A dolphin fish caught in Perth, Steve Cooper

The Swan River produces many species, including bream, mulloway, herring, tailor, tarwhine, silver trevally, Samson fish and flathead. This is a year- round fishery for the much sought bream. In summer the bream run upstream as far as Caversham in the Swan Valley. In winter the best fishing is in the estuary, and the jetty piles downstream of the Causeway, Freshwater Bay and Mossman Bay. However, huge numbers of toadfish mean that fishing with soft plastic lures is an expensive exercise. Most anglers prefer to fish bait or work hard- body lures and hope to avoid the toadfish. The Canning River also fishes well for bream.

The Leeuwin boat ramp, just upriver from Fremantle, is a good area for fly-fishing according to Mark Griffin, who explained that the river has a large flat on the eastern side, which allows for good saltwater fly-fishing on the flats and over the drop-off.

Mark found a successful method was to cast a Crazy Charlie fly upriver to deeper water and allow the tide to drag the fly along the side of the channel before starting a slow jerky retrieve. As the fly is brought up and over the edge of the channel into the shallower water it consistently produced flathead and even flounder.

However, in describing this spot, Mark warned me to watch for dolphins. ‘That dorsal fin can cause momentary heart failure when wading,’ he said. ‘One surfaced less than a rod-length from me and I was convinced a bull shark was about to end my fishing days.’

Mulloway are in the Swan River most of the year and favourite locations for them are Canning, Narrows and Causeway bridges. Riverside Dr, near the brewery, is another area where mulloway are often caught.

Early summer sees tailor along the beaches and in the Swan and Canning rivers. Big tailor run in winter and are caught in the estuary, but more so from the beaches. North and South moles at Fremantle are popular in summer with anglers chasing oriental bonito. In June and July, when the nor-westerlies blow, snapper to 8 kg can be caught. Salmon schools run in large numbers March–May and these fish are caught from the beaches and the moles at Fremantle.

Cockburn Sound, south of Perth, is an extraordinary snapper fishery that fishes best September– December. A few years back I spoke to Lou Rummer, who fishes for snapper in and just outside Cockburn Sound. The sound is about 5 km wide and 9 km long, and Lou said that at any one time there could be up to 200 tonnes of snapper weighing 2–17 kg in the area. Snapper are caught in the sound most of the year, but there is a closed season to protect the breeding fish from mid-September through to the end of October. Top spots include Southwest Rocks, Barber Poles, D-9, Pinnacles and Sulphur Bay. Reef systems on the west side of Garden Island also carry good numbers of snapper.

A favourite with anglers heading offshore from Perth are the six Fish Attracting Devices (FADs) put in place during the summer. The FADs range from about 100 m deep out to 200 m and can be more than 50 km offshore. The most common species attracted to these devices is dolphinfish and these often appear in huge numbers. Details on the locations of the FADs, including  GPS marks, are available on the Perth Game Fishing Club website

Nearby Fishing Spots

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