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Sea run trout tactics – Craig Vertigan

Sea run trout tactics – Craig Vertigan

During the trout off-season I tend to spend a bit of time chasing bream, to continue getting a fishing fix, and spend time tying flies and dreaming about the trout season to come. It’s a time to spend doing tackle maintenance, stocking up on lures and dreaming up new challenges and goals for the trout season ahead. When the new season comes around I usually spend the first few months targeting sea runners. Sea run trout are simply brown trout that spend much of there lives out to sea and come in to the estuaries for spawning and to feed on whitebait and the other small endemic fishes that spawn in late winter through spring. Mixed in with the silvery sea runners you can also expect to catch resident fish that have the typical dark colours of a normal brown trout as well as atlantic salmon in some of our estuaries that are located near salmon farm pens. Living in Hobart it is quick and easy to do a trip on the Huon or Derwent and is a more comfortable proposition compared to a trip up to the highlands with snow and freezing winds to contend with.

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Feeding the habit - Local sorty around Burnie

Tim Anderson
Fishing time and effort is often curtailed by the constraints of work and family and is further impacted with the financial pressure of rising fuel costs and the approaching festive season which in itself can lead to your credit card statement looking like an overloaded hay truck on a back country road!

Having my offshore boat resting on stands for the past 15 months whilst undergoing a full hull rebuild has had the fishing itch lapping toward full blown withdrawal and the bank account looking like the sides of an exhausted fruit box.
With this in mind and the aforementioned domestic pressures I set about a local trip which ended up in an afternoon of fantastic fun on the lesser thought of species and highlighted to me that the "fishing animal" within can be easily, cheaply and quickly fed locally.
Afternoon delight
The recent effort (one of thousands) took place one afternoon while planning to test a small craft I have acquired, with a view of ideas for later modification by a mad man with a diamond saw. The chosen boat ramp was void of water and a muddy escarpment between the water and the ramp saw the chosen "practice" expedition of Inglis River bream on soft plastics come to a screeching halt.
So armed with only soft plastic gear an alternative plan was immediately formulated and the said boat was launched at the Burnie ramp. Mason and I headed out around the pylons and other markers that make up portions of the edges of the Port.
Having caught a few small flathead and located nothing in the usual sandy haunts we decided to head to a nearby area where the seabed is broken by reefs rising from the sand. The demographics of such a bottom have, in warmer months seen large flat head caught in numbers around the reef fringes.
Only a few medium sized flathead were caught and released however large numbers of (dare I say it) wrasse were encountered and provided constant, regular, hard pulling fun. Most nearly all of the battles titanic on light gear trying to extract the hungry hordes from the weedy hidey holes.
All the fish were released after being easily caught on brightly coloured jig heads and twin tailed soft grubs designed for flat head fishing. The lures are far from glamorous and cheaply purchased in the budget bins of most popular tackle stores for a hand full of silver coins, thus removing the toll on your collection of more expensive plastics.

Local offerings
I have for many years been sneaking off to local areas to wet a line and there are more options available than one might think. Amazingly, like nearly any other Tasmanian town or city another local area is available within a short drive and even such a small change of fishing scenery can be give a fresh perspective on the old grey mare not being what she used to be. The basic areas I target can be loosely categorized into three zones and either land based or accessed by a small boat.

Coastal fringes

These offer accessible areas like beaches, headlands, rock walls, wharves jetties and the like. A number of species can be targeted with bait or by artificial methods. The beach is be a great place to soak a line and bag a few salmon as they start to appear in numbers around the coast. The species can be targeted with bait and by tossing small lures over the surf wash zone and into associated gutters and run offs. Flathead are targeted with bait or by slowly retrieving poppers lures or soft plastics and the same area later at night may yield gummy shark.

Headlands and jetties
A melting pot of sea based and estuarine species and can also be a viable option for children who often have shorter attention spans than the average dedicated fisho. Flathead, mackerel, blue warehou, squid, salmon and at ling are all noted for their table qualities and a success can have the loved one pushing you out the door for repeat performances on subsequent occasions.

Estuarine river systems
These can yield medium to large sea run trout particularly during the whitebait runs which taper off at this time of year. Salmon, bream, garfish and trevally can also be caught using the usual array of methods shore based or by trolling in a small boat in the larger systems. The ever popular mullet (Pronounced "Moolay" for a more pimped up french approach) is always a delight for the children and if killed during an unfortunate accident or other such circumstances they can be utilized as bait for shark or other species later.

Fresh water can be found in out of the tidal areas of rivers and in impoundments, dams or water storages. An inland fishing license can be purchased for a year or much shorter periods and is a requirement to target the one or more of the three species of trout available in Tasmania. Larger Alantic salmon are also available and as some anglers have experienced can be jumbo in size. They again can be caught by natural bait (worms, grasshoppers, mudeye) or by artificial methods such as lure or fly.

The simple life
The mere mention of fly fishing conjures images of purist trout specialists hovering crouched in the tussocks like a Japanese tourist with dysentery, however this again is not necessarily the case. Fly fishing can also be practised in any of the areas I have mentioned those willing to break free of the traditions may not only learn something new but apply what is learnt to the same form of fishing in other areas. Testament to this is the large following fly fishing has gained and the less usual locations it is practiced in many main land fishing arenas.

At the end of the day you some may have a  laugh at your expense but. You never know you just might catch something and in the process have a hell of a lot of fun. So if necessary use the kids as an excuse, (to the minister of war and finance) and head out to the local jetty. To me some of the most fun I have had fishing has not necessarily been at the more exotic locations and all on a budget which can be financed from the ash tray of your car.

Tim Anderson

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