Deep Water Bottom Bashing

By Jamie Harris

Sometimes it’s great to get back to basics with a good old fashioned bottom bash whether it’s inshore for a nice feed of Flathead or further out in the deep chasing some bigger fish like Striped Trumpeter or Gummy/School Shark. It’s one of the simplest and most enjoyable forms of fishing there is – clip on a rig, whack on some bait and send it down to the bottom and who knows what might come along. For me that’s the best part, the anticipation of what you might catch next!

With boats/motors, sounders and tackle improving so much in recent years it has seen offshore fishing in Tassie become more and more popular. People are venturing out wider in search of bigger fish. Everyone wants to catch the biggest fish right? I know I do! Always be sure to check your local weather report and sea conditions before heading out and remember no fish is worth risking life and limb for.  While the colder water around our little island doesn’t hold thousands of different species like up North, we still have some amazing fish worth catching and some of those include Striped Trumpeter, Gummy and School Shark, Morwong, Tiger Flathead, Latchet and so on.

Many people in Tassie regard Striped Trumpeter as their number one table fish and for that reason they are often the main target when venturing out in deeper water. Stripeys have been known to reach sizes in excess of 20kg but most will be around 2-6kg with a 10kg + fish considered large. Remember, there is a closed season for Stripey from 1st September – 31st October and this closure gives them a chance to spawn. Minimum size is 55cm, bag limit is 4 fish,possession limit is 8 and  Boat limit is 20 fish. Worth noting is that a 55cm fish is quite small for a Stripey and they don’t have a lot of meat on them at that size so consider releasing the smaller fish. They do release well as they don’t “blow up” like some other species. Smaller fish can be found on inshore reefs but as they grow bigger they will move out to deeper water in depths of 60 – 300 metres.

Now obviously GPS marks are very handy when chasing Stripey and many fishos guard their marks with their lives. That said, if you have a good Sounder/GPS, it’s not too hard to find your own “new ground”. Stripey are a bit like Snapper in that they can be found on more of a rubbley bottom as opposed to full on reef so keep a sharp eye on your sounder for even the smallest “lumps” on an otherwise flat bottom as it could be worth having a drop. Often you might see a small band of fish just off the bottom and this is a good sign also. The presence of Ocean Perch, Red Cod and Morwong can also be a good indicator of good “Stripey ground”.

Most deep water fish are opportunistic feeders so are never too fussy about baits. Pretty much any fish or Squid will work although Squid is my preferred bait as it is tougher and will hold up to the “pickers” better than fish will. Fish however will put out more scent and so if it’s a Shark you’re after, try using a nice big strip of Tuna belly flap or other oily fish for best results.

There are many good pre-made bottom fishing rigs you can buy from good tackle stores these days but personally I like to tie my own up so I always have a good supply. I simply tie a twisted dropper loop rig that I learned from an old Geoff Wilson Knot book years ago. Wire rigs will work but I still prefer Mono or Fluoro from 100 – 200lb. If School Sharks might be present I generally use 200lb as it will put up with their teeth a little better. I like a nice long rig and space my hooks fairly well, I also have the sinker around a metre down from my first hook. A long rig will make it easier to grab hold of boatside and land those big Stripey and Sharks. You can use three or more hooks but personally I stick to just two.  I like to use big circle hooks around 10/0 so I can use a nice big bait like a whole Squid head. Don’t be shy with your baits! Bigger baits will put up with the “pickers” for longer and will also put out more scent. Just be sure to have your hook points exposed. There’s nothing worse than having to wind up from 150 metres just to re-bait! The addition of some Lumo beads or Squids on your rig will also help to get some more attention in the deep dark depths. Sinker weights will obviously depend on water depth and wind/current on the day. Just be sure to maintain contact with the bottom at all times.

My partner Hannah, our friend Bec and I recently had a couple of awesome day’s fishing off Strahan on Tassie’s West Coast. It was great to get the girls out there and what they lacked in physical strength they sure made up for in persistence and enthusiasm! It can be hard work for anyone winding up big, hard fighting fish from deep water but they stuck to their guns and had a ball landing some great fish. It’s so great to see more and more women getting involved in what was once a traditionally male dominated sport.

You will need a good robust combo for this style of fishing. A strong rod from 15-37kg at around 6 feet in length paired with a 10000 – 25000 size reel loaded up with at least 300 metres of 50 – 100lb braid. Whatever your budget, Shimano will have you covered so talk to your local tackle stores for more advice on the right setup for you. My gear of choice is the awesome Shimano Saragosa 10000 loaded with 50lb Power Pro on a Tcurve Deep jig 400 spin.

So if you’re like me and love exploring new fishing styles and options, why not get geared up and give it a go? Hey, it’s just another excuse to go fishing right?!