Whether you are looking for some action from a boat, shore or jetty...Yorke Peninsula has plenty of fishing locations to choose from.
Here are the fishing spots from Sturt Bay to Browns Beach to help plan your next fishing adventure...
Foul Bay, 268km from Adelaide
Boat launching - Single lane, not recommended at low tide
Although the ‘sole’ of the Yorke Peninsula ‘foot’ doesn’t attract as much of the limelight as many more prominent locations, it can be a very productive stretch of coastline to fish.
Sturt Bay is a mullet fisher’s paradise from late March through into the winter and most of the fish are big, silver and in prime condition. Be on the beach early with a rising tide to find the mullet at their hungriest and make sure to have a good supply of berley to attract and hold them in the general fishing area. By far the best bait for mullet are the local seaweed worms, which can be dug from beneath rotting ribbon weed piled up in some spots along the beach.
There are some enormous King George whiting in the deeper water off Sturt Bay, particularly at the Point Davenport end. Fish to more than 50 centimetres are taken at times, along with rugger snapper, school sharks and some nice flathead.
Despite its rather uninspiring name, Foul Bay is also a legendary location for truly big whiting. The reefy areas off Point Yorke often yield kilogram-plus whiting and medium snapper sometimes put in an appearance toward the beginning of summer. The launching ramp isn’t the best at low tide and those with larger trailer craft often drive across from Marion Bay.
Further west of Foul Bay is Butlers Beach and Salmon Beach. These little known beaches offer good catches of salmon, mullet and King George whiting. Access is through Hillocks Drive, a private property for a small entrance fee.
278km from Adelaide
Boat launching – Single lane, not recommended at low tide
There are few locations on Yorke Peninsula that can match the reputation of Marion Bay for its deep water fishing. It is the largest coastal settlement along the bottom of Yorke Peninsula with a permanent population of 120. Marion Bay is situated just before the entrance to Innes National Park and is popular as a base for both anglers and surfers.
The long jetty at Marion Bay is legendary for its big squid and there are thousands of mullet caught along the beaches from Easter onwards. Seaweed worms are the ‘gun’ bait for these tasty little fish and these are quite easy to come by in piles of decaying ribbon weed found lying on the beach. Keep the tackle really light for the best results on mullet and have a good supply of bread-based berley on hand to maintain their interest.
Despite the convenience of the jetty and beaches, however, it is the offshore fishing that draws most anglers to this area. Those with large trailer boats can venture well out into Investigator Strait and beyond to fish the deep water grounds. Launching a decent boat at Marion Bay can be a problem, particularly for those without a four wheel drive tow vehicle. It’s dicey when the swell is up and also when dead seaweed piles up after strong onshore winds. Some locals employ old farm tractors as launch vehicles, eliminating most of the problems associated with what is essentially a sub-standard ramp.
These hassles aside, the offshore waters can be bountiful for such species as snapper, nannygai, big whiting, sharks, squid and even samson fish. Those anglers who are keen to fish offshore from Marion Bay, but either haven’t got a big enough boat or lack the confidence required, can take advantage of a local fishing charter.
King George whiting to well over one kilogram are taken regularly in the waters east of Marion Bay or outside in Investigator Strait. There are also plenty of snapper in the warmer months, varying from just-legal ruggers up to 10 kilo thumpers, as well as silver trevally, blue groper (which must be returned if caught) and a variety of small sharks. Southern Bluefin tuna occasionally venture close enough to Marion Bay for the big boat brigade to chase, but only when prevailing weather conditions are perfect.
Accessible via big boat from Marion Bay or by aeroplane from Adelaide and Warooka, Wedge Island has developed a massive reputation as an angler’s paradise. It is part of the Gambier Group of islands and is situated in lower Spencer Gulf.
A handful of trailer boat operators visit Wedge each year, but by far the safest and most convenient way to sample the action is on board a Marion Bay-based charter boat. This is big water in a remote location and is no place to be in a small craft if the weather blows up.
All manner of deep water fish are available around the island and on adjacent reef systems and bommies. Snapper of all sizes, big nannygai, yellowtail kings, samson fish, XOS whiting and blue morwong are among the usual charter catch and it’s sometimes possible to hook Southern Bluefin tuna during the annual autumn/early winter run.
Most charter operators visit Wedge on an extended trip basis, usually staying on or near the island for between two and five days. Luxurious beach house accommodation is available as part of a charter package, which really adds to the experience and makes for a pleasant way to end a successful day on the water.
Wedge Island fishes well year round, with bigger snapper available from late spring into the summer months. Nannygai can be expected consistently, while kingfish are most reliable during the summer and autumn. Big salmon often patrol the long beach on Wedge’s northern end, making great sport for both boaties and land-based lure casters.
284km from Adelaide
Once one of Australia’s richest gypsum mining areas, Stenhouse Bay has the southernmost jetty on Yorke Peninsula. The jetty used to be off limits to recreational anglers, but when the gypsum mine closed, the 290 metre pier was upgraded and set aside for visiting fisher folk to enjoy.
This is a great place to fish for big sharks if you have the right equipment, but most who visit the jetty try for tommies and squid. There are no lights on the jetty for night fishing, so a good lantern is an important part of the kit.
Mullet are often caught in the shallows, with tommies, squid and a few snook coming from deeper water. There have been big snapper taken from the end of the jetty, but the abundant rays will usually grab a bait on the bottom and make life tough for all but the most determined angler. It’s a reasonable walk from the car park to the jetty and back, so carrying a mountain of tackle isn’t advised.
Autumn and winter are probably the best seasons to try your luck at Stenhouse Bay, as the prevailing winds are offshore and the waters can be calm for extended periods. Big tommies are available at this time of year, with the best catches coming between dusk and dawn. As the jetty is situated within the Innes National Park, camping fees apply to those staying overnight. Permits are available from the visitor centre or self-registration stations.
311km from Adelaide
Few other surf beaches in South Australia have received as much publicity over the years as Browns. As it is situated within the Innes National Park, you’ll have to pay an entry fee to fish at Browns and get a camping permit to stay overnight. Both can be paid for at the office near Stenhouse Bay. Browns is legendary for its salmon fishing, but it is one of those ‘feast or famine’ locations that runs hot one day, then goes cold the next.
Walking from the Browns Beach car park to the far end of the beach requires a reasonable degree of fitness. The sand can be quite soft in places and those who aren’t in the best physical condition will definitely have raised a puff by the time they are ready to begin fishing. The beach is fronted by a substantial reef system that forms a type of lagoon and it is into this lagoon the salmon schools venture in search of baitfish. Catching them can be as easy as flicking out a metal lure one day or near impossible when they are in a fussy mood. It definitely pays to carry both lures and some fresh pilchards to cover all bases.
With salmon netting now curtailed around Yorke Peninsula, stocks of big fish seem to be steadily rebuilding – and that’s great news for those who love to fish the surf. This trend is expected to continue, so we may get to experience salmon action at Browns similar to that of the ‘good old days’.
Big mullet are caught in the surf at Browns as well, particularly during their annual autumn migration around lower Yorke Peninsula. These will take a wide variety of baits and are sometimes caught on salmon gear. It is pretty much an all year fishery, but be prepared to keep coming back if you don’t strike salmon there on your first visit.
It is imperative that those anglers who visit Browns Beach leave the place as tidy as they found it. Litter has been a constant problem over the years, with the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources seriously considering a general closure at one stage. Plastic bait bags, paper, fish carcasses, drink cans and sundry other refuse left on the beach can only be detrimental to future access, so please take your rubbish out with you.