We’ve teamed up with WA fishing writer and personality Scott Coghlan (pictured above with a beautiful Exmouth coral trout) to present ‘Scott’s Spots’ – a series featuring his personal experience and expert overview of some of WA’s most iconic fishing locations and some of those less well known ones off the beaten track. We want fishers to get out there and experience the fantastic fishing that WA offers for the benefit of their well-being as well as restoring the annual $2.4 billion worth of economic activity recfishing provides. Here Scotty kicks off the series with a look at exciting Exmouth.
IF you are talking iconic West Australian fishing locations it is hard to go past Exmouth.
Originally founded for military purposes back in 1967, Exmouth is now probably our most famous fishing destination, famed right across the globe for the incredible opportunities it provides for a wide range of anglers.
In fact, when I was fishing the Colorado River for trout a couple of years ago the guide wanted to talk to me about fishing Exmouth!
From bonefish and permit on the flats to grander marlin in the deep blue, and everything else in between, Exmouth is a playground for recreational fishers looking to cross things off their bucket list.
Whether you like fishing on foot, heading out in a tinnie or want to explore the wide blue in a large trailerboat, this piece of paradise in the Pilbara has you covered.
The unique location of Exmouth means incredibly diverse fishing opportunities are available in the area for both shore and boat anglers, although it is the latter style of fishing for which the town is undoubtedly most famous.
On the west coast, you can launch a boat and be into the deep blue billfish waters within minutes, or even stay inside the Ningaloo Reef and enjoy some incredible shallow water fishing.
Blue, black and striped marlin are all caught off Tantabiddi in good numbers every year, along with sailfish, and these prized gamefish can even be caught from a dinghy due to the unusual closeness of the Continental Shelf to the coast.
There is even the chance of tangling with a rare broadbill swordfish. Other regular bluewater captures include big yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphinfish, while bottom fishers can find tasty deepwater denizens like ruby snapper and gold-band snapper.
Fishing closer to the reef can produce trophy-sized Spanish mackerel, longtail tuna, cobia and spangled emperor, to name but a few species in the Exmouth offshore lucky dip, while those up for a brutal challenge can cast surface lures at the reef ledges for powerful giant trevally and hang on grimly when they hook one.
Inside the Ningaloo Reef, the crystal-clear shallows hold a range of species including spangos, various species of trevally and even the prized bonefish for those who look closely enough, as well as heaps of squid.
It’s not uncommon for big cobia and GTs to show up in the shallows as well and cause mayhem.
Perhaps maybe you prefer the sheltered waters of Exmouth Gulf, with its shoals, flats, creeks and beaches also offering some exciting shallow-water action.
There catches include queenfish, giant trevally, golden trevally, longtail tuna and Spanish mackerel, along with highly-rate sportfish like permit and huge giant herring.
Sailfish even gather in the gulf at times to hunt baitfish schools.
The many small creeks teem with mangrove jack and bream, not to mention mud crabs, while squid are common in the Gulf.
Walking the beaches close to town is a good way to catch whiting and flathead, and there’s always the chance of queenfish or trevally passing through.
Another option are the islands at the top of the gulf, where red emperor, Rankin cod and jobfish are caught, along with mackerel, tuna, queenfish and trevally.
Whatever your particular angling bent, whether it be for the table or sport, Exmouth has you covered.
And it’s not just the natural wonders of Exmouth that provide good fishing, with Recfishwest facilitating some recent man-made additions to the local fishing which are proving a big hit.
The King Reef, covering almost three hectares and sitting in 18m just a few minutes from the marina, is proving a big hit with local anglers and has already produced some amazing captures, including monster golden trevally that take a lot of stopping around the structure.
This year three new FADs were put in out from Tantabiddi and these are already producing dolphinfish, tuna and mackerel.
The town marina itself can offer some fun fishing, with small trevally, queenfish and bream in there, along with some decent cod and cagey mangrove jack.
Queenfish and trevally often show up around the entrance and there was even a sailfish caught there once.
If you are new to Exmouth and don’t know where to start pop into one of the two tackle shops in town and pick their brains as they boast a wealth of knowledge and will steer you in the right direction.
For those who want to get offshore and don’t have their own boat, Exmouth is exceptionally well catered for on the charter and guided fishing front.
There are several high-profile charters in town that consistently put clients onto great fish, and a number of sportfishing guides that offered specialised services like fly-fishing.
There is also a local boat hire company for those wanting to do their own thing.
Exmouth is around 1,270km from Perth by road and there were flights into Learmonth daily until the COVID-19 virus struck.
Local charters have regularly offered weekend packages to enable anglers to fly in for a couple of days, enjoy some amazing fishing, and fly home again.
The great news for visiting anglers is the wide range of accommodation to afford all budgets in and around Exmouth.
Camping along the Ningaloo coast is hugely popular, particularly with Grey Nomads, while there are heaps of options in or close to town.
From the luxury of Mantarays, right next to the marina/boat ramp and a short walk from the popular Exmouth Game Fishing Club, to a number of caravan parks visiting anglers are amply catered for at all times of year.
Everything you need for a great fishing holiday is right there in town and the good news for anyone keen on visiting Exmouth when travel restrictions are lifted is that the local fish stocks have enjoyed an almost unprecedented break from fishing pressure in recent months.
When Exmouth opens up to visitors again, the local fishing is likely to as good as it has been for several years and that should excite anyone dreaming of their next fishing trip.