Tasmania's best kept secret: Swan River bream
by Sandra Aulich
Most of our tourism information available for fishing in Tassie is confined to our marvellous trout fishing. As well-deserved as this may be, your average angler may only want to get away for a day of peace and relaxation and be sure of a fish for their efforts.
These anglers need a simpler form of angling in an area closer to home. All fishing pamphlets available tell us about the Hobart area, St. Helens, Scamander, and, in passing, they may mention the Swan River. I believe this river system is the best bream fishing river in the state. There are many sections stretching from Swanwick (near Coles Bay) and right up to the river to Swansea and the north to the Cranbrook area.
For near enough to six months from December until May the pick of the fishing is from the barway at Swanwick, river and Rocks, yellow Sandbanks through to Moulting Bay (see map). The river and Rocks area is tidal with large sand and mud flats extending from deep channels. Many boats anchor on the edges of these channels and fish into deep waters fish are there to be caught, however most of the really good fishing is in the shallows. Care must be taken to watch for tide changes as it is very easy to find your boat stranded with the receding tide. Excellent fishing is available by wading into the shallows and fishing incoming and outgoing tides.
My husband David and I have been fishing the shallows for many years and must look a sight passing boats who almost dislocate their necks when they see a couple of crazies sitting in green outdoor chairs submerged in thigh-high water, rods slung up of poles and our old ironing board to hold bait, drinks etc. (we have now updated the old ironing board to a folding table).
We fish with a light drag tension so the bream can take the bait and run there is nothing better than to hear the scream of the reel as they take off of course the tension is adjusted set the hook and land the fish. The tremendous thrill of seeing a large bream come out of the shallows like a marlin doing aerobics really sets the adrenalin racing. Best bait for this area is pretty fish, crabs, shrimp and a secret tidbit garfish, which the bream hit with relish. Fresh bait makes all the difference and is readily available with a bait net. The heaviest line used should be 2.5 kg but lighter is better, hook size 1/0 2/0 and alight running sinker. We used a double hook rig with a running sinker above the swivel.
Light sensitive six-foot rods are preferred. Our reels are Shimano: Aerocast 4010, AX400, 300, and Bait runner 3000.
Apart from the bream we also catch trevally, flathead, tailor, whiting, salmon and very large leatherjackets (2lb) in the channels.