Sea runners occupy the agenda
  |  First Published: September 2013

The main word on the street is the return of the whitebait for their annual spawning migrations.

While whitebait patties will be on many anglers’ minds, the main attraction is the large numbers of sea run trout that predate on the whitebait. Not a lot is known about sea run brown trout in Tasmania. There are many different theories but we’re not here to discuss that. We want to know how and where to catch them!

Well, in September I find that it is usually the best time to catch larger sea runners as they can become really fussy when the bait is thick later on in the season. Many anglers think that matching the hatch is the key to catching sea runners. This is very true, however, matching the hatch should not be limited to just imitating whitebait. Large sea runner diet can be quite diverse and they can sometimes feed on small stuff like whitebait or move onto something larger like flathead or even other trout! With this in mind it pays to vary the selection of lures. I have done really well on small Ashley spinners, 2” minnow soft plastics (rigged on small jigheads) and small, slim profiled hardbodied lures when imitating whitebait although this usually results in high numbers of small fish.

In deeper waters I have experimented with larger soft plastics such as 100mm smelt minnows and fished them on heavier jigheads. I found that I won’t catch as many fish, but the fish I do catch are usually bigger. Tides can be crucial too – no flow, no go!

I like the run-out tide personally but as long as it’s flowing it shouldn’t matter. As for locations I don’t think it’s that important on the North West coast no matter what others may think, after all, the whitebait don’t seem to mind. As long as it’s a river leading to the sea there will be sea runners. My favourites include the Cam, Blythe, Emu and Leven rivers.


There aren’t many places to catch them compared to the browns but they do spawn later than their brown cousins which is why you’ll sometimes find them doing their thing this time of the year in your favourite waters! I recommend fishing creek mouths of lakes (Talbots Lagoon, Guide Dam and Pet Dam) and the upper reaches of known rainbow rivers such as the Leven or Guide rivers. The males can have awesome spawning colours and they aren’t usually fussy which is why I take advantage of my poor flyfishing skills on them this time of the year!

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