The glorious Gordon River
  |  First Published: February 2014

The Gordon River is one of the jewels in Tasmania’s crown, and spends most of its 190km winding majestically through the south western Tasmania world heritage area, spilling into the history-soaked Macquarie Harbour.

The lower reaches of the Gordon is famous for its path through spectacular narrows and picturesque broad waters. These waters are the stuff of legend among seasoned ‘searunner’ fishers.

A searun trout has made a decision as a young fingerling to head out into the brackish estuarine water for a look and really likes what it sees. This new habitat combined with a varied and abundant food supply leads to a number of significant changes for these fish. Searunners soon grow into silver barrels growing faster and stronger than their poor cousins, the resident brown trout. This is why they are a much sought-after prize for those anglers trying to better their power and stamina.

If there is one thing big sea runners enjoy more than cool saltwater passing over their gills, it is a big run of white bait. The Gordon River is well renowned for its big runs of spawning whitebait. They come from all around to well up at the river mouth ready to brave the lazy current of the Gordon, move upstream, spawn and die. Big powerful sea runners will feed on these whitebait as they congregate at the river mouth and follow them up stream feeding ferociously.

Bucket list item

A trip to Tasmania’s wild west coast to fish a river full of massive trophy trout should be on everyone’s to-do list. There are some instances when being Tasmanian is a huge bonus and being involved in an annual trip to the Gordon River with cobber Stan Kaine is one of those occasions.

Trip planning is always as much fun as the trip itself and debating what to take and what to leave behind. Due to the landscape and the inability to camp on the steep riverbanks, living on board is a popular aspect. This comes with its difficulties as the confines of a small boat over four days has its logistics requirements.

Hadley Deegan runs the well-respected Deegan Marine in Tasmania and on hearing our plight offered us the use of a 2570 Super Cab from Stabicraft. Having never set foot on one, it was a fantastic opportunity to get acquainted.

The big Stabicraft, at 7.86m overall length and 2.49m of beam, was going to be a whole lot of trout fishing platform. This awesome vessel is obviously designed and very well appointed as an all-weather game fishing boat. We would put her through her paces and see how she would perform as an impromptu marine caravan.

The Harbour

The three hours tow from Ulverstone to Strahan was effortless thanks to the VW Touareg’s towing ability and the quality engineering of the custom Mackay alloy tandem trailer.

Macquarie Harbour was in a foul mood when we arrived at the ramp. Failing light and a 30 knot southerly made the decision to bed down in the big Stabicraft for the night relatively easy.

First night in the big girl and we woke in fine spirits. There were massive amounts of room in the full V berth and the Stabicraft has heaps of storage everywhere. We stowed the gear and made ready for our trip across the harbour as the weather had not woken as happy as we had.

Macquarie Harbour can not be taken lightly and with 30 knots of west south westerly still blowing, there was a horrid 3ft sea on less than a boat length apart. Standard practise is to head across to Liberty Point on the lee shore and run down the far side of the harbour underneath Sarah Island and across into the Gordon River. The Stabicraft was in her element – a nice soft ride, given the snot we had to transgress, and the twin windscreen wipers were superb. As I was not used to having an enclosed cab with lockable bi-fold doors, we were halfway across to Liberty Point when I went and effortlessly closed the doors. Oh my, what a grand idea! The wind noise completely disappeared and the temperature in the cabin rose 5º instantly. It was shear bliss!

I was verbally marvelling at what a sensation the doors were to Stan, but he was a tough audience as he was enthralled with the SIMRAD NSS-12 and off in another world playing with the radar hunting U-boats.

Once in under the protection of the lee shore, Stan had another play with the SIMRAD unit and plotted a course to the Gordon River mouth. Stan has a background in I.T. and happened to say the ‘Graphical User Interface’ of the unit was very good. To which I nodded with my best, “Yeah, I know” face.

River Mouth

The twin Honda 135 had us in the river in no time and were very handy in trimming out the tendency for the Stabicraft to lay to windward, as all deep vee hulls with big cabs tend to do. Given the size of the cab, the slight list was less than encountered on other vessels and I suspect it has a lot to do with the pontoon design affording a stiff hull form.

We spent the next 4 days and 3 nights living on the vessel and fishing up and down the Gordon. The in-cabin storage is amazing and over the course of the trip there was a spot and a hidey-hole for everything we had brought along and more.

The deck area designed to battle large pelagic species was more than adequate to tackle the big trout we managed to come across from time to time. It proved to be a highly practical and fisher-friendly space. Over the course of the trip it would morph from change room and kitchen area effortlessly.

The ‘superfish’ transom is a massive bait station and the live bait tank with glass viewing window is a big ’un. Matter of fact, most items are massive on this vessel, but more importantly well thought out and well executed – I was super impressed with the super cab. I did a rough calculation and it has 3m2 of spacious open plan area.

The large windows offer amazing field of vision when standing at the helm. I also noticed a massive forward hatch but with the ease you can traverse to the foredeck it would only be needed in an emergency. The foredeck is encapsulated by a big bow rail, making it a great place to fish and facilitate disembarking or boarding at anytime.

Must come to an end

Eventually we knew we had to head back to the ramp in Strahan and bring a very enjoyable 4 days living on the big Stabicraft to an end. Of course the weather was the best we had seen, which made leaving hard but the trip home very pleasant.

The 2570 Super cab is a ‘big show’, but no slouch. It comes onto the plane without fuss and can be quite deceiving when judging water speed. This is due to the hulls refusal to show any sign of high-speed nervousness as she moves effortlessly to a top speed of 40 knots.

Good thing

They say first impressions are important and the Stabicraft brand has imprinted a feeling of impeccable build quality and finish that you would hope to expect of a vessel of this class. On the water, its design gives you the feeling you are in possession of a craft built for the military – it is robust and reliable in every respect.

Its first design brief has been as an all weather game fishing platform, but it is so much more. The huge amount of storage and spacious cabin on this vessel lends itself to those times the family is on board and you are all away for a weekender. Getting you and your loved ones there and back safe and sound. It’s a massive memory making machine!

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