Port MacDonnell, South Australia

Port Macdonnell weather and tides
SA fishing regulations
SA marine parks

Port MacDonnell is a holiday destination with surf, jetty, breakwall and rock fishing, as well as good offshore spots.

It, and Robe, are arguably South Australia’s big-tuna capitals.

The region is also home to abalone, the southern rock lobster (crayfish), and most of the marine fish that Croweaters cherish, including gummy and school shark.

Tommy ruffs are the main target on the jetty, with salmon and spotted whiting.

The boat ramp is sheltered inside a 1km-long breakwall, which is a great fishing spot.

Some boaters catch plenty without leaving the harbour.

Pinchcut Reef lies 1km east of the jetty, and in calm weather the reef around Ruby Rock can be worth the 18km sea trip east, fishing outside of the sanctuary zone.

Summer snapper are caught in the surf near rock outcrops.

The biggest tuna are caught offshore from March to July.

The Continental Shelf lies just 30km south-south-west of the port, with tuna albacore, mako and thresher sharks, and more.

A marine sanctuary exists east of Port McDonnell.

Pinchcut Reef 38 03.390S 140 42.687E

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South Australian fishing seasons and baits

The following advice applies mainly to the two gulfs.

Black bream - All year, best in winter/spring. 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/autumn. 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.

Garfish - Best in summer/autumn. 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 can be caught all year. Use live baits or fresh fish fillets or freshly caught squid. Fish dusk into the night at turn of tide.

Salmon - Best in autumn/winter but they show up all year. Use baits of peeled prawn, bluebait, whitebait, cockles, pilchards or lures. Best at high tide at dusk and dawn.

Snapper - 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.

Snook - Bite all year. 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 - These bite all year but often better 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. Use fresh or live worms or peeled prawns. Some fishos do OK on tiny lures.

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Fishing tackle recommendations for South Australia

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.

An 8-12kg spin outfit suits fishing for large salmon and mulloway on South Australia's high-energy ocean surf beaches. See 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

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Email us any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.

Some external videos filmed around Port MacDonnell are featured below.

Port MacDonnell coast from the air

Port MacDonnell tuna fishing

Port MacDonnell diving with dolphin, abalone and crayfish

Cray pot video

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