Walpole might be a small town but it has big reputation among recreational fishers for a good reason, writes Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan in this week’s edition of Scott’s Spots.
Of course, one of Walpole’s major appeals is that it’s just a nice place to stay, especially during the warmer months, as it is nestled next to the scenic Nornalup Inlet and close to some stunning natural forests.
If you’re like me and not great with heights, then the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is probably less appealing than the chance to wet a line in local waters.
When I did the tree top walk, I raced around it so quick I was probably just a blur rushing past to anyone else enjoying it.
As far as I am concerned there are some far more enjoyable walks to be had at Walpole with a fishing rod in my hand.
Walking the shallow flats along Coalmine Beach can result in black bream, King George whiting, yellowfin whiting, flathead and herring.
The easiest section is west of the boat ramp and at times even big giant herring cruise through here. These flats can be hit and miss, but when they are firing, they offer exciting light tackle fishing for all of the species mentioned.
The Nornalup flats used to be a famous spot for fishers to sight cast for big black bream. However, it is a rarer occurrence nowadays.
It is similar fishing throughout the inlet for the species previously mentioned, and some good flathead get taken here each year, often around Newdegate Island.
In the summer months, fishers can target yellowfin whiting, skippy, silver bream and small pink snapper at the estuary mouth. At times, big Samson fish will patrol the mouth of the estuary too.
Summer can also be good for blue swimmer crabs, including the stretch near the Rest Point Caravan Park.
The two main rivers feeding into the estuary are the Frankland and Deep rivers. Most bream caught in the two rivers measure between 25cm and 35cm, with trophy blue-lip models a rare prize these days.
Working the flats and edges of the channels in summer is a good approach, while soaking a bait from shore near the Nornalup Bridge can also be effective.
Frankland River also produces juvenile salmon and herring. The odd giant herring shows up in the Frankland during the warmer months, too — it’s a lovely spot to fish.
The mouth of the Nornalup is not be trifled with in a boat, as it can get very shallow and challenging, but for those who push offshore the rewards can be excellent.
The offshore zone doesn’t get a huge amount of fishing pressure and can produce dhufish, queen snapper, breaksea cod, harlequin fish, blue groper and Samson fish.
For those interested in casting lures, there are good amounts of small yellowtail kingfish happy to take stickbaits and jigs.
Chatham Island is one of the more productive spots to try.
Mandalay Beach, Bellanger Beach, Conspicuous and Shelly Beach are all great spots to try for salmon when the hard-fighting species are prominent near Walpole. Herring and skippy can also be caught from these beaches most of the year, while there is always the chance of a mulloway.
Irwin Inlet is a short drive from Walpole and is visited by fishers chasing black bream in the Kent and Bow rivers. The nearby beaches are also worth a try. During the short window of the season each year, intrepid marroners will head to their secret bush spots in the area to target these succulent crustaceans and they often do well.
There is a reasonable range of accommodation in Walpole, from short-stay rentals to caravan parks and motels, and even houseboats on the inlet, but it would pay to book well in advance during peak times and especially while the current travel restrictions are in place.
It really is a pretty little town that makes for an excellent family holiday destination, especially if you can get some nice weather during the warmer months. Walpole offers plenty of fishing options for anglers of most levels of skill and application, although a small boat or kayak certainly opens up more options for those keen to experience the best of the town’s fishing.