Western Australia Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jan 11, 2024 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Stretching right across a whopping third of Australia, The Wildflower State takes your breath away with its sheer size and diversity. It’s blessed with a 20,000-kilometre (12,500-mile) coastline, making it a fisho’s dream come true. Indeed, Western Australia fishing is as good as it gets.

A view towards a lighthouse atop a hill in Cape Range, Exmout, Western Australia on a clear day, with a beach and the ocean on the right of the image

Whenever you decide to explore the local waters, the rewards go toe-to-toe with the best fishing experiences around the world. However, locals say that chucking a line in WA is just as much about the trek as it is about the destination. 

In this guide, we’ll talk about what makes fishing in this region so special. You’ll learn what playgrounds you can explore as an angler, along with the area’s top catches, techniques, and seasonality. Let’s go!

Top Western Australia Fishing Targets

In Western Australia, different kinds of saltwater and freshwater fisheries are open to anglers of all ages and skill levels. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look and what to look for. What can you expect in the lakes and rivers, along the coastline, and far offshore? 

Saltwater Fishing

Stretching from Shark Bay to the Northern Territory, the Western Australian coastline is teeming with species like Sailfish, Amberjack, Cobia, and Black Marlin, to name a few. You have Perth – ‘the world’s most remote city’ – as a haven for rock fishing, and Exmouth as the prime spot for Bonefish. That’s not to mention King George Whiting and Flatheads in various estuaries and bays. Let’s take a closer look…

Bluefish

An elderly angler holds a Bluefish in his right hand after a successful cast into the surf in Western Australia on a cloudy day

Bluefish, also known as Tailor, are among the most aggressive and fast predators in the coastal waters of Western Australia. They live near the surface, hanging out in schools around cover like reefs, piers, and wrecks. Perth is perhaps the best spot to hook them, although you can also find them along the shore further south.

Tailor are opportunistic feeders and often leap out of the water when hooked. Which is pretty impressive, given the fact that they can grow to quite a large size – over 1 metre (3 feet) in length and 10 kilograms (22 pounds) in weight. 

Billfish

A man and a woman sitting on a fishing charter in Australia, holding a large Marlin caught fishing offshore on a sunny day, with the waters of the Pacific Ocean visible behind them
Photo courtesy of Get Out & About Whitsundays Fishing & Tours

Western Australia also offers some serious Billfish action. The local menu, particularly in prime spots like Exmouth, Dampier, and Broome, consists of Black and Blue Marlin, Sailfish and Swordfish. All these predators are highly prized for their size, speed, and strength. 

Marlin are the biggest of the gang, with some species reaching over 3 metres (10 feet) in length. Sailfish are not as large, but are among the fastest fish out there, reaching speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph). As for the mighty Swordfish, these nocturnal creators are among the most popular targets on overnight trips. 

Trevally

Three anglers on a fishing charter in Australia, each holding up a Giant Trevally, caught while offshore fishing on a sunny day, with the water visible behind them
Photo courtesy of Barra Private Tours

There are not one, but several Trevally species in Western Australia. Giant, Golden, Silver, and Bigeye Trevally stand out from the crowd, thanks to their impressive game qualities. 

Giant Trevallies – GTs, for short – can grow up to 170 centimetres (just over 5 feet) and weigh as much as 80 kilograms (176 pounds). These heavyweights live near reefs and atolls, while Golden Trevally are more prevalent inshore, around sandy and muddy bottoms, seagrass beds and coral reefs. These golden swimmers are smaller, weighing around 15 kilograms (33 pounds), similar to Silver and Bigeye Trevally. 

Freshwater Fishing 

In the north of Western Australia, freshwater fishing thrives in two of the finest lakes in the state, Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra. Anglers are spoiled with the local Silver Cobbler, a variant of Catfish, and the fan-favourite Barramundi

Head south, and you’ll find productive river and dam fishing. Prime spots like the Donnelly and Blackwood Rivers offer abundant Rainbow Trout. Meanwhile, the Redfin Perch, known globally as European Perch, is another popular catch, particularly in the Trout-rich waters of the Warren River.

Barramundi

An angler struggles over the side of a fishing boat, trying to lift a Barramundi he just caught out of the water
Photo courtesy of Obsession Fishing Safaris

Barramundi, locally known as Barra, hold a significant place in the country’s sportfishing scene, and Western Australia is no exception. Barras are a highly sought-after species, growing up to almost 2 metres (7 feet) long and weighing as much as 60 kilograms (132 pounds). 

These fish are truly extraordinary, and so are their migratory habits. Barramundi live in both fresh and saltwater environments, often shifting between the two. The WA region of Kimberley is particularly famed for its abundance of Barras, especially in Lake Argyle and the iconic Fitzroy River

Rainbow Trout 

A closeup of a Rainbow Trout in a fishing net, with a fly fishing reel laying next to it, snapped in the shallow river waters of Western Australia

Rainbow Trout were introduced to Australian waters from their native North American habitats. Over time, they’ve firmly established themselves in the local fishing scene and fly anglers’ hearts. Rainbows typically range from 30–40 centimetres (11–15 inches), although they can grow much larger. 

Rainbow Trout fishing in Western Australia is pretty strong, especially in the southwestern region. The Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre stocks the Harvey, Big Brook, and Waroona Dams, while you can also explore the clear, cool waters of Drakesbrook Weir and Logue Brook Dam

Redfin Perch

Redfin Perch – also known as English Perch or simply Redfin – are an invasive species introduced into Australia in the 1860s. Since then, they’ve made millions of anglers happy with their aggressive behaviour and taste for a wide palate of different lures. 

The southwest region is the best place to look for Redfin, especially in slow-moving or still waters, rivers, and dams. A unique feature of Redfin Perch fishing is that there are usually no bag or size limits imposed on them!

Where can I go fishing in Western Australia?

Derby: Your Gateway to the Gorges

A view across muddy waters towards a big, long, wooden fishing pier in Derby, Western Australia on a sunny day

Derby is Western Australia’s hidden gem, renowned for harbouring the nation’s largest tides. With tidal swings reaching up to 11 metres (about 36 feet), fishing in Derby becomes a thrilling challenge. 

For those keen on landing a Barramundi, spots like Yeeda Creek and the mighty Fitzroy River can prove to be real bonanzas. Travelling across the expansive sand flats encircling Derby uncovers a world of fishing opportunities. Just make sure to get some local advice before venturing off.

Boat fishing in Derby offers a unique adventure, with lure fishing during neap tides often bringing in a decent haul. Up north, you’ll find the intriguingly named Point Torment, accessible by an unsealed road but off-limits after heavy rain and tides over 9 metres (about 30 feet). 

Broome: The Pearl of the North

A view across a red rocky shoreline towards the Pacific Ocean in Broome, Western Australia on a sunny day

This isolated tourist hotspot shines as a pearl in Australia’s northern wilderness each winter. Broome is known for world-class fishing for Sailfish, flats fishing for Permit and Trevally, and creek hunting for Barramundi and Mangrove Jacks

Broome also provides numerous promising fishing spots teeming with potential catches of Queenfish, Cod, Bream, and Flathead

You can explore the stirring tides along Crab Creek Road or try your luck at False Crab Creek and Broome Jetty. Venture a little farther, and you’ll encounter less-trodden spots like Coconut Wells and Willie Creek. Gantheaume Point, Disaster Rock, Roebuck, and Jewie Holes also all promise fruitful fishing trips for boat anglers.

Perth: The City of Light

A view across the water towards the cityscape of Perth, Western Australia, at dusk, with the sky in numerous colours from purple to red

Known for its remarkable weather and picturesque beaches, Perth is shaped by the powerful Swan River and its seasonal fishing spots. Perth is also influenced by the Leeuwin, a warm ocean current that ushers in tropical fish down Australia’s west coast. The city’s fishing scene shifts as the current cools, welcoming Australian Salmon into Swan River and Perth’s beaches. 

Herring and Mahi Mahi are available offshore, in spots near Two Rocks, Ocean Reef Marina, Cockburn Sound, and Rottnest Island. Plus, the Rockingham region consistently yields Pink Snapper, although it can get quite busy. 

Kimberley Region: Australia’s Wild West

A view along the coastline in Kimberly Region, Western Australia, with red rocks on the left of the image and the Pacific Ocean in Coral Bay on the right on a clear day

Occupying an immense 424,517 square kilometres (164,286 square miles) to the north of the Pilbara region and west of the Northern Territory is a diverse and sprawling fishing haven. Home to the legendary Barramundi (some reaching over a metre long (over 3 feet)), it offers epic angling experiences.

The area’s creek systems are bustling with an array of species, from Threadfin Salmon to Mangrove Jack, Trevally, and Queenfish. Mud Crab hunting adds a dash of adventure whenever the conditions allow, while venturing offshore unveils a whole new level of fishing opportunities. 

Top WA Fishing Spots

But that’s not all. While we’ve spoken about the regions, here’s our breakdown of the best locations to wet your line in Western Australia:

  • Exmouth. An hour and 45-minute flight or two-day drive from Perth, Exmouth is known for its awesome game fishing charters. One of its key attractions is the Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage Site and the world’s largest fringing reef. 
  • Shark Bay. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shark Bay is famous for its natural beauty, biodiversity, and unique ecology. The region offers a World Heritage Drive and great pelagic fishing.
  • Montebello Island. This archipelago, consisting of 174 small islands, offers an exciting array of fishing opportunities, including Crayfish, Marlin, Red Emperor, Coral Trout, and Sailfish, to name a few.
  • Rottnest Island. Just a short ride from the mainland, Rottnest Island is a car-free reserve known for its diverse fishing for Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Swordfish. You can reach it via ferry, helicopter, air taxi, or boat.
  • Busselton Jetty. Located 3 hours south of Perth, this spot features the world’s second-longest jetty. It offers a variety of fish species to target, including Mulloway, Samson. and seasonal Salmon, as well as Crabs and Squid.
  • Blackwood River. Flowing through Wagin, this major river is home to Giant Herring, Milkfish and Whiting, along with Bream and Trout upstream. In addition to fishing, you can enjoy birding, kayaking, and canoeing.
  • Kalgan River, Albany. 4.5 hours south of Perth, the Kalgan River is renowned for fishing for Black Bream, Skippy, Herring, and Whiting. 

Western Australia Fishing Techniques

A view out from the back of fishing charter in Western Australia towards the open blue waters, with three trolling lines set up, trailing behind the boat, with the boat's wake visible, too, on a clear day

Mastering various fishing techniques in Western Australia enriches your angling experience, whether it’s targeting Whiting in the shallows or hunting Marlin in the deep. Surfcasting, a beach angler favourite, involves casting a baited line into the surf for species like Tailor and Mulloway. 

Baitcasting, requiring a specialised rod and reel setup, lures in predatory species like Barramundi and Mangrove Jack in estuaries and river systems. Offshore fishos can enjoy the thrill of deep-sea fishing for Red Emperor and Spanish Mackerel on Western Australia’s continental shelf.

Fly fishing is typically reserved for Trout in tranquil freshwater systems. But Exmouth, with its sandy flats teeming with Bonefish and Golden Trevally, is a fly angler’s paradise, too. Finally, spearfishing, for those seeking an adrenaline rush, offers an immersive experience in the shallows and reefs. With a speargun or hand spear, it’s a sustainable way to target species like Crayfish and Spanish Mackerel.

Western Australia Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring the state flag of Western Australia along with text that says "Western Australia Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background

When planning a fishing trip in Western Australia, you’ll need to be savvy about local conditions, tides, and water temperatures. Always check the current regulations for bag limits, size restrictions, and seasonal closures for specific species and areas. A top tip is to hire a local skipper or guide who’ll supply you with all the necessary information. 

For instance, there are no limits applied when fishing for Redfin Perch, but there are closed seasons for Barramundi. The typical Barra season extends from February to October, giving you plenty of time to try your luck.

In fact, each season offers something unique. Summer (December to February) is top-notch for catching pelagic species offshore and reeling in Whiting and Flathead in the estuaries. Come autumn (March–May), you’ll find the temperatures start to cool down, and Spanish Mackerel and Tuna begin to bite. This period also sees the annual Salmon run.

Winter (June–August) opens up fantastic beach fishing along the south coast for species like Herring, Skippy, and Tailor. Up north, you can target Threadfin Salmon and Barra. Lastly, spring (September–November) sees many species become more active. You can target Pink Snapper and Jewfish offshore, and land species like Tailor and Flathead in the estuaries. 

Western Australia Fishing F.A.Qs

Western Australia: Where Land Meets Sea

A view through a hole in a red rock towards the Murchison River in Western Australia, winding its way through barren countryside on a clear day

There’s a myriad of adventures that Western Australia fishing has to offer. From the tranquil serenity of freshwater fishing to the adrenaline-pumping thrill of battling a massive Marlin offshore, WA has it all. You can try a new experience almost every day. All you have to do is pack your tackle, ready your rod, and head out!

Have you ever experienced Western Australia fishing? What’s your favourite target? What about the best spot? Let us know in the comments below!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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