Perth fishing is centred upon the bluewater, with the Swan River offering sheltered estuary fishing.
Perth anglers catch tropical and temperate fish. There is an annual run of blue swimmer crabs and prawns, and some regional dams and rivers are stocked with trout.
Rottnest Island lies offshore and offers shelter and fishing spots for boaters and landbased visitors, while the waters of Cockburn Sound inside Garden Island offer sheltered fishing for trailerboaters.
To the south of Perth is Mandurah, with three rivers flowing into Peel Inlet, the Serpentine to the north, the Murray to the east, and the Harvey to the south.
Bluewater fishing in Perth is very much seasonal, affected by the Leeuwin Current, which pushes warm water south along the coast, keeping the sea at 17C to 25C off Perth.
Around Perth, spanish mackerel and tailor can be caught in consecutive casts, as can pink snapper and queenfish.
Boat-based game anglers catch southern bluefin, striped, big eye and yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, wahoo, samson fish, kingfish, and black and blue marlin.
Gamefishing is mainly in summer, but the La Nina in 2011 saw the strongest Leeuwin current in living memory and great fishing extended into winter.
This current can push fish usually found in tropical waters right around the south-west coast into the Southern Ocean in summer months.
Big pink snapper are taken off rock groynes after heavy weather.
Herring (called tommy ruffs in South Australia) are often abundant, as are silver trevally (locally called skippy).
Salmon are usually available in surf, and tailor, and the Swan River has plenty of black bream.
WA’s southern coastline, from Perth though to the South Australian border, is home to mainly temperate species such as salmon, mulloway, herring and sand whiting, with pink snapper, samson fish and spotted whiting offshore.
Off much of Perth, coastal beaches have shallow reef nearby, which extends north up the coast to Yanchep, Guilderton, Lancelin, Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Leeman and Port Denison.
The 10km-long Garden Island barrier creates the relatively calm waters of Cockburn Sound where snapper, king george whiting, herring and squid are caught on the sheltered east side, and dhufish, samson, tailor and salmon on the western reefs.
The deeper channels on the east side have snapper and mulloway after dark, and blue swimmer crabs in the shallows. Look for areas of sand and seagrass beds.
Most of Garden Island is Navy land and off limits. Some of the island is a nature reserve, with beach access for boaters.
Carnac Island to the north has seagrass beds on the east side produce squid and herring, with the ocean side producing samson, dhufish and snapper.
Mewstone and Rowboat Rocks to the north-east of Carnac Island hold herring, trevally, king george whiting, samson and tailor.
Big tailor inhabit the white water around the rocks. The local Gravel Patches have snapper, with many boats anchored over these areas each evening.
The snapper sometimes aggregate in big schools. There are several boat ramps that give access to the Sound.
Sea conditions depend on time of year, however the sound remains reasonably safe in all but the strongest winds.
A popular weekend trip for Perth fishos is to drive north to S-Bend Caravan Park, south of Greenough where tailor, samson and even dhufish are caught off the rocks.
A seaworthy bluewater boat is needed to fish Perth’s coastal waters.
Perth waters fall into WA Fisheries’ West Coast Zone and special rules are in place to combat overfishing.
A closed season of October 15 to December 15 applies to the taking or landing of demersal finfish.
If you catch a demersal finfish from a boat or from shore in this area during the closed season you must return it to the water as soon as possible.
This reduction was introduced following research that showed demersal species, like dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper, were being overfished.
How to fish Perth
Garfish – best in winter.
Herring – Summer sees huge schools. Use berley and small hooks. They bite day and night.
Mackerel – when the water wide of Perth reaches 22C the spanish mackerel may show, usually after Christmas. West End is a good spot. Watch for reports from up the coast as the fish move south.
Bonito – abundant in season. Can be caught land-based at North Mole, Woodman Point and Trigg. Summer, autumn.
Dhufish – usually caught around deeper reefs, but some are caught on shallow reefs and even from shore.
Flathead – usually run into the Swan River about December.
Mahi mahi – WA’s offshore FADs have small fish in early summer, with bigger fish coming later.
Mulloway – best in the Swan in early summer. Try Mosmans and the Narrows, and Scarborough and Mandurah beaches.
Pink snapper – widely available on reefy ground. Be aware of snapper restrictions in Cockburn Sound. Can be caught from many rock groynes during winter storms.
Salmon – autumn and winter.
Samson – from December until March, best in March. Schools of big fish show up. Wrecks are best.
Skippy – winter for bigger fish.
Tailor – all year.
Yellowfin tuna – summer.
Whiting – for large yellowfin whiting, try fishing the Swan River at night at East Fremantle and Claremont.
Squid – try Garden Island, and jetties with night lights.
Crabs – summer and autumn. Mandurah is popular, but before Christmas try deeper parts of the Swan River for bigger crabs.
Plenty of snapper can be caught outside the Cockburn seasonally closed zone, as the fish feed around many local reefs and weedbeds.
Try the reefs between Garden and Carnac Islands, but be aware of the exclusion zone boundary.
The northern suburbs reefs are best after dark. Pink snapper can be caught from Perth rock groynes and jetties, with the best being North Mole at the mouth of the Swan River, and the ASI groyne.
Palm Jetty and Rockingham Jetty are good, as are the two small groynes at City Beach.
In winter, storms bring larger pink snapper in close where they are caught from land-based locations. North Mole and South Mole groynes have an added bonus, with big mulloway that feed in the river mouth after heavy rain.
Night fishing is good for land-based snapper, however sharks and rays are a nuisance.
During and after winter storms, try for tailor and mulloway near the reefs at Triggs, Yanchep, and North Cottesloe and also near the Swanbourne Drain.
Herring, gar, squid, skippy, salmon, and tailor are also plentiful around the groynes at times, so there is often something else to catch when snapper are not around.
Bait, lures & tackle
Mulloway are best targeted with livebait. Squid are readily available and make good bait, being particularly effective as fresh or live bait for mulloway and kingfish.
Of the packet baits, prawns, bluebait, whitebait and pilchards work well on juvenile salmon, herring, bream and snapper.
Pilchards presented on ganged hooks work well for surf salmon.
Herring fillets make great snapper bait.
Paternoster rigs are standard fare when beach and boat fishing in SA, using light star sinkers and small long-shank hooks.
For black bream, running sinker or weightless rigs work well. Gar and herring are often targeted using float-fishing methods, and floats can be useful when rock fishing for sweep.
Lures: Small soft plastics and minnows work well on black bream, with chrome slices the best casting lure for salmon, snook and silver trevally.
Squid jigs are a must in the tackle box, and large baited jigs work well on big SA squid.
Weather & tides
Perth’s tides are fairly small. The region is well known for its powerful sea breeze, dubbed “The Doctor”.
Perth’s clear blue waters and mix of tropical and temperate species is quite special.
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