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Long days bring rewards
  |  First Published: September 2014



The weather has started to come good and there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. The wet and windy conditions of August are hopefully far behind. It is not quite daylight savings time, but the days are noticeably longer as we head toward that awesome day in October where we get to turn the clocks forward.

Let’s turn our attention to what anglers can get up to in September.

FRESHWATER FUN

The diehard trout fishers battled the conditions and did quite well in August on the days they could get out. The lead up to opening weekend was horrendous, but the weekend itself was manageable and there were some reasonable days throughout.

Now the weather is on the improve and the footy has slowed down there will be a huge increase in anglers making their way to their favourite spots. The pressure will have come off the lower altitude waters as the rivers start to slow and the highlands become a bit more hospitable.

Arthurs Lake

How can you go wrong? It is a fabulous waterway and a favourite of many as it provides spectacular fishing for all disciplines. No matter if you like to troll wobblers of flick small hardbodies into the sticks or flooded margins, there are fish there for the taking. Rapalas are good but there are some slimmer well finished lures in the Ecogear MX range that are well respected in this domain.

If you are looking to get deeper and target bigger trout, look no further than Nories Laydown Minnow, they’re pricey but excellent. The Tassie Devil lures are popular and well worth a run out the back of the boat when traveling from spot to spot.

In Arthurs it is just a matter of which spot? You can be spoilt for choice, so fish to the conditions and look for a shore that is exposed to the weather.

Great Lake

The Great Lake is open all year round, but of course as the good weather returns so do the shack owners. I love the place and its highland lifestyle. Nothing is too much of an issue and if the fishing is slow the fire at the Great Lake Hotel is always warm.

Unlike Arthurs, which is more a lake for the boaters, Great Lake has many more shores for the land-based angler. Here, the tried and true technique of walking a wind blown shore working soft plastics and hardbodies works very well. We shouldn’t forget the faithful spinner as well.

A thing not to forget when spinning is an anti kink. This little jigger will help alleviate line twist. Spinning is a technique where you can put a bit of speed on the retrieve.

SEA RUNNERS

The Derwent River gave up some very nice sea run trout in August, as it always does. It was a brown coffee colour for the first two weeks, but eventually cleared up. This will continue right through September.

This river is a godsend for those anglers that can knock off work or get a fish in at lunch time in Hobart. The rocky shores can hold some trophy sized sea run trout that are foraging for a good meal to feed their ferocious appetites. The legendary sea run river systems of Arthur and Gordon rivers will be starting to get into the hearts and minds of Tasmanian anglers. These rivers are legendary for holding massive silver football shaped trout that have and will gorge themselves on the annual whitebait.

There are a large number of anglers that treat their annual trips to these rivers as a pilgrimage. Plan the weekend trips to the mecca of sea runners as if it were a military operation. No detail is left to chance and as important as the fishing is, so too is the right stubby holder and something to put in it.

These hungry silver torpedos are feeding heavily on the annual whitebait runs During September. Whitebait is a general or collective name for Tasmanian native fish that collect along our coastal areas and migrate in large numbers upstream. The key here is to develop a sound understanding of which rivers have good numbers of migratory whitebait and where on the river the feeding trout will congregate.

In the slack water against fallen logs is a great place to start as reduced river flow allow the whitebait to head upstream easier and the logs create cover for the trout to ambush from.

Rocky covered shallows out of the flow of the main river is another area worth some attention. There is something very exciting about stalking a river bank to see a shower of whitebait bursting clear of the water with their best ‘I am outta here,’ expression on their cute little faces. This normally means there is a nice big sea runner about to dine out! Obviously a hardbody or soft plastic that resembles the small whitebait is a key to success.

Being able to find a design small enough to mimic a whitebait while also swimming correctly is the trick with hardbodies. Ecogear have a range of lures in their MX48 range that will get the job done. When thinking of colours remember that whitebait are predominantly translucent as they head up the river or stream and darken up as they reach their destination and spawn.

I grew up learning from local angler Warren Fisher from Forth. He would catch a lot of fish using a fly made with paintbrush bristles. These bristles were pulled from one of his used paintbrushes and tied with black cotton. Dab with a clear nail polish and once that was dry, use a dab of Tipp-Ex and the trap was set. Pistol grip rods with closed faced reels were used to cast the fly with 3 very light split shots (closed gently on the line about 30cm apart) between the drowned logs between the banks.

SQUID

Squid have been a fisher’s bread and butter for many years here in Tasmania and it is seeing a huge increase in interest. Southern calamari have more often been an afterthought or by-catch when chasing something else. This mentality has been slow to change, but in the last 12 months has picked up steam dramatically. Heading to target them specifically is huge amounts of fun and having an impromptu squid catching comp amongst mates is even better.

The changing attitudes are in a big part to the fun you can have deliberately targeting squid and the fact they are pretty good on the chew. Growing up, it was adults that got to use the rods and reels and my brother and I would be masters of the handlines. This was the way to catch squid back in the day with primitive looking jigs; you could buy a handful of for $10.

Kit up

More and more anglers are targeting squid. When other species are quiet they are heading out to their favourite squid haunts with specialist Japanese-influence gear.

Mainland Australia, and in particular the squid rich grounds of Victoria, have really gravitated to the Japanese domestic market gear available. JDM squid gear is high in quality and very specific in its purpose. Rods are lightweight yet finely balanced and matching with the correct reel is very important. This is brought about by the distinctly different action used to lure the squid.

Give it a rip

The new crew of squid experts favour a very aggressive rod action when enticing a squid bite. Traditionally in Australia we rely on a gentle lift and drop rod action and hope for the best. However, I have changed my squid rod action and have had great results.

There are a number of things to think on because there is a bit at play. If you try to use the very aggressive rod ripping action of the day with your old squid gear you may just wear a jig in the moosh. Heavy rods and cheap squid lures will work right out of the bottom zone and be quickly at the surface before you know it. The specialist rods combined with quality Japanese jigs are heavier and designed to allow control of the jig in the water column. The jigs from the Japanese manufacturers are exceptional quality and very hard wearing. The colour ranges are fantastic and you could do worse than stock up on GanCraft and Geecrack jigs.

Horses for courses

There is no doubt that when the squid are grouped up and in their aggressive spawning patterns you can catch them on just about anything. Southern calamari are an all year prospect in Tasmanian waters, which is a little known fact.

Certain times of the year you need to actively target them with the right gear and a better designed offering. The broken ground and weedy sections of Tasmania hold lots of squid all the time. Be aware there are some seasonal closures in some East Coast waters, check Tasmanian government sites for more information.

Big squid, and it is not uncommon to find them over 3kg, are so much fun on light gear. If you are like me and love targeting squid in clear shallow water, get into a local tackle store and kit yourself out for some squid stalking. There is a heap to discuss and learn about squid fishing so keep an eye out in future months for a Tasmanian squid special.

EAST COAST of TASMANIA

In Tasmania when you start to talk of weather improvements and longer days, the East Coast starts to call to anglers. The St Helens area is hard to beat for an angler looking to increase their species count. September will see the start of the localised bream spawning runs up the rivers and creeks.

Further down the coast, word from the locals is there are ‘1000s of bream in the Swan’. They go onto say that they are very susceptible to vibe style lures. Cranka and Ecogear have some fantastic product in this area. Head in to a tackle store and check those out and more.

The Scamander area and Ansons Bay will still be holding some good garfish schools, as should St Georges Bay. St Georges Bay continues to go from strength to strength in regard to fish stocks. The schools of big salmon come into the bay and often have some tailor mixed in with them.

They don’t call them ‘chopper’ tailor for nothing – if you are getting bitten off try for a longer slender lure where the hooking point is further from the line. If this doesn’t work you will have to go for a fine wire trace. Speaking from experience don’t, in all the excitement of catching some big salmon with the kids, dive your thumb into what looks like at first glance another salmon. The resulting smiley face at the end of your thumb will leak a lot of blood. The teeth on tailor are wicked !

September is also a good time for some decent flathead offshore and a few gummy sharks. September can have a bit of wind about so the opportunity to head offshore may be limited. Don’t forget that the season on striped trumpeter will be closed for September.

Although not known for their sea run trout action local guru and tackle store owner Jamie Henderson has mentioned having a seasonal small run of whitebait in the lower Georges River and Scamander River. This has lead to a healthy population of sea run trout milling about.

He has also seen trout to 8lb caught out of Georges Bay and similar fish in the Upper Scamander.

Squid also feature well in this part of the world. From Ansons Bay all the way down the coast past Bicheno and Coles Bay you will find good numbers of the tasty cephalopod family.

• If you are in the St Helens area make sure you get into St Helens Bait And Tackle and speak to Jamie. You will get some great local info and may even walk away with some amazing art photography.

MAINTAINENCE

This is a great time to make sure everything is sweet with the pride and joy. Boats that have been hidden away for the winter will need a once over.

There is a lot to consider when giving a boat a safety and condition check so it may be a good idea to get it done at a local boat dealer if you don’t have the time and interest in doing it yourself. If you are quite the handy type by all means get stuck in and make sure everything is ship shape.

Wheel bearings, tow points, electrics and engine all need to be given some attention before heading out. While the boat gets a bit of love don’t forget to check your safety equipment. Flares, EPIRBs and life jackets should all be part of a vigorous going over.

ELECTRICS and WIRING

Often forgotten about when talking boats and fishing, but that coloured spaghetti up under the gunnels and dash of our fishing craft needs attention. I have seen a few well planned and organised trips fall foul of an electrical issue.

Once wiring and contacts have seen a few years of use it pays to have a look from time to time. Things to look out for are chaffing and anything that has come loose. We all know even the softest riding hull will be exposed to vibration and the odd hit from traversing the constantly changing sea surface.

When wiring and connections cause issues it is most likely from a dead short. When that happens not only can it fry your expensive equipment, but it can cause a spark or even fire.

If you are unsure, get to a boat dealer or auto electrician to have things checked over. While you are at it ask them to show you where every fuse is in your boat and keep a few spares in a small plastic container.

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