NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.
Port Augusta is at the northern end of South Australia’s Spencer Gulf.
This is an unusual marine area. Key features are shallow and drying flats, seagrass beds and mangroves, with deeper channels leading from creeks and up into the top of the gulf.
A big attraction is an annual run of yellowtail kingfish.
Kingfish supported a local commercial fishery until the 1980s, with a net ban in the 1980s seeing the fish maintain numbers.
Most kingfish are caught in winter by recreational fishos in winter around the power station hot water outlet, with fish over 40kg taken.
Different methods are used when the hot water outlet is closed and the fish spread out.
Other kingfish locations to try are north of Port Augusta at the railway bridge and around the navigation beacons south of the power station.
Big kingfish return each year to the top of Spencer Gulf, possibly to spawn, with numbers peaking from about June until October.
They can be caught on fast-trolled or cast lures, or jigs, but most fishos chasing the bigger fish use a live squid or baitfish under a float.
Balloon rigs can be used to float a bait out with the wind.
There were also historically big numbers of snapper around Port Augusta, including large fish, but that changed as stocks were over-exploited.
Spotted whiting are caught, but there are many juvenile fish among them.
Winter months fish well in the upper gulf, with the shallows warming up quickly in the sun, sometimes getting too hot in summer, when the fish go deeper.
Bloodworms usually run in winter after the new moon in July. With the abundance of food during the bloodworm run, the fishing can temporarily slow down.
Razorfish (shellfish) beds exist and the meat is great bait.
For squid try south of Chinaman Creek to Miranda and near weedbeds south of the old power station.
Salmon trout are available all year, with the Port Paterson producing big fish in winter.
Yellowfin whiting are a special attraction around Port Augusta in summer, with big fish caught in the shallows.
A boat is needed to access the best yellowfin whiting spots.
Try travelling the mangrove edges at high tide on a calm and clear day and look for small dark spots (tracks) where they dig for food.
Fish as a morning high tide leaves the mangroves, when the whiting leave the mangrove cover as the water drains.
Afternoon tides in summer can see the water get too hot.
The fish are caught in very shallow water, and seem to dislike dirty water, so fish in calm conditions.
For whiting use baits of prawns, bloodworms or tubeworms. Tiny lures also work at times. Light tackle is a must.
Port Augusta’s shallow flats are good for gar dabbing and crabbing.
Flathead can be targeted with lures.
Bream can be found around structure.
An occasional appearance is made by tropical dolphin fish (mahi mahi), presumably when ocean currents bring them from Western Australia.
These fish usually die as the water cools off.
Eagle and smooth rays are abundant in this region, and great white sharks are commonly seen, presumably following kingfish and snapper schools.
Port Augusta’s boating facilities are good.
There is a tyre reef 20km south of Port Augusta. Augusta Tyre Reef 32 39.914S 137 45.879E
Here is a list of recommended tackle for SA waters.
Here is the SA seasonal fishing calendar for various fish species.
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