Recreational fishing

Tasmania provides some of the best inland fishing waters in the world. Its abundant streams and lakes and its pristine, unique natural environment make it a highly attractive and exciting fishing destination. Here, you can catch wild trout in crystal clear waters surrounded by spectacular natural scenery, access prime fishing locations easily from major cities, and fish for a variety of trout and salmon at a single water or at several waters within the one day.

The Central Highlands boasts over 3000 lakes and tarns, most of which hold trout. Many of these are only accessible by foot, but the journey can be a reward in itself as the walk can be spectacular. Rivers are also highly regarded and many have reasonable flows all year.

Tasmania's wild brown trout fishery, in particular, attracts anglers from interstate and overseas, but the fishery also caters for a wide range of angling interest. Anglers have the choice of fishing one of the many small streams that teem with brown trout in the 500 gram range, to stalking larger fish in the shallow margins of one of the many hundreds of lakes. For the intrepid angler, vast areas of National Park and World Heritage Areas contain excellent trout waters. These areas enable the outdoor enthusiast to combine trout fishing with bushwalking for the ultimate wilderness fishery experience.

Tasmania's Angling Season

The angling season extends from August to May, with the best fishing between October and April. There are also seven major waters that are now open for angling all year round. During the course of the season, different types of fishing become prominent, reflecting seasonal shifts in weather, water levels, food availability and consequently, the feeding behaviour of trout.

Early in the season, the cool conditions and high water levels stimulate 'tailing' fish, which feed along the flooded lake (and river) margins looking for snails, worms, grubs and other food items. Fish can be seen cruising along the edges with their tails and dorsal fins exposed, providing exhilarating sport for the fly fisher and baitcaster. Lakes with shallow edges coupled with plant growth are best suited for tailing fish.

At around the same time, sea trout fishing is at its peak, as sea-run browns chase whitebait up the estuaries during their annual migration. These fish offer great angling opportunities on fly, lure and bait. Most of the larger estuaries with the exception of the East Coast rivers offer good sea run trout fishing.

Mayfly hatches are a feature from approximately mid-October on the lowland lakes and mid-November on the highlands. Mayfly activity can last until March and is seen by many as the pinnacle of dry fly fishing in Tasmania. Mayfly activity on the northern "meadow" streams is centred on the red spinner and generally extends from October to December.

Sight fishing for trout with the aid of polarised sunglasses or "polaroiding", is a practice that is used extensive throughout the State. Tasmania's clear water environment readily lends itself to this method with the best waters being the shallow lakes on the Central Plateau, particularly the Western Lakes, however any water with reasonable clarity has potential for polaroiding.

Helpful Advice

The Tasmanian climate, particularly in the highland country, is highly changeable and outdoor recreationalists need to beware and be prepared. Check the weather forecast before you leave on a fishing trip.

Tasmania has a healthy network of angling clubs throughout the State and a string of accredited trout guides. Valuable advice is also available through tackle stores, where you can also purchase a fishing licence. For the novice fisher or tourist, some local advice on where to fish and what to use, could make the difference to a successful fishing experience.

Everything You Need To Know

Saltwater Fishing

Tasmania is surrounded by water and has some spectacular marine fishing from bays, river and estuary systems to game fishing for yellowfin tuna, albacore, striped marlin and southern bluefin tuna. Southern bluefin tuna are one of the most keenly sought game fish and several world records for these are held in Tasmania.

For many years Tasmania has had recreational bag limits for all game fish and in 2001 introduced bag limits for all saltwater species. Whilst some recreational netting is still allowed it is banned in almost all bays, rivers and estuaries - as is commercial netting.

Tasmania holds several world records for southern bluefin tuna including a fish of 108 kilograms on 15 kilogram line. Although good numbers of fish had not been caught for several years, 2001 saw the return of some great gamefishing return off Tasman Peninsula. Whilst St Helens is largely regarded as the game fishing capital of Tasmania, Tasman Peninsula rules the roost for bluefin.

Large yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, albacore, striped tuna and mako sharks are also available on the east coast from Flinders Island to Tasman Peninsula. In recent times professional charter operators have developed this fishery with most operating from St Helens. Striped marlin are perhaps the most sought after prize and in recent years the numbers caught every year are increasing.

Photo: Game Fishing Club of Northern Tasmania

The best way for visitors to go game fishing is to hire a charter operator. Their knowledge, boats and equipment are all first class. These are professionals who are on the water almost every day and can maximize your chances. Charter operators operate under a strict code of practice which was initiated by the Sea Charter Boat Owners and Operators of Tasmania.

Southern black bream are another fish eagerly sought in Tasmania. These are mostly an east and northern coast fish that grow to well over three kilograms. Nowhere else in Australia is the average size as big and a genuine four pound fish is well within the reach of keen anglers. Little Swanport and Ansons Bay are hot spots for big bream.

Of course there are many other species eagerly sought, these are just two examples of Tasmania's unique saltwater fishery.

You do not need a licence for saltwater fishing in Tasmania's seas with a rod and line. A recreational sea fishing licence is required to fish for abalone, rock lobster and scallops or with a graball, mullet and beach seine net.

Fish Wild Tasmania

Fishing related websites

• Fish Wild Tasmania