NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.
The Onkaparinga River flows to sea at Port Noarlunga, south of Adelaide.
This is one of the most important tidal waters for Adelaide fishermen, after the Port River and West Lakes.
The mouth of the ‘Onk’ is shallow and sandy but plenty of fish make their way through the entrance to go upstream.
Black bream are the common catch in the river, closely followed by juvenile salmon (locally called “salmon trout”) and yellow-eye mullet, with occasional school mulloway.
Despite its metro location, there is every chance of landing a big bream, although small fish are abundant.
The river mouth and nearby beach is best for larger salmon in winter, usually on an incoming tide in the morning or afternoon.
More common are the juvenile salmon, which are caught year round.
Mullet are caught year round in the river, but are best on local beaches in autumn and winter.
Unlike mullet species elsewhere, yellow-eye mullet take meat baits of cockle or mince, but small hooks and light line are a must.
The SLSC Footbridge in the lower section of the river has salmon trout, mullet and bream, with a chance of school mulloway at night in summer, and sand flathead in autumn and winter.
Weatherald Terrace is a good spot to chase bream, mainly in summer, autumn and winter, with mulloway in summer at night.
The Sand Hills area has bream in summer, mullet in spring and summer and salmon trout all year.
Saltfleet Bridge has mulloway in summer at night, which can be caught at low tide.
River Road has mullet in spring and summer and salmon trout year round, on an incoming tide, with mulloway in summer, on an incoming tide, usually at night.
River Road Bend produces mulloway all year on an incoming tide, with bream in spring and summer.
Seaford Line has mulloway all year at low tide, with bream in winter and spring.
Perry’s Bend is a popular area with mulloway in spring, summer, autumn and night. Bream are caught here all year, with salmon trout are caught in winter and spring on an incoming tide.
Other areas in the river not already mentioned can be fished if you don’t mind tackling the mud in a gumboots and/or waders.
A closed season applies for bream from September 1 to November 30 upstream of the South Road Bridge. You can chase mulloway above the bridge all year.
The Old Rail Bridge and South Road Bridge are good spots to fish for bream all year, with mulloway in spring and summer.
The Old Noarlunga upper section of the river is snaggy but full of bream, with a chance of mulloway.
Bream in the Onk respond to fine tackle, with a 2kg to 4kg rod-reel combo being ideal.
Use a tiny running sinker or no sinker at all. Peeled prawns work well as bait, but live tube worms are better.
To get the biggest bream, fish at night.
Salmon trout take a range of baits, while mullet prefer cockle or mince meat. A local quirk among fishos is to mix mince with curry powder.
Mulloway can be caught on 6kg gear. Use livebaits of small mullet or salmon trout at night. Occasionally mulloway are caught in daylight.
Being a small waterway, the Onk is ideal for canoe fishing. It is also a good place to try lure fishing for bream.
The freshwater section of the Onkaparinga River has trout and redfin, but access is difficult and much of the upper river runs through private property.
South Australian fishing seasons and baitsThe following advice applies mainly to the two gulfs.
Black bream - All year, best in winter/spring. They move further up waterways in summer. Use live tube or blood worms, peeled prawn or tiny lures, best dawn and dusk, often at turn of the tide.
Crabs, blue swimmer - Best in summer. Rake them or use nets baited with fish frames, fish day or night.
Crabs, sand (two-spot) - May to June. Use drop nets baited with fish frames, tide dependent, their presence is usually noted when they start stealing fishing baits.
Flathead - All year. Use baits of bluebait, whitebait, small pilchards, squid, fish strips or lures, they bite all day.
Flounder - All year. Will take tiny baits of peeled prawn, worms or squid at night tide, but the usual method is spearing in the shallows at night, usually in summer.
Garfish - Best in summer/autumn but bigger fish often caught in winter. Use tiny baits of maggots, prawn, cockles presented on a float or just drifted back from boat, or dab at night with a net and light, they bite all day.
Mullet - Strong run of fish in autumn/winter. Use tiny baits of mince meat, seaweed worms or cockles. They bite in daylight, usually in very close along beaches at high tide.
Mulloway - Best in summer but caught all year. Use live baits or fresh fish fillets or freshly caught squid. Fish dusk into the night at turn of tide.
Salmon - Big fish best in autumn/winter but small fish show up all year. Use baits of peeled prawn, bluebait, whitebait, cockles, pilchards or lures. Best at high tide at dusk and dawn.
Snapper - All year best in spring/summer. Use baits of squid, pilchards, fish fillets or jigs. Best at dusk and dawn and they come in close after stormy weather. Restrictions currently apply.
Bluefin tuna - these appear off western SA before Christmas, reaching Port Lincoln about late February, and the eastern SA coast around March, depending on currents. Early season brings the biggest fish, along with albacore.
Snook - Bite all year but best in summer. Use lures, pilchards or fish strips. They bite well at night under jetty lights.
Squid - Available all year but best in summer. Use artificial jig lures or baited wire jigs. Best at dawn when the water is clear, but also at dusk and night.
Tommy ruffs - All year. Use maggots, peeled prawn, cockles. Best at night.
Whiting, king george - All year but often better quality fish in winter, use baits of cockles, peeled prawn or squid on the edge of seagrass beds, they bite all day, often tide dependent.
Whiting, silver - All year. Use tiny baits of cockles, worms or peeled prawns.
Whiting, yellowfin - All year but best in summer in spots well away from swimmers. Use fresh or live worms or peeled prawns. Some fishos do OK on tiny lures.
Kingfish - summer.
Silver trevally - summer.
Chow (yakkas) - summer.
Red mullet - all year.
Leatherjackets - all year.
Sweep and zebra fish - all year.
Sharks - all year but better in summer.
Fishing gear for South Australian watersA 3kg spin outfit is ideal for gar, whiting, mullet and bream. See eBay listing here.
A 3-6kg spinning outfit is suitable for general estuary and light boat fishing in South Australia. See this eBay listing for a suggested spinning combo here.
The above light outfit can be used on shallow, low-energy beaches to catch SA's yellowfin whiting and yelloweye mullet, but a dedicated light surf rod would be better for this purpose.
A heavier surf rod is needed for surf mulloway, snapper 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 South Australia's salmon trout, silver trevally, flathead, barracoutta, tommies and snook. 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, salmon trout and tommies, and freshwater fish such as yellowbelly, redfin, cod 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 South Australia as large squid are usually abundant in gulf waters and are readily available on jetties. Baited jigs are popular in South Australia - these can be cast and left out until a squid arrives. Bait these jigs with a tommy ruff or mullet and set this under a float. If you don't want to use baited jigs, 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 South Australia's sweep, tommy ruffs, salmon trout and trevally. 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 tommy ruffs, 10# to #12 for garfish, 1/0 for bream, 4/0 for salmon and flathead and 11/0 for large mulloway. See eBay listing here.
Flounder spearing is popular in South Australia. A submerged light is generally used to find the fish, see eBay listing here.
Crabbing is popular in the South Australian shallows, using a crab rake. See eBay listing here.
Check out Parsun outboard motors on eBay
Email us any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.
Some external videos filmed around the Onkaparinga River are featured below.