What to do in October?
  |  First Published: October 2013

What on earth does a game fisher do in October, in Tasmania.

This is a good question.

The fishing gear and terminal tackle by now should be well serviced and any larger jobs on the good ship should be well in hand.

Water temperaturess are frosty. Weather is confused? Striped trumpeter season is closed.

Prett much the only thing you can do is research.


The water we fish is often overlooked for other species. We get set in our ways and fishing techniques that we know have always worked. Often this can lead to missing quality fish not thought to be in our fishing grounds. The two species of fish that have huge potential in this area are snapper and yellowtail kingfish. Cheap airfares and good deals on accommodation at the minute allow for excellent ‘research’ missions to be had as close as Melbourne for snapper and good ole Sydney town for the kings. Do a little looking around on the www and find a good charter operator. The knowledge you can garner from a good charter operator is worth its weight in Gold.

The information, styles and techniques can be transferred for good result when back in Tasmania waters.

Team PENN on Safari

We spend a lot of time in and around St Helens game fishing and often hear the snippets and stories around the kingfish in the area. We have never spent a great deal of time targeting them, but with a trip to Sydney planned we decided to gather some info to have a real crack at them this year.

Yellowtail kingfish are an oceanic surface fish that hold over inshore reefs, around rocky headlands, offshore reefs and around islands. Inhabiting the coastal waters of mainland Australia's southern shores from south Queensland to the mid-coast of Western Australia, including Tasmania. Large numbers are found up and down the eastern coastline.

They prefer turbulent water and tidal rips and love to school up over sharp pinnacles of reef, around wharf pylons, and rocky headlands. They appear during the warmer months of summer and autumn and can be found lurking under schools of slimy mackerel in large bays and estuaries during autumn.

The low down

We flew out the door of the Hotel in Darling Harbour in darkness and into a Taxi cab. A 20-minute trip up over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and we were shaking hands with our skipper for the day, Matt Reid from Raptor Charters. Matt had arrived just before us and removed some Police tape from across the face of the Tunks Park boat ramp. We first thought damn kids. We were probably a touch hasty and owe the kids in the area an apology given the late model Hilux parked on its boat trailer 2m under the low water mark on the left ramp.

We met Tubby and Ange from Zulu Charters – St Helens Tasmania in the pre-dawn darkness at the ramp.

Taking all that in our stride we were off to catch some live baits and then a swift steam out of Sydney heads and turn hard left. We had a good look at what Matt was up to and asked a few questions as we deployed a live bait and a cuttlefish tentacle on two downriggers.

Once the downriggers were running nicely we had a look on the sounder at the reef edge we were working when we had a double hook up. Two very nice kingfish, one going 92cm. We quickly worked out that Matt knew his stuff as we caught kingfish at will for 4 hours boating and releasing all but 2 of 38 kingfish. The only time we rested from using bait, knife jigs and Livey’s was to sushi-up a rat king that was destined for the table. Matt had chilled the fish down and dragged out some soy sauce, limes and wasabi. Great stuff.

We had a nice cruise back into the harbour and onto the ramp, taking in all the sights , but also thinking how we are going to use and tweak the new techniques we have witnessed back home in Tassie.

We are all now super keen and chaffing at the bit to get out of St Helens, find some suitable ground and catch some good sized Tassie kingfish.

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