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The Derwent River estuary produces bream, flathead, cocky salmon, garfish, yellowtail kingfish, jackass morwong, snotties (warehou), silver trevally, cod, pike, whiting, wrasse, cod, barracoutta, squid, yelloweye mullet, slimy mackerel, striped tuna, dory and blue grenadier. Pink snapper are an occasional catch.
Resident and sea-run trout and Atlantic salmon are caught in the estuary up to New Norfolk.
The lower river can be divided into three parts …
1. The upper estuary from Bridgewater to New Norfolk
2. The middle estuary from Bridgewater to Tasman Bridge
3. The lower estuary from Tasman Bridge to South Arm.
The upper estuary
The river from the rapids above New Norfolk downstream to Granton have brown trout, including sea runners.
The seaward limit requiring a freshwater licence is upstream of a line through Dogshear Point.
If you have no trout licence or the season is closed all trout must be returned.
There is a concrete ramp downstream from New Norfolk, and a gravel ramp between Granton and New Norfolk.
Another launch site is on the opposite side of the river where an unsealed road crosses a train track and goes to the riverbank.
Boaters can also launch from a ramp next to Bridgewater Bridge.
Fishermen chasing sea trout usually troll or cast lures to the river’s edges.
Electric motors or pedal-power helps get close to feeding trout.
Look for splashes or bubbles against the bank left by trout feeding on whitebait.
Most trolling action is done along the edges. Try trolling about 2m out from shore.
Some of the best fish are caught at night.
The middle estuary
Bream fishing is especially good from Bridgewater to the Tasman Bridge, but expect also trout, Atlantic salmon, flathead and cocky salmon.
Bream move further upstream from around December, depending on rainfall.
There are several boat ramps, and kayaks can be launched at various parks.
Otago Bay upstream of Bowen Bridge on the east shore produces trophy bream. Sea trout and resident trout are caught here all year from boat and riverbank.
Good fishing spots include Austins Ferry, Dogshear Point (the shallow flats from Claremont to the DEC, including a rock drop-off in front of Morilla), Prince of Wales Bay, New Town Bay
and Cornelian Bay.
On the east side try Kangaroo Bay, Montague Bay (and rocky shore to Geilston Bay), Bedlam Walls and Store Point to Old Beach.
Bream can be taken in the shallow bays using flats techniques, fishing with shallow lures.
For best results fish big high tides during the early morning or during an overcast day.
Bream will feed up to the edges, especially along rocky shores.
In this skinny water, cast in front of fish so they swim towards your lure without being spooked.
Lures should dive deep enough to hit bottom occasionally.
Pylons and other structure attract bream, and soft plastics are ideal to sink beside such vertical structure.
The lower estuary
South of the Tasman Bridge the species list gets longer and the fish get bigger.
In recent years yellowtail kingfish have been a regular catch, with some pink snapper.
Ralphs Bay on the east side of the estuary has flathead, whiting, flounder, mullet and cocky salmon.
Tranmere near the Tasman Bridge has Punchs Reef, which produces morwong, trevally, cod, garfish and cocky salmon.
Silver trevally can be caught from the shore at Kangaroo Bluff and Howrah.
Sandy Bay can produce flathead, garfish, morwong, mullet and cocky salmon from shore.
Tasman Bridge to Bowen Bridge is best for bream, with Lindisfarne Bay, Prince of Wales Bay and Bedlam Walls among the best spots.
Barracoutta are caught around the Tasman Bridge.
In the lower estuary, diving birds reveal schools of fish such as cocky salmon.
Squid will readily grab lures in the warmer months.
Bluethroat wrasse are caught around the rocks. Try Kingston Beach for these.
Schools of silver and snotty trevally are seasonal. Striped tuna turn up on occasion.
Piersons Point and Iron Pot mark the lower limit of the estuary and the beginning of Storm Bay and the Tasman Sea.
Tinderbox has a boat ramp, but note the Marine Reserve. Outside the reserve are sand flathead and the larger tiger flathead, along with pike, snotties, gar, cocky salmon, barracoutta and squid.
Don’t eat fish from the Derwent, especially bream, as legacy pollution exists in the form of heavy metals. This is a catch-and-release fishery.
The Derwent is a Shark Refuge Area. No taking of sharks, skates or rays other than elephant fish is allowed.
There is a large shore-hugging marine reserve around Tinderbox.
Email any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.
Some external videos filmed around the Derwent estuary are featured below.