East coast - productive fishing over winter and spring
by Michael Bok
Recently I had the chance to enjoy a days reef fishing with Rocky Carosi aboard Adosinda 11. I am a fisherman who will jump at any chance to fish with professional guides, as I am a firm believer that a days fishing with a good guide can teach you more than you can learn in ages by yourself.
The object of our days fishing was to check out some of the bottom fishing areas out of St Helens now that the game season had started to ease off.
I had heard that the reef and bottom fishing had very good potential there and Rocky was planning to offer charters over the non game season. There are quite a few reefs of St Helens, but had no idea of where to look and had not bothered trying to find them.
If you don't know where these sort of areas are, you can spend a lot of time and money on petrol looking for them, hence my liking for using guides, at least then you know the general area to start fishing. We left the ramp nice and early (well about 7:30 am) and headed out behind Elephant Rock with the area of jigging for some bait with some of these little fly style bait jigs you see advertised. We soon had enough bait and as their was a bit much breeze blowing, we decided to try a bit of drifting for some of these large tiger flathead. Rocky proceeded to set out a drogue anchor (something I have always wondered about how good they are) and we proceeded to pick up some nice flathead, including one very large one. It was interesting to see how effective these anchors are in slowing down a drift, enabling one to stay over a selected fishing area for longer.
We continued with this until the weather eased off a bit and we proceeded to find one reef which Rocky likes to fish. Even though the conditions were not ideal, when we arrived at the reef the drogue anchor went over and the lines went down. We were to be fishing in 90 odd meters of water and I had a couple of fishing rods and reels that I fancied would be ideal for this fishing.
At the end of the day of the four pieces of gear I used, there would only be one I would take out again and that was a one piece 8 kg Silstar Crystal Powertip rod. The reels I used, had too slow a retrieve rate. When you are fishing in 90 odd meters you want reels that will get your lines up with a reasonable retrieve rate. The rod was great as it had plenty of strength to pull up fish, yet was sensitive enough in the tip to feel the bites. If I get the chance again, I will use a faster reel spooled with spider wire type line. This is one sort of fishing that would really benefit from it's use. Rocky has a couple of deck reels that I have used with him once before when we were fishing in 500 odd meters off the Continental Shelf.
These reels will retrieve over a metre of line per revolution - something you need to fish these huge depths. Our target fish from these reefs were to be Morwong and Striped Trumpeter, both great eating fish. We had some bother getting baits to the bottom as there appeared to be thousands of couta just under the boat just waiting to jump on our lines. When we did manage to get our baits to the bottom, we had reasonable success with Morwong, well I thought we did, but Rocky seemed to think that it wasn't as good as expected. I think he is a bit spoilt as I caught plenty of fish and had a great day ( any days fishing has to be great.) Several times during the day I turned around to see Rocky's 10 kg outfit doubled over with good fish hooked. By the end of the day, we had managed to get several different species of fish and both had a very good feed of lovely fresh fish out of the day. The only disappointment was that the elusive Trumpeter did not play ball. A day on the water over the cooler months can be a real gem, nice crisp morning, a pleasant day, not too many other boats and a good feed of fish. If you want a great day out give Rocky a ring and organise something different for a change. Just for the record, a bit of information about the Morwong.
Morwong (Nemadactylus macropterus)
Habitat: Rocky reef, sand and mud
Depth: 3 to 245 metres
Size: up to 61 cm
Food Habit: Benthic invertebrates zooplankton
Also known as squeaker perch or jackass fish. Juveniles enter shallow bays and coastal waters of Tasmania and Victoria. Adults are found on the Continental Shelf throughout southern Australia and are generally a schooling species. The Morwong can be identified by a black blotch behind the head during the day, however, this feature fades at night and four or five grey blotches appear on the side of the body. The above information came from a book "Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait" - Tasmanian Underwater Photographic Society. This book has great photographs and information which makes identifying fish very easy.