Barracouta are Back
  |  First Published: December 2005

Spring has been kind to offshore anglers of late with plenty of northerly winds to flatten the sea. As a surfer and fisherman I’ve also noticed a lack of swell.

This has all combined for some great deep-water action with plenty of snapper to 4kg taken from 60m of water. Gummy sharks and large tiger and yank flathead have also graced most iceboxes.

One fish that was absent from central Bass Strait last season but seems to have made its inevitable comeback is barracouta. Specimens pulling the scales to nearly 3kg have been landed. These worm infested tackle munchers have made bottom fishing testing on some trips. But, if you’re targeting sharks and want a bit of berley or bait, then the ‘couta will give you some action while you wait for your target species.

On the shark front, makos, blues and thresher sharks have all been caught. This is a promising sign of things to come, especially as the water warms up.

Bass Strait is a great fishery that seems to have endless supplies of fish. However, if a disturbing trend continues unabated then we might see the end of it as a pristine fishing frontier. I am talking about commercial board trawling that entails dragging the bottom of the Strait with a net, separated by two paravane-like wooden boards. This style of fishing has decimated fish stocks in the offshore waters of Queensland and New South Wales. For a number of years it has been going on in at a relatively small scale down here. Only one boat has been working the waters well south of The Heads but this seems set to change. There are currently 3 boats operating and another being prepared for the task. You can bet your bottom dollar that before long, operators from distant ports will be joining in. When you consider that these trawlers have been catching as much as 3 tonnes of fish per day, what chance is there of long-term sustainability for species such as snapper, flathead and sand whiting? Surely the Howard Government (it’s a fishery managed at the federal level) should be able to see what board trawling has done in Australia’s northern waters and would be keen to avoid the same catastrophe here in Bass Strait.

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