July 23, 2024

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South Australia fishing: The Complete Guide

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Fishing in South Australia is like opening a treasure chest of aquatic opportunities. The territory’s extensive coastline, numerous rivers, and myriad of lakes make it a premier destination for anglers from around the globe. With an array of fish species as diverse as its landscapes, South Australia offers a unique angling experience at every cast.

South Australia’s geography matches its diverse aquatic life. This is a place where you can cast a line beneath the shadows of ancient limestone cliffs one day and chase after Murray Cod in a tranquil river the next.

So without further ado, let’s delve into the heart of South Australia’s fishing scene. We’ll uncover hidden gems so you get to learn the tricks of the trade in this angler’s paradise. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to grab your rod and get on the water!

Top South Australia Fish Species

There’s no shortage of headline species to chase in South Australia. The various productive waters are teeming with a variety of exciting fish, each presenting its own rewards. Let’s dive into the specifics of some of the most sought-after species, in no particular order…

Murray Cod

A man in a baseball cap, sunglasses, and life vest holding a Murray Cod aboard a fishing boat in a river in Australia on a cloudy day with the shoreline visible behind him across the water
Photo courtesy of Northern Rivers Sportfishing – West

Murray Cod are an iconic species in this part of the world. It’s as simple as that. And South Australia’s rivers offer a prime habitat for these freshwater giants. And we mean giants. The average catch weighs in at around 10–15 kilograms (22–33 pounds), though Cod over 30 kilos (66 pounds) aren’t unheard of.

These fish are apex predators, feeding on a variety of smaller fish, crustaceans, and even birds! They’re powerful and, when hooked, they’ll head straight for the nearest cover. Make sure to bring robust gear and exert maximum pressure to turn the fish’s head and steer them away from snags.

The Murray River and its tributaries are go-to spots for targeting these beasts, especially the Riverland region with its backwaters and creeks. Locals usually cast lures close to these structures during the warmer months, with spinnerbaits, hard bodies, and surface lures all getting the nod. 

Australian Salmon

A closeup of a pile of Australian salmon laid on a table after a successful fishing trip

Another native to these parts, Australian Salmon are a favourite among South Australian anglers, prized for their aggressive takes and spirited fights. These fish are abundant along the coastline, with schools often found patrolling beaches, rocky headlands, and estuary mouths.

On average, these fish range between 2–4 kilograms (4.4–8.8 pounds), though finding a larger Salmon is certainly possible. Australian Salmon are a social species, often found in large schools, especially during their winter migration. This makes for exciting fishing, as when one fish strikes, others are likely to follow.

Anglers can hunt for Australian Salmon both from shore or a boat, with key spots including the Yorke, Eyre, and Fleurieu Peninsulas.


Two anglers aboard a fishing charter somewhere in Australia holding a large Mulloway (aka Jewfish) with the open ocean waters visible behind them
Photo courtesy of Barra / Blue Fishing Charters

Back to the realm of monster fish, and Mulloway (aka Jewfish) are another local species known for their size and strength. Mulloway can grow over 30 kilograms (66 pounds), with an average size of around 5–10 kilos (11–22 pounds). They live everywhere from coastal beaches and rocky headlands to estuaries and rivers, meaning there’s always a chance of hooking one. 

Live baiting with mullet, squid, or pilchards is a popular method for targeting Mulloway, as are casting or trolling large lures. The Coorong, the Murray Mouth, and the waters around Kangaroo Island are go-to spots, with night-time trips particularly productive. Gear up with strong rods and reels, as Mulloway are known for their powerful runs and stamina.

Mulloway are somewhat enigmatic, adding to their appeal among anglers. They’re known to be finicky at times but, when they’re biting, they provide an exciting challenge. Patience and persistence are key!

Pink Snapper

A smiling man aboard a fishing charter in South Australia holding a Pink Snapper by his fishing line with the ocean visible behind him
Photo courtesy of Awesome SA Charters

We can’t talk about saltwater fishing anywhere in Australia without mentioning Pink Snapper. Known for their striking appearance, strong fights, and exceptionally tasty meat, these fish have a beautiful pinkish body (hence the name), with large, powerful tails. These aid in their fast and furious runs when hooked.

They hang out both in inshore and offshore waters and average around 2–4 kilograms (4.4–8.8 pounds), with the potential to reach up to 10 kilos (22 pounds). Bait fishing with squid, octopus, or pilchards is popular, as well as jigging with soft plastics or metal jigs around offshore reefs and structures. The key to success is to fish near the bottom where Pink Snapper tend to feed. Keep in mind that Pink Snapper are pretty shy, so you’ll want to be patient again. 


A group of anglers standing round a table aboard a fishing charter back at the dock, each holding a Tuna they caught during their trip on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Awesome SA Charters

Heading further offshore and there’s always a chance of running into a Tuna. Southern Bluefin, Yellowfin, and Bigeye Tuna are all on the South Australia deep sea fishing menu! These pelagic predators are famous for their blistering speed and incredible power, making them a bucket-list catch for many fishers.

Each Tuna can reach impressive sizes, but Southern Bluefin takes the prize, often exceeding 100 kilograms (220 pounds)! They require heavy-duty gear, so locals usually opt for trolling skirts and deep-diving lures, along with live baiting. The thrill of hooking into a Tuna is unparalleled, with their initial run often leaving anglers in awe. They’re a test of both gear and stamina!

How to Go Fishing in South Australia

Fishing in South Australia is all about diversity, from the rugged coasts and serene beaches to the deep blue offshore. Each setting provides a distinct fishing experience, which, in turn, requires you to know the right method to land whatever you’re after. Here are some popular ways of casting a line.

Beach and Rock Fishing

A view from the beach towards Glenelg Pier in South Australia at sunset, with the water calmly coming into the shore and the sun visible in the distance

South Australia’s coastline is the perfect place for beach and rock anglers. With miles of sandy shores and rocky outcrops, anglers can target Australian Salmon, Tailor, Bream, Tommy Ruff, and even the elusive Mulloway.

Fishing from the beach and rocks requires sturdy gear, as the rough terrain and potential for big fish can put your tackle to the test. A long rod paired with a robust reel and 7–9 kg (15–20 lb) line will serve you well. Baits like pilchards, squid, prawns, and beach worms are top choices, while metal lures work wonders when targeting Australian Salmon and Tailor.

Head to the Yorke Peninsula for some of the best beach fishing in the region, with spots like Berry Bay and Pondalowie Bay popular for their Salmon runs. For rock and jetty fishing, try the cliffs around Kangaroo Island, where you might hook into Snapper, Kingfish, or even a Shark.

Just beware that rocky areas can be slippery, and waves unpredictable. If possible, always fish with a local guide. Or head to a purpose-built structure like the Glenelg Pier where you can rub shoulders with like-minded anglers.

Boat and Kayak Fishing

Boat and kayak fishing in South Australia open up a whole new world of opportunities, allowing you to reach untouched spots and target a wider variety of species.

Whether you’re in a boat or kayak, you’ll want a stable platform and versatile gear. Jigging, trolling, and bottom fishing are all effective techniques. Soft plastics and vibes work well for Snapper and Flathead, while live bait can attract larger predators like Kingfish.

For boat fishing, head to the waters around Kangaroo Island or the Spencer Gulf, known for their Snapper, Whiting, and Kingfish populations. Kayakers will find the sheltered waters of the Port River and West Lakes ideal, with Bream, Mulloway, and Flathead all on offer.

Deep Sea Fishing

Deep sea fishing in South Australia is an adventure like no other, taking you far offshore in pursuit of some of the ocean’s biggest species. Naturally, this method requires heavy-duty gear, with strong rods, reels, and lines to tackle the big game. Trolling with large lures or bait is a popular technique, as is bottom fishing with heavy jigs and bait.

The waters off Port Lincoln are renowned for their big game fishing opportunities, with Tuna, Marlin, and Sharks all on the cards. For something a bit different, try deep dropping around the Continental Shelf, where you can target unique species like Hapuka.

Charter Fishing

A group of anglers of all genders posing behind an ice box covered with fish on a sunny day in South Australia
Photo courtesy of Awesome SA Charters

Booking a fishing charter in South Australia gives you access to the best fishing spots, local knowledge, and top-notch gear. Depending on your skipper and target species, you could find yourself trolling for Tuna, bottom fishing for Snapper, or casting lures for Kingfish. Your crew will provide guidance on the best techniques for the conditions and species.

Popular charter fishing destinations include the waters off Port Lincoln for Tuna and Kingfish and Gulf St Vincent for Snapper and Whiting. Inland, there are also freshwater charters available on the Murray River.

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater fishing in South Australia offers a change of pace, with tranquil rivers and dams ideal for a relaxing day’s fishing. Light tackle is the order of the day, with small lures, soft plastics, and bait all effective. Casting along the banks and around structure is a productive method, while fly fishing is also popular in some areas.

The Murray River is the main freshwater fishing destination in South Australia, with Callop, Catfish, and Murray Cod all present. The Warren Reservoir is another top spot, stocked with Callop and Trout.

Top South Australia Fishing Spots

We’ve mentioned some spots already, but let’s take a closer look. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most popular places to wet your line, as we explore fishery by fishery… 

Inland Fishing Spots in South Australia

A view of Murray River looking towards the sun setting in the distance beyond the calm waters and green shoreline

Whether you’re looking to land a mighty Murray Cod or chase an elusive Callop, South Australia’s inland fishing spots have plenty to offer. You can explore a range of freshwater spots, from tranquil reservoirs to the bustling currents of the Murray River. Here’s our top pick:

  • The Murray River. Stretching over 2,500 kilometres (1550 miles), this is South Australia’s backbone. Murray Cod, Redfin, Perch, Bream, and Catfish swim everywhere between the fast-flowing sections and calm, deep pools. With a strong catch-and-release culture for Murray Cod, everyone is encouraged to preserve this iconic species for future generations.
  • Warren Reservoir. Located near Williamstown, this is a popular destination for freshwater anglers. Stocked regularly with Murray Cod, Silver Perch, and Callop, the lake offers consistent fishing opportunities throughout the year from the banks or via a kayak.
  • Lakes Torrens and Eyre. While predominantly known as dried-up salt flats, these lakes occasionally fill with water, creating a temporary fishing environment. Although not traditional fishing spots, the rare flooding events can attract fish from connected waterways, providing a novel experience for those willing to take on the challenge.
  • Mannum Waters. A picturesque spot along the Murray River, these waters are renowned for their Redfin and Callop fishing. With a range of accessible fishing platforms and bank space, this is a welcoming location for families and less mobile anglers.

Coastal and Beach Fishing Spots in South Australia

An aerial view of two anglers standing on rocks in South Australia and fishing into the deep blue water

South Australia boasts a vast coastline stretching over 3,800 kilometres ( 2,360 miles), which is an expansive playground for beach and rock fishing enthusiasts.

The Kangaroo Island Ocean Beach is known for its Australian Salmon runs and opportunities to hook Pink Snapper. Meanwhile, closer to Adelaide, the Henley and Brighton beaches stand out as accessible urban fishing spots. The aquatic bounty continues at the St. Vincent and Spencer Gulfs, where sheltered waters house extensive mangrove systems, perfect for Bream and other estuarine species.

Last but not least, you can explore the Eyre Peninsula with its Australian Salmon, King George Whiting, and Gummy Shark. There are even Scallops and Southern Rock Lobster as a gourmet addition to your catch of the day.

Offshore Fishing Spots in South Australia

An aerial view looking towards Cape Jervis lighthouse on a clear day, with a fishing charter speeding along the open water in the distance

Venturing into the deep blue waters off the South Australian coast reveals a world of angling adventures. Here, the fishing grounds are vast, and the potential catches are substantial. Check out the following:

  • Cape Jervis. Known for its challenging conditions with swells reaching up to 10 metres (32 feet), Cape Jervis is a gateway to exceptional offshore fishing. Anglers can target Southern Bluefin Tuna, Sharks, and Snapper.
  • Venus Bay. Famous for its powerful waves and rich marine life, the bay offers access to deep waters and big fish. Southern Bluefin Tuna and various Shark species roam these parts, providing thrilling battles for those who dare to take them on. While the conditions can be tough, the potential rewards make it worthwhile.
  • Neptune Islands. Situated further offshore, the islands boast clear waters and Great White Sharks. For anglers, the islands are a hotspot for Yellowfin Tuna, Big Eye Tuna, and Mako Sharks. The journey out is an adventure in itself, and the fishing is nothing short of spectacular.
  • Investigator Strait. Nestled between the Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, Investigator Strait is a haven for Snapper, King George Whiting, and Squid. The waters here are more sheltered than the open ocean, making it a popular spot for smaller boats and those new to offshore fishing.

South Australia Fishing Seasons

Before you get out there to explore the most productive spot for the fish you want, you’ll need to know the best time to cast your line. We’ll help you navigate South Australia’s fishing calendar to make the most of your angling adventure. 

A view out from the back of a deep sea fishing boat in Southern Australia with a trolling rod visible on the right of the image, the boat's motor in the middle, and land in the distance on the right on a cloudy day

Summer (December to February) is all about heat, and it’s no different underwater. The warm currents drag a variety of pelagic species closer to shore. This is prime time for chasing Southern Bluefin Tuna, especially around the waters of Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula. The action doesn’t stop there, though. You’ll find Kingfish patrolling the inshore structures, while the bays and estuaries are teeming with Whiting and Snapper.

As Autumn (March to May) rolls around, fishing in South Australia only gets better. Salmon hang out in the cooling waters along the beaches. The Murray River comes alive with Golden Perch and Murray Cod, particularly in the upper reaches. Inshore, Snapper and King George Whiting continue to bite.

Winter (June to August) sees a transformation. The inland waters continue to produce exceptional Murray Cod and Callop, with the Riverland region standing out as a top spot. Along the coast, the rough seas can be challenging but, for those willing to brave the elements, the rewards are bountiful. 

The warmer weather returns in Spring (September to November), and with it, pelagics. Yellowfin Tuna and Bigeye Tuna join their Southern Bluefin cousins, creating a fishing frenzy off the coast. The inshore waters are bustling with activity, with Snapper, Whiting, and Squid all on the chew.

South Australia Fishing Rules and Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of South Australia followed by text that says "South Australia Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" along with the FishingBooker logo against a blue background

But before we wrap up, there’s some housekeeping to take care of. While you generally don’t need a fishing licence in South Australia, some specific water bodies may require you to obtain a permit. For instance, some reservoirs and freshwater areas managed by SA Water or National Parks might necessitate a permit. It’s always a good idea to check the local regulations and obtain the necessary permits before you head out.

There are also size and bag limits for various species. The South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions provides a comprehensive guide on size and bag limits, which you can find on their official website.

The type of gear and fishing methods allowed also vary across different regions and spots in South Australia. Certain areas have restrictions on the use of nets, traps, and lines. Plus, certain species are considered pests in South Australian waters, and there’s a strict policy in place to prevent their spread. If you catch a European Carp, for example, you are required by law to humanely dispose of it and not return it to the water.

Fishing in South Australia: From Outback Lakes to Ocean Bounty

A view from a hill looking towards Cape Spencer lighthouse in South Australia at sunset, perched on top of a hill with the ocean visible in the distance

We told you fishing in South Australia was diverse! From the bountiful offshore waters teeming with game fish to the serene freshwater hideaways inland, this region is a true angler’s haven. Don’t just take our word for it – come and cast a line in these prolific waters and see for yourself why fishing in South Australia is a must-do!

Have you ever been fishing in South Australia? What’s your favourite species to target? What about a particular spot you like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

The post South Australia Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: South Australia Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/south-australia-fishing/
Published Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023 12:10:59 +0000

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