August was a flurry of trouting activity as the regular trout season opened with many local trouters experiencing success with either the Derwent sea run trout or the highland variety.
Others took advantage of the recent Atlantic salmon stockings at Craigbourne Dam near Colebrook. Around 1200 salmon and 520 mature wild brown trout were released in separate stockings during July. These efforts by Inland Fisheries have created much interest at Hobart’s closest ‘put and take’ fishery.
It’s great to see Craigbourne on the fishing map again as it represents a good day-trip option being only a 40 minute drive from Hobart. Unfortunately the crowds attracted by the influx of sizeable salmon seem to include those with little regard for the area. Littering being the obvious problem. How hard can it be to carry your own rubbish home when you leave!
I’ve found that released salmon tend to patrol the edge close to where they have been released for a few days at least. With that in mind there’s not too much joy to be found in mid-water, so there’s not a lot of point to lobbing baits out wide or way down deep. This impoundment can drop to some depth quite near the shore, especially at the dam wall end. Just about all the fish I have seen taken recently were caught right against the edge in this area.
Another big factor at Craigbourne at the moment is the water colour. Having just filled, the water is still a bit milky and dirty water requires certain colour choices to help the fish locate your lure. Black or dark green provides a good silhouette when using lures. Pink and orange are both good trigger colours once the salmon gets in behind the lure. Both gold and silver provide an attractive baitfish-like flash. Shallow running minnows with a combination of these colours are excellent when fished in the 2-6’ zone along the edges. As the water clears pink seems to be a favourite and natural bait tones like black/silver and brown trout also do well.
Waking the banks early or late in the day is a great way to find salmon or trout in the shallows. Slow and steady retrieves with the odd flick work best. The very shallow water to the immediate left of the boat ramp is already giving up some of the released browns, particularly to a slowly worked wet fly or small minnow lure. There are several other similar areas about the dam to apply this presentation. The inflow area and the bay nearest the main road are two that spring to mind. Given the abundance of flooded grassy flats both the trout and residual salmon should fatten quickly on the prolific frogs and other terrestrial food items.
One thing to remember once you do hook up with a good sized salmon is not to rush the fight. Some of the Atlantics are up around 5kg and need to be coaxed in rather than forced. I recently watched a couple of anglers lose 4 or 5 salmon, repeatedly pulling and straightening hooks in a mad panic to net the fish. All good fun but a tad more patience is a big help when dealing with chunky Atlantics. Baitfishers tend to do well with both unweighted grubs cast out on a short line, and garden worms set a couple of feet under a small float. Many of the salmon do seem to get caught in the first couple of weeks but the crowds soon thin out if you prefer some space. A bag limit of 5 fish with only two fish exceeding 60cm applies at Craigbourne Dam.
Sea run trout captures are becoming more regular as spring and the accompanying bait fisharrives. Trails of whitebait are already evident along the edges on incoming tides and these showings will hopefully build over the coming weeks. Locations such as the Jordan River arm, both the northern and southern sides of Cadbury’s Point and the stretch of river between the Lime Kilns(about 3 km upriver of Bridgewater Bridge) and Sorell Creek opposite the Boyer Mill are fine sea trout regions on the Derwent. Trolling with 13.5gm Tassie Devils in either 12, 21 or 59 colour is a popular method of locating concentrations of silver sided sea run browns, as is trolling with minnow style hardbodied lures like Rapala F7, 8cm Xraps, Daiwa 70mm Dr Minnow and 6cm Presso 6F.
You might prefer to work more meticulously along the edges and over weed beds with a light soft plastic presentation or a smaller hard lure like an Ecogear MX48f. For the light soft bait rig I use a 1/20th or 1/24th weight jig with a 1/0 hook usually rigged with a 3” Berkley Bass Minnow in Grey Ghost or Emerald Shiner colours. This rig can be a real winner when you find trout slashing at bait high in the water column. This action usually happens around high water but once the tide turns and starts to drop, most runners tend to move deeper or in behind structure.
Changing to a 1/8th jig is a good move if you want to get your plastics down where the fish are during the run-out. Spoons and metal slice lures are also good down deep in the lower estuary.
Bream have been patchy as you would expect over August but things are looking up with improved results for some anglers. Soft plastics and blades have been the standout lures with the bream still holding deeper on steeply angled shores or reefs. Worms, stickbaits and wriggler patterns always undo plenty of bream at this time of the year.
Work them gradually across the bottom and use a light a jig as possible. The bream will hold on longer when using a light jig, giving the angler time to feel the take and set the hook. During September will see the fishery start to fire up as bream join in on the whitebait run. Be prepared to turn your attentions to the shallows if you see signs of activity. It’s a great time to get out on the river and make the most of the lengthening days and the red-hot fishing days that spring provides.Reads: 3402