Tamar Shore Fishing For Kids

As a youngster I was fortunate enough to have a Grandad " The late Ben Sherriff" who would take me fishing once a week. Every Saturday evening he would take me to the Hillwood jetty which unfortunately burnt down some years ago. I used to live for Saturdays. I would get so excited. We wouldn't catch much but we didn't care.  It was the atmosphere, the anticipation of the catch and the other anglers that we would meet  that made it so special to me.  Sadly my Grandad passed away in 1983. I still miss him very much but he has given me a gift that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Fishing.
These precious early years for young anglers are important. I look back and treasure these golden memories. I hope my three young boys do the same when they are older. I know two of them are keener than me already.

Shore based fishing is a little bit limited in many areas of the Tamar for kids because of the rocky oyster encrusted shores, dangerous muddy flats and big strong 3 meter tides. So fishing is made hard for kids in many ways but there are a few safe areas that kids can fish under strict supervision.

The first location that I would recommend is nice and close for the Launceston residents which is called the Trevallyn Tailrace pontoon. This is an excellent spot for kids to fish for both fresh and some saltwater species. Sea run brown trout, escapee atlantic salmon, redfin perch, tench, eels, yellow eyed mullet and the occasional cocky salmon can be caught off the pontoon at certain times of the year. Greyling or cucumber hering are a small silvery coloured fish, which are also regularly caught. They are a protected species that must be released unharmed. There are some signs erected by inland fisheries around the tailrace giving you a bit more information about this matter. There is also a great fun park for the youngsters if they get a bit bored with fishing, plus a  BBQ area as well as public toilets. Bait and lure fishing are all worth a go. Worms and packet white bait are the most popular choice for kids and will catch all of the species mentioned above. For the best results try and time your trip with an incoming tide. No matter what, fun and safety are the two most important things to remember when fishing with kids.  Just a little tip. If you are concerned about the safety of your kids around water make them wear a PFD type 1 lifejacket. Mine have done this right from day one. They don't question it at all and I know that they are always safe.

Gravelly Beach pontoon is my kids favourite spot for land based fishing on the Tamar. It has the lot. A good variety of fish, a playground, a BBQ area, a public toilet, plenty of parking and a great shop nearby which sells a good range of bait, icecreams and lollies. The most common catch off the pontoon would be yellow eyed mullet but flathead, cod cocky salmon, sea trout, trevally, couta,  sting rays and gummy sharks can be caught of there at certain times. The period of high tide seems to fish the best. Our favourite bait at Gravelly is bluebait, whitebait and prawns. Small pilchard style lures also work well.  In all Gravelly Beach pontoon is the pick of the pontoons for kids in the Tamar valley and is highly recommended especially on a lazy summers weekend afternoon. It is great.

Bonney Beach pontoon is another great land based fishing pontoon for the whole family. It is a great pontoon, which runs along way out from the rocky snaggy shores. Bonney Beach has also got plenty of play area for the kids to explore and hunt for crabs along the pebbly shore.  It also has a public toilet and BBQ facilities. A wide variety of species can be taken off this pontoon which include silver trevally, blue warehoe, cocky salmon, mullet, cod, flathead and of a night Gummy sharks. A word of warning. It tends to be a bit snaggy on the southern end of the pontoon. So if the northern end is free grab it. Like most shallow water places of the Tamar, the incoming tide is the most productive. Both lure and bait fishing can result in a good catch. The tide dose run hard at Bonney Beach so a 2-3 ounce sinker is necessary between the tides. At Bonney Beach the tide runs the opposite way to the mainstream of the Tamar so don't let it confuse you. When the tide is coming in it looks like it is running out.

My last fishing location for kids is the Pier pontoon in Georgetown. This is another good safe spot for kids under supervision. It has a great tackle shop nearby where bait and tackle can be purchased. Food and drinks can also be purchased from several food outlets a couple of hundred meters away from all the action. There is a public toilet nearby as well. A good variety of species such as couta, flathead, cocky salmon, mullet, garfish, snook, silver trevally, blue warehoe and the very occasional pinky snapper can be caught. Both high and low tides fish well at times. There is a slow tidal flow so a lighter sinker can be used than in other locations. Also unweighted baits can be fished with success for garfish and couta. The best baits that I have found are bluebait, whitebait, chicken breasts, fish fillets and squid. They all work well.
There are other locations that are suitable for young kids but I think these are the safest and most user-friendly spots that I have used.

Keep it simple. Kids don't need complex rigs. Often the simplest ones work best. My kids mainly use a padanoster rig or double dropper rig with two size 4 suicide hooks and a 1-3 ounce sinker. For garfish and couta use as small amount of lead as possible, if needed at all, then drift a bait down a berly trail. Most good tackle suppliers have pre made berley but it is easy to make your own. Most of the time a bag of chook pellets and some fish oil is all that is required. A berley bomb or dispenser is also a good idea and can turn a fihless day into a day to remember.

. My kids only use Daiwa rods and reels. They are top quality at an affordable price.  Try and spend, as much as you can afford on a child's outfit, At the end of the day it will make life alot easier for the both of you. A light 2-4 kg outfit would be fine for the Tamar.
It is a good practice to teach your kids about size and bag limits. A fish ruler and regultions booklet is obtainable from Service Tasmania shops and good tackle suppliers. Just remember that the Tamar River is a gummy shark nursery and they must be returned to the water unharmed. Kids also get plenty of enjoyment out of practicing catch and release. (Kissing them and throwing them back)

I hope I may have helped some young anglers get hooked on one of the greatest sport in the world. There are a lot worse things that they could be doing!
Good luck Damon Sherriff
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