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Getting kitted out for winter
  |  First Published: June 2014



You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that June in Tasmania it can be a bit fresh. The key to fishing at this time is equipment, and I’m not talking about tackle and rigs.

Staying warm and dry while participating in the pastime we love is crucial. Winter can mean some fantastic fishing and action, but if you are drenched and one step away from hyperthermia you won’t enjoy it. And if the kids are along, then this is doubly so. If the ‘tin lids’ are not warm and toasty it will not be long before the dreaded, “Can we go now, Dad?” will start.

LAYERS

It is a heck of a lot easier to start warm and peel clothes off than warm up when your core temp is low. June is thermals time; leggings and long sleeve top. This is the foundation for a shirt with a long back to keep the kidneys warm and a set of warm pants. Favourite jumper with a hood can also be handy.

A waterproof jacket is of huge advantage in Tasmania. I like a quality item that has sealed seams and tight neoprene cuffs. The idea of layering up to keep warm is to allow the layers to do the heavy lifting to get the job done.

There is a place for waterproof jackets with a heap of warm inner linings but I find these very bulky and cumbersome. A light weight, thin yet waterproof coat is the best option.

Wet feet is the best way to ruin a day’s fishing. Launching a boat or trying to save a favourite lure from the snags early is a recipe for a miserable day. Quality footwear with a sturdy sole with a high degree of waterproofing will make an enjoyable day a cracker. There is a lot to be said for warm socks as well.

Gloves on the hands when not needing to tie a knot or do anything fiddly are a huge advantage when the mercury plummets into single fingers. General rule of thumb is when the temperature digits are less than the number of actual digits you have, gloves are a great idea.

Kitted out ready for any weather, you and the family can enjoy some winter angling.

TROUT

It is very important to make sure what waterways are open and closed at this time of year. The Great Lake is obviously an option as it is open throughout the entire year and with a shoreline full of galaxia, and the land-based fishing can be exciting.

Look for a shore with the wind blowing into your face and cast in a fan shape starting left to right. If no luck, move to your right and start again. Spinners reflecting a galaxia are a great start. Once the wind falls away you then have conditions the Berkley black and gold T-tails are renowned for.

Spawning fish should be returning to the feeding grounds of the lake and that means ‘shrimp beds’. Get in and talk to the tackle stores to find where they have substantiated, but a good start is McLanachans Point and Becketts Bay.

LIGHT SPORT

Australian salmon fishing has been excellent this year. Schools have been large and numerous with some big units being produced from these schools. This won’t change in June only your enthusiasm to be out in the elements.

Concentrate your efforts around river mouths from either boat or from the shore. If you can’t find a school feeding on krill or the small bait fish, try bringing the food chain to you.

On a calm day with a few loaves of old bread, there is no telling what you may get to the boat. Old bread is best as when you rub it between your palms it will break up in to tiny pieces and not ball up in your hands. Soak some chook pellets overnight in tuna oil and throw out occasionally. Mackerel, squid and quite often a snotty trevally will happen along.

Some people have in their heads that squid move off for the winter, but they are called southern calamari and Tasmania is quite southern!

Squid are always about and some searching for them and differing rates of retrieve will often have you picking some up. Snotty are great little fighters, respond well to the berley and eat well.

BOTTOM DROPS

Plan ahead, pick your days and dress well. There will be a number of days in June that will allow a great day’s fishing. Tasty table fish still abound in our waters over the cooler months. You don’t need a big boat to have some flesh in the freezer either.

Gummy shark and morwong perch provide an inshore target. Morwong are a much under rated table fish. They are plentiful and, if well looked after, are fabulous on the menu. Bleed them quickly and keep nice and chilled, which will not be hard in June in Tasmania but a few frozen ice bottles will help. Fillet, skin and remove the bones and they are a winner.

Further out in the bigger boat domain, trumpeter and blue eye are the prize. Electric reels with 4 and 6 hook rigs are becoming popular, but those keen to have an old-fashioned bottom drop with an egg beater will still find fish. A quality sounder will make finding fish a whole heap easier.

A nice bottom with a steep transition or rising cleft is worth a drop. A well-tuned sounder will also pick out a school of ray’s bream. They show up as a cloud often well above the ocean floor. This is where some multi-coloured braid comes in handy. The colour change is often at 10m intervals and you can work out what depth the school is and drop down counting off the colours as you go.

Make sure you do not waste the flesh on these fish as time, money and effort have all been consumed; take the extra effort to have some frozen soft drink bottles on hand, a good sharp knife to fillet the fish and some sturdy large zip lock bags for the flesh to be stored in.

TUNA

Last year the school size fish were quiet and the big un’s were about in droves. Early indication this year and, from what I have seen firsthand, suggest we are going to have a cracker.

School size fish have been caught from Pirates Bay all the way through Munroe and down to Tasman Island. The jumbos are with them and in good numbers.

The bait they have been feeding on is not the traditional red bait. I am sure this will come as we work through June, but early May had them on beaked sauries. These are a long slender fish that on first glance look like a small gar. It will pay to keep a few light blue and silvery lures in case they stick around.

The close proximity of fish to Pirates Bay and Fortescue Bay allows those with smaller boats to be part of the action. These areas allow anglers in smaller boats to sneak out and have a look. Should things get a bit heavy out the front you can saunter back into the bay and catch something else until it dies down.

Our last couple of trips has highlighted the importance of really concentrating on what the birds are up to. Spotting a bird feed while it is going crazy is ok, but sometimes before you can get over to it another boat has sent them down or the fish have sounded down on their own with full bellies. The trip worth learning is to study the seabirds’ every mannerism and characteristic. One high gannet circling about in a very inquisitive way is enough to cause interest. If he varies height and continues to try and maintain position over something, start to head over. This bird’s actions will often trigger a response of others in the vicinity. If they mimic his behaviour and there are no other boats around don’t be in too much of a hurry to barge on in and drag lures under him. Come in wide and circle in a large area and wait to see what unfolds. Nothing quite like making a judgement call to go over and investigate, circle in anticipation and watch a big tuna feed bust up fire up! Once you have the gannets going in hard skirt the edge and drag the lures through it. Best time to get a multiple hook up so have the crew at the ready.

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A BIT ABOUT ME

My name is Kelly ‘Hooch’ Hunt and I thought it pertinent that I introduce myself as I slide into some big shoes left by Neil Grose. Neil has been a massive support over the years and it was a great honour that he put my name forward to be the ring leader of the Tasmanian section of Victorian and Tasmanian Fishing Monthly.

Living all my life in Tasmania on the North West coast has allowed very early exposure to the fishing lifestyle Tasmania has to offer. Trout and the obligatory trips to the Central Highlands formed the lion share of my fishing, along with a dabble in fly fishing – much to the back of my neck and ear’s disgust.

Tasmania has a lot to offer in regard to fishing but also adventure and world class scenery and destination. We take it for granted a lot of the time, but it is truly a treasure.

Along with the fishing reports and bits and pieces on techniques I will be celebrating what Tasmania is all about. So come along for the ride and I hope you enjoy.

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Leigh McKenzie releases a chunky highlands brown trout.

3

This salmon had Ella on the back foot early.

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A still sunny winter’s day squid.

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Stan and Barry are fairly happy for their tummies.

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Stan gets dreamy thinking of sashimi.

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