Tamar River Winter Submarines

Damon Sherriff
Although the Tamar is a Shark Refuge Area they are a regular catch and I always release them unharmed.
Gummy sharks are a year round catch in the Tamar River. They can be caught in very cold and even dirty, fresh water. Big gummies are also a great sport fish and really go on the right tackle. Gummies are located in many locations on the Tamar, and of course in many areas adjacent to the mouth. They can be caught in water as shallow as a metre. So land-based fishing is a real option. There are a few tricks in maximising your fishing success.
Gummy Sharks will take a wide variety of baits including crabs, prawns, squid, cuttlefish, fish fillets, west Australian pilchards, octopus and fresh water eel. But fresh is best. Fresh bait will out fish frozen bait. So if you are serious about targeting gummies source fresh bait if you can. Gummy sharks love crabs on caught location and it costs you nothing.
Hook size will depend on bait size but I would use around a 7/0 or 8/0 octopus pattern hook. I use the larger hook to make it easier to release them. They don't seem to get as deeply hooked when using the larger hooks. You would normally know when a gummy picks up your bait as they would normally run up the current against the tide. The really big gummies often come in very quietly until they see the boat and then come to life and perform. A big gummy can often be mistaken for an eagle ray.
Big gummies can be caught in very shallow water at any time of the day. There is no rule, but saying that they can be caught in very deep water as well. Good places to look for a deep cunji beds, reefs, shallow muddy channels and sponge beds. Gummy sharks will bite on the run-in and run-out tides, although the run in is normally better in shallow after dark. Gummies seem to like fast running tidal areas so don't be put off by fast running water. Shallow bays can also be very productive such as West Arm and Middle Arm. Gummies come in after dark and feed on square backed crabs in the shallows.
A land based fishing outfit needs to be long enough to make a good cast but strong enough to handle a big gummy. A rod with a length around 8 - 10 foot is ideal. Reel size should be around the 6000 size. If you would prefer the overhead style as I do your reel needs to hold around 250 meters of at least 8kg mono.
I prefer a longer when bait fishing out of a boat. I use a 7'6 - 8 foot rod which allows me to get a great cast. I find that overhead reels are far superior for this type of fishing.
The moon plays an important place in catching gummies. Around 5 days before till the full moon seems to be the most consistent time to catch big gummies. Daytime fishing around the new moon can also be very good. The barometer plays a very important part of most fishing. Gummies are not an exception. I like the barometer to be either rising or steady. A fast falling barometer makes deep water fishing slow. I probably wouldn't bother going when the barometer falls below about 1005. Although once the barometer has fallen to its lowest point and starts rising, this can be a red hot time to fish. For example just after a big storm.
Gummies are very plentiful in the Tamar River but whole you are targeting them you will come across some ugly monsters such as sting rays, seven gill sharks, elephant fish and if you are lucky maybe a snapper. But just remember that the Tamar is a Shark Refuge Area: this includes all sharks and rays, but not elephant fish. So do the right thing and let them go. Gummy sharks can be caught as far up as Rosevears and possibly the best place that I know to catch big gummies would be in Swan Bay which is just South of Hillwood. So you don't have to travel too far to get into the gummy action.
Damon Sherriff
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