Fishing Bruny Part 2 Storm Bay and the Channel
The Channel and Storm Bay area adjacent to Bruny Island provides a picturesque and productive fishing location which is well catered for boating anglers with numerous launching ramps and quiet bays. Flathead are prolific and can be found through out the area and respond well to all fishing techniques. Atlantic Salmon are an achievable target particularly when fishing in proximity to the salmon farms. Gummy and School sharks are also widespread and a popular target due to their excellent table qualities. Calamari, which are abundant during the warmer months are a popular target and provide excellent eating and bait.
Channel Atlantic Salmon
I use three main strategies when chasing the escapee Atlantic Salmon in the channel. These three strategies are detailed below;
Cast to visible bait schools. I always cast to the edges of the school rather than through the school as this causes fewer disturbances to the school. The best approach is to determine what direction the school is feeding in and position yourself up wind or up current of them. In this way they will feed towards you and will not be put off by the boat or kayak coming towards them
Cast to the shoreline while drifting with the current/wind or troll parallel to the shoreline. When following this strategy, fish within 10 metres of the shoreline at all times unless working pens as these fish school and feed very close to the shoreline.
Either anchor or using the electric motor position yourself near a pen during feeding time as the escapees will congregate around these areas at these times and cast and retrieve soft plastics lures or anchor or position yourself near a pen and burley with chicken pellets and fish small live baits such as pretty fish around 1&1/2 to 2 metres deep below a weighted float which is weighted so that it neutrally buoyant.
Channel and Storm Bay Flathead
The flathead in the Channel and Storm Bay can be found in all water depths from the edges of the weed beds just wide of the shoreline to the deeper holes and channels. The prominent food source of the flathead during the warmer months seems to be small crayfish like crustaceans in addition to small squid. The flathead consume these small crustaceans by the hundreds and always regurgitate large amounts of them when being boated.
As would be obvious by the flatheads food source, small soft plastic lures fished on jigheads in the shallower water and on drop shot rigs in the deeper water is an ideal and productive way to target these fish and a lot more fun than bait fishing. For those who like to baitfish however strips of squid seem to give the best performance bait wise and is a hardy tough bait which stays on the hook well.
I favour the method of fishing small soft plastics for these fish and generally use two inch Berkley Powergrubs when fishing the edge of the weed beds. While colour doesn't seem as critical as it does in other fishing scenarios, I find that either a black marble or a pumpkinseed coloured soft plastic with a 1/16 oz jig head to be the best in this situation. A pinkish orange coloured soft plastic which matches the small crustaceans the flathead are feeding on is also an excellent fish producer.
When lure fishing for the flathead in deeper water I use a drop shot rig which is a variation of the standard paternoster bottom fishing rig. This rig utilises a sinker on the bottom with sufficient weight to take the rig straight to the bottom. This weight lies inert on the bottom of the water and doesn't affect the action of the soft plastic. This allows the soft plastic to be worked on a semi slack line in the same manner as it would if the soft plastic was rigged unweighted.
When drop shotting for flathead, by far the most productive soft plastics I have used are the Berkley three inch drop shot bass minnows and the Berkley three inch Gulp minnow. These lures were designed for drop shotting for American bass and have a superior action for this form of fishing. I find the pearl blue and pearl green colourations to be the most effective for this fishing application.
Gummy and School sharks
These fish are prevalent in the channel and Storm bay during the warmer months. All sharks and rays caught in the channel must be released due to the channel being classified as a shark nursery area. Storm bay also holds good quantities of these fish and they are a permissible capture from this area.
These sharks can be taken by either bait fishing or by lure fishing soft plastics. They are a easy fish to target, a large strip of squid or whole squid fished around two metres off the bottom will produce these fish when a school is found. A wire trace isn't necessary, as a short length of 40-60 pond nylon line will protect an angler from being bitten off. A legal size of 75cm exists for these fish but the average specimen encountered is around a metre with a few trophy fish around the 2 metre mark being regularly encountered.
Night fishing for them is the most productive however early morning and evening sessions can produce good numbers of these fish. They will be found in water depths in excess of 15-20 metres. Berley can be used however it must be dispensed near the bottom to be effective and most anglers drift with the knowledge that they will soon encounter a school.
I have found that early of a morning, the school sharks will readily take a lure if it is presented in their face long enough. I do this in the following manner. I mark a school of these fish using my electronics. Once I have established what depth the shark school is suspended at I rig a drop shot rig so that the soft plastic will be at the same depth that the sharks are suspended at. Using the drop shot fishing method which was developed to catch suspended fish works well in this situation with one of the sharks generally grabbing the lure within a couple of minutes of the lure being worked in their faces.
When drop shotting for these fish I use a 4/0 short shanked hook rigged with a Berkley three inch drop shot bass minnow. The school sharks show a preference for the pearl green colouration in this soft plastic lure. If you have correctly marked the depth of the school on your sounder and rigged your drop shot rig so that the lure is at the right depth it is as simple as slowly jigging your lure on a semi slack line to tempt the fish in to striking. Using a small overhead outfit with 3kg braided line these sharks give a good account of themselves when they are hooked. I find that a 15-20 pound fluorocarbon leader is sufficient when lure fishing for these fish as they are always lightly hooked in the jaw.
These fish are prevalent during the warmer months and respond well to trolled or cast and retrieved lures. Virtually every headland during the summer months has a small school of these fish in attendance. While unweighted or lightly weighted baits can be used, these fish are aggressive takers of lures and using this method increases an anglers catch rate as well as being more fun.
I cast and retrieve small soft plastic lures such as two and three inch single tails or shads. These styles of soft plastics tend to closely match the baitfish that the salmon are foraging on. Natural baitfish colorations such as blues, greys and pearl greens give the best results. Small metal spoons and hard bodied diving minnows also give excellent results and troll very well for people who prefer this method to cast and retrieving. A fly rod is also a productive way to target these fish with small deceivers being readily taken by the salmon.
These cephalopods are a common capture during the warmer months. They are fun to catch and their tubes are excellent eating with their head and tentacles being excellent bait. Calamari school around weed beds, wharfs and other structure where baitfish can be found. They can be targeted both of a day and also of a night with a high tide on dusk being the peak period.
The most effective way to target the squid is to cast and slowly retrieve squid jigs. Most anglers use pink and white jigs but I favour a black jig for use during the daytime and a luminous orange or green for night time usage. Of a night the squid are attracted to lights so a wharf with constant lighting is an excellent location to try.
I favour a slow and constant retrieve for the calamari but always pause just when the jig comes in to sight as quite often a squid will be following and this pause will allow you to work to jig in a semi stationary position which will often result in a hook up from the following squid. When a squid is hooked, a slow retrieve which keeps the pressure on the squid and which stops the barbless squid jig hooks from falling out works best.
Numerous other species can be encountered while fishing this area. Cod are prolific on the inshore reefs and can make targeting quality fish such as Bastard Trumpeter difficult. Bastard Trumpeter can be targeted in Storm Bay with the bulk of my captures being in close to Variety and Trumpeter bay where the water is around 20 metres deep just off the rocks. Small strips of squid fished on lightly weighted rigs fished back towards the rocks seems to be the best method of targeting these fish particularly when fished in conjunction with a burley trail.
Large Bluethroat Wrasse are also taken while fishing in this way and fight well on the light gear being used to target the trumpeter. These Bluethroat Wrasse are also willing lure takers and can be taken on small soft plastic lures as well as diving minnows and spoons. The wrasse provide a lot of entertainment when hooked on a lure on light tackle in shallow and snaggy water due to their initial determined fight and their habit of running for the structure in an effort to free themselves.
Gurnards are encountered while flathead fishing over both sand and reef areas. While these fish have beautiful sweet white flesh, they require care while being handled. The Gurnards have venomous spikes which will cause pain and discomfort in anyone unlucky enough to get spiked. Hot water will neutralise the venom and should be used in the event of getting spiked to quickly provide relief.
Barracouta are common in Strom Bay during the summer months and are targeted by trolling lures or by drifting and jigging with metal spoons. A popular method is to troll until the fish are found and then jig for them. As the barracouta are an aggressive schooling species of fish, a barracouta bite will be a fast and frenzied affair with anglers hooking up within seconds of their lure hitting the water. The barracouta in Storm Bay are often around 80cm in length and provide good sport on light line.
The Channel and Storm Bay area offers anglers a chance at catching some quality table fish in beautiful and non crowded locations. Most of the fish species present can be successfully targeted on lures to increase an angler's enjoyment. Several sportfish such as Atlantic Salmon, Barracouta, Australian Salmon and School sharks can be targeted using lures and light line to provide a enjoyable days sport by targeting these species on the appropriate gear.