Mark gives a detailed account of his fishing experience in St. Helens and Derwent during the 2016 ABT Bream Qualifiers in Tasmania.
My wife Danielle and I had Tasmania at the very top of our traveling to-do list. After my success from earlier in the year, we knew 2016 had our Tassie trip box ready to be ticked.
Early on, I started doing the math on the expenses involved in taking my ranger down but it wouldn’t add up doing so. Fortunately, I met Clinton Howel who had just opened a new business venture called Tassie Boat Hire. My entire trip instantly became simple. Clinton’s boat fleet are equipped with Lowrance Elite 7 Ti’s, 40hp Evinrude Etecs, 12vlt Minn Kota Terrova and full tournament live wells in a 420 Renegade Quintrex.
After a quick flight into Launceston from Sydney, Dani and I enjoyed some of the local attractions and instantly fell in love with the place! We snagged a room at the Penny Royal and awoke to canon fire the first morning there. This will remain one of our best wake up calls to date!
Bream Qualifier #4: St. Helens
After a quick induction, Clinton dropped off the boat and car package; St. Helens was on our sights. I programmed my preferred sounder screen settings, pinned out my pre-fish points, and away I went.
A new system means feeling your way slowly. Couple this with a hire boat, and I was extremely conscious of taking care not to run aground. The 7″ screen on the Elite Ti helped me run trouble-free during the entire pre-fish and competition.
Unfortunately, after locating great fish on pre-fish comp day, social fishermen joined me in my first few spots and spooked the fish I could clearly see on the sounder. The downside I’ve found with black bream is if you can see them it’s already too late. This resulted in a dreaded doughnut day one! Ouch!
Same deal. Too much pressure on the spot so I decided to target another section close to a flat where I’d picked out a good school on the side image.
I got lucky with a good fish on this bank which I caught reasonably quickly. But with this, I think I’d spooked the rest of a school this fish was hanging with and pushed them further down the bank.
In the distance I could see another large school. What I think happened was these two schools got pushed together and caused a turf war to begin between them. I quickly filled my bag, with the big bream being amongst them.
I’ll never forget seeing my lure after a full cast get thrown into the air a foot high from an eruption of fighting fish. These fish were actually chasing each other away from the lure and returning to fight for it. After several knocks and no hook up, the dust settled and I thought you’re joking after all that I didn’t even hook up! With this the larger donk turned back and sucked the lure off the surface in 200mm of water! Bang big bream!
I’ll be honest, my Day 2 bag was a bit lucky but hey, you take your luck when you can get it!
I managed 11th place and big bream after a zip on day one so all in all I was stoked!
We then headed down the east coast saying g’day to a few tassie Devils on the way to Coles bay and freycinet for the Hobie round.
Every photo I took was a post card dead set!!!
The Derwent was next and I’ll be honest it was a lot larger than I thought it would be. This meant that leaning of my sounder would be paramount. Crystal clear images of the bottom in deep sections of the Derwent gave me 100% knowledge and trust that they were not deep straight away!
The 40hp Etec actually helped me, as I actually paid a lot more attention to my sounder instead of obstacles coming at me at high speed.
I decided early to fish high current zones and edges and pinpoint ideal zones on my maps but finding em and not stinging them became a true balancing act.
I’d made a pack with myself to attempt to fish both waterways in a similar fashion to how I’d do it fishing for yellow fin bream but just slower so bridges had to be on my list so I tried the pillions with no joy.
The Bridgewater Bridge however, seemed like a good funnel section so I decided to do more sounder grazing than normal and bingo I found large schools not on the pillions but smack bang between them free feeding off rubble sections. As far as I was concerned the 4.5-5 kg bag of pre-fish all while trying not to sting them had programmed my 2 days.
It didn’t take long to fill a bag on Day 1 and my love for the Derwent increased massively.
Edges worked early with the run out but that bridge was my goal for the change and bingo it was on fire!
8th after Day One. My confidence was high so on Day Two after watching everyone else zoom past me off the starting line I finally made it up river and the first fish on board was 41 to the Fork.
The bridge was tempting me early and with three in the well already I thought stuff it I’ve got time and I hit it just before the change of the tide.
In hindsight, I should have hit it earlier in the day as it was a fish a cast.
At one stage, I managed 15 casts for 15 fish and none under 750 grams.
The Derwent really desensitised me to normal fish size as early in the day I actually thought one of my fish should go on the measure and it went 28fork!
Cranka crabs, VX blades and shallow minnows like Eco gear nw 75 and smelt Daiwa Presso minnows helped me both days but my sounder is what found 80% of my fishing locations for me.
I managed a 3rd after connecting with another 41 fork fish off the same rock I got my first fish on in the morning, BANG 5kg + bag which was a first for me!