Albany, about five hours’ drive south of Perth, is most famous for being the home of the last Australian whaling station. But talk to tackle store owner Jim Allen and you soon realise there is more to Albany than whales – like a salmon run where the fish average 5–6 kg and are up to 10 kg!
Top salmon spots include the Sand Patch, Cable Beach and the Salmon Holes. Some of these take some effort to reach, in particular the Salmon Holes and the Sand Patch. A WA friend, Mark Griffin, returned from the Sand Patch with a wonderful anecdote: ‘The Sand Patch is well known for its salmon and the 506 stairs you need to climb at the end of the day. When you are really tired [climbing the stairs] and start to lower your gaze, you can still see under the staircase traces of the old trail anglers used to climb. One old angler told me that blokes would start climbing with half a dozen big greenbacks and drop them one by one as they became more and more exhausted. He reckoned it all got a bit fragrant towards the end of the season.’
There are multiple bays around Albany. In Oyster Harbour, Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound you can expect to catch King George whiting, herring, silver trevally and salmon. Middleton Beach produces salmon, tailor, herring, whiting, leatherjacket and silver trevally. The King and Kalgan rivers that flow into Oyster Harbour will produce bream.
Anglers fishing offshore do not need to travel far to find productive reef systems. Coral reefs at the back of Michelmas and Breaksea islands are productive for snapper, blue morwong, dhufish, Samson fish, yellowtail kingfish and, for those willing to fish close to the rocks, blue groper. The Continental Shelf is about 26 miles out, but yellowfin tuna are often caught in close to King George Sound.
Boat ramps are located at Emu Point in Oyster Harbour and Princess Royal Harbour. Small boats can be launched at the Elizabeth St ramp and there is beach launching at Parry Beach and off Murray Rd in Frenchman Bay. Some anglers launch their boats with tractors from Cheynes Beach.
Another spot that can produce a few nice fish is Waychinicup, about 40 km east of Albany. The Waychinicup River widens into a beautiful inlet surrounded by granite hills and enters the sea through a narrow opening. The inlet is sheltered from the worst of the sea and wind. Expect whiting, flathead, trevally and leatherjacket. There is no defined boat ramp, so kayaks, canoes or small tinnies that you can manhandle easily are best.