In this COVID-19 world, West Australians are discovering the joys of travelling within their own State. Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan details the world-class fishing on offer at the famous Kimberley coastal town in the latest edition of Scott’s Spots.
With overseas and even interstate trips pretty much out of the question, some of WA’s most popular holiday spots are being seen through unfamiliar eyes and we’re being reminded that there are some real gems within our own borders.
This week Scott Coghlan takes us to one of those local gems – Broome. The Kimberley holiday town is a favoured destination for travellers from across the globe, but is now looking to domestic visitors to keep its tourism-driven local economy moving forward.
When it comes to fishing, Broome is a location that can confound many seasoned anglers used to fishing in the southern half of the State.
There is exceptional fishing to be had for a wide variety of species, but monster tides and stark seasons mean a challenging set of conditions that need their very own approach if success is to follow.
A little local advice certainly can come in handy given the unusual conditions. For anyone new to town and Kimberley fishing, I’d recommend stopping in to see Steve Chambers at Tackle World Broome to find out what’s biting, where and how to catch them.
Steve is a friendly guy who knows these waters as well as anyone and his advice could be the difference between experiencing the best of Kimberley fishing and the worst.
Broome’s fishing opportunities start right on the town’s doorstep in the amazing aqua coloured expanses of Roebuck Bay.
The red of the earth makes a magnificent contrast to the water colour of Roebuck Bay as you fly into Broome, and the fishing in the bay is better than ever thanks to clever management.
Commercial netting was removed from Roebuck Bay a few years ago and this has seen fish stocks bounce back quickly in the area. This has been headed by a resurgence in the threadfin salmon fishery, which is now booming.
Big threadies are commonly caught in the bay, especially around the small creeks dotted along its length, as well as blue salmon.
The bay also offers a range of other species including hard-pulling northern mulloway, fingermark, the unusual tripletail and pelagic visitors like trevally, queenfish, mackerel and tuna. There’s also mud crabs in the Roebuck Bay creeks.
Dampier Creek is right next to town and can produce surprisingly good barramundi fishing, plus the same mix of blue and threadfin salmon.
If you want a small taste of bay fishing and don’t have a boat, you can head to the jetty and the shoreline around it.
Barramundi lurk around the pylons, as do GTs, while queenfish, other trevally species, tuna and mackerel all get caught there at times.
Fishing from the shore around the jetty can produce trevally and queenfish, but don’t get caught far from shore with a fast rising tide!
Similar opportunities are available around Gantheaume Point.
Boat fishers can access all those pelagic opportunities close to the port.
Heading out wider, the bluewater fishing can be excellent. Bottom fishers can target range of quality demersals including red emperor, while mackerel, tuna and cobia can be prolific. There is a big seasonal run of sailfish mid-year and these get caught in big numbers, with the annual billfish competition very popular. That event is run by the Broome Fishing Club, which is very active and runs a number of events each year. The BFC also offers meals and drinks at its clubhouse overlooking the water.
Beach fishers can try their luck at the famous Cable Beach for salmon and whiting, while the elusive permit can be targeted at beach spots near Broome and also near the jetty.
Other local creeks up the coast, including Willie and Barred, are well worth a try on the right tides for cod, queenfish, trevally and mangrove jack.
The famous Fitzroy River is found further north. It is one of Australia’s great barramundi fisheries, with good catches in both the fresh and salt sections every year.
Fishing the Fitzroy can be an extreme experience, but there’s always a good chance of catching a 1m-plus fish in its water!
If you want some expert guidance, there a number of charter operators in Broome offering different types of fishing expeditions to suit varying budgets and preferences, from day charters to barra missions.
A quick search on Google will show what’s on offer for any visitors to town looking for an organised fishing adventure.
Broome is also the launching point for trips to the remote Rowley Shoals, an iconic WA fishing destination about 260km from the mainland.
Tightly managed with regards to access, the Rowleys include three stunning shoals rising out of deep water and offering spectacular fishing for a range of species including wahoo, sailfish and dogtooth tuna.
Fishing the shallows can also provide great action on giant trevally, coral trout and long-nose emperor.
A handful of charters to the Rowleys operate out of Broome.
As a holiday town, accommodation is plentiful in Broome, ranging from caravan parks and backpackers to luxury resorts.
There are also daily commercial flights into Broome, or you can make the long drive there from destinations in the south.
One thing you will experience when you arrive in town is the shift into ‘Broome time’, as the worries of the world drift away and the Kimberley heat warms the bones.
That combination of great fishing and a lovely holiday in the sun sounds pretty good to a southern angler as we battle through the depths of winter.