No matter the season, it’s hard to beat the quiet stillness and easy patience that goes with a spot of fishing. As the weather begins to cool on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, meaty squid, hungry pink snapper, and the annual salmon run offer ample opportunity for all anglers.
And with numerous headlands, beaches, and reefs to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding your patch — especially in winter.
Wherever you choose, remember this: leave nothing behind, never take more than you need, respect the space of other visitors, and always give due respect to the marine sanctuary zones. Stopping at the Visitor Centre to familiarise yourself with the guidelines of each zone will ensure the island’s vibrant underwater world continues to flourish and that there’ll be plenty of bounty left for future expeditions.
You can bring all your fishing gear from home and buy any extras you need (including bait) from the General Store in Thomson Bay and Geordie Bay.
For those with small fries in tow, banking on beginner’s luck, or who are in it for the serenity as much as anything else, pull up a deck chair – the jetty life is for you.
Thomson Bay jetties
The jetties in Thomson Bay are some of the most popular fishing spots for families. Schools of herring present just the right amount of challenge to young arms and if beginner’s luck fails you, you’re just a short stroll from the main settlement and an easy-won (but just as enjoyable) plate of fish and chips.
Staying overnight? Park yourselves on the jetty and try your luck at a spot of squidding. The lights of Hotel Jetty attract squid in large numbers and if nothing else, they’re amazing to watch.
When fishing on the island’s jetties, stay aware of who you’re sharing the space with. Other jetty users will be pulling boats alongside or swimming nearby, and it’s important to respect their space. Also, keep your gear tidy, as birds like pelicans often try to steal bait or catches and this can lead to dangerous entanglements in fishing lines.
One of the great advantages of fishing on an island? It’s never too difficult to find a shoreline sheltered from the wind. Just a short bike from the main settlement you’ll find Geordie Bay, one of the island’s most beautiful spots.
You’ll find plenty of herring here but there’s plenty of table fish on offer too — think skippy, tailor, silver bream, whiting, and even the occasional founder or flathead foraging on the bottom.
Once you’ve got all the gear and some idea, then you’re ready to get your feet wet on a more remote beach. Ride out towards West End and you’ll find Ricey Beach, where those with their eyes on a bigger prize set up camp. This stretch of beach offers all the spoils of Thomson and Geordie Bays as well as the elusive and highly sought-after mulloway.
Casting out from afar
Taking your fishing to the depths of the ocean? You can bring your own boat to the island, otherwise Boating West has a range of boats available for certified skippers to hire for a full or half-day. With the freedom of your own boat, you can head out into open waters and haul in impressive catches like western rock lobster.
Some of Western Australia’s most revered species abound in the prolific West End. Keen anglers here can take on breaksea cod, dhufish, pink snapper, samson fish, and world-class sport fish such as Spanish mackerel, yellowtail kingfish, and dolphin fish (mahi-mahi).
Just a few kilometres off West End, the continental shelf drops away and apex predators including several species of shark can be found… this adventure is not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced.
While here, be aware of the sanctuary zone that encompasses Radar Reef, Cape Vlamingh, and Cathedral Rocks. Shore-based fishing, with a rod, line, or hand-held line, is permitted along the platform of Radar Reef and you’re allowed to fish for pelagic fish (those found near the middle or surface of the ocean) from your boat.
Seafarers don’t need to drift beyond the continental shelf in search of a challenge – plenty of action can be found closer to the island. Schools of herring, squid and even salmon can be found in all of the bays, while sitting between Thomson Bay and Kingston Reef at Phillip Rock can be a particularly good hideout for King George whiting.
There’s no fishing permitted at Little Salmon Bay, so leave your rod behind when enjoying these waters.
Whatever your style or level of luck on the day, few activities are as rewarding as a day’s fishing. For many it’s more than a bit of fun, it’s like a tonic for the soul; a rare chance to remember you are part of this delicate – but beautiful – ecosystem.
For more information visit the Department of Fisheries and familiarise yourself with the recreational fishing rules.
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We look forward to welcoming you to Wadjemup / Rottnest Island soon.