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.
Gear tips for Western AustraliaThese recommendations are for landbased fishing for WA's temperate species.
Bluewater boat-based fishing requires different gear from that listed below, although the same rod-reel combos can be used for temperate and tropical regions.
In WA's northern rivers and estuaries, a baitcaster combo is recommended for barramundi and threadfin fishing, along with specialist barramundi lures, however spinning reel combos can also be used.
A 3-6kg spin outfit is the ideal all-rounder for WA's temperate estuaries and sheltered waters, chasing bream, flathead, herring, small salmon, skippy and whiting. See eBay listing here.
For chasing wary bream and whiting in clear water, such as the Swan River, a 1-3kg spin outfit is ideal for estuary whiting, bream and bass. See eBay listing here.
A medium surf rod-reel combo is ideal for beach and rock fishing for tailor, bream and small mulloway. See eBay listing here.
A heavy surf rod-reel combo is needed for larger mulloway or for rock fishing places like Steep Point. See eBay listing here.
For boat fishing, a short rod/spinning reel combo loaded with 10kg line is ideal for general reef fishing in water to around 20m deep, and can also be used to cast lures to pelagic fish. See eBay listing here.
Metal slice lures are ideal for tailor, kingfish and salmon in the surf and off the rocks. See eBay listing here.
Soft plastic grubs are good all-round lures for bream and freshwater species. Listing on eBay here.
Jig heads are needed for unrigged soft plastic lures. Listing on eBay here.
Squid jigs are useful in Western Australia, especially in Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay. Listing on eBay 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. Listing on eBay here.
Hooks in mixed sizes (suggest 1# or #2 for whiting, 6# or #8 for garfish, 4/0 for tailor, salmon and flathead, 11/0 for large mulloway). Listing on eBay here.
Ganged hooks (joined chains of hooks) are used when fishing pilchard baits for tailor. Listing on eBay here.
Email us any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.
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
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