Most mainlanders once regarded Tasmania’s east coast seaport of St Helens as a gamefishing destination, and little else. Anglers came here to head offshore in search of marlin, tuna and sharks. However, the phenomenal growth in light-tackle lure fishing, in particular soft plastics, in recent years has seen Georges Bay at St Helens become a hotspot for smaller species including bream, trevally, salmon, flathead, yellowtail kingfish and mullet.
There are two reasons why St Helens is a productive game fish destination: the close access to deep water, with the 100 m line about 5 km offshore; and the East Australian Current, which runs down the east coast. Bait and jig anglers will appreciate the reef systems closer to shore that rise to within 6 m of the surface and offer holding areas for baitfish schools.
Land-based anglers have beach and jetty fishing options. Five boat ramps service the area, including two that give direct access to the ocean, thereby eliminating the need to cross the bar. Georges Bay is so well regarded that the Australian Bream Tournament series holds events here and in 2009 Tasmanian Steve Steer won the event and his biggest bream was 1.84 kg. The average weight of more than 300 bream weighed in was 730 g. Steve headed to the mouth and fished the flats near the outer oyster racks, and was fishing water so shallow that his electric motor was hitting the bottom. The technique was long casts followed by a slow retrieve, punctuated with twitches.