St HelensNorth Eastern Tasmania
The north eastern corner of Tasmania is a truly remarkable part of the world. As well as breathtakingly beautiful scenery, this little slice of heaven seems to have its own particular micro-climate, and is almost always a tad warmer and milder than the rest of the Apple Isle. No wonder it’s a favourite holiday destination for locals and inter-state visitors alike.
“Following years of lobbying by concerned Tasmanian anglers, all netting of fish ceased in Georges Bay at the end of the 1990s.”
The largest town on Tasmania’s north east coast is St Helens, a settlement of some 2,500 permanent residents nestled at the south western corner of an extensive tidal estuary called Georges Bay.
Renowned as a premium oyster growing area, St Helens is also touted as Tasmania’s game fishing capital (a title it should possibly share with the Eaglehawk Neck/Pirates Bay region in the state’s south east).
From about December until May each year, the deep, blue waters off this rugged stretch of coast play host to large numbers of albacore, tuna, kingfish, sharks and even marlin and swordfish, attracting keen game fishers from far and wide, and serving as the arena for a series of popular, keenly-contested game fishing tournaments.
For those who prefer to do their fishing on calmer, more enclosed waters, Georges Bay itself, along with several smaller nearby estuaries such as the Scamander River to the south of town and Ansons Bay to the north, offer superb angling action and variety. Major target species within Georges Bay include black bream, silver trevally, Australian salmon, jack mackerel (cowanyoung), leatherjackets, wrasse, gummy sharks, elephant fish and some of the biggest (and tastiest!) garfish you’ll find anywhere in the country.
Following years of lobbying by concerned Tasmanian anglers, all netting of fish ceased in Georges Bay at the end of the 1990s. The years since have seen not only an unprecedented recovery in the numbers and sizes of all those types of fish that were previously popular in these waters, but also a dramatic influx of species that were formerly regarded as rare or occasional visitors, such as King George whiting, snapper and yellowtail kingfish.
While there are abundant shore-based fishing opportunities on offer around Georges Bay, access to a trailer boat, car-topper, canoe or kayak will greatly expand the visiting angler’s horizons. Fortunately, there’s a local hire boat operator in the form of Ahoy! Boat Hire. You can contact them by phoning 0418 140 436. Another very attractive option, and one we strongly recommend, is to hire a fully-equipped trailer boat (plus a 4WD, if required) from Tassie Boat Hire by calling 0429 475 550 or emailing email@example.com (Find out more about this fantastic option by watching our video here.)
Each of the major fish species on offer has its preferred habitat, peak season (see our seasonal calendar below) and best bait or lure. There’s really no better place to uncover all of this important local information and get the very latest news on what’s biting and where than at East Lines Bait & Tackle shop, in the town’s main street. You can call the shop during business hours on (03) 6376 1720, or check out their website.
Thanks to the diversity of species on offer, the incredible health of this vibrant estuary and this region’s relatively benevolent weather patterns, Georges Bay is truly a year ’round fishery, although it’s traditionally most popular as a recreational angling venue from late spring until the beginning of winter.
Anyone visiting this area on their tours around the Apple Isle would be well advised to stay for at least a few days and thoroughly check out the many attractions on offer, from the stunning seascapes of the Bay of Fires to the excellent local seafood, easy bushwalks and two great golf courses. And of course, if you’re an angler, or even just a casual “dangler”, you really need to wet a line in Georges Bay! It’s truly one of the healthiest and most fish-filled temperate estuaries to be found anywhere around the southern Australian coastline. You literally never know what you’re going to pull out next when you cast a bait into these pristine waters.
St Helens is the home of several well-established offshore game, sport and bottom fishing charter operations, including Rocky Carosi’s Professional Charters, phone (03) 6376 3083, or email firstname.lastname@example.org In addition, Michael Haley (seen at left netting a sea-run trout for Starlo) operates the very reputable Gone Fishing Charters, concentrating on inshore, bay, estuary and even freshwater action. Call Michael on (03) 6376 1553, or email email@example.com
While you’re there…
The St Helens region of north-eastern Tasmania has a great deal to offer in addition to excellent recreational fishing. The nearby Bay of Fires boasts some of the most spectacular seascapes in the country, while local restaurants offer a range of excellent seafoods and other delicacies. In addition, there are several various relatively easy bush walks in the area, and two great golf courses to provide entertainment for non-angling members of any group.
The town of St Helens is roughly a three hour drive from Hobart, and about two hours, via the Fingal Valley, from Launceston.
A wonderful way of travelling to Tasmania is aboard the Spirit of Tasmania vehicular ferries, which cruise back and forth across Bass Strait every day and night of the year between Melbourne and Devonport, on Tasmania’s north coast.