July is a good time to reflect and prepare
  |  First Published: July 2013

I thought I’d take the month of July to look back over the past twelve months and reflect on another fantastic year in the Derwent River around Hobart.

I used to often say that the river got better year after year, now I’m not so sure if that’s true or I just expect it to give up some amazing fishing year in year out. Whatever the case it was yet another super year on the Derwent chasing our resident and searun trout and our bruising big bream.

We are just a month away from the opening of the trout season so that will be the first thing to focus on. July is the time I start to head back out targeting the early searun trout and last year saw some amazing winter days, clear skies and windless afternoons providing some of the best conditions I can remember for some time. The trout were very cooperative with excellent fishing to be had around the many accessible shores in the open water below the Bridgewater Bridge.

Fishing the bottom half of the run out tide as always providing the best results. Soft plastics and a 1/12th or 1/16th jig head and a 1/0 hook my preferred method. Berkley Gulp minnows in Smelt or Pearl Watermelon the first choice and more often than not readily accepted by the hungry trout.

Quite often the trout were visible swirling on top as they feed on baitfish or small eels and lampreys. This was a feature of the early season fishing and you could generally cast to more than the odd fish waiting for a hook up.

This fantastic fishing continued from the shore for many months of the season. While a boat wasn’t necessary all the time it certainly opened up much more water and drift spinning from the deck of a boat slowly moving down a shore line or channel edge produced many exceptional fish.

Not to disappoint the searunners were in superb fighting condition once again, feeding heavily on baitfish this past year more so than crabs and shrimps of seasons past.

It was a year of big fish too with some amazing trout landed between Bridgewater and New Norfolk. We had one week where there were four awesome fish over 4kg landed by various methods along the popular stretch of water.

Around October, like clockwork as usual, the famous black bream the river is known for across Australia started making regular appearances as by-catch while we were still targeting the trout.

My focus slowly shifts to the bream as the weather warms and it’s hard to not chase these amazingly strong little sport fish as the trout thin out somewhat.

By mid November bream are on the radar and taking lures regularly with gusto, running hard and destroying leaders not to mention disappearing with the odd expensive lure never to be seen again.

The small fish from previous years had grown somewhat with a large class of fish now between 28-32cm tip to fork. What also was good to see were the huge numbers of 38-39cm fish and even the odd big 40cm plus with January seeing two at 43cm fork for myself.

By February the Derwent was becoming the destination for many of the states tournament anglers pre-fishing for the tournaments later on in the year. As they neared in March 6kg five fish bags were a regular occurrence with three out of four trips producing the magic mark at one stage. The only bag missing was 5.95kg.

The Tasmanian tournament scene is growing from strength to strength and evidence of that was seen with fields of 30 plus boats in both the ABT and Classic rounds on the Derwent in May. Both events had first time winners with father and son duo Dan and Ant Suttil taking out the Classic round with a 13kg bag.

It was great to see so many new faces taking part. It’s not hard to get in to. You don’t need the biggest fastest boat or the best gear. Just enough to comply with some simply regulations and you just get out and go fishing with your mate. Next year’s events are sure to be bigger again.

Looking back at the bream season it’s hard to remember a bad one down here. I can’t wait for it to come around again.

The sheer number and amazing condition of these Derwent River trout and the solid record breaking black bream in 2012/13 once again makes it hard for anyone to argue where the river sits in the list of the state’s best fisheries. I for one know where I rate it.

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