Fishing on King Island Accommodation

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Fishing on King Island by Emma Farnsworth:

 King Island is relatively undiscovered as a holiday destination, which makes it perfect for those looking for a retreat from their busy city lives, a place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty, the wildlife and that special atmosphere to be found on all small islands. Not that King Island is tiny: you won’t see it all in a day. At 58 km long by 21 km wide, with 145 km of rugged, unspoilt coastline, this is an island that will take time to explore and which offers plenty to see and do. It is tiny only in terms of its population. With under 2,000 residents, you are not going to feel crowded, you won’t be bothered by traffic, and if you are held up in your travels around the island by the occasional herd of cows ambling across the road to be milked, this is only in tune with that leisurely way of life that you will already have fallen into, having breathed it in with the bracing, salty air as you stepped off the plane.

 King Island is famous for its dairy produce, the butter, cheese and clotted cream that you’ll find in all the best delicatessens on the mainland; for its cray-fishing fleet, and the wonderful local crayfish pie; and, of course, its fresh fish is renowned as second to none. The island offers the best fishing in Tasmania, and you probably won’t find any better or more varied land-based fishing in all of Australia. Come here for a fishing holiday and you’ll be hard-pressed to fit it all in: salmon, mullet, kingfish, snapper, school shark, gummy shark, flatheads and sweep are all abundant. Fish from the wharves of the two main towns on the island, Currie and Grassy, and you won’t leave empty-handed. Here you’ll find barracouta and squid. In the north of the island there are three lakes, Lake Wickham, Penny’s Lagoon and Cask Lake, which are stocked with brown trout. You don’t need a licence in Tasmania for sea fishing with a rod and line, but fishing the lakes does require an Inland Fishing Licence.

 Travelling around the island

 The lack of passenger ferries to the island means that unless you ship your car over separately you will need to organise some transport. There are about 500km of roads but no taxis or public transport on King Island. Naracoopa Holiday Cottages can arrange a hire car from the airport and also arrange for bus tours, great for exploring the other attractions of King Island—but to get the most out of your fishing holiday you really need to hire a car. Mountain bikes are also available.

A great place to start fishing is Naracoopa’s ancient jetty, which has recently been restored and where you’ll catch squid, couta, salmon, gummy shark and maybe even a few snappers. After your first day, you’ll get some idea of the potential of the island. Probably you won’t experience all the great fishing it has to offer in one week, but that may be a good thing: the unique charm and atmosphere of this island will get under your skin, making you want to return time after time. Working your way around the island, you’ll discover the variety of the coastal landscape, which offers different types of sea fishing, either from the town jetties, the remote, rocky coastline and cliffs in the south, and the sandy beaches of the north and east coasts.

 Down to basics

 Everyone on a fishing trip to King Island should make a visit to Terry Perry’s local store in Currie, where you can buy all the tackle and bait you’ll need—and nobody has more local knowledge about fish and fishing. Just a short walk from the shop, you can drop your line into Currie Harbour and catch some squid and silver trevally or Naracoopa Jetty for yummy Tasmanian Salmon.

 and catch some squid or silver trevally, which are both good eating. King Island’s exposed position in the centre of the Bass Strait makes it a sometimes wet and windswept place, but the harbour here is reasonably sheltered.

Sweep is a particular favourite among King Island locals. Most anglers take it only as an incidental catch, but it really is a great fish for the table and is far more commonly caught here than on mainland Tasmania. One of the best places to catch it is from the surf-battered rocks of British Admiral Beach, a two minute drive south of Currie. A word of warning: when fishing from the exposed rocks, watch the tide doesn’t cut you off. The biggest sweep stay close to the bottom, so bait your line about half a metre up from your weight. Perhaps the very best spot for sweep is just off the Seal Rocks in the south of the island, where the water is about ninety feet deep close to the shore, although the rocks can be slippery.

 British Admiral Beach is also a great place for catching snapper, gummy shark or salmon. The latter can be caught in most tidal conditions using a 30g slice or slug lure from the water’s edge. Low tide is best, though not with a powerful westerly wind blowing onto the shore. This is the most critical variable. Generally speaking, the tide, moon or temperature won’t affect the fishing so much, but a high wind will mean altering your habits. Try fishing at high tide and you might get lucky. Salmon and kingfish both go well for a chrome lure, but the latter will also take a big popper or a large 70g high speed lure.

The best advice for any fisherman on King Island is to go out every day. Whatever the weather, there is always some protected spot on the island that will be perfect for just that day. The locals are very friendly and are always willing to point you in the right direction. Because there are so few of them—or maybe just because they are so friendly—when they meet each other on the road, they always raise a hand in greeting. Get used to waving back and you won’t go wrong.

At the end of the day when retiring to you King Island accommodation you can’t go wrong if you’ve booked into these cottages on the gentle East Coast.

Emma Farnsworth

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