Frederick Henry Bay - from the shore

John Orchard
Summer is now officially upon us and as the holiday season begins and the weather warms up, Frederick Henry Bay comes alive with boats as anglers head out in search of a fresh fish or two for the dining table; but what of those who don't have the luxury of a boat? Fear not, for all is far from lost!

Frederick Henry Bay and the adjoining Pittwater Estuary offer many great opportunities for the shore-based angler.
The opportunities are in fact so great that I was unsure where to start when I set out to write this story so I decided to write about only those that I have fished myself over the past few years starting with the Dunalley area and finishing at South Arm which really only covers half the Bay and misses out many great spots on the Tasman Peninsula side of the Bay.
However, you can readily locate many of these likely spots on a map, and selecting a promising looking spot and then setting off to explore it is half the fun I reckon - especially if you "nail it on the head"!
Half the battle when selecting a likely spot for a days fishing is ensuring you take into account the prevailing winds for the style of fishing you are looking to do.
The rocky point on the southern end of the long beach just to the south of Dunalley can produce some great Calamari squid fishing from December onwards if the weather is reasonably calm or offshore. A reasonably long rod suitable for casting from the rocks together with a squid float to suspend your squid jig at a set distance off the bottom is ideal for this spot.
If the weather is in your face, cast well out and then pick up the slack as the wind blows your jig back to shore.
If the wind is from behind, cast only far enough to clear the rocks and then slowly feed out line as the wind does the rest - this is my favourite way as you can cover long distances with little effort.
Note: - It pays to grease your line when using this method to help stop the line "sagging" down to the weeds below and if you are using cloth covered squid jigs, pour a bit of pure fish oil on them as an attractant before you cast it out - this will dramatically improve your strike ratio.

The long beach itself can produce great flathead fishing for those prepared to wade out at low tide and spin with soft plastics. A powerful spin rod with half once jig heads and Mr. Twister double tails will do the trick nicely.
Watch the incoming tide and don't leave it too long to vacate the area as this beach has some deep gutters that aren't much fun crossing if you stay too long.

Dunalley itself can offer some great fishing, especially when the salmon are travelling through the canal. At times such as this the action is hard and fast anywhere along the canal spinning with nothing more than the humble silver slice lure.
Night time can also produce some fantastic squid fishing from the local wharf when the squid are on the move.

Connellys Marsh beach is a great place to take the family for a picnic on a hot day however the beach tends to run out quite shallow so a powerful surf rod is a must to ensure you can cast out far enough to reach any fish - still, it's a great place for the kids to play whilst you fish.

Susans Bay on the southern end of Primrose Sands can produce exciting fishing when the salmon are running, as they are easy to reach from the rocky point just before you get to the boat ramp. Once again a good powerful rod is a must when fishing from the shore and lures around the 40 - 60 gram mark are ideal for casting long distances.

Primrose Sands beach is a great all rounder! The family will have a great day in the sun whilst you can fish to your hearts content. Whether its spinning with soft plastics or surf fishing with bait, this beach usually fishes quite well as it isn't far out to the "drop off", and produces some great flathead and more often than not some fat little Australian salmon plus there is the chance of a squid off the nearby rocks - definitely worth a look.

The mouth of the Carlton River is a great spot to spin for salmon and the odd small flathead. The rest of the Carlton Beach is probably worth steering clear of, particularly if there is any surf running as this is one of the south's most popular surfing beaches and although they can weigh a fair bit, Surfers are only good for one good "run" and then they beach themselves - not much sport in that.

The jetty at Tiger Head can produce some good squid fishing at night, as can any of the small rocky outcrops around the Dodges Ferry area however, the water is too shallow to produce much in daylight hours except off the rocks if the salmon are running.

Low tide can produce some great spinning and soft plastics fishing in the Pittwater Estuary running from Dodges Ferry up to Lewisham.
Nearly always good for a fish or two, usually salmon or flathead however bait-fishers occasionally snare a Gummy Shark or two and these put up a great fight!
It's important to note that this area is a shark nursery and all sharks must be released unharmed - still, fantastic fun.

The Midway Point Causeway Bridge is probably one of the most reliable spots of all and is an ever popular place for anglers, consistently producing catches of salmon, mullet, flathead, cod, sting rays, skates, flounder and sharks plus the occasional bream and sea run trout.
I'm not sure that having cars whistling past on the other side of the concrete wall all day is my idea of a relaxing days fishing but, if its fish you want - this one is well worth a look!

Seven Mile Beach is another great family spot for the avid angler and can produce some exciting fishing, particularly when the salmon are running.
During the day this beach is often good for small whiting and a few flathead as well but, it is after dark that this beach can really hot up if the tide is right. Sharks, skates, rays and some larger flathead plus the occasional calamari squid can really make for an exciting evenings fishing if you time it right and the weather is good.
During the day, park in the car park at the western end of the beach and walk out onto the rocky point, this allows you to fish straight out into the deeper water but as it gets dark and the fish start to head in close to feed, my favourite spot for night fishing is right smack in front of the car park under the lee of the hill.  This spot offers shelter from the prevailing winds and makes for a more pleasant experience - plus it usually fishes well.

The river mouth at Cremorne is always good for a spin and when the salmon are really firing, it is a great place to pull out the saltwater fly outfit. This is also a good family spot so don't hesitate to make a day of it and let the kids run loose whilst you indulge in the finer art of fishing.

Clifton Beach is not bad fishing however this is also arguably the south's premiere surfing beach and as I said before, surfers can be a nuisance so it probably pays to steer clear of the beach itself.
This only leaves the rocky points at either end which do fish well however, good surf beaches have big swells and this spells danger for the rock fisherman - so beware, personally I reckon there are far better (and safer) places than Clifton to fish.

These are just a few of the many places that are available for the shore-based angler in southern Tasmania.
My suggestion is to buy yourself a good map of the Frederick Henry Bay area and start exploring; you will be surprised at how much good fishing there is to be had without having to own a boat and, lets face it - there is nothing better (or healthier) for you than a fresh feed of fish that you have caught yourself that day!

If you are unsure of what species you should be targeting and what you should be using to target them, ask at your local tackle store.
The staff in tackle stores are all keen anglers - this means they live and breath the sport and they spend every day talking to other anglers. They know what's firing where and how they are catching them - what better edge can you have than to get advice from one of these guys?

Last but not least, stuff the weather - there is always a fish somewhere that needs catching so make the most of it and go catch him - you are a long time dead!

John Orchard

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