Fishing & Boating


Fishing & Boating


As if the wine, waves and food of the Margaret River region weren’t already enough, the area also offers exceptional, and surprisingly accessible, fishing.

To give yourself the best chance of catching a highly prized West Australian Dhufish, join a fishing charter. If the big ones escape you, try Busselton Jetty for squid or crabs, and the sandy shores of Geographe Bay for herring or whiting. Don’t miss the famous annual salmon run off Dunsborough. Hire a dinghy or a houseboat and head out on the majestic Blackwood River.

Fishing & Boating Tours and Locations

Summer Fishing

If you’ve not noticed by now, summer is making it’s welcome return to Your Margaret River Region. Best distinguished by crispy clear mornings, long hot days and casual afternoons fanned by the refreshing sea breeze.

Generally, the ocean is also much more user friendly in the south west over summer, opening up even more of its beautiful beaches, coves and rivers for anyone keen to drop a line and try their luck at fishing.

As conditions change, so to do species of fish local fisho’s target. Though the bountiful herring and whiting are still readily available just offshore, other tasty fish can also be found with a bit of patience and a little local know how.

To help you along, we’ve asked some of the best in the business-who’ve actually made fishing their business-what and where they’d recommend.

Sandy Jensen, Legend Charters

What typically would you be fishing for in your area in summer?

Over summer we are targeting West Australian Dhufish (as loved by the internationally famous chef, Heston Blumenthal), Pink Snapper, Nannygai and Cod. We also jig for the big fighting Samson Fish.

With that in mind, any tips on what sort of equipment/bait would be best suited to catch said fish?

Mullet and Octopus are the best baits to use. We use Shimano Tyrnos gear and strong hooks are recommended.

Without giving away any secret spots…anywhere in particular you’d suggest dropping a line?

Smaller boats should stick to fishing in Geographe Bay; keep a look out for reef structures on your echo sounder. If heading out on the west coast, look for ledges and drop offs anywhere from around 40m depth. Be very careful heading out of Gracetown in any sort of swell.

What about visitors with kids, what would be a good, easy, safe place to catch something?

Busselton Jetty is a great place to fish with kids – catching Herring and Squid.

Best times/tides to go fish?

Best time to go fishing is early morning or on the sea breeze when they tend to bite.


Steve and Roz Cummings, Down South Camping and Outdoors

What typically would you be fishing for in your area in summer?

We target tailor, mulloway, herring, whiting and skipjack on the beaches. You’ll also find an abundance of whiting and herring at the mouth of the Blackwood River, generally congregating around clumps of seaweed.

Let’s not also forget our glorious inland waterways; in the upper reaches of the Blackwood there’s plenty of good sized black bream, again, generally found schooling around tree stumps or deeper drop offs.

With that in mind, any tips on what sort of equipment/bait would be best suited to catch said fish?

You’ll want smaller, whippy rods around the 6-8 foot mark and they can be used most species including herring, whiting and your skipjack. You’ll want to use prawns, squid, white bait for those. You can get away with the same for the black bream, but prawns and worms generally have a better strike rate.
If you want to target bigger species like tailor or mulloway from a beach, a slightly longer rod, around the 9-12 foot range will help as you need to cast larger sinkers baited with mullies or mullet a distance out into the surf.

Without giving away any secret spots…anywhere in particular you’d suggest dropping a line?

All beaches will have fish on it but they do tend to look for structure such as reef or weed to seek shelter or to get a feed in the case of larger predators like tailor. Some predatory fish like flathead will sit on the edge of drop-offs and ambush prey so you need to look at a beach and find the gutters where deeper water will be heading onto shallower sections, or reef areas that have deeper water near it. Black bream will tend to hide amongst tree branches in the river, but will head out on the flats to feed on worms, shellfish etc.

In the Margaret River area we are lucky in having different areas for different wind situations – Augusta, the west coast and the Dunsborough/ Busselton coast – all with the different species and all with their own features. It’s always best to look at the weather charts to determine wind strength and direction, tide times and swell. If you can get days with rising or falling tides coinciding with sunrise or sunset, then that can be optimum fishing but having said that, we have had some great bites in the middle of the day. Definitely look at the swell charts as there are some areas that you need to stay away from if you are not experienced in rock fishing. Make sure you go to your local tackle shop for advise and any tackle you need.

What about visitors with kids, what would be a good, easy, safe place to catch something?

The beaches at Colourpatch in Augusta right next to the rivermouth, the new boat marina in Augusta, Hamelin Bay, Gnarabup beach, Gracetown, Smiths beach, Meelup and the stretch of beach leading into Busselton including Monaghans are all good places to teach your kids about fishing.

Or you can join a Recfishwest fishing clinic go to for more details.

Best times/tides to go fish?

Early morning, late evening are your best bets, but as the old saying goes, the best time to go fishing is the minute that you can!


Paul Szczpior, All Sea Charters, Busselton

What typically would you be fishing for in your area in summer?

Given that we are often fishing a distance out to sea, we tend towards species like dhufish, nannygai, pink snapper, break sea cod, kingfish and Samson fish.

There’s an incredible array of fish out there though and it’s another reminder why this coast is one of the best in the world.

With that in mind, any tips on what sort of equipment/bait would be best suited to catch said fish?

Again, we tend towards a heavier rod and tackle given what we are chasing out there, bait wise it’s squid and mullet with the occasional lure thrown in for good measure. In that respect, it’s not dissimilar to what you be using off the beach.

Without giving away any secret spots…anywhere in particular you’d suggest dropping a line?

Well, unless you’re adequately equipped for it, it’s best not to head out to sea on a whim, but if you are, there’s an endless amount of rock setups out there. Most fish finders will be able to point you in the right direction.

What about visitors with kids, what would be a good, easy, safe place to catch something?

Busselton Jetty never fails to disappoint, as does the foreshore either side of it. Perhaps the best spots though are up around Dunsborough and Eagle Bay if nothing else but for the beautiful drive. You have spots like Meelup, Castle Rock, Point Piquet, Bunker Bay and Eagle Bay itself. They’re all beautiful, easily accessible and nice and safe unless the swell is massive, which is a rarity in summer.

Best times/tides to go fish?

Early to mid-morning is considered the best, generally to avoid the sea breeze but some of those spots along Dunsborough aren’t usually too effected by the stiff southerlies so they’re generally fine for most of the day.


Justin Turner, Access Fishing

What typically would you be fishing for in your area in summer?

During summer there are good numbers of Herring, Tailor, Mulloway, Garfish, and Whiting all available from shore. Offshore the range of fish available is huge. Species such as West Australian Dhufish, Snapper and Baldchin Groper are all common catches. During summer the warm water flushing down the coast also brings palagic species such as Spanish Mackerel, Tuna and the occasional Billfish. Summer also brings Blue swimmer crabs in Geographe bay and Western Rock Lobsters are  available around Cape Naturaliste and further south.  And of course, don’t forget the iconic South West fresh water Marron which opens in January (check here for details).

With that in mind, any tips on what sort of equipment/bait would be best suited to catch said fish?

When fishing from shore it is best to stick to basic light spin tackle in Geographe Bay. The best bait would be Coral Prawns, Worms or Squid for most species except Tailor and Mulloway. These two like a well presented West Australian Mulie as bait. Live baits also work well for these two. Crabs respond well to nets baited with spleen or fish frames and rock lobster love salmon as a bait for the pots.
Dhufish, Snapper and Groper like Squid and Occy baits as well as vertical jigs and heavy soft plastic lures.

As far as hooking into a pelagic or two, there are plenty of great lures on the market to target these fish. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities to drag a lure.

Marron will respond to all sorts of baits in drop nets. Make sure you check with the fisheries department information on where and how to fish for these delicacies. Some waters are snare only fishing.

Without giving away any secret spots…anywhere in particular you’d suggest dropping a line?

Almost all the beaches in Geographe Bay are ideal beach fishing spots during the summer months, especially in the afternoon when the summer South Westerly comes in and provides ideal fishing conditions .If you have a boat, try out in Geographe Bay around the new artificial reefs for a good starting point. When the swell is low, summer is a great time to drop a line on one of the many exposed West Coast beaches.

Best times/tides to go fish?

The best time to go beach fishing in Geographe Bay is definitely the afternoon.  Tides can have an effect but not that much. If you can, try and fish the incoming tide and avoid dead low tide.

Boat fishing offshore, whenever the winds are low or moderate south direction and early morning seems to produce the most.

Overall though the more time spent fishing the more success you’re likely to have. We are very lucky here in the Margaret River region that there is always somewhere to fish no matter the weather, tide, or time of day.

Winter Fishing

It’s also this time of year those areas not exposed to large swells, such as Busselton and Augusta, come into their own.

Busselton of course is famous for its jetty, which is almost two kilometres long and located smack bang in the centre of town. But on any given day, you’ll spot anglers fishing along its length or the beautiful beach either side of it.

Assuming you’re chasing whiting (and if you’ve ever tasted one, you’ll will be) the local tip seems to be a double hook rig, baited with a prawn on one and a squid tentacle on the other. Of course, as with all fishing, luck has a lot to do with it, but some anglers also like to stack the odds in their favour by berleying up the water with pre-mixed pellets or breadcrumbs.

Should you find yourself on the jetty in the early hours or dusk, it’s also worth throwing out a squid jig for the perfect accompaniment to a plate of whiting and glass of semi sauvignon blanc. Again, like whiting, there is a bit of luck involved, but a handy tip is luring the squid closer to the jetty with a baited hook (usually mullet) then casting a squid jig towards it.

It’s easier still at night, simply shine a bright light towards the water and the squid will swarm towards it. Once hooked, slowly reel the squid in before scooping it out with a net, taking care to keep its tail directed away from you. Though small they are capable of squirting ink quite a distance, which is always funny to see…assuming it’s not headed in your direction.

Heading out towards Dunsborough are countless other beaches and coves protected from winter’s wrath and it’s simply a matter of picking one to your liking. Meelup, Castle Rock and Bunker Bay are spectacular spots with ample opportunities to cast a line, sit back and take in the view while waiting for a strike.

Again, whiting, herring and skippy are the predominate species during winter. Heading down the coast the winter swell comes into play, making beach fishing a bit tricky. Those in the know will strike when the ocean is flat, or make use of two other jetties, one in Gracetown and another at Gnarabup.

Gnarabup also is a great place to target herring, which are prolific in numbers this time of year. While not as good eating as whiting, herring are a great fish to catch for all ages. They put up a good fight and can easily be found schooling around clumps of seaweed. There is quite a knack for catching herring but a lot of it has to do with the rig you use. To save time, pre made rigs, specific for herring, can be bought at most petrol stations or tackle stores in the region, but most anglers tend towards using a float and a long shanked hook partially covered with a small piece of red straw. Soft plastic or spinning lures that mimic baitfish are another alternative. Either way, simply cast out beyond where you think the school is and retrieves at a medium to fast pace then back off for a few seconds before repeating.

But for winter, it’s hard pressed to beat Augusta as the ideal fishing location. The easiest spot to get a good feed is along the Blackwood River as it opens up to the Southern Ocean. The grassy banks offer up another perfect location to cast a line, sit back and soak it all in. Closer to the ocean are an abundance of herring and beautiful plump whiting (King George and Yellowfin), while further up the river good sized black bream can be caught.

The trick to catching whiting is, oddly enough, good bait. Tend towards locally bought squid, sand or blood worms or river prawns threaded onto a long shank hook. Most anglers favour a light rod and line with a fairly small sinker to get the bait to the bottom. From there, it’s a matter of waiting for that wonderful feeling of a fish nibbling at the end of the line, giving it a few seconds and giving a measured jerk before bringing the fish to shore.

Most local anglers have a trick or two up their sleeves and are more than happy to share some of them (there’s plenty more of tricks up those sleeves).


Crayfish, the local currency that keeps the people living in the Margaret River Region well fed. If you really want to make an impression at any BBQ you might be invited to while in the Margaret River region, showing up with a couple of freshly caught crayfish never disappoints.

Fishing for cray requires a licence, easily obtained online via The Department of Fisheries website, but summertime is the perfect opportunity to have a crack at catching, and cooking, one.

Dino Adrian is one of the regions best surfers and like many big wave riders, he also uses his time underwater looking for crayfish as a way of keeping fit and extending his breath holding capabilities.

Dino, without giving away your secret spots, where’s a good place to look for crayfish?

That depends on how far you want to go really, you can head way out to sea or just off the beach at Gnarabup. What you want to look for are little rocky outcrops that have shelves or small caves, you’ll generally find them lurking in those. Everyone has a theory about the best time to go, but I’ve never paid much attention to that, I just go when I can.

They’re quite a flighty critter, how does one go about catching them?

You can use a pot, but to do it properly, you’ll need a cray snare. My trick is to be ready before you dive down to look, meaning, you should be prepared to stay down if you see them. They are easily spooked so quite often if you go down and see one then go back up for air, they’ll be gone by the time you get back up.
Once you spot one though, gently get the open loop of the snare just behind them and slowly bring it around its tail, or if you’re lucky the cray will walk backwards and you just clamp down on it.

And you use your time looking for them as a way of training for surfing and big waves?

For sure. When you’re in the moment you tend to forget you’re underwater so that helps you relax and extend your breath holding capacity, which translates, pretty well to being held down by a solid wave. Depending on how far out you go, the actual act of crayfishing also requires quite a bit of swimming so that’s as good a form as exercise as any.

And cooking them?

Again, everyone has a theory, but I tend to keep it pretty simple. Cut them in half, throw a bit of butter and garlic in there and throw them on the BBQ with the lid down ‘till the meat goes nice and white. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll shred a bit of the meat and mix it in with a pasta sauce. You definitely get your money’s worth out of a couple crays though, they taste good hot or cold.

And best served with?

Myself, I like them with either a beer or nice red but you’ll often be cooking them at the end of the day while the sun is going down so they’re perfect with anything really. They’re a pretty social thing too, perfect for BBQ’s with some friends. They also act as a local currency here too, you’re forever “swapping a couple crays” for all sorts of things. Everybody loves a good cray.

Always remember to check your size and bag limits, all information can be found at

Insiders’ Information

Make the most of your holiday with our tips and tools

Water Sport Lessons & Hire

Paddling, kayaking, fishing, surfing… we have everything you need to get started!

Leisure & Family

There are so many family-friendly things to do in Your Margaret River Region. See our full list of activities.

Restaurants & Cafes

Reward yourself with a great meal after your wildflower walk. Search our restaurants and cafes.


Contact Your Margaret River Region experts 7 days per week. Email or call (08) 9780 5911.