How to catch Swan-Canning and Peel-Harvey prawns

Perth tides
WA prawning regulations
WA fishing regulations
WA marine parks
Perth stocked waters
Perth dam levels

Prawns are a hugely popular resource for Perth fishos, with more than 50,000 people going prawning each season, mostly in the Swan-Canning and Peel-Harvey estuaries.

The best time to catch prawns is using a strong torch and a hand scoop net in the shallows on calm summer evenings, during the dark phases of the moon between October and February.

Prawners’ lights can be seen illuminating the estuaries at this time as they chase western river prawn (Metapenaeus dalli) and the larger western king prawn (Penaeus latisulcatus).

Prawns are prolific breeders – a female river prawn can produce 300,000 eggs in a spawning, while the king prawn may lay up to four times as many.

Fishing pressure can take a toll despite this breeding capacity.

There is a closed season for prawning in the Swan-Canning and in parts of the Peel-Harvey system, with a different season on the Serpentine, Murray and Dandalup Rivers.

The life of a prawn is dominated by the moon.

When young, prawns grow rapidly, moulting their shells to coincide with the full moon (and high tides) each month.

After reaching maturity, growth and moulting slow.

Live river prawns are almost translucent, having blue tips and a greasy feel.

King prawns are cream in colour, with brown body markings and blue legs and tail fins.

While a river prawn spends its life in rivers or estuaries, a king prawn goes through larval stages in the ocean, and settles in coastal bays or estuaries.

During spring, river prawns reach a catchable size of about 5cm at 10 months.

In contrast, king prawns do not achieve this until Jan/Feb, but can reach 8cm by late summer when they begin their journey back to the ocean.

Female king prawns grow larger than males.

A female prawn caught in Shark Bay measured 24.4cm long and weighed 99g.

Such is the popularity of prawning in WA that about four million prawns were stocked into Perth’s two major rivers following a reported decline in stocks.

Restocking began in 2013, and between May 2013 and March 2015, about 2.5 million juvenile prawns were released into the rivers.

Another 1.1 million prawns were released in December 2015, and about 1.5 million more in 2015-16.

WA’s commercial prawners catch more than 2000 tonnes of prawns a year.

In 2014 more than 50 per cent were western king prawns and almost 25 per cent were brown tiger prawns.

Prawns can be legally taken using a single hand-dip net, a single hand-scoop net, or a single hand-throw net.

Throw nets are not permitted in some areas, such as the Swan and Canning rivers.

A single prawn hand-trawl (drag) net that is not more than 4m across with a mesh of not less than 16mm, and not attached to a boat or set, can also be used.

Check the latest WA prawning regulation before fishing.

Bycatch such as crabs and seahorses must be returned to the water.

Fishos may may not use, or leave unattended, a prawn hand-trawl net in the Harvey Estuary and its tributaries, Peel Inlet and its tributaries, Peel Inlet channel entrance, Dawesville Cut, Leschenault Estuary and its tributaries, and Swan River within 100m of any part of the Pelican Point Nature Reserve, or within 100m of the Milyu Nature Reserve.

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Some external videos filmed on the Swan River are featured below.

Swan River prawning

Swan River prawning

Swan River prawning

Swan River prawn diving

Swan River, Western Australia

Perth tides
Perth stocked waters
Perth dam levels
WA fishing regulations
WA marine parks

Perth’s Swan River is a shallow tidal estuary that provides good fishing, as well as prawns and blue crabs.

Specialist fishos find big mulloway in the river, but black bream and flathead are by far the popular catch.

Bream and other marine fish move upriver in summer and downriver during winter when it rains.

In parts of the river bream can be caught all year.

During the big tides of August and September, sea water is pushed right into the system and from September to November bream, mulloway, tailor, flathead, flounder and whiting move upstream.

In summer, bream can be found above the Causeway.

Good places to fish include East Fremantle, Point Walter, Mosman Park, the old Swan Brewery site and Canning Bridge.

The secret to successful bream fishing, especially for bigger bream, is to fish light, use fresh or live bait, and use little if any weight on the line.

Baits rigged under a small float can work too and are a good way to fish snaggy areas.

Using small lures is a good way to beat the abundant blowfish.

Try light resin heads on tiny soft plastics.

Look for snags, jetties and mussel banks.

Bream like structure, but move onto sandbanks to feed.

In winter, try Blackwell Reach and Mosman’s where the water is deep, as freshwater flow often sits on top.

For year-round fishing try from East Perth to Garratt Road Bridge.

The best time to fish is early mornings and evenings and the change of tide.

Mulloway are reasonably common in the river and are sometimes caught in large sizes. Livebait is important for mulloway success.

One of the best mulloway spots is The Narrows, and September-January is the peak mulloway period.

Flathead are another Swan River favourite and are caught upstream to Guildford, but are more common in the lower reaches.

They are usually fished over shallow flats using either drifted or slowly retrieved bait or lures.

Yellowfin whiting are found in the Swan in small numbers, with East Fremantle the best spot.

Fresh or live bloodworms are the best whiting bait.

For chopper tailor, fish from Maylands to Fremantle with bait or lures.

Some anglers troll pilchard baits, while others use lures.

Mullet can be caught in the Swan River using light tackle and a piece of compressed bread on a hook.

Other fish caught in the Swan are skippy, grunter, herring (tommy ruffs), giant herring and flounder.

The river is usually clear so always try to fish with light line.

Puffer fish can be a problem in the Swan, sometimes appearing in plagues.

There is surf and beach fishing in the region outside the Swan River.

For sand and yellowfin whiting, fish the beach gutters between Swanbourne and Trigg.

Also try around Mettams Pool and Watermans Beach.

South of the Swan River try along Kwinana to Rockingham, Secret Harbour and Golden Bay.

Whiting are found close to shore, with gutters often holding the bigger whiting.

Mornings and afternoons are best and the strong daily sea breeze doesn’t put the fish off.

On beaches fish the incoming tide.

At East Fremantle, try fishing an evening outgoing tide in winter.

Perth fishing seasons

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.

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Some external videos filmed on the Swan River are featured below.

Swan River bream

Swan River flathead

Swan River mulloway

Swan River giant herring

More Swan River flathead

Swan River bream

Swan River fishing

Port Broughton, South Australia

Port Broughton, South Australia
Port Broughton, South Australia

Port Broughton on Beachsafe
Port Broughton tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Port Broughton is located on the upper west side of Spencer Gulf, about 170km north of Adelaide.

It is known for its sheltered waters and 400m-long T-jetty.

The waters immediately surrounding Port Broughton are shallow, with extensive flats and seagrass beds.

Before the state’s snapper ban, Port Broughton waters produced some huge snapper for trailerboaters, much like the Whyalla region on the opposite side of the upper gulf.

Today the protected waters of the bay are ideal for chasing smaller bread and butter species like gar, tommies and squid, as this area can be fished when the wind might shut down other locations.

Yellowtail kingfish show up quite regularly.

Large yellowfin whiting are caught from the beach or jetty – use the lightest possible tackle and fresh or live baits in the shallow, clear water.

Tommy ruffs, salmon trout, mullet, gar and tommies are the main catch off the jetty, along with squid and blue crabs.

When the snapper ban ends, the Illusion wreck and Plank Shoal may once again become the top offshore spots.

The snapper run in spring and summer.

Port Broughton Fishing GPS Marks

Tiparra Reef
34 03.913S
137 23.494E
Tiparra Wide
34 04.654S
137 18.261E

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Some external videos filmed around Port Broughton are featured below.

Port Broughton drone footage

Port Broughton kingfish

Port Broughton whiting

Port Julia, South Australia

Port Julia, South Australia
Port Julia, South Australia

Port Julia coastline on Beachsafe
Port Julia tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

If you are willing to work the tides around shallow Port Julia, you can do well.

This tiny coastal settlement is 178km from Adelaide.

The surrounding seas are shallow but with productive seagrass beds.

The beach has a large drying flat at low tide.

The fish come in with the tide.

Squid, gar, salmon trout, flathead, mullet and tommies are the main catch.

Fishing is best on big high tides, in darkness.

Squid are best in summer early in the morning when the water is clear.

Blue crabs are usually abundant in the warm months and can be raked from the beach or drop-netted off the jetty.

Big yellowfin whiting are caught from the local beaches in summer, with yelloweye mullet in autumn.

You will need the lightest line and fresh or live bait to catch the whiting.

Gar dabbing and flounder spearing is usually productive in Port Julia’s shallows at night.

Being less popular than some other locations peninsula, quality fish are often caught around Port Julia.

Boaters should beware the summer sea breeze, which hits in the afternoon.

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Some external videos filmed around Port Julia are featured below.

Port Julia squidding

Stansbury, South Australia

Stansbury, South Australia
Stansbury, South Australia

Stansbury coastline on Beachsafe
Stansbury tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Stansbury is a coastal town on the east side of Yorke Peninsula directly across the Gulf of St Vincent from Adelaide.

It is about 200km by road from Adelaide, or 66km by sea.

Like many gulf coast towns Stansbury has an excellent fishing jetty.

The jetty fishes produces large numbers of blue crabs in summer, which are caught using drop nets.

Crab raking can be enjoyed in the shallows off the beach.

Squid, mullet, gar, tommies and snook are the usual catch off the jetty, best at night, along with some big king george whiting.

As with all gulf jetties, squid are best at dusk, dawn and in darkness when the water is clear.

To catch king george whiting from the jetty, fish from the end.

Red mullet and flathead are also caught here as the sea floor has some rock and weed patches.

Stansbury’s shallow low-energy beach produces yelloweye mullet in autumn, and some salmon trout.

Big yellowfin whiting are caught in the shallows in summer.

Most of the town beach is easily accessible via a walking path.

For boaters, king george whiting are best in winter, but can be caught all year.

As the sea around Stansbury is shallow and often very clear, use the lightest possible tackle and fresh or live bait such as worms, especially when chasing whiting.

Fresh razor fish is an unbeatable bait and can be collected locally.

Swarms of small western striped trumpeter (locally called “shitties”) can be a pest when fishing this region in summer.

Stansbury boat ramp is protected from most winds by a rock wall.

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Some external videos filmed around Stansbury are featured below.

Stansbury fishing

Collecting razor fish at Stansbury

Stansbury fishing

Stansbury’s Armchair Rock

Elliston, South Australia

Elliston, South Australia
Elliston, South Australia

Elliston coastline on Beachsafe
Elliston tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Elliston township is next to a bay of only about 2km width, on the west side of Eyre Peninsula.

This location is renowned for its 430m jetty, one of the state’s great fishing platforms.

Fishing is best from dusk into the evening, and early mornings, for mainly gar, tommy ruff and squid.

Boat launching can be done with care on the relatively hard sand beach.

A concrete ramp located north of nearby Cape Finniss gives access to Waldegrave Islands and the reefs beyond.

Offshore can only be fished in ideal weather, with nannygai, blue morwong, harlequin fish, samson, kingfish and tuna all a chance.

Elliston is a good base to visit nearby coastal fishing hotspots. These include:

Waterloo Bay/Wellington Point – a rocky ledge that gives access to shallow water.

Boords Beach – beach and reef with a variety of fish caught. Ease to access and usually sheltered.

Main Beach – the jetty produces mainly tommy ruffs, gar and squid. The beach from the jetty to Milligans is quite sheltered and produces mainly whiting.

Milligans – this small beach is sheltered from swell and northerly winds. As there is a reef in the area a variety of fish are caught.

Salmon Point – this is an exposed point that produces salmon and other fish.

Anxious Bay – cliffs in the southern section provide protection from southerly winds. Fish the channels between the reef for a variety of fish. The area near the boat ramp is also good.

Walkers Rocks Lagoon – the first lagoon going north along Lake Newland Beach has garfish, bream and whiting. Camping nearby.

Talia Beach – superb salmon fishing at times, but this is a high-energy location. Look for deep gutters close in. Mullet, salmon and occasional tailor and mulloway.

Mount Camel – this small beach usually has gutters in close, with reef at either end. Good salmon fishing.

Venus Bay – the jetty fishes and crabs well. The bay is shallow and good for whiting, flounder, flathead and gar.

Locks Well – one of the state’s famous salmon beaches. There are almost 300 steps to the beach, keep this mind if you plan to bring back fish. As well as salmon, big tommy ruffs, autumn mullet, and occasional mulloway and tailor.

Sheringa Beach – a calmer beach with whiting, mullet and flathead.

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Some external videos filmed around Elliston are featured below.

Elliston fishing

Elliston boat fishing

Walkers Rocks campground

Locks Well salmon fishing

Diving Elliston

Wallaroo, South Australia

Wallaroo, South Australia
Wallaroo, South Australia

Wallaroo Bay on Beachsafe
Wallaroo tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Wallaroo is a popular fishing destination on the east side of Spencer Gulf, 160km north-west of Adelaide.

The main attraction for fishos is arguably the town’s long jetty, considered one of best in the state.

Snapper have been caught at the end of the jetty, usually after rough weather, and occasional kingfish.

The end of the jetty is closed with when work is being done, check before visiting with www.portmis.flindersports.com.au.

While the SA snapper ban is in force, jetty fishos target squid, gar, tommy ruffs, mullet and blue crabs.

As with all SA gulf spots, squid are best in summer when the water is clear.

Tommies are best at night.

Blue crabs are best in summer, caught from the jetty with drop nets.

Beach fishermen will find mullet in autumn and yellowfin whiting in summer.

Bream and school mulloway can be caught within the marina.

King george whiting are caught around seagrass, with good spots throughout the bay. Red mullet and flathead are also caught in these areas.

Rock fishing is best from Point Riley to the north, with snapper at dawn during and just after rough weather in winter/spring.

Wallaroo marina has multi-lane ramps.

There is an artificial reef of tyres 9km out, and Jurassic Park, which is a trophy snapper spot, off limits at publication, so check status before fishing.

There are also two small shoals within Wallaroo Bay.

Wallaroo Fishing GPS Marks

Wallaroo Tyre Reef 33 51.411S 137 34.384E
Moonta Shoal 33 53.883S 137 34.902E
Riley Shoal 33 53.220S 137 34.951E
Jurassic Park 33 54.700S 37 19.100E

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Some external videos filmed around Wallaroo are featured below.

Wallaroo kayak fishing

Wallaroo boat fishing

Walking Wallaroo jetty

Diving Wallaroo

Browns Beach, South Australia

Browns Beach, South Australia
Browns Beach, South Australia

Browns Beach on Beachsafe
Browns Beach tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Browns Beach is a surf fishing spot on the west side of the foot of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

It is one of the state’s fishing treasures.

Like many great salmon beaches, Browns has an outlying reef with an inner wave-washed lagoon.

Schools of salmon move inside the reef on a rising tide.

Fishing is best in winter, but salmon are caught all year.

Commercial salmon fishing has been wound back in recent years, and salmon numbers at SA beaches like Browns appear to have improved.

Large chrome lures work well on this beach, or just cast baits of pilchards on ganged hooks.

If the salmon are biting they will take anything that moves, but sometimes they can be fussy.

A sturdy surf rod is required as the salmon can be big.

Mullet are also caught in autumn/winter, with occasional mulloway in summer.

Tailor are another occasional catch.

Mulloway should be fished on a large high tide in the evening, using livebait, or a fresh salmon fillet.

Rays and sharks can be a nuisance when bait fishing, especially after dark.

Considerable walking on soft sand is required to reach the beach, and a camping permit is needed for Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park.

Sadly, despite its fame as a fishing spot, some visitors treat this spot with disrespect, leaving behind their rubbish, a problem ever since the 1970s when this beach became popular.

To the north, Dust Hole Beach has salmon in winter, big mulloway in summer, and mullet, flathead and sharks. It also requires walking, depending where the gutters lie.

North of the Dust Hole Beach is Daly Head and Gleesons Landing.

Gleesons has 4WD access and a reasonably sheltered beach launch.

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Some external videos filmed around Browns Beach are featured below.

Browns Beach drone footage

Browns Beach overview, showing the walk in

Browns Beach salmon fishing

Browns Beach salmon fishing

Ceduna, South Australia

Ceduna marine sanctuary zones
Ceduna marine sanctuary zones

Ceduna coastline on Beachsafe
Ceduna tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Ceduna is the last major South Australian town when heading west along the coast into some of the state’s most remote and exciting fishing country.

Ceduna is ideally located for boaters, being on the eastern side of the relatively sheltered Denial Bay.

There are three jetties within the bay and excellent boat launching facilities at Ceduna.

The town jetty produces mainly squid, gar and tommy ruff in the mornings and evenings.

The shipping jetty at Thevenard has a wider range of species, including occasional snapper.

Denial Bay jetty, on the west side of the bay, produces crabs, snook, squid and tommy ruffs.

Kingfish occasionally show up at the jetties.

Nuyts Archipelago is a 54km run from Ceduna, but most of the islands encompass marine park.

The area outside the sanctuary can provides good fishing for samson, yellowtail kingfish, snapper, blue groper and bluefin tuna, as well as the usual bread and butter species.

Kingfish and samson fish are best in March/April and bluefin tuna are best in summer.

The shallows of Denial Bay has an excellent run of summer blue crabs, and gar dabbing and flounder spearing is popular.

Salmon, mulloway and snapper can be caught while surf fishing wherever reef comes near to shore, with the chance of kingfish in these spots.

King george whiting, mullet and salmon are best in winter.

The oysters are a culinary highlight of this region, along with crayfish (rock lobster).

About 50km west of Ceduna, Point Bell offers good landbased rock fishing, with a chance of big yellowtail kingfish.

Davenport Creek, which runs into Tourville Bay, is worth a look if you want sheltered fishing for a cartopper or canoe, with plenty of flounder, flathead, gar, squid and whiting in the shallow bay, but note the sanctuary zones.

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Some external videos filmed around Ceduna are featured below.

Ceduna offshore fishing

Ceduna squid fishing

Denial Bay drone footage

Kayaking

Kayaking nNuyts Archipelago

Davenport Creek drone footage

Ceduna oyster fest

Arno Bay, South Australia

Arno Bay, South Australia
Arno Bay, South Australia

Arno Bay coastline on Beachsafe
Arno Bay tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.

Arno Bay’s big snapper historically attracted many Adelaide boaters to its waters, but there is good fishing for other species.

The offshore wrecks and reefs between 25 and 30km out are where the big snapper were fished, with mostly smaller fish on the shallower inshore reefs.

There is not a lot of reef in the waters around Arno Bay, so whatever you do find usually holds fish.

The inshore reefs and immediate surrounding areas produce flathead, squid, trevally, snook, red mullet and king george whiting.

The king george whiting are best in late autumn and winter.

Arno jetty is famous for its summer squid.

Some big snook are caught from the end of the jetty in autumn.

Yellowfin whiting are a popular target off the shallow beaches.

Summer and autumn are best for yellowfin whiting. Use beach worms or prawns for bait. Light tackle and distance casting is needed for these fish when the water is clear.

Mullet and salmon trout (small Australian salmon) are caught off the relatively low energy beaches around Arno in winter and spring, with school mulloway in spring and autumn.

For mulloway, fish a big late afternoon or early evening high tide and use only fresh or live bait.

Landbased fishos can try the rocky shores between Red Banks and Poverty Bay, with snapper historically caught off the rocks after rough weather.

Unfortunately the local prevailing wind is an onshore south-easter, so the seas along this coast are often choppy.

The chop can stir up the water, which can be helpful when chasing mulloway or snapper, but squid prefer clear water after calm weather.

If the boating forecast looks poor, sheltered Franklin Harbour at Cowell to the north is the best bet for some good fishing in this region.

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Some external videos filmed around Arno Bay are featured below.

Arno Bay snapper and snook fishing

Arno Bay giant snapper

Arno Bay kingfish and samson

Huge Arno Bay snapper

Arno Bay region beach touring

Arno Bay drone footage