Huon River, Tasmania

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The Huon is Tasmania’s fifth longest river, at 174km, flowing from Lake Pedder and emptying into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel south of Hobart.

Though this large river produced Tasmania’s biggest single trout, much of the river is difficult to fish, with the deep pools and rapids running through nearly inpenetrable forest.

The upper Huon often flows hard, and is chock full of logs.

The bigger fish tend to hide under submerged timber during daylight hours.

Aside from hatchery escapes, the river is stocked by natural recruitment of trout.

There are hatcheries on the tributaries Little Denison River and Russell River, which explains the occasional brook trout being caught, but for the most part the river is a brown trout and Atlantic salmon fishery, with occasional rainbows.

The tidal section below Huonville’s town bridge is wide and slow moving, and the most easily accessible area.

From Huonville downstream to Franklin there are deep sections mixed with areas of shallow gravel bottom, with snags and drying mudflats that present a navigation hazard at low water.

The largest mudflats are around the Egg Islands, which start more or less opposite Franklin, extending some way downstream.

The tidal reach up to Ranelagh has large resident and sea-run brown trout, as well Atlantic salmon that escape from the fish farm pens downstream and hatcheries upstream.

Bream are also caught in this section, moving well above the Huonville bridge in summer during periods of low rainfall.

Cocky salmon, barracoutta, cod, flathead and tailor are caught in the tidal water below the bridge.

There is good access to the riverbank at Huonville, Franklin and Port Huon and in places between these townships, with the road following the river most of the way.

There is also good access along the adjacent western shore.

The Huon is best known for its sea-run and resident whitebait feeders, caught from late winter into spring. Some of these are very large fish.

They can be targeted with lure or fly from shore and boat.

A boat makes it easier to find the bait congregations and fish.

The whitebait run comprises a mass migration of juvenile galaxia, Tasmanian smelt and Tasmanian whitebait, along with other migrations of juvenile eels and lamprey.

In late winter, spring and early summer look for bust-ups along the river bank eddies, and off points and shallows.

Bubbles on the surface give away where a trout has recently slashed at bait.

The action is usually towards the top of the tide.

The area immediately next to below Huonville bridge is a prime spot for sea runners but for some reason its popularity is not what it used to be, with fishermen historically lined up on the bridge at night in years past.

The freshwater section between Huonville and Judbury has mostly heavily timbered banks with reasonably deep water intersected by riffles and rapids.

There are some signposted public access points.

The Huon River usually runs too high to wade, flowing low and slow only for short periods during summer.

When it does drop low enough to expose the gravel and rock riverbed, access along the riverbank becomes much easier.

The Huon’s abundance of submerged timber means big fish tend to lurk in the crevices during the day, and are usually only caught by using livebait at night.

Soft plastic lures sunk down among logs in daylight will get big fish but expect to get snagged.

The upper section of the Huon between Judbury and Tahune runs through dense forest and is mostly inaccessible unless you have a 4WD vehicle or offroad motorcycle, and are prepared to walk, otherwise the river crossings provide the only access, unless you fish from a kayak or inflatable.

If you have someone to drop you off and pick you up later somewhere downstream, you can launch a yak or inflatable from Southwood crossing and drift downstream. This trip is not technically too difficult or dangerous if the river is low and the current is not running hard, but it is of course much safer to such trips in pairs.

Above the Picton River the Huon runs through thick forest, with the only access being the Huon walking track which goes into the Southwest National Park above Manuka Creek.

The Huon contains freshwater blackfish, which were translocated from the state’s northern waters.

Redfin may be present, as they are abundant in Lake Gordon and probably also exist in the associated Lake Pedder, however redfin have not been formally recorded in the Huon.

Unlike the Derwent estuary, the Huon estuary is considered largely free of pollution that might make fish unsafe to eat. There is legacy pollution in sediment around Hospital Bay at Port Huon, and it may be best to avoid eating bream from this area, but as far as this writer is aware there have been no official warnings.


Email any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.

Some external videos featuring Huon River are featured below.

Huon River fishing

Kayaking the Huon River

Tailor in the upper Huon

Huon and tributaries

Huon River drone footage

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