Fishing Safety

Fishing is one of WA’s most loved and enjoyed recreation with 740,000 fishers wetting a line each year. People go fishing from the beach, in the river, under the water, from a boat and kayak, and from the rocks. Recfishwest strives hard to keep fishers safe in WA and with the help of Fish and Survive, we can do that with an easy to follow ‘Safety Checklist’ for each fishing activity.

Recfishwest want to make sure every fisher returns home safely after each fishing trip.

For more on Fish and Survive, click here.

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Rock Fishing

Rock fishing is popular in Western Australia but presents many risks and potential dangers to people of both expert and beginner levels to fishing.

There is a long history of accidents occurring along the South Coast of Western Australia, in particular between Albany and Walpole, and around Esperance. Rock fishing is also popular in the South West Region along much of the coast in the Leeuwin – Naturaliste National Park.

Life jackets are available on free loan from the following tackle stores:

Albany Rods and Tackle – 40 Stirling Terrace, Albany
Trailblazers Albany – 184 Albany Hwy, Albany
BCF Albany – 319-331 Cr Hanrahan & Mawson Street, Albany
Little Grove General Store – 639 Frenchman’s Bay Road, Albany
Tateys Bait n Tackle – 39 Norseman Rd, Esperance
Southern Sports and Tackle – Shop 16 The Boulevard, Esperance
Esperance Diving and Fishing – 72 The Esplanade, Esperance
Dempster Sporting and Tackle – 65 Dempster St, Esperance
Quobba Station – 80km NW of Carnarvon
Carnarvon Tackle and Marine – Harbour Road, Small Boat Harbour South Carnarvon
Duke Of Orleans Caravan Park – 1-5 Warden Road, Chadwick
Kalbarri Sports and Dive – Shop 3 Kalbarri Arcade, Kalbarri
Tel-O-Mac Tackle – 348 Robinson St, Carnarvon
Augusta X-Treme Outdoor Sports – 3/66 Blackwood Ave, Augusta
Down South Camping and Outdoors – Shop 1/40 Station Road, Margaret River
Steep Point Ranger Station, Shark Bay
Bremer Bay Rural and Hardware, 144 Wellstead Road, Bremer Bay
Dunsborough Outdoor Sportz, Shop 5, Dunsborough Park Shopping Centre, Dunsborough WA 6281
Hopetoun Iceworks, 24 Tamar St, Hopetoun WA 6348

Albany Rod & Tackle - Free Life Jackets - 09102015

The following safety tips  and rock fishing tips  can be found on this page:

RFS Salmon Holes

Accident data show that many of the incidents involve local residents who often have considerable prior experience of the coastline. More recently, DPaW staff have indicated that there is a trend towards a greater proportion of rock fishers being of Asian background and visitors to the region, unaware of the risks or unable to read the warning signs.


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Key Messages for Rock Fishing Safety:

Tell someone

Always let friends or family know where you are going, when you’ll be back and if your plans change.

Never fish alone

Always fish with a buddy; if you get into any trouble, they can help. If you’re new to rock fishing, go with an experienced fisher.

Know the area, know the conditions

Read all safety signage – it’s been placed there for a reason. Ask locals about the spot you plan to fish from if you’re new to the area. Make sure you are aware of the latest weather, swell and tidal predictions before going fishing (check the Bureau of Meteorology website or call 9263 2222 between 9am to 4pm). Be aware that conditions may change quickly and can vary from predicted averages.

safety sign salmon holes

Wear the right clothes

Light clothing such as shorts and a spray jacket will allow you to swim more freely if you are washed in. Wear appropriate footwear with non-slip soles or cleats suited to the surface you plan to fish from.

Wear a PFD

Wear a life jacket or buoyancy vest at all times. Also bring something buoyant (your fishing bucket with its lid firmly clipped on makes a great float) which can be thrown to someone in trouble to help them stay afloat. Carry rope and a torch at all times.

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Observe first, fish later

Spend time (at least 20 minutes) watching your intended fishing spot to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle. Be prepared for waves twice the height of those observed during this period. If in doubt, don’t fish.

Huge wave washes onto fisherman on rocks at Salmon Hole

Plan your escape

Scan the area and look for the safest place to come ashore should you be swept in. Decide on a quick getaway route from your fishing spot, well above the high tide line should you see a large wave coming.

Use appropriate Public Safety Equipment

Know how to correctly utilise rock anchor points if they are in place at your fishing location. You will need to bring your own rope to tie up; a bowline is the best knot to use. Know where the nearest public safety equipment is – and know how to use it.

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Stay alert

Don’t ever turn your back on the ocean – if the waves, weather or swell threaten your fishing spot then leave immediately.

If you go in…

Stay calm, swim away from the rocks and remove any heavy or waterlogged clothing. Float on your back and await rescue, or if you’re capable, swim ashore to the safe area you identified from your initial observations.

If someone is washed in

Do not jump in if someone is washed into the water. Use your rope or something that floats to help rescue the person. If there’s public safety equipment nearby, know how to use it. Dial 000 (vaild across all networks within range) on your mobile phone to get help.

Anchor points

Anchor points have been trailed and installed at selected rock fishing locations in the Leeuwin – Naturalise National Park including: Rocky Point, Cape Naturaliste, Sugarloaf Rock, Torpedo Rocks, Wyadup, Contos, Boranup (North-Point) and Skippy Rock.

Salmon Holes in Albany plus many locations around Esperance have  rock anchor points installed.

To tie up to an anchor point you will need about 10m of rope (length varies depending on site). Use this to tie a bowline knot at the anchor point and check the knot is secure by pulling it.

Using the other end of the rope attach it to a harness or wrap around the waist and secure. Avoid slack in the rope when fishing as waves can still wash you off your feet and onto the rocks.

Click here for an information sheet on anchor points in the south west region

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Angel rings

Angel rings are life buoys, which are designed to keep the victim afloat and away from the rocks until help arrives or a rescue can be organised. Angel rings have recently been installed at key locations in Western Australia.


Rock Fishing Safety Videos

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