Located on the east side of the Yorke Peninsula, Ardrossan is bountiful water just 150 km west of Adelaide, so is a popular weekend fishing destination. Looking out on the long pier at Ardrossan, it’s striking how much equipment anglers take with them. Some have so much tackle that trolleys are needed to cart tackle boxes, rods, reels, bait and crab nets.
Everyone seems to have a crab drop net and a selection of squid jigs. It’s no wonder – the pier has a big reputation for producing both blue swimmer crabs and squid in good numbers. It also produces school mulloway to about 90 cm, salmon, King George whiting, Tommy ruff (Australian herring) and mullet.
Blue swimmer crabs are tasty and any month containing an “R” is regarded as a crabbing month, especially January–April. Not everyone works a drop net though. Another method used for crabbing is raking, where an angler will wade and rake sandy patches. As the rake goes over the top of a crab, it sticks its claws out and gives away its hiding place. On seeing this, the angler carefully scoops the crab out. The best crab-raking areas are to the north and south of town.
Boating anglers are well serviced with an excellent boat-launching facility adjacent to the bulk-loading jetty south of the fishing pier. During summer, anglers fishing near the pier have caught yellowtail kingfish to 20 kg.
Offshore fishing is mainly about snapper and King George whiting. The best-known snapper area is the Ardrossan Barge (GPS: S34.31.838, E138.03.675) which was created to keep anglers away from the historic Zanoni shipwreck, 1 nautical mile to the north. The steel barge is in about 16 m of water and fishes best November–February for snapper to 15 kg and the occasional large mulloway.
Keep your sounder switched on. The area is littered with sunken boats, officially created artificial reefs, and the decidedly less legal ‘drops’. A drop is what the locals call an artificial reef of their own making. It could be car bodies, piles of wood (including old boats) or refrigerators. These reefs are so good at attracting snapper that some commercial fishermen have been known to hire prawn trawlers to catch the ‘drops’ in their nets and move them to new locations.
King George whiting average 30–40 cm, and are caught closer to shore in about 4–6 m of water. Look for sandy bottom interspersed with weed or seagrass beds. You will catch squid over the same grounds. Some anglers prefer to wade the shallows and fish for silver whiting, which make ideal snapper bait.
There are half a dozen boat ramps further down the coast, including an excellent all-weather boat ramp at Stansbury and jetties at Stansbury and Edithburgh. The next pier suitable for fishing is at Port Vincent.