One of the most asked questions is “where is the best place to catch a sea-runner from the shore.”
It’s almost like people have the preconceived idea that if you don’t have access to a boat you’re behind the eight ball to start with. The truth is very different and the majority of my best fish in the last season were all landed from the shore.
Here are 10 land-based hot spots that will get you on the right track to success. Granted reading a few words in a magazine is no substitute for time on the water, and that’s what is necessary to arm yourself with the attitude and tactics to bring a few fish to the bank. We’ll start upstream and work our way south.
Approximately 4km west of the Granton roundabout you will find the historic remnants of the Lime Kilns. The access road has been fenced off due to several accidents but there is ample room for parking 200m down the road near the entrance to the nearby winery. It’s only a short walk and since the closing of the access track has largely been forgotten as a top fishing location on the river. Nothing has changed other than the need to walk from your vehicle. It is the only place on this side of the river where the channel edge passes the shore between the Bridgewater Bridge and many miles west to the speed boat club. Great fishing can be found here right from the start of the season. A good high tide is recommended here and fish can be found in tight as a there is a false gutter that extends along the bank here up into the marshland ahead.
Around 500m west of the Bridgewater McDonalds roundabout you will find Riverside Drive which leads you to Masons Point on the northern side of the Derwent upstream of the Bridgewater Bridge. Some years ago the access road extended all the way up to the back of Dromedary Marsh but is now boom-gated right on the point proper.
The best fishing starts immediately at the gated area and extends several 100m around in to the bay itself. The shore is lined with rushes and has a predominately weedy bottom with a few rocky ledges that provide solid access out in to the river.
This shore is a gem and provides scope for all angling methods. Best fishing is on a high tide, where trout will chase bait hard in to the banks, continuing as it runs out. All manner of lure, fly and soft plastics will produce here: a very popular location from day one of the season. At the parking area there is a jetty leading out into the water. Give this a miss, instead don a pair of waders and fish the gutter that follows the bank from here all the way to the bridge. It’s a trout feeding highway. It is fished very little, but holds large numbers of fat hungry trout.
This could be broken down into several different areas all with their unique strategies for success. The causeway itself offers fantastic fishing. The upstream side offers a good gutter with excellent tidal flow, the key to Derwent success in most instances. The run-out tide is your best bet and again is popular from day one of the season.
The lower side is open to year round fishing as the bridge itself is the boundary. The abutment on the Hobart side is a good spot although not one I frequent too often. The bridge itself of a night time is probably the number one spot for big Derwent trout. Bait fishing here is the key with a local sandy, prettyfish or jollytail, drifting in the current behind the many pylons. Anglers line up here nearing the start of the season and with many double figure fish falling it easy to see why. Anglers walk their fish to the abutment to be netted.
Where? Otherwise known as the Bridgewater Bridge boat ramp shore. About 300m below the boat ramp an old fence meets the water on the point. The river is deep here right on the bank. Fish it deep with a weighted soft plastic, 1/12th oz is about as light as you want and sometimes heavier as the best tide is a hard run-out and you need to get down in the water column somewhat.
A further 100m around the little bay a second point meets the channel edge before the shallow open expanses of the marsh below. This point on its day is a cracker. I find it a little hit and miss but when it’s on its fantastic. It’s much shallower than the first point and suited to all angling methods and can be fished year round.
The amount of big fish I have seen caught here after dark on the run-out tide never ceases to astound me, and all by the one person. He fishes no lower in the river as ‘cod’ steal his baits he says. He fishes a fresh jollytail and the bottom half of the run-out tide. He has his secret little tweaks to his rigs but it’s pretty basic. Throw it out in to the current swing it down and draw it back along the edge. The whole shore here is a good place to throw lures and plastics in daylight hours and one can walk for about 1km to the next little bay that obstructs further access. The channel edges runs along the weed line close and is a good spot to wander and prospect.
This is the northern extremity that makes up the Cadburys arm. Access is by foot and parking on the flat before the hill climbs up to the Cadbury factory. Made famous by Cliff Smith who almost lived here and was probably the most successful angler on the Derwent that I’m aware of. He fished a bait on the old Bridgewater rig which involved a fixed hook, a sliding treble, cast lightly on a fly rod. This was cast out in to the current again allowed to swing around and drawn slowly back to the angler. This point has no doubt seen many trophy fish over the years. These days you’d be lucky to find and angler there. I know I haven’t seen anyone in the visits I have made.
Heading north out of Otago Bay you will find Murtons Road in the dip at the base of the big hill on the East Derwent Highway. This short road leads you to a small one or two vehicle parking area and the water edge where you’ll find a rather peaceful and attractive shoreline. It’s a ripper spot and there is hardly ever a day where you won’t find a trout here. Fish the shore from the car park area down to Woodville Bay, around 300m. I like the run-out tide here once again but from high to about half way out. Lure, fly and plastics are all good choices.
Surprisingly this extremely easy-to-access and highly rewarding spot only sees the occasional angler. It’s rare I choose to fish here and find someone already there. Parking is right near the old Otago shipwreck but be careful not to obstruct the Bus Stop area. Further parking is 100m away near the intersection to the East Derwent Highway. Fishing here can be exceptional: again a run-out tide is a bonus. The points either side of the wrecks are the hot spots. No need to wander far, I prefer to wade out and stay there. Just keep making casts and you will catch fish.
Not far to the south is the Bowen Bridge. There is plenty of parking here and the shore from under the bridge for 1-200m or so is all worth exploring. Just below the bridge there is a deeper hole that tends to fish well. You can easily find the edge of this on about half tide. The gently sloping shelf extends north and allows for very comfortable wading and fishing. It’s also a fantastic spot to fish plastics at night. If you aren’t in to the bait thing this technique works extremely well.
Gulp plastics I find are the best of a night although there are myriad choices out there these days. The lights from the bridge high above create a great silhouette and it’s possible to see trout following plastics back to your feet on nights when they aren’t taking aggressively.
Last but not least, one of my favourite spots on the Derwent. Leaving the East Derwent Highway at Risdon Cove is Saundersons Rd. This leads you out to Store Point directly opposite Nyrstar (zinc works). The point itself is dynamite late evening and in to the night. There is a deep drop here and trout hold or school here to feed on whitebait that waits for a suitable tide to move upstream.
The run-out tide is imperative to successful fishing, it holds bait fish up and allows trout and easy meal. The fast current not the whitebait’s friend. The whole shoreline back into Risdon Cove is fishable and does hold fish. I tend to focus on the last 500m out to the point itself. I generally fish hardbodied lures until last light then move to soft plastics.
Overall on the Derwent a run-out tide is the key to getting the most out of your fishing. The harder it rips the better the fishing generally. There are a couple of spots there where the high tide is advantageous but they are the exception to the rule.
I fish with straight through fluorocarbon usually at around 3-6lb. If fishing after dark though I do prefer to fish braid with a 6lb leader. You can feel the slightest touch that little bit better and it’s good to make the most of your opportunities if out late on a cold dark Tassie night early in the season.
With lure choice, I’ll leave that up to you. There are so many out there and they all catch fish. Anything that resembles a bait fish will work. Matching the hatch is ideal although I do tend to totally disregard that if fish are smashing small whitebait. I like to throw them something bigger, something that might stand out from the school and may get hit as the odd meal out.
The same applies to plastics. Anything that looks like a baitfish and you’re half way there.
Check your rules and regulations as many of these spots can be fished year round and have some fun.Reads: 9268