Please select your home edition
Edition
Sydney Harbour Boat Storage 728x90

Big Fish from the Planks

by Ben Knaggs on 29 Jul 2013
A big hook-up from a jetty always attracts a crowd. Keep that fish away from those pylons! Ben Knaggs
Land-based fishing throughout Western Australia is pretty damn good. Despite a general lack of deep water close to shore, landlubbers casting a line from sandgroper country generally have some great options, particularly when it comes to larger species that would turn most east coast land-based fishos green with envy.

The classic land-based fishing spot is a jetty, wharf or pier, and while there isn’t a huge number of these structures along the WA coast, those that do push out into the Indian Ocean tend to be frequented by some bloody nice fish.


To name just a few, the towering Broome Jetty with its crazy tidal variations regularly produces queenfish, mackerel, trevally, bluebone and a bunch of other species, Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty is a mulloway hot spot and also home to kingfish, massive tailor, mackerel, trevally and plenty more, and much further south Busselton Jetty can get you hooked into samsonfish, kingfish, big tailor, and even the odd Spanish mackerel. If we ignore state boundaries for a moment, up in the top end Darwin has one helluva ‘big fish’ producing platform too in the Mandorah Jetty, so the land-based brigade have it good on this side of the continent!


Any jetty in itself is one great big fish attracting device. Often they are situated on otherwise featureless sections of water which only increases their appeal to passing marine creatures. Given all this, you’ll usually find that the largest aggregations of fish around a jetty will be right at your feet. All those pylons sunk into the seafloor are riddled with fish food and the predators will be cruising up and down looking for an easy feed around them.

So don’t make the mistake lot of inexperienced jetty anglers do and cast aimlessly for the horizon. Get your bait down close to the structure where the fish are hunting. This does, of course, mean that when you hook a large fish that wants to fight, the odds of losing it on the pylons are increased, but that’s just part of the fun of jetty fishing.

Even when the fish aren’t feeding, they will still lurk by or beneath the jetty because of the protection of the shade. This makes them less susceptible to larger predators (other than those predators with fishing rods), so target the shade when things are quiet. At least you’ll know there’s a very high likelihood of a few fish lurking there.

The reason large predatory fish will visit a jetty is usually for the big schools of baitfish like herring, hardyheads, yakkas or pilchards that swarm around them, so if you see lots of these types of baitfish nervously loitering around the jetty pylons, there’s a very good chance the big boys will be on the hunt. As a bonus, these smaller fish make an on-tap source of excellent bait.

If you have your heart totally set on scoring thumping big fish from a jetty, concentrate your fishing around dawn or from dusk and into the night. Only the keen anglers will be on the planks at these times, giving more elbow room, and the larger fish will often feed with more confidence in the low light conditions. Jetties are notorious for producing surprising fishing when the sun is down. In particular, try the area beneath the jetty’s lights. The cast light attracts prawns, squid and baitfish, and larger predators often patrol the edges.

Although always an important factor in any fishing situation, tidal variations are absolutely critical when fishing a jetty. Most jetties were originally built to provide access to deeper water for the purpose of loading and unloading ships, so you’ll find the water depth often vanishes on a dead low tide. In general then, the time to fish any jetty is a few hours either side of a high tide.


As mentioned, the real challenge of catching big fish from jetties begins once the hooks go in. Big, powerful fish and barnacle riddled pylons are a recipe for disaster, so your fish must be steered away from the pylons below you – difficult when you’re also trying to pull your adversary back toward the jetty!

Sometimes brute strength will save the day when a fish makes a bolt for the protection of the pylons, while other times you may be best served backing off the drag and hoping the fish swims clear. It’s really a fish by fish proposition. But if your fish decides to make a bolt out to sea, away from the jetty, let it go. Allowing a good fish tire itself out in open water is best case scenario stuff, so encourage it when it happens.


Once the fish is beaten and at your feet, the next issue is securing it. For this you’ll usually need some form of gaff; be it a long handled gaff, grapple gaff on a rope or a specially designed drop gaff. Alternatively, a heavy duty crab net can make a useful substitute at a pinch, or you can try slowly walking your fish down into the shallows and beaching it. On many WA jetties though, this is just asking for a shark or big groper to steal your prize!

Hydrive 660x82 2Sydney Harbour Boat Storage 660x82PredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

Kayak fisherman fights off aggressive hammerhead shark
You can see he uses his paddle to make sure the hammerhead stayed away but the shark just kept on trying to attack. The man says he was out fishing when he felt a bump on the back of his kayak. That’s when he realized it was a hammerhead shark trying to attack him.
Posted on 15 Oct
Coast Guard medevacs injured fisherman 25 miles off Nantucket
The Coast Guard medevaced a seriously injured fisherman Saturday from a boat 25 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Coast Guard medevaced a seriously injured fisherman Saturday from a boat 25 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Posted on 15 Oct
The rebounding Lafayette River is first when it comes to oyster reefs
As a sign of days gone by, Rosso said he can still point out a disconnected sewage pipe from an old farmhouse nearby The Lafayette is a tributary of the Elizabeth River that is completely contained by the City of Norfolk. Issues with bacteria caused by wastewater and runoff shuttered the local oyster industry in 1934, plaguing the Lafayette with unhealthy waters for decades.
Posted on 12 Oct
You spot an entangled whale. Now what?
You want to help the struggling animal! But please do not try to disentangle the animal yourself. This network of 20 authorized and specially trained public and private organizations, including state and federal agencies, responds to large whale entanglements along the U.S. East Coast. The hotline operates 24/7. Network members have extensive training in how to safely disentangle a large whale and increase its odds of surviving.
Posted on 12 Oct
How the NOAA Marine Debris Program responds to hurricane debris
The past couple months have been particularly tough for the Gulf of Mexico, Southeast and Caribbean regions Severe storms and weather events often result in a large amount of marine debris. Although there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of storm debris, such as securing our belongings before the storm hits, debris is often an unfortunate and unavoidable side effect of severe weather.
Posted on 12 Oct
Starboard’s story – The life and death of a right whale
This summer Starboard joined the increasing numbers of right whales who edged further north into the Gulf of St Lawrence Researchers eventually named her Starboard and in the ensuing years observed her migrating like clockwork between Florida, New England and the Bay of Fundy.
Posted on 12 Oct
Sinking ship strands American couple in LaPoile
The couple was en route to Petites for the recent filming of a Land and Sea episode about the resettled outport While sailing the southwest coast in 2005, the couple happened upon Petites, which had been resettled two years before. At the time, Bethany United Church was still in pristine condition. Through a pair of former Petites residents, Kit and Adrienne learned the church was also selling off the schoolhouse and community centre.
Posted on 12 Oct
Now, long-handled aluminum tools won't scratch or sink
The durable sleeve is easily installed and fits Shurhold's 152cm, 183cm and 274cm handles. Boat hooks and brush handles can accidentally scratch and mar fine boat finishes. Shurhold Industries' patented Handle Mate PFD slips over the aluminum shaft of its Telescoping and Fixed Length Handles to protect gelcoat, paint and chrome.
Posted on 10 Oct
OptiMax DSI diesel outboards drive ‘first of their kind’ ship boats
Based on Mercury’s proven OptiMax technology, the DSI outboard differ significantly from a normal diesel engine For many years, the RAN has had a ban on outboards because traditional petrol engines – and the fuel itself – were considered too flammable to be aboard warships. That meant the Navy had to rely on diesel inboards, even at the cost of performance in smaller vessels.
Posted on 10 Oct
Semi-custom steering wheels deliver OEM flexibility
One of the first things consumers do when considering a new boat is sit at the helm and grab the steering wheel. One of the first things consumers do when considering a new boat is sit at the helm and grab the steering wheel. It's often the first thoughtful appraisal of a vessel's quality and individuality. The Schmitt & Ongaro line of polyurethane wheels by STELLA includes the Torcello and Burano that offer OEMs full customization with fast turnaround times and the ability to offer a premium wheel
Posted on 10 Oct