Stanley Wharf and Surrounds

Stuart Smith
Located in the far north-west of Tasmania is the historical town of Stanley. Stanley is quickly becoming a prize destination for the recreational angler.  
The annual snotty trevally run on the townships wharf has, according to some, become the number one attraction in the area for visitor numbers. This wharf fishery attracts hundreds of amateur anglers and is now a major player in the tourists numbers that visit the town and unlike all the other draw cards, this one is free.

The snotty run as the locals call it, starts around October and usually runs through to the end of May, seems to be directly related to water temperature. Anything over 16 degrees seems to get them started and they have a real go during the summer peak and then drop back as the winter months approach. They seem to disappear just as quickly as they arrive.
The recommended method of capture is a good solid 7-10ft rod with a strong reel with the drag screwed to the max, a 20-25lb line is absolutely necessary as there is no playing the fish like most other sport fishing. As soon as the hook up occurs the catch needs to be landed as quick as possible to avoid the neighboring anglers who stand shoulder to shoulder the length of the pier. It is a wonderful experience to witness the domino effect of catching snotties from one end of the wharf to the other. The catch is generally shared across the board and it is quite uncommon for a single fish to be caught, they are generally landed in quick abundance and then it stop completely for a while as the school swims through.
Chicken is the one and only bait to use, good to squash it a bit in your fingers before you put it on a 1/0 long shank hook, this squashing breaks the chicken up a bit and creates its" own burley with the small pieces floating about the hook area, most anglers use a running sinker rig mainly to have some weight over the rig and keep it hanging relatively perpendicular. It has been known to be a bit windy in Stanley on the odd occasion and although the weightless rig is probably the most successful, it is certainly not an option with 20-30 knots of wind from any set direction.
Although the wharf area is well known for the snotty run there are numerous other species than can be caught year round. Recently a handful of flathead catches have appeared with the length of these fish being up to 80cm. The preferred area for these is a very good cast straight off the end of the wharf with a good bottom fishing rig. It is not uncommon to land gummy shark towards the end of the evening in this area as well, many a trophy has been lost by trying to haul the catch up over the wharf edge. If the angler is patient and the fish is well hooked it can walked around the end of the wharf and onto the breakwater wall where landing is much easier.
Over recent years some marvelous snapper hook ups have also occurred, but with only one successful landing and it is said that this may be one of the very few land based captures of snapper in Tasmania.
There are numerous other species available from the immediate wharf area, schools of Australian salmon can offer the anglers great entertainment. Recently two silver drummer were caught, these fish are uncommon in Tasmania and are usually found in the warmer Australian waters. The calamari fishery is alive and well and these are most definitely being targeted. In the past they have always been a bycatch of anglers that frequent the wharf outside daylight hours. Another great place to catch calamari in the Stanley area is on the entrance to the fishermans dock. Walk out onto the breakwater and fish in the narrow neck that separates the ocean from the harbour.
Being that Stanley simply juts out into Bass Strait it forms a narrow neck that creates two tidal inlets: East Inleyt and West Inlet. Both are very accessible and both very productive bodies of water for the recreational angler. Whatever the wind direction you can nearly get a line in one of the two, there are launching facilities for smaller trailer boats only, but land based angling attributes to the majority of effort.
Both places are  fantastic for lure fishing at low tide targeting  flathead, plastics have become very popular, and the rewards are quite consistent. A few tailor hang around the west as do pike, more so around the entrance where there is more sea grass beds, there are good runs of Australian salmon year round and the gummy shark fishing of an evening is better than it has ever been. This is due to both these estuaries no being "no netting" areas. The flounder spearer has never seen it as lucrative, no need to use a net when one can selectively spear. The hard core locals that believe they are traditional users are starting to see the continued improvement (we can only hope these critics live long enough to see their kids and their kids kids enjoy these areas.
Along Seven Mile Beach, adjacent to Western Inlet there has been seasonal catches of elephant fish and also snapper. With prevailing westerly winds off shore there has been a handful of die-hard anglers using balloons to take out the rigs,(this type of fishing is also becoming popular around the Stanley nut area), with the bait being on and near the surface the common catch is the Australian salmon, but this type of fishing seems to yield the 2kg plus fish.
Overall the community of Stanley can be very proud of their recreational fishery, it is not just one of Circular Head's sustainable industries, it is an improving one.
Stuart Smith

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