size. It can be common to not encounter fish below 50kg. It must also be said it’s a treacherous part of the world.
Keep an eye on the sea conditions and at the hint of something not forecast move off as its 2-hours back to safety.
Good planning and a bit of preparation will have you back at Southport full of smiles with talk of another trip - weather dependent.Reads: 1980