Wild fishing on Flinders Island

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Jarrod Day
I’ve been fortunate enough over the last eight years to make regular trips to the remote Flinders Island. For those unaware, Flinders Island is located a short one hour flight south, from Tooradin approximately half way between Tasmania and Wilson’s Prom.

Apart from being remote, the fishing is absolutely mind blowing with some very surprising catches almost the minute your bait hits the water.

It was the last week in May when I had organised a few days fishing at Flinders with work colleague Adam Ring and a group of eight mates to explore the waters surrounding the island. With a combination of great weather, keen fisho’s and plenty of fish, we experienced some truly amazing fishing from the river, deep blue and off the sand.

Flicking the river: The North East River is plentiful with fish and practically untouched from fishing.

Sometimes I have fished for the entire day without even a glimpse of another angler, car, or truck except for the sound of the waves crashing and pelicans groaning when they get too close to one another.

Fishing the river can be some of the best estuary fishing an angler could experience, even when land based.

Salmon, silver trevally and flathead are the main targeted species but XOS King-George whiting, gummy shark, snook and flounder are all available.

Throughout most of the year salmon are frequently caught by land based anglers casting metal slugs from the sand and rocks.

Although trevally aren’t as popular as salmon, land based anglers usually hook into a few. If you’re lucky enough to fish the river with a boat, then you’ll soon experience silver trevally at its best with fish to 50cm caught in numbers on my last trip.

Flathead are the most highly prized in the river due to their size and although bait fishing anglers catch their fair share, it is anglers drifting and working soft plastics over the weed beds and sand holes that lock horns with some real monsters.
If your into the soft plastic scene or want to see what all the fuss is about a great start is with Squidgy 85mm Flick baits in the evil Minnow and Pillie colours working a treat on trevally and salmon. Flathead are quite fond of taking Squidgy 100mm wriggler tails in Golden eye, drop bear and red rum colours. Jig heads to match should be a 3/0 or 2/0 hook with 3/8th, ¼ and 1/8th heads suitable for all stages of the tide.

Batteling the offshore breeze: If the weather is kind enough, then you can experience some amazing Tasmanian trumpeter fishing. Jumping on a local charter is the best way as they can put you directly onto the fish. Being remote, taking your own boat is almost impossible unless you pre-organise it to be ferried over by the Southern Shipping Company which can take months of planning.

Chartering is the best option considering the trumpeter fishing grounds are at least two to three hours travel from the port at Lady Barron.

Although the fishing charters provide tackle, it is advisable you take along your own fishing gear with 20lb outfits most suitable. My standard bottom bouncing outfit consists of an IFISH 30-50lb jig rod with Shimano 6000 Twinpower and 30lb braid. Being a jig rod it is short, 5’8 in fact which enables more leverage power being closer to your body when lifting fish up. This makes battling fish in deep water far easier with less effort.

The standard paternoster rig is ideal for deep water bottom bouncing; a single or double dropper rig is entirely up to you. Fishing with a double dropper can lead to catching two fish at a time. Rigs should be tied from 80lb trace as a minimum with 5/0 circle hooks attached to the droppers.

Trumpeter inhabit quite deep reefs. The usual depths are 80 metres but you can expect to be fishing in up to 120 metres if you can’t find them shallower.

They are found over small patches of reef adjacent to sand feeding on small fish, minnows, crabs etc: I have been quite fond of using cut pilchards or squid strips. Being so deep it may pay to wrap the bait onto the hook with bait mate or fuse wire. Trumpeter are very cleaver in steeling baits and at this depth you want a hook-up not a stolen bait because of the long haul back to the surface.

Soaking up the sand: Fishing from the sand is very productive where ever you try. Gummy sharks are highly prized but night fishing is preferred. Although they are caught throughout the year, anglers will need to rug up and fish by torch light for their best chance.

Paternoster rigs will work but running sinker rigs are recommended to keep baits close to the bottom where they feed. Rigs should be tied from 80lb with snelled 6/0 hooks. Best baits include fresh salmon and silver trevally fillets.

Along with gummies are school sharks, abundant in these parts, wire leaders are required to avoid being bitten off. Requiring the same rig to be caught, wire is a must.

When fishing off the sand you’ll encounter other species including salmon and some massive flathead.

Along the eastern side of flinders is the most productive gummy and school shark fishing. The mouth of the North East River can produce some monsters during a run out tide. Snapper are also taken here due to the small reef patch located within casting distance from the rocks.

Five Mile beach Cameron’s inlet, sellers point and Pot Boil Point are the number one beaches to fish for gummies and schoolies.

The most productive time is fishing the high tide and with that in combination with the lead up to the full moon you’re almost guaranteed to catch a few.

Future Flinders fishing experditions: If anybody would like to join a trip to experience what Flinders Island has to offer then drop an email to jarrodday(at)iprimus.com.au or call (03) 5996 6500 for more information?

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Jarrod Day

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Jarrod Day