Maybe it was the one that got away… Or the hot fish and chips you clutched on that freezing cold jetty? Perhaps the time you pulled up an old boot loaded with sand crabs? Or the ice cream that melted down your daughter’s hand as you helped her reel in a monster…
One thing’s certain, a day’s fishing can reward us with some of our best holiday memories, but if you (like us) can’t tell a sinker from a swivel, or a king tide from a kingfish, it’s tough to know where to start. Luckily, there’s plenty of great spots to dangle a line without too much gear or preparation, and for those of us with access to a boat – well, our world is your oyster… With over 400 kilometres of Southern Ocean frontage, our coastline is known for delivering some of the best hauls in the country. While hardcore boaties will wax on about our stellar reputation for deep sea fishing (including southern bluefin tuna and other BIG game), some of our best and most accessible fishing can be found off the beaches and jetties of our ocean-loving towns and villages.
Here's a few of our favourite fishing spots, working south from Adelaide…
Coorong National Park
Anyone that’s partial to surf fishing will tell you that Coorong National Park is pretty close to utopia – but access without a 4WD can still make the going tough for some. Nevertheless, if you’re into off-roading, these waters are teeming with mulloway (up to 30kg!), snapper and salmon - with a range of campsites and crossings providing access for short or multi-day sessions.
One of the better campsites is 42 Mile Crossing, which delivers handy access to the steep but stunning Ocean Beach, where large schools of fish are known to patrol the breakers, helping keen anglers pull in some seriously hefty hauls - including all of the above and more (think: bony bream, mullet and gummy sharks). Just be mindful of annual fishing closures – and always come prepared with the right sort of gear - you know, big rods, reels, BYO bait and tackle.
Like many of our great sea-faring towns, Kingston SE is home to a proud old jetty that’s seen its share of buckets and crab nets over the years - and if you’re here with the family in tow it’s a superb spot to dangle a line with the kids, especially as the sun’s setting over the ocean. Enjoy a little dusk fishing session (or maybe more depending on your little ones’ stamina), with a year-round smorgasbord of squid, tommies, whiting, garfish, mullet, flathead and trevally to fill those hungry tummies.
The beach in front of the Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park is another great spot for the amateur angler, and in the warmer months from October to April/May a prime spot to let the kids run wild while you’re landing dinner – usually a feast of mullet, flathead and the occasional whiting. With glistening white sands stretching all the way to Cape Jaffa, you’ll find a few spots offer 2WD beach access, making life nice and easy when the tides are right.
More serious anglers are also well catered for in these waters, with some pretty massive hauls coming off Long Beach and The Granites between Kingston SE and Coorong National Park, while those with a boat will get direct access to some of the finest catches in the country – just be mindful that sand movement can mean availability of local ramps can be a little touch and go, so it’s best calling a local before hauling your rig down.
Maria Creek boat ramp has good facilities and if you hug the coastline from here to Cape Jaffa you’ll find tight lines just about the whole way along. Those with a 4WD can also launch small boats straight off the sand nearly anywhere between Threadgold and Pinks beaches, while those with a bigger boat are best launching at Cape Jaffa Marina, where you’ll get access to a big, deep channel that’s been known to see schools of southern bluefin tuna running at the right time. If you’re just here to watch the boats go in and out, it’s also worth casually dropping a line in The Anchorage, where rock walls attract a decent population of whiting, mullet, salmon, garfish, tommies, squid and trevally. With good protection from the stiff Southern Ocean breeze, it’s a good spot to take the kids, with a couple of man-made beaches to dip your toes in between casts.
Just further south, the waters around Wrights Bay are literally teeming with fish that can easily be accessed by casting a line from the sand or launching a boat from the bay. As well as a prolific population of snapper, mullet and salmon, you can expect to catch some pretty gigantic mulloway over the summer months.
Robe & Surrounds
In Robe, the iconic Long Beach sits right on the edge of town, and with 14-kilometres of glistening white sand, finding a spot to cast off the sand is as easy as driving it in your car (just be mindful of high tides and soft sand, okay?). Generally speaking, the area from 3rd ramp to Boatswain Point is the best bet to land yourself some dinner, with whiting, flathead, salmon, mullet, garfish and the odd snapper all on the daily menu. Both Back Beach and West Beach also hold their own for surf fishing, while the Breakwater and jetty offer peaceful land-based alternatives to the sand.
Boaties have all the protection of the world-class Lake Butler Marina, with over 100 recreational berths, a dual lane ramp and superb onsite facilities. On any given day you’ll find a fleet of vessels parked and ready to set sail for lobster, crayfish, shark and salmon – and it’s a great spot to throw out a line and hook a bream or two as they potter around the pylons.
If you’re setting sail in your trusty rig, you’ll find the protected waters around Guichen Bay produce a smorgasbord of fish (particularly from October to May), with gummy shark, big King George whiting, flathead and snapper being the likely targets. A little further out you’ll also hook yourself a pretty good variety of sharks, from threshers and bronze whalers to Mako and blue sharks, as well as the occasional southern bluefin tuna (early autumn). If you’re armed with an electric reel, the deep waters off the shelf will also deliver anything from blue eye and hapuku to gemfish, grenadier, ling and knife jaw, among others.
Of course, when the wind starts whipping up white caps, having a back-up plan to your well-planned day of boat and beach fishing is always a good idea. It’s at these times the ever-popular Jumbo’s Landing at Lake Battye really comes into its own, and if you’re here with kids it’s great alternative to the wild waters beyond, with some good sized bream pulled in around dawn and dusk (Pub Lake and Fox’s Lake are also top spots to land a local). Pop into Robe Auto and Marine for the lowdown on what’s biting before grabbing some bait and tackle.
If you’ve got your 4WD handy, just out of town Little Dip Conservation Park is a surf angler’s paradise, with giant dunes, lakes and thick coastal scrub providing a stunning backdrop to some seriously good surf and rock fishing. If you’re looking for gigantic mulloway, this is one place you’re most likely to find it – as well as salmon, flathead and snapper. Try the reef and rip holes around Bishops Pate and straight off the beach or rocks at Domaschenz Beach for a good chance of success. Just remember to pay attention to the soft sand and stick to the tracks to avoid getting stuck!
Of course, this is Robe, so it almost goes without saying that crayfish (Southern Rock Lobster) is usually the talk of the town – and for good reason! With the annual season open from November to the end of May and bag limits of four crayfish per day per person, recreational anglers are allowed up to two registered cray pots or drop nets – but you’ll need a permit from Primary Industries and Resources first. If you’re serious about landing one for your lunch table, come prepared with a decent boat and depth sounder to look for likely hiding spots (usually cracks and crevices in reefs), while divers and snorkelers will also enjoy the chase down under.
Beachport to Southend
Heading south from Robe, the stunning Nora Creina Bay is equipped with a boat ramp (with more in Beachport and Southend), while beach anglers casting a line will score some killer catches right off the sand (FYI - the bay’s also full of crayfish and lobster if you’re hungry – just remember to follow the rules).
Oh, and if you’ve been waiting for the ultimate jetty to drop a line in, you’ll definitely find it in Beachport! This beauty is one of the longest in South Australia, reaching out like a giant outstretched hand into the pristine waters of Rivoli Bay. Odds are, you won’t be alone out there, with locals and visitors alike drawn like baitfish to a social mecca that’s graced photo albums for generations. With scores of salmon, garfish (dabbing for them by boat is also popular), tommies, whiting and trevally waiting for those that play the tides right, sticking around for sunset is always a must.
Just out of town along the Bowman Scenic Drive, the very aptly named Salmon Hole is a magnet for beach fishing all year-round, making it another firm local favourite. Fringed by 20-metre-high dunes that tower over impossibly perfect waters, you’ll enjoy tight lines here any time of year, with scores of Salmon Trout (among other species) running through the channel. Not far along, you’ll also find Post Office Rock ('Posties' to locals) is home to a glorious 300-metre-long beach that's prime for casting out a line or two for generous rewards.
From Beachport to Southend you can try your hand at surf fishing, with a stellar line up of beaches stretching right around Rivoli Bay. Many of these are 4WD access only, but there’s quite a number you can tackle in a 2WD – just be prepared for a little walk down to the sand. At the end of the line, you’ll find Southend Jetty a great spot to set up, with plenty of extra entertainment as the cray boats steam in during their annual harvest (October to May).
Oh, and parents… if you happen to be in the area over April school holidays, the week-long Rivoli Bay Jetties Junior Fishing Competition is a prime opportunity for little nippers (aged 5 to 17 years) to land themselves a prize, with bonus workshops on key topics such as how to cast, how to bait a hook, how to handle tackle and general fishing safety.
Canunda National Park to Carpenter Rocks
Heading south it’s 4WD territory, and off-roaders will relish powering their way through the dunes along the soft sands of Geltwood Beach (double-check tide times and tyre pressure first). Extending down from Little Rock, the unbroken beauty of Canunda Beach runs for over 16km, with its wild and untamed swells providing a veritable fisherman’s feast, with salmon, sharks and mulloway all on the daily menu from here to Cape Banks.
It’s also only a short hop over to Carpenter Rocks, where boaties will find the carpark and ramp at the end of a sandy track - before launching for big game beyond the outside reefs.
If you’re stuck to the land, casting a line straight off Bucks Bay and the headlands will still land you a decent feed of Australian salmon, King George whiting, squid, tommy ruff, garfish and silver trevally.
Okay Captain Neptune, now it’s really time to bait up some hooks! Not only is Port MacDonnell a prime spot to get off grid with the family, these are also some of the most productive waters in the Southern Ocean, so it’s time to get your game on.
Depending on the season, there’s plenty of sport off the beach, while boaties can expect to pull in anything from tuna and albacore to snapper, sharks, ling, trevally and more. And hey, with ‘Port Mac’ being home to South Australia’s largest lobster fishing fleet, you might even try a pot or two for an extra special dinner (just remember the rules, alright?).
If you’re here with the kids and keen to hang a line over the jetty, this is also the spot to do it, with the breakwater also providing an easy land-based option. Off both locations, you can expect good hauls of salmon, King George whiting, squid, tommy ruff and garfish, among plenty of others.
Of course, if you’re really looking to fill your fisherman’s basket with all the best stuff, you’re going to need some local knowledge, and Port MacDonnell is the perfect spot to jump on a fishing charter and return home as a hero! Hop on board with Extreme Marine Charters, Port MacDonnell Fishing Charters or Southerly Fishing Charters who’ll take you to where they’re biting at any time of year.
Brown Bay to Donovans
As you make your way towards the Victorian border, Brown Bay shines like some sort of surf fishing wonderland on the end of Mother Nature’s hook. After hitting the car park, follow the 4WD track down onto the sand, where you’ll score direct access to two powder-white beaches that are chock-full of King George whiting, squid, tommy ruff, garfish, silver trevally, and hefty Australian salmon.
Heading back inland and further east, you’ll find the tiny hamlet of Donovans is a genuine freshwater revelation, with an eclectic collection of shacks perched by the water’s edge and a floating jetty that craves a fishing bucket, esky and a deck chair! This estuarine beauty receives tidal pulses from the Southern Ocean twice daily, with The Lower Glenelg National Park straddling both inland wilderness and the Southern Ocean downstream. While soaking in all that serenity, expect a few nibbles from the mulloway, bream, estuary perch and mullet that all call these waters home.
Bag limits, licensing and tackle
Let’s face it. There’s no point dangling your line if the fish aren’t biting – and whatever gear you’re using may just be the difference between you filling that esky with fish or filling your photo album with failures!
It’s always worth calling in to see the local experts, and if you’re also spending time in Mount Gambier, you’ll be well and truly covered (head to Valley Lake to pull a few carp while you’re here, by the way). A few fine locals that are only too happy to deck you out with the very best in bait, tackle and tips include Spot on Fishing and Tackle (who also deliver an up-to-date fishing report), BCF Mount Gambier, Aussie Disposals and BP Fishing Bait and Tackle Mount Gambier.
Oh, and let’s do the right thing okay? While a recreational fishing license isn’t required in South Australia, it’s always important to follow the rules when it comes to size, bag and boat limits, seasonal closures, protected species, aquatic reserves and marine parks. Head over to SA Primary Industries for a run-through of everything you need to know about recreational fishing - before you go!
Looking for more fishing advice? The Limestone Coast has friendly Visitor Servicing experts across the Region's Visitor Centres so give them a call or visit in person for the latest in the moment fishing advice. Oh, and of course, if you just need a great seafood dinner without all the hassle of catching your own, check out our Ultimate Seafood Experiences in the Limestone Coast article here!