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The warm will arrive soon enough
  |  First Published: September 2015



It’s September and the weather will be improving. However, don’t get too excited and break out the sunscreen just yet as spring in Tasmania can still be quite severe.

The cold snap we had in August was sensational and we had a national news event when it snowed at sea level. The pictures of snow covering some of our more well-known beaches nearly shut Facebook down. It was a short respite for poor Adam Goodes and Bronwyn ‘let’s take the chopper’ Bishop.

There are more daylight hours available and we are getting closer to that hallowed angler’s delight in October when we start daylight savings time. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves as it’s September and we need to concentrate on where we can find fish and what to use this month.

It’s very important to plan out any trip and make sure you have all the right gear for an outing on land or sea. September is another month in Tasmania that can have the conditions change in a heartbeat, so clothing for all seasons and a spare set are often a good idea. We can have a fair bit of rain this time of the year and large headwater areas can supply lots of run off. Some anglers who look for flooded areas will rejoice, others who like still waters at their favourite holes will not.

A BIT OF A SURPRISE

The common thought is the tuna have well and truly bugged out and skedaddled ages ago. This has proved not to be the case. Those out there that read my ramblings will know (that’s the four of you and my mum), I am often saying “Anglers slowed down during winter, but the fishing was still pretty good”.

In August there were some super keen fishos that kept keen and rugged up and found bluefin tuna at St Helens on the east and Eaglehawk Neck down south.

Watching the weather and maintaining a positive approach had them find fish. This is sensational as it keeps people keen and gets them thinking about what may be possible. Josh Hammersley is a keen angler and has a little dynamo of super crazy keen angler in his daughter Chloe. Catching bluefin in August only leaves the question… Will anyone find some in September?

Crews also found some really good patches of striped trumpeter on the west coast and the rugged Pedra Branca in the far south. The trumpeter season is closed for this month and also October. This allows the fish to spawn in peace and have the fishery sustain itself for a strong future catching a super tasty species.

SPEAKING OF SPAWNING

Squid are one of those species where a lot of anglers say they have gone or not turned up yet. They do have times when they are a lot thicker and plentiful, but Tasmania is super blessed to have a couple of spawning aggregations a year.

If you know where to look you can catch southern calamari all year round here in Tasmania. September is the start of a spawning aggregation off our East Coast and you will find the squid starting to lay their eggs on the weedy margins where the sand meets the weed and seagrass.

Mommy and daddy squid like to give their cephalopod kids a nice start in life and will be lay their eggs in sheltered bays and areas that are not exposed to open ocean swell. Mercury Passage is a great example and you can find squid in close in 2-10m so a jig in the 3.5 size that is not too heavy will have you connected to squid and not the bottom.

In the deeper water with a faster drift you can start to fish a heavier jig. When you hook one it pays to have a rod lying in wait, nice and handy. Once you have set the barbs on the original capture, fire a cast long and hard over the back of the squid on the line. While you are putting the first one into the back of the landing net thinking of salt and pepper calamari, a second one has more than likely grabbed your other jig. Empty the landing net, and repeat.

TROUT WHILE OUT AND ABOUT

The key to Tasmanian trout fishing is ease of access. Anyone from local anglers to interstate fishers can easily find a stretch of water that may hold that wild trout of a lifetime.

The Inland Fisheries Department have, and do, put a lot of time and resource into improving and maintaining the awesome trout fishery we enjoy. Opening weekend saw a good number of anglers battle the elements from around the state and Facebook lit up with a pleasing selection of happy anglers posing with their catch. The enthusiasm for freshwater angling was as strong as ever with lures, soft plastics and bait all being part of the plan.

north west tasmania

This is my back yard and genuinely has some superb trout waterways. As an angler anywhere on the North West coast you never have to travel too far to get amongst the fishing action. The highlands will still be a temperamental climate with the inkling to snow at any time, so the lakes and rivers at lower elevations excite the North West angler.

Mersey River

The Mersey River is a huge favourite and holds its own as river fishery across the entire state. The Inland Fisheries Service reports the Mersey River “…has recovered well from the cormorant predation that affected so many of the Tasmania’s river fisheries in 2012. Lure, fly and bait fishers all do well on this river and there are sections that suit all these forms of angling. The lower reaches of the river could produce sea run brown trout in the first few months of the new season. The IFS has undertaken a lot of work providing access to anglers and has produced an Angler Access brochure for the river.”

Leven and Forth rivers

Closer to home for me are the Forth and Leven rivers. These waters really start to fish well in September. The rain can hinder those who are looking to fish light soft plastics or finesse hardbodies by increasing water flow substantially. Those that find a nice backwater in these cases and drown a worm can be richly rewarded.

These rivers have a sensational whitebait run and this will start to be on the minds of those anglers that like chasing the big hungry, silver football sized sea run trout. The Leven was well stocked with 400 adult brown trout in August and I imagine there would still be some good fishing looking for new homes in the banks of the river

Burnie Area

Still in the north and the Pet and Guide dams are often favourites for those wanting to fish still waters, but not brave the icy chill of the Central Highlands. The Pet Dam received 1,000 adult brown trout from the highland spawning runs and this complements the rainbow trout stocked there over the last 12 months. These two waters have fished very well for the bait anglers over a number of seasons.

Lake Barrington

A short drive from Devonport or Ulverstone and you can be on Lake Barrington trolling lures until your heart’s content. There are boat ramps on either side of this lake and you can access from the Wilmot or Sheffield sides. I have fished this water quite a lot and it is often stocked with Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.

It’s a great spot for kids as the scenery is wonderful with plenty going on around the lake and on the bank to keep them amused. Trolling and bouncing soft plastics around the edges often finds fish. There is said to be a large population of brown trout in Barrington, but I am yet to find them. Small rainbow and the salmon keep my kids and I on our toes and it’s always an enjoyable day.

north east tasmania
Meander River

September can mean a bit of rain here in Tassie and if that is the case the Meander River further east may be worth a look. This is also a good river to take the kids for a fish as the healthy population of redfin will keep them amused while you look for a trophy trout.

Rain Fall River flows can be abated in this water body as Lake Huntsman was formed by damming the Meander and regulates flow well. The Huntsman Lake itself is also worth a look. It has a fantastic boat ramp and is holding good stock of smaller fish that are growing well. Drift spinning and soft plastics in and around the shallows as you push down the lake on the breeze is a great day out.

The lake level has been rapidly rising recently and should have flooded margins for the opening of the season. This is a productive lake with smaller brown trout on offer. Fishing can be good for trolling anglers, but keep an eye out for some rain as when the lake floods over the grassy banks it can offer some exceptional fly fishing.

Flyfishing in general

Things start to really fire up for the fluff and feather brigade this month. September is all about tailing fish and with the fabled flooded margins of swollen lakes and rivers, even I can get excited. Frogs and tailing fish in the shallows start grown men and women salivating.

The fly fishing gear has been cleaned and stowed far too long and it is time to dust it off. Other than some big flashy wet fly presentations and some nymphing, August was a bit sad for the fly fishers. Big bow waves pushed in front of fish charging the shallows looking for frogs always excite.

Once spring really gets a hold on our weather patterns these fish can be quite easy to locate. Shallow water in and around marshes and grass plains on an overcast or foggy day is hot property. The beauty of this style of fly fishing is accurate casting is not essential. Even part time punters like myself can land a frog pattern wet fly close enough to a brazen hungry brown trout. Fly patterns like the Black Woolley Bugger are very popular as are the Sloane style furr flies.

Dry fly fishers miss out on this action, but late September could see these anglers turn their frown upside down. If the conditions later in the month align we may see some possible hatchings of the may fly spinner on low land rivers. This with a bit of luck and little breeze could also include Four Springs.

Launceston and surrounds

Those based or visiting Launceston or who live in the north of the state have a huge range of options only an hour or from the city centre. Rivers, rivers everywhere. The Macquarie, Meander, St. Patricks and South Esk rivers are all a great low altitude choices while the cooler weather is still about. The snow run off and rain can have these rivers rising and spilling throughout the month. Casting a fly, soft plastic or worms to trout as they forage over newly flooded ground can be very exciting and rewarding. The Esk rivers, particularly the south, are known to perform this time of year. Look to Longford, Evandale and Hadspen to access these fabulous waterways.

There are good access opportunities on some of these rivers and the IFS have a brochure that shows Angler Access points for the Macquarie and Lake rivers that can be found on the IFS website

The South Esk has a good reputation for this time of fishing as well and popular access points can be found at Longford, Evandale and Hadspen. There is a project currently underway to improve access to this river and I will share in future months when complete.

Still waters are always popular and the Launceston area has a few good ones. Brushy Lagoon is often stocked with Atlantic salmon and I have read a number of stockings placed fish from 1-4.5kg.

Not far from Brushy is Four Springs Lake. The heavy opening weekend pressure will be starting to abate and fishes very well early for bigger specimens. Brown trout transferred from highland spawning would have fed well in their new surroundings. Good size brown and rainbow trout bring smiles to faces and this lake produces grins from ear to ear. Very important to remember that these two lakes, Brushy and Four Springs, have a five fish bag limit with only two fish over 500mm permitted to be taken.

Southern tasmania
Hobart area

The lucky fishos from down south have been a bit spoilt and are lucky they get a head start on the trout season. The sea runners started to move into the Derwent and Huon rivers well before the gun had sounded to start the trout season. The waters below Bridgewater Bridge and the Huonville Bridge are open all year waters and the favourite spots are targeted by sea runner anglers.

The entire river systems are now open on both, as are all the little tributaries that run into them. These two rivers fish well early and in September really start to fire. There are many spots to try all techniques at your disposal up and around the New Norfolk area. I have only had the chance to fish this area last year for 2 days and I fell in love with it. There is a lot to like for both land-based and boat anglers. The scenery is fantastic and the fish you encounter are in great nick and of good size.

The Huon River is another that fishes well in September and regularly produces large trout. They have sensational whitebait runs and as the whitebait move up the river visual fishing can be very exciting.

Still water anglers have some real gems to travel to and try their luck. Craigbourne Dam is a short drive from Hobart and was stocked with 2150 adult brown trout from the central highlands. I drove past the other day and the lake was looking full and finding these fish should provide challenging sport.

In this area you cannot go without mentioning Lake Crescent. It has significant history and an aura around big trout. If you are looking for a trophy trout, a visit to Lake Crescent in the early part of the season would be worth a try. Last season saw some huge fish up to 8kg being caught and this year they will be bigger! This lake has received 2030 adult brown trout from the highlands and if the resident monster have not eaten them, they too should add to the fun.

Big bright and flashy are the rules of thumb when using anything in Crescent. Fly, lure or soft plastic benefit from a bit of razzle-dazzle and size, big is beautiful.

Kingston

Despite the cold weather the local area has been by all accounts fishing well. Local rivers have produced some nice bream, with Browns River being the clear stand out with some anglers managing fish in excess of 40cm to the fork. Vibe lures worked slowly along the bottom producing the goods for most.

Anglers have reported captures of calamari in the shallows of North West Bay, with smaller squid jigs being the key to success.

We have just had a steady run of Australian salmon turn up. Key spots are Blackmans Bay Rocks and the jetties in North West Bay. Silver slice lures as always a popular choice.

With the trout season in its starting month, many anglers have made the most of local rivers such as the Huon and Derwent. The Huon, in particular, is producing good numbers of fish. Most anglers having success on the new Liquid Gold minnows in the colour purple storm. One local angler reported a session of 22 fish in 3 hours – a great achievement this time of the year!

Flathead have still been available for those venturing out off Bruny Island. Although many have been using bait, soft plastic lures fished on a paternoster rig have been the standout.

I have had many reports of tiny couta plaguing anglers. Although fun, these little guys can be a tackle stores owner’s dream, with even the smallest couta making quick work of an anglers tackle. For those of you who want these for a feed, I recommend cheap silver wobblers with a thick wire leader.

For those still venturing deeper, bluefin tuna are still in abundance with many anglers managing multiple strikes of jumbos. This is a bit unusual, but no one is complaining. – Thomas Crawford

Thomas Crawford is well known to most fisher people from the Kingston area. He managed a store in town that sadly shut. He has taken the bit between the teeth and opened up a new store in Kingston! Thomas has been involved in and around fishing and tackle for 15 years as a career and obviously much longer as a super keen angler.

overall

There is a lot starting to happen in September with the warmer weather trying its little heart out to get here. I have noticed a lot of energy and enthusiasm around fishing and among fisher people so we are ramping up for a fabulous new season.

That’s it from me so stay warm, stay dry and have a great month!

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