St Helens, Tasmania

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St Helens is arguably Tasmania’s premier saltwater fishing destination.

The town is on Tasmania’s north-east coast, off the Tasman Highway about 160km from Launceston.

This location has an unbeatable combination of sheltered water fishing in Georges Bay, along with offshore deep sea reef and game fishing.

There is also easy landbased fishing for family fishos, with several small jetties near the town.

Fishos can also stalk the flats and sight-cast fish in crystal clear water.

Commercial fishing and recreational netting was banned inside Georges Bay in 2004.

St Helens’ location on the “warm” east coast adds to its allure for Tasmanian holidaymakers.

There is reasonably safe access to the outside grounds for those with suitable boats and seafaring skills.

The main species caught in the bay are black bream, yelloweye mullet, Australian salmon, flathead, leatherjackets, silver and snotty trevally, tailor, jack mackerel, pike, barracoutta, luderick, flounder, garfish, pink snapper, bluethroat wrasse and king george whiting.

Yellowtail kingfish show up in warm weather, and large calamari squid are usually reliable.

Landbased spots to try include St Helens wharf, Beauty Bay jetty, Kirwans Beach jetty, Parkside jetty, Talbot Street, Cunninghams Jetty, Stieglitz Jetty, Akaroa, Burns Bay, Maurouard Beach, Dora Point and Binalong Bay.

The flats at Stockyard Bay provide excellent sight fishing for various species.

Dora Point has a rock area suitable for landbased lure casting that produces big trevally and salmon, with the chance of kingfish.

Flats within Georges Bay have yabbies (nippers) which can be pumped and are superb bait.

The public camping area at the entrance to Georges Bay has good landbased fishing nearby when salmon and tailor are running.

The east coast’s small rivers, including St Helens’ Georges River, while not carrying many trout, are renowned black bream fisheries.

There are also plenty of big bream caught on the bay flats, and finesse lure fishing works well for these in the clear water.

St Helens is perhaps best known among fishermen as Tasmania’s gamefishing centre.

Offshore fishing produces bluefin tuna, albacore, swordfish and mako sharks.

When the warm water of the EAC is running down Australia’s east coast and past Tasmania, anything is possible, with mahi mahi caught as far south as Port Arthur in years past.

Deep sea reef fishing off St Helens produces tiger flathead, striped trumpeter, morwong, blue-eye trevalla, grenadier and gemfish.

St Helens fishing seasons

Summer sees baitfish schools running throughout Georges Bay and Australian salmon, jack mackerel, trevally and tailor are rarely far behind.

Bream are feeding across the flats from January to May. Silver trevally, pink snapper, king george whiting, yellowtail kingfish and squid are also good at this time of year.

Easter until September is a good time for big garfish. Leatherjackets and yelloweye mullet also bite well in winter.

Spring at St Helens sees a run of sea trout chasing the annual whitebait migration.

A north-easterly afternoon sea breeze blows during summer but often drops away near sunset.

Autumn and winter provides calmer but colder conditions, with ultra-clear water.

Georges Bay itself is a Shark Refuge which means no taking of sharks, skate or rays, other than elephant fish.

Gear tips for Tasmanian fishing

For chasing freshwater trout and wary sea runners in clear, shallow water, a 1-3kg spin outfit is ideal. See eBay listing here.

A 3-6kg spin outfit is popular for general estuary and light boat fishing in Tasmania. See eBay listing here.

The above light outfit can be used on shallow, low-energy beaches to catch cocky salmon and yelloweye mullet, but a dedicated light surf rod is better for this purpose.

A heavier surf rod is needed for surf salmon and gummy shark fishing. See eBay listing here.

This surf rod can be matched with this spinning reel ... eBay listing here.

Small metal slice lures work well on Tasmnania's salmon, silver trevally, flathead and barracoutta. See eBay listing here.

Use larger metal slice lures on high-energy beaches where big salmon are expected.

Soft plastic grubs work well on bream, cocky salmon, escaped Atalantic salmon and freshwater redfin and trout. See eBay listing here.

Jig heads are needed for unrigged soft plastic lures. See eBay listing here.

Squid jigs are an essential item in Tasmania, as calamari and arrow squid are usually abundant in the warmer months and readily available from jetties. Baited jigs also work well. Standard lure jigs such as these work well ... see eBay listing here.

The secret for successful squid fishing is to fish dusk, darkness and dawn, when the water is clear. Summer is usually best.

Floats are useful for suspending a bait, and work well when fishing for some Tasmanian species. The polystyrene floats in the following listing are slid onto the line and a stopper is placed above the float to set the depth fished. See eBay listing here.

Star sinkers or snapper leads are generally used on a paternoster rig for surf and boat fishing. For most other fishing, ball sinkers are used, as part of a running sinker rig. See eBay listing here.

Hooks in mixed sizes are needed. Suggest 4# to #8 for whiting, mullet and snotties, 10# to #12 for garfish, 1/0 for bream, and 4/0 for salmon and flathead. See eBay listing here.

Flounder spearing is popular in Tasmania. A submerged light is generally used to find the fish, see eBay listing here.

Check out Parsun outboard motors on eBay


Email any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.

Some external videos filmed around St Helens are featured below.

St Helens fishing

St Helens bream fishing

St Helens offshore fishing

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