The the second edition of Scott’s Spots, Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan takes us to one of WA’s most spectacular and expansive beaches – Cheynes Beach.
Cheynes Beach is surely one of the getaway gems of WA’s south coast.
Located about 66km east of Albany, and home to a small tight-knit local community, Cheynes offers some quality shore and boat fishing which locals have long known about.
Their secret is out though and it has become increasingly popular with visiting anglers over the years, who at peak times flock to enjoy the aquatic delights Cheynes offers the whole family and everyone from serious fishos to those who just want to soak a line and enjoy the view.
With a lovely caravan park, currently undergoing expansion, nestled at the western end of the beach overlooking the bay and the range of fishing options on offer at its doorstep it is little wonder Cheynes is so popular.
It is these reasons that were why it was also chosen as the venue for Recfishwest’s annual Great Southern Salmon Campout, which has been a big success and capitalises on the annual salmon run.
You can see what Cheynes has to offer in Recfishwest’s promo video below. However, unfortunately due to COVID-19, this year’s event for 2020 was cancelled.
Cheynes stretches about 15km (encompassing the Bluff Creek area) and is one of WA’s great salmon beaches, offering top-shelf salmon fishing during the run most years, and action that is almost beyond belief when they show up in really big numbers.
It has become almost an annual event at Cheynes in recent years for huge schools of salmon to bail up herring, mulies and other baitfish in the shallows, creating incredible scenes as the smaller fish leap from the water to get away from the frenzied predators.
The action isn’t always that hot, but nonetheless salmon can be reliably caught at Cheynes when the run is on each year.
Large schools can be send cruising the shallows at times, but small groups of fish are regularly passing through, offering exciting fishing for those lucky enough to enjoy Cheynes during the superb autumn weather that fortuitously coincides with the arrival of the salmon.
Clean water and crisp white sand await beach fishers at Cheynes and make fishing for salmon, along with herring, skippy and flathead, a delight.
There is ample room to drive along the beach in a 4WD and Cheynes is generally an easy and safe stretch for offroaders, particularly the first half from the townsite until the bluff.
It gets more challenging at the eastern end at what is called Bluff Creek, with the sand getting much softer.
Driving along the beach looking into the clear water to spot schools of salmon is a wonderful experience. The main beach is the most popular fishing spot, but certainly not the only option for shore anglers.
The nearby Back Beach requires a bit more offroading skill, but is only a short drive from the caravan park, and is a delightful spot to fish.
It is only a small beach nestled in a bay looking out to the imposing Bald Island, but can produce some brilliant fishing during salmon season.
For those looking for somewhere a bit less popular where access is a bit more difficult, Mermaids and Bamboos are accessible by 4WD and are not far from the townsite and can fish very well.
The so-called ‘Tourist Rocks’ at Cheynes are accessible by 2WD and a great spot to fish for a range of species due to the ability to cast into relatively deep water at your feet.
Hauls here include salmon, bonito, herring, skippy, snook, squid and more. These rocks face almost directly north so are great in a southerly wind, while the beach is best an easterly, when the wind is blowing straight over your shoulder.
Salmon are caught from the rocks in big numbers every year, and while it is a fairly well protected spot to fish, it is still the south coast and rock boots and a PFD are recommended. When the salmon are on, it can be almost shoulder-to-shoulder on the rocks, such is its popularity.
Offshore anglers are also very well catered for. There is no boat ramp to speak of, but Cheynes was blessed by the gods of geography with a beautiful little bay that offers protected water in most conditions.
Beach launching is the go here and while the shore surge can make it a little tricky at times, a bit of caution and care will see most trailerboats launched and retrieved without drama.
It’s also a great spot to launch a kayak, jet ski or paddle board.
From there, boaters can access a great range of offshore fishing options, from squid and King George whiting in the shallows (popular with kayakers and dinghy fishers) to deep-dropping at the Continental Shelf.
Salmon can be trolled up along the rocks at Three Stripes, next to Tourist Rocks, along with bonito and southern bluefin tuna.
Venture a little farther towards Bald Island and you’ll find more salmon, bonito and tuna, along with the possibility of tangling with Samson fish, yellowtail kingfish and blue groper.
Bottom fishers catch the usual south coast species such as pink snapper, red snapper, dhufish and breaksea cod in good numbers.
Cheynes is also a great spot to spot whales in season, as they often come very close to shore, particularly along the rocks, and there are big pods of dolphins cruising the bay as well.
There are colonies of seals at Bald Island and that probably explains why tagged white pointers often pass by the southern end of it.
Although only 40 minutes by car from Albany, those wanting to visit for an extended stay have plenty of accommodation options at the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park.
It does get very busy at peak times, such as sat Easter when the salmon are running, so book early if that’s when you plan to visit.
Cheynes is just under 500km by car from Perth, but the journey is more than rewarded when the fish are on. With the combination of great fishing and natural beauty, Cheynes Beach is a spot that should appeal to just about every WA angler.