Scott’s Spots – superb fishing options in Jurien Bay

Jurien Bay has become a favourite getaway for metro fishers and it’s not hard to understand why. 

Dhufish are a prized catch in Jurien Bay.

It ticks all the boxes you want for a few days away from the city wetting a line, as it is just a couple of hours from Perth and has great facilities, plenty of accommodation and, most importantly, superb fishing options.

Jurien is around 220km by road from Perth, and the opening of the Brand Highway in 2010 made the town even more accessible than previously. Not only that, the drive to Jurien Bay provides some great coastal scenery sure to whet the appetite of anyone heading there for a fish. Once there the options are varied with shore, boat and even estuary anglers able to try their hand for the range of species available in local waters.

Boaters are particularly well catered for, with a high quality and protected launching ramp inside the local marina. This offers an excellent starting point for a day on the water, with good facilities including a cleaning table and adjacent bins for fish scraps, and you don’t have to venture far from the marina to be in good fishing areas. 

Baldchin groper are just one of the demersal targets at Jurien Bay.

Indeed, blue swimmer crabs can get taken inside the marina itself, along with herring and squid. Once you’ve broken the shackles of the marina walls, there are great options north, south and west of town, and despite its ever-increasing popularity Jurien Bay continues to provide superb fishing results.

The iconic dhufish is a common catch off Jurien Bay and they even show up in the shallows of the bay at times. Some absolute crackers are taken out wider though and they can consistently be caught on bait, jigs and soft plastics in depths of 15m-plus. The new Ink Vader from Wilson Fishing is proving deadly on them! 

Pink snapper are a Jurien Bay staple, and will be caught across a wide area at times, from the local jetty and marina walls out to much deeper water. After storms they will often be in the shallows of the bay and respond well to anchor-and-berley tactics. 

Mulloway are caught from both shore and boat at Jurien.

Baldchin groper are another regular offshore catch. 

Mulloway are an interesting proposition around Jurien as they are taken from both boat and shore. 

The beaches either side of town often produce good fish over a metre long, and a few get caught at the jetty each year, but they also show up offshore for anglers chasing species likes pinks and dhuies. 

Samson fish are another common catch for boaters fishing for demersals, and again show up at the jetty at times. 

For those more interested in pelagics, Jurien Bay can offer some fantastic action on Spanish mackerel in the warmer months. 

Trolling for them along the back of the inner reef can be very productive at times, and they also show up out wider as well. 

Yellowtail kingfish are another regular catch behind the reef, while tuna are regularly encountered out wide. 

Craig White jigged up this solid Samson fish.

Squid are prolific in the bay and are also taken at the jetty in good numbers. 

The jetty itself is a fantastic fishing platform for locals and holidaymakers alike, offering some fun fishing for a surprisingly varied range of species, many already mentioned above. 

Hill River, although tiny, also holds a nice population of black bream that can be fun to catch, while the beach at the mouth is renowned for producing mulloway, tailor and sharks. 

The beach fishing around Jurien is also excellent, with mulloway, tailor, sharks, herring, whiting and flathead among the species regularly encountered. 

The local tackle shop is a great source of info.

For all your local tackle and camping needs, Seasport Tackle in the centre of town is well stocked with all the latest gear.

Owner Shane Younger is a keen fisherman who always has a good idea of what is biting around town and how to catch it. 

There is a huge range of accommodation available at Jurien Bay, with caravan parks, home holiday rentals, apartments and motels among them.  

There are a number of providers including all the usual booking sites, and Google will soon find you a great place to stay to suit your budget. 

The good thing about Jurien is no matter where you stay you’ll always be close to the water and that means there are always fishing opportunities at hand. 

Former West Coast Eagles star Mark LeCras with a solid Jurien Bay dhufish.

Tackle Shop Talk – Matt Pullella, Trailblazers Albany

Restrictions are easing, winter is settling in and our tackle stores are open and waiting for you to pay them a visit. Tackle stores play an essential role in our fishing industry and the knowledge of the owner and local staff is invaluable. Recently we’ve been chatting with various tackle store owners across the state to get to know them better on a personal level and help promote their business in order to reboot the recfishing industry post-COVID-19. This week we spoke to Matt from Trailblazers in Albany.

RFW: How and when did you get involved with your tackle store?

MP: I used to shop at Trailblazers a lot in my teenage years. One day, about five years ago, I asked if they had any work going. Two weeks later Paul Lawson (the owner) called me and the rest is history. 

RFW: What do you enjoy about working in the business? 

MP: Like any fishing nut, I love playing with new gear and sharing crazy stories with customers.  

RFW: What makes your customers keep coming back for more

MP: We have a very loyal customer base here at Trailblazers. I think the main thing that keeps people coming back is our massive range of stock, good honest advice and local knowledge. 

RFW: What’s a hot tackle item in your store at the moment?

MP: Without a doubt electric reels are probably the hottest fishing item we have been selling over the last few weeks. We can’t keep enough on the shelf!  

RFW: What must every good fisher’s tackle box include and why?

MP: Every good fishers tackle box must include a good pair of split ring pliers because if you’ve ever tried to open a split ring with your fingernails you’ll know where I’m coming from!  

RFW: What was the fish or fishing experience that got you hooked on fishing?

MP: My dad took me squidding off one of rock walls down here. Second cast in he got a nice squid that then inked him directly in the face! Best day ever and I was hooked from then on!  

RFW: If you were Fisheries Minister for a day and you could change one thing, what would it be?

MP: If I was the Fisheries Minister for the day, I’d be doing everything I could to get more fisheries officers into remote Western Australia. We currently only have three fisheries officers in the Great Southern and only two spend most of their time in the field. In my opinion that is nowhere near enough along this remote section of coast.  

RFW: What’s your favourite fishing destination in WA and why?

MP: My own backyard! I truly think we are spoilt down here on the south coast. Our fishery is so versatile and has something to offer in all weather conditions. 

Scott’s Spots – there’s nowhere quite like it!

There is nowhere in Western Australia quite like the Mackerel Islands. 

Located off Onslow (1,375km by road from Perth) and not far north of Exmouth, this collection of Pilbara islands offers some of the most exciting fishing in the State. 

As the name suggests, there are few better places to catch a mackerel and these waters absolutely teem with them for most of the year. However, the name barely scratches the surface of the incredibly rich diversity of fishing options in this area. 

What a view over the beach-front cabins at Thevenard Island!

There are several options for those wanting to fish the Mackerels, and the southern islands such as Flat and Long are well within the reach of boats from Exmouth on a good day. Obviously, launching at Onslow is another option for a day-trip. 

However, for those wanting to truly explore the area and enjoy the extended Mackerel Islands experience, the opportunity to stay in the comfortable accommodation at Thevenard Island is very appealing and places them right in the heart of the fishiest waters. There are comfortable self-contained cabins overlooking the water, or unit style accommodation, and boats can be moored just off the beach. All the facilities needed to fish the Mackerels are there, with fuel available and a small shop offering all the general supplies, including fishing tackle. It’s a fine set up, but the real beauty of staying at Thevenard, which is around 22km from Onslow, is that a host of quality fishing spots are literally just minutes away from there.  

Golden trevally are accessible from shore.

One of the most popular ways to fish Thevenard is to join a ‘Seafari’ – there are several of these each year which see a flotilla of trailerboats travel in convoy to the islands and fish there for a week. The beauty of a Seafari is safety in numbers, but also being able to benefit from the knowledge of others to ensure you have a successful trip. 

Western Angler is running a Seafari to Thevenard Island from August 29 to September 6 this year, email scoghlan11@bigpond.com for more details. 

There is also a charter operating out of Thevenard. 

Once there, the fishing options are almost unlimited, and start on the island itself.

If the weather is not suitable for getting the boat out or you want a day on shore, then walking the island with a flick rod is a delightful way to spend your time. There are often heaps of squid around the jetty, and a few mangrove jack lurk around there as well. Walking the endless beach around the island is a great way to catch various species of trevally, queenfish, long tom and other bits and bobs that cruise the shallows. Every now and then big queenfish and trevally will show up, and even longtail tuna get caught from the shore occasionally. 

Catchittttt!!! Merv Hughes was bowled over with this sailfish on a Roosta popper.

However, most people visit the Mackerels to fish from boats and it’s not hard to understand why. 

As mentioned earlier, Spanish mackerel abound in the area and can be found around most islands and just about anywhere there is a drop-off or reef ledge. 

They can be caught on almost anything, whether it be floating baits, poppers, stickbaits, jigs or trolled minnows, and at times can be around in almost plague proportions. 

Longtail and yellowfin tuna are regular catches in the same areas, while wahoo often show up in surprisingly shallow water and cobia are also commonly encountered. 

Sailfish are often seen jumping and caught quite regularly, while those heading out deeper to depths of 100m and beyond will fancy their chances at a billfish. 

Solid queenfish on the Halco Slidog for Glenn Edwards.

Flicking lures in the shallows around the various islands is a recipe for great fun on species like golden, giant and gold-spot trevally, queenfish, spangled emperor, longtail tuna, school mackerel and shark mackerel.  

There is also the chance of the highly-prized coral trout (as pictured in the header image) and cod showing up around structure in the shallows. 

Goldspot trevally for Michael Sammut.

Bottom fishers are also well catered for at the Mackerels, with a wide range of popular demersal species on offer. Rankin cod are a regular catch and in some huge sizes, while red emperor and coral trout abound in these waters, along with saddle-tail. 

Surprisingly good fish will be caught in water as shallow as 15-20m, with clever use of the tides and a good berley trail keys to consistent success for many anglers. Jigging works but you can expect to be snipped off a few times by the hordes of ravenous mackerel. Sharks are also a problem at some of the more popular locations and it is best to move on when they move in, whether chasing demersals or pelagics (they love a feed of macks). 

Mackerel Islands CEO Drew Norrish with a golden trevally.

As with billfish, the rewards for heading out wider are also there, with the likes of goldband and ruby snapper on offer. 

A look at a map will show the various islands including Thevenard, Airlie, Serrurier (Long), Bessieres and Rosily Cay.  All the different islands have their own unique fishing characteristics that become clear when they’ve been fished a few times, but each can produce excellent action on the right day. The hardest part of fishing the Mackerels can be deciding just where to go when the weather is good.  

Wahoo often show up around the Mackerel Islands.

 

Tackle shop talk – Murray Johnson, Southern Sports and Tackle

Local tackle shops are often at the beating heart of local fishing communities yet their owners and staff, with a wealth of knowledge and experience between them, often remain the unsung heroes. Through this weekly series, we aim to give these hard-working guys a little bit of the limelight. In this week’s Tackle Shop Talk, we speak to Murray Johnson from Southern Sports and Tackle in Esperance.

Murray Johnson was seeking a coastal lifestyle before he took over the tackle store in Esperance.

RFW: How and when did you get involved with your tackle store?

MJ: I purchased the store in 1996. I had moved to Esperance from Perth a year earlier and was looking for a business opportunity that suited a coastal lifestyle. 

RFW: What do you enjoy about working in the business?

MJ: It’s an industry where your client base are going out to do something enjoyable. That makes it a great place to work. 

RFW: What makes your customers keep coming back for more?

MJ: Clients want great service and fair pricing. You need to be prepared to source a product if you don’t have it in stock ensuring they aren’t going elsewhere. Establishing a great relationship can result in people continually coming back. We now have clients kids coming back with their mates to purchase goods, or just chat about the latest fishing adventure. 

Enjoying a fishing trip in Esperance? Call into Southern Sports and Tackle to hear from the locals about what’s biting in the area.

RFW: What’s a hot tackle item in your store at the moment? 

MJ: Beach guys are enjoying plenty of salmon, so Halco lures such as a Chrome Twisty or Slice are popular. Boaties are chasing squid so Daiwa Emeraldas in 3.5 are working well. Also bluefin are around so Black Magic Jetsetters are selling well. 

RFW: If you were Fisheries Minister for a day and you could change one thing, what would it be? 

MJ: If I was the Minister I would be keen to see how we can engage more people in fishing.  

RFW: What’s your favourite fishing destination in WA and why?

MJ: You can’t beat the south coast for both beach and boat fishing so Esperance has to be my favourite. 

Scott’s Spots – Denham, the gateway to Shark Bay

It’s the gateway to Shark Bay and as such Denham deserves to be held in the highest regard by West Aussie anglers. 

Shark Bay is famous for its pinkie fishing.

Shark Bay and its surrounds offer a magnificently diverse and exciting fishery with much to offer anglers of all persuasions.

Denham is located approximately 800km from Perth by road and can be reached by turning off the Great Northern Highway at the Overlander Roadhouse. From there it’s about 130 kilometres to the town and the regular glimpses of water as you drive towards Denham should start to whet the appetite of any keen fisher. Once there, Denham boasts a good boat ramp from which trailerboats can explore the vastness of Shark Bay, all the way to Dirk Hartog Island and even beyond to Bernier and Dorre islands. That’s a lot of water to fish, so much that few could manage to try it all in a lifetime. 

Fishing out from the islands offers a chance at prized species like this red emperor.

While a lot of Shark Bay is quite shallow and relatively featureless that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fishing opportunities. These start right in the town itself, where countless squid are caught from the jetty every year, along with tailor, whiting and the odd pink snapper and mulloway.  A boat is not necessary to enjoy Shark Bay fishing and wading the shallows around Denham, and in other spots in the Bay, can produce some exceptional light tackle action on whiting, flathead and yellowfin bream, plus maybe a few tailor and even pink snapper. 

The bluffs of Shark Bay offer some good fishing opportunities.

There are a number of bays and bluffs that offer some great opportunities for shore fishers, or even those who want to explore in a kayak. Little Lagoon can be worth trying for yellowfin whiting, flathead and yellowfin bream. Boaters have the option to explore the wider reaches of Shark Bay and will find a vast range of fishing that offers plenty of diversity This area is famous for producing big numbers of pink snapper and, while this fishery was once forced to the brink of collapse, tight management has seen it bounce back. It is an important spawning area for pinkies and there are many locations within Shark Bay that can produce snapper in good numbers, including out around the islands.

Shark Bay is also renowned for producing some of the biggest cobia you’d ever see and some absolute monsters to more than 60 kilos have been caught there. 

Mulloway are a common catch in Shark Bay.

Mulloway are another regular catch in Shark Bay and will be caught in many similar locations to pinkies, while tailor can be found around many headlands and although fish in the 1-2kg range are most common, there are jumbos to be had by those in the know. 

Grass emperor, commonly known as black snapper, are a common catch in the shallows of Shark Bay, and school mackerel regularly show up 

Boats can also be launched at nearby Monkey Mia to access similar fishing, with the tip of Cape Peron producing some good action at times. The waters around Faure Island are fascinating, with channels snaking their way through the channels and these can fish well at times for the usual Shark Bay species, including some nice trevally. There is launching available at Nanga Station on the western side of the Peron Peninsula and this area is good for snapper, while the shallows there offer similar options to Denham. 

Jamie Chester with a big trevally caught near Dirk Hartog Island.

For those who get the right weather to make the long trip to the islands, there is superb fishing all around Dirk Hartog Island (DHI).

Shark mackerel are often seen chasing bait in the sheltered anchorage of Turtle Bay and you don’t need to venture far from there to experience some great fishing for a wide range of species. 

Pinkies are a common catch west and north of the tip of DHI, along with various species of trevally, and the demersal fishing can be excellent for all the usual species associated with the Mid-West, including some thumping coral trout. 

Pelagics like Spaniards, tuna, cobia and wahoo work the west side of DHI and there’s the chance of billfish, particularly sailfish.  

Dirk Hartog Island’s rugged west side is home to giant trevally and big tailor.

Casting lures at the rocks can produce giant trevally and some jumbo tailor. 

The east side of DHI is more protected and generally shallower but not to be ignored either, offering more pinkies as well as tailor, flathead and trevally on the flats, where it can be great sight fishing 

Denham can also be used as a launching point for those wanting to boat fish at the legendary Steep Point. 

It is not uncommon for boats to be launched in Denham and then steered across to Shelter Bay, while other members of the fishing party drive there in an offroad vehicle to set up camp for an extended stay. That then allows them to be based close to the point, with the obvious fishing opportunities that provides for Spanish mackerel, tuna and pink snapper, along with the bluewater demersal species such as red emperor and Rankin cod. 

Tailor of this size, and much bigger, are a staple for Shark Bay fishers.

Steep itself is a famous destination for land-based game fishing, offering the rare chance at mackerel, tuna and billfish from the rocks. Spinning can be productive at Steep, but it is especially popular with ballooners who can use prevailing winds to take their baits well out from shore and into the strike zone for some seriously big fish. At night, soaking baits can produce tailor, mulloway, snapper, spangled emperor, cobia and maybe even the elusive bonefish.

The shallows around Steep are also worth fishing with light gear for tailor, small snapper, trevally, flathead and whiting, and the occasional yellowtail kingfish cruising through will test any gear. 

Likewise, Dirk Hartog Island is popular with shore anglers who reach the island via a barge and can base themselves there to fish for similar species to Steep Point. 

There are also charter boats that work out of Denham and offer anglers the chance to fish the Bay and out around the islands on an extended live-aboard stay. This can be a great way to experience all that Shark Bay fishing has to offer. 

Ballooning is popular at Steep Point.

One thing to be wary of when fishing Denham is the wind as there is usually little protection on the water when the weather blows up and it can mean a long and slow trip back to town in a small boat. 

Accommodation is plentiful in Denham and there is a good range available to suit most budgets, while several restaurants and a couple of general stores means visitors are well catered for. 

There is also an annual fishing competition called the Shark Bay Fishing Fiesta which gets great community support and is a lot of fun for all involved. 

Denham has plenty to offer fishers and there’s always the chance of an encounter with some of Shark Bay’s other locals like dugongs, tiger sharks, sea snakes, manta rays and turtles. 

Sunset over Denham during the Fishing Fiesta competition.

 

Tackle Shop Talk – Bernice Gillam, Augusta X-treme Outdoor Sports and Camping

Our fishing community is made up of many dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable people – take tackle stores, for example. The local knowledge and expertise to be had from your local tackle store staff is often worth more than the gear you buy giving you the know-how and the best chance to land a fish or two. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been focusing on these unsung heroes and encouraging fishers to buy local. This week we spoke to Bernice Gillam, from Augusta X-treme Outdoor Sports and Camping, who spends a considerable amount of time making fishing better and safer in WA. Next time you’re in the area, be sure to pop in and say hello.

Bernice Gillam enjoys owning a tackle store and and helping new fishers catch their first fish.

RFW: How and when did you get involved with your tackle store?

BG: Our family came to Augusta for a holiday in 2010 and had a wonderful time fishing and exploring. We thought it would be a lovely place to live but there were no jobs going here. So home we went. Then one day I was surfing the net and found the tackle shop was for sale. So off to the bank we went and five months later, in March, 2012, we owned Augusta Xtreme Outdoor Sports.

RFW: What do you enjoy about working in the business?  

BG: I love it when you get a new customer who has never fished before and set them up with the fishing gear they need and off they go. Then they come back the next day full of enthusiasm and pride, having caught a fish.

RFW: What makes your customers keep coming back for more? 

BG: We only sell small bags of bait! Ha ha! Hopefully its our good local knowledge and wonderful smiles and customer service and cheap pricesWe have a great range of gear for such a little shop. 

RFW: What’s a hot tackle item in your store at the moment?  

Augusta X-treme Outdoor Sports has all your fishing and camping needs.

 

BG: Fishing rods of any shape, size or colour. They are just walking out the door as everyone is wanting to learn how to fish. 

RFW: If you were Fisheries Minister for a day and you could change one thing, what would it be? 

BG: I would regulate to prevent commercial fishing of resources within five nautical miles of the coast. Commercial vessels are quite capable of fishing areas outside the ability of most recreational fishershowever frequently bomb cray pots and nets in the areas recreational fishers are restricted to and quite often over the top of recreational gear or in a manner that makes it difficult to fish an area. 

RFW: What’s your favourite fishing destination in WA and why?  

BG: Augusta, Albany andEsperance are my favourite places to fish only because I have never been anywhere else. 

Scott’s Spots – the amazing Abrolhos Islands

Winter has arrived and it’s a time when many keen anglers look to the northern parts of Western Australia for their fishing fix. 

Tim Carter with a nice pink snapper on a Halco Laser Pro.

At the time of writing many regional movement restrictions were still in place in WA for a few more days, but you could bet that at soon as they were lifted there would be a charge of anglers heading to warmer climes to wet a line.

And you don’t need to look too far from Perth either, with some of the best fishing in WA just a few hours in the car away. 

Located off Geraldton, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, which most people just call the Abrolhos, are a superb fishing destination offering an amazing range of prime angling targets. The location of the Abrolhos, which is a chain of more than 100 islands and reefs and which includes three island groups – Wallabi, Easter and Pelsaert – is perfect for fishers of all persuasions. 

There is great fishing for both demersal and pelagic species in a range of sizes, and even billfish are an option out from the islands. Whether you prefer bait or artificials, the Abrolhos has something to offer every angler. 

Al McGlashan provides dinner with a solid squid.

What makes the Abrolhos so appealing is its unique mix of both northern and southern species, with southern icons like dhufish, pink snapper and Samson fish sharing the same water with northern visitors like spangled emperor and coral trout. In fact, there have been almost 400 different species of fish recorded at the Abrolhos, not to mention the area’s countless crayfish that support a lucrative industry. 

Because there are restrictions on access to the islands themselves, fishing options are usually somewhat limited for visitors to the Abrolhos. Located around 70 kilometres off the Geraldton coast, access with private boat is often limited by weather and the need to be able to live on board the vessel. You are not allowed to camp on the islands, but there are some excellent protected moorings for those who do make the effort to get their own boat over there. Once there, a small boat is an ideal way to explore the area, especially the shallows around the islands themselves. 

However, the complicating factors of a trip to the islands mean many anglers instead turn to the fleet of charter operators that work at the Abrolhos during winter to fish there. Live-aboard charters at the islands are extremely popular and enable fishers to capitalise on local expertise and spend three to five days’ fishing the area. There are a number of charter boats that work the Abrolhos out of Geraldton and all offer similar fishing opportunities. 

Kris Carlberg with an Abrolhos spangled emperor.

The fishing options once at the islands are almost limitless. Angler can cast lures at working birds for pelagics like Spanish mackerel, yellowfin tuna, shark mackerel and even wahoo. Or they can fish along reef edges and around shallow bommies for baldchin groper, spangled emperor, yellowtail kingfish and coral trout. Those who want to target prime bottom species can jig or drop baits for dhufish and pink snapper, or even try to stop one of the local Samson fish, which grow to massive sizes. There are also heaps of squid around the Abrolhos and they offer a fun option while at anchor at night, while floating an unweighted mulie out the back at anchor has produced many quality fish. 

Coral trout are a shallow water staple at the islands.

It would not be uncommon for a charter operator to offer all of those various options on a trip, and maybe even in one day! 

Samson fish get much bigger than this at the Abrolhos!

Dhufish are probably the main target for fishers at the Abrolhos and they get caught by a variety of methods each year, with fish around the 10kg mark a common catch. They will bite on baits, plastics and jigs and some spots are simply loaded with them. Pink snapper are a similar story and can also be caught using a number of different approaches, while coral trout are in amazing numbers in some areas at the Abrolhos. Fishing the shallows around some of the islands can produce incredible numbers of trout and they’ll often hit anything that comes near them, including poppers. 

What many Abrolhos visitors crave – dhufish.

The pelagics can vary from season to season depending on water temperature, but most years tuna and mackerel can be seen terrorising baitfish. Trolling around bait or along drop-offs works well, particularly for Spanish mackerel, as does casting lures at any surface action. Spaniards are also often caught on bait at night. Big Samson fish cruise the islands and while some are like pets and can be hand-fed, there are plenty of places where they can be targeted. Watching packs of Samson fish chase bait up onto reefy shallows is an amazing Abrolhos experience.   

Crayfishing is the lifeblood of the Abrolhos community.

The bonus of fishing the Abrolhos is getting to spend time in such an amazing marine environment, with the many islands, clear water and brilliant coral bottom along with the other species such as whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds which call the islands home. The diving and snorkelling can be spectacular, and the wreck of the Batavia, with a backstory of epic proportions, is a popular destination for visitors to the islands.

With so much on offer and its close proximity to Perth, it is little wonder the Houtman Abrolhos Islands are such a hit with WA recreational fishers. 

Anyone who visits the Abrolhos should be aware that the islands have their own possession and bag limits to protect local fish stocks – you can find more info on the  you should also be aware that if you’re steaming out to the Abrolhos in your boat you need to notify the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development by filling out and submitting this online form. 

The islands are an amazing spot to spend some time.

Tackle Shop Talk – Jim Allan, Albany Rods and Tackle

Many in the tackle industry have been doing it tough in recent weeks. And with local tackle store often being at the beating heart of a local recfishing community, we’re putting some of  the unsung heroes who run them in the spotlight over the next few weeks. This week we hear from Jim Allan, from Albany Rods and Tackle.

RFW: How and when did you get involved with your tackle store?

Albany tackle store owner Jim Allan is always keen to share his local knowledge and advice.

JA: Over 40 years ago, I started working here under the previous owner and bought it in 1991.

RFW: What do you enjoy about working in the business?

JA: Meeting fishos and passing on information to visitors and the younger fishos.

RFW: What makes your customers keep coming back for more?

JA: My knowledge of the area and repair work on reels and rods.

RFW: How have you adapted the business to life under COVID?

JA: I did not have to alter much,once people knew I was open they supported me.

RFW: What’s a hot tackle item in your store at the moment?

JA: Salmon lures, squid lures, 3-3.6m rods and combos.

RFW: If you were Fisheries Minister for a day and you could change one thing, what would it be?

JA: Increase the size limit on some of the fish.

RFW: What’s your favourite fishing destination in WA and why?

JA: Albany, I do like the south coast, with Coral Bay as my second choice.

Scott’s Spots – Swan River, the jewel in the City’s Crown

The beautiful Swan River is at the heart of Perth’s outdoors lifestyle and fishing is a huge part of that. 

Mulloway like this one caught by Mark Davis are the jewel in the Swan River crown.

Snaking its way past the city centre, through the suburbs and the first recognisable feature many visitors see as they fly into the state, the Swan is a playground for West Australians and attracts countless people to its banks and onto its usually placid surface each year. 

Recreational fishers are just one of the many user groups which get to utilise the Swan and while the river isn’t without its issues, as the regular algal blooms prove, it still fishes incredibly well for a major metro waterway. 

After all, there can’t be too many places in the world where you can catch trophy fish like monster mulloway virtually in the shadow of the city centre skyscrapers. 

But that is certainly the case in the Swan River, where big mulloway to 20 kilos are a regular capture beneath the Narrows Bridge, which carries thousands of workers to and from their offices in the city each day, or at least did before the current pandemic. The Swan is often overlooked when discussing iconic WA fishing destinations in favour of more far-flung spots like the Abrolhos, Montebellos and Exmouth, but it is a surprisingly healthy fishery that deserves the utmost appreciation from all who enjoy it. 

Darryl Hitchen measures a Swan River blue.

Access is not an issue for most of its length and it has something for just about everyone, with boat, kayak, paddle board and shore anglers all well catered for. Probably the most popular species in the Swan is not actually a fish, but rather a crustacean. 

The Swan has been famed for its big blue swimmer crabs for years and management of this fishery was recently tightened up to ensure this unique fishery will continue to shine. 

Most success is had by boaters using drop nets from the Narrows downstream in summer, but waders can pick them up in scoop nets and divers also get their share. Those who catch Perth crabs will happily tell you any caught elsewhere simply don’t compare for size and taste. 

Black bream would probably be the most commonly caught fish species, aside from the omnipresent blowies that attack baits in packs. 

Tailor are a regular summer catch in the Swan.  The Swan holds bream all along its length and spots that offer structure, such as jetties and bridges, are where many of the big fish up to 50cm are caught on both baits and lures. 

However, in summer the bream will move onto the many shallow flats in the Swan and can offer some great fishing, particularly for light tackle lure anglers. 

Tailor are another Swan River staple and will push well up the Swan in summer, with working birds a sure sign schools are feeding.  While many are in the true chopper size at 20-35cm, better fish are there and many 50cm tailor get caught each year, plus the odd jumbo. 

As mentioned earlier, mulloway are an iconic Swan catch and many anglers dream of a big metro croaker. This year has seen one of the best mulloway runs in a long time, with fish caught from the moles all the way up past Bassendean. Many of the fish have been over a metre long – a memorable catch indeed for a metro river. Most mulloway are caught on bait, but more and more fishos are targeting them on lure and even fly. 

Lovely lower reaches flounder for Ashley Prescott.
Big Swan flathead.

In summer, flatfish become far more active in the Swan and flathead and flounder are a popular target in the warmer months. Although both find their way well up the Swan, like mulloway and bream, it is the lower reaches that they offer more consistent fishing. At the start of summer they venture onto the sand flats and associated drop-offs in the lower reaches and can offer some great fishing on light tackle, exploding from their sandy lies onto baits and lures. Both are great eating or can be fantastic sportfishing fun and wading the clear flats of the Swan with a flick rod on a still summer morning is one of life’s great pleasures. 

Yellowfin whiting are another lower Swan option on the flats and while they can be a challenge to catch some nice fish are landed by those who make the effort. 

For those who like their sportfishing, summer is the time of year to chase the elusive Elops – giant herring. These tropical speedsters have been present in the Swan for a long time in varying numbers but seem to have made a real resurgence in recent years. Most hooked in the Swan are 60cm or less, but there are some bigger fish up to around a metre long on offer, if you can find them. When hooked, giant herring put up a spectacular fight, taking to the air repeatedly and tearing line from the reel, usually ending with the lure being thrown! 

Steve Anderson with the elusive Swan River giant herring.

Other species regularly encountered in the Swan, particularly in the lower reaches, include herring, skippy and even juvenile Samson fish and pink snapper. 

All of those species have benefited from the lower Swan becoming an increasingly saline environment over the years and the same can be said of squid, which also push into the Swan in good numbers when the water is clear during the warmer months. 

Fishing around structure is a sure way to find Swan River bream.

Bream fishers are also well aware of the little yellowtail grunter which often show up, while cobbler numbers recovered after a decade-long ban on catching them and there are loads of mullet in the Swan. 

In recent years, schools of salmon have even ventured up the Swan in autumn, offering some unbelievable estuary fishing action. 

The Swan undoubtedly fishes best during summer, when the water warms up and many of its resident species become much more active, but it does offer options all year for metro anglers wanting to wet a line.  It’s a diverse fishery and you never quite know what will show up when fishing the Swan as there have even been odd reports of tuna up as far as Perth water over the years. The combination of accessibility and amazing variety at the heart of the city makes it a special Western Australian fishery. 

There are plenty of spots where families can safely fish the Swan.

Tackle Shop Talk – Tyrone Yahiya, Tackle HQ

Many in the tackle industry have been doing it tough in recent weeks. And with local tackle store often being at the beating heart of a local recfishing community, we’re giving a shout-out to some of  the unsung heroes who run them over the next few weeks. This week we spoke to Tyrone Yahiya from Tackle HQ.

 

RFW: What do you enjoy about working in the business?  

TY: Our customers are amazing and keeping them up-to-date with the best products from around the world is always good fun. 

RFW: What makes your customers keep coming back for more?  

TY: I’d say definitely our customer service. We know all of our customers and do our best to make sure everyone is happy, all the staff and I have made good friends working at Tackle HQ. 

RFW: How have you adapted the business to life under COVID?  

TY: Less people in the store, free shipping on all orders, lots of rig-tying and some beer drinking!  

RFW: What’s a hot tackle item in your store at the moment?  

TY: Drone fishing products, Yeti, anything ASWB, Ocean’s Legacy.  

RFW: If you were Fisheries Minister for a day and you could change one thing, what would it be? 

TY: I’d give recfishers more access to some of the good fishing spots that are currently closed.  

RFW: What’s your favourite fishing destination in WA and why?  

TY: Is this even a question? The Monte’s to fish for GTs!