Termed "Nature’s Pleasure Island", Kangaroo Island is the third largest island off the coast of Australia, after Tasmania and Melville Island. The island is 155 km long and up to 55 km wide, and covers 4,500 square kilometres. Access is by private boat, vehicular ferry or plane. The principal township of Kingscote, at the Island's eastern end, attracts thousands of visiting anglers each year, accommodating them in caravan parks, hotels and private guest houses.
Jetty fishing can provide the best variety of fish, which can be found at Kingscote, Penneshaw and American River wharves. High tide in the evening is the best time. Garfish, tommy ruffs and snook bite best on a fairly fast running tide. Jetties at Emu Bay and Vivonne Bay bring good results from time to time.
Kingscote fishing is productive and diverse. The long jetty is a favourite during warmer months when it produces squid, tommy ruffs, garfish, snook, trevally and King George whiting.
Boat fishing yields consistent bags of the same fish. Whiting are the main target for the small boat brigade and, although Kingscote whiting aren't huge, they are easy to find in good numbers.
Kangaroo Island offers several great locations for those who enjoy surf fishing. On the north coast, Emu Bay, Stokes Bay, Snellings Beach offer salmon, usually on incoming tide in a moderate to strong surf. Mullet are also common, but usually in a milder surf. Large flathead can also be caught at these beaches. The south coast, where D'Estrees Bay and Vivonne Bay lie, are best for salmon and mullet where a strong surf is running. Antechamber Bay can also be productive.
Sweep provide the most popular rock fishing on the Island and can be found most places where the water is deep off the rocks. Swallow tail can usually be caught in the same area. A popular sport is catching crayfish with a line, lump of red meat and a dab net.
Exercise caution when fishing along the South coast as freak waves occasionally break over the rocks without warning.
Middle River, Western River Mouth, Chapman River and Cygnet River all provide excellent river fishing, with bream as the main species. At the mouth of the Cygnet, salmon trout, mullet and tommy ruffs may be caught.
American River was named in the nineteenth century after American sealers. It is a beautiful inlet with a reasonable launching ramp, wharf and fuel supplies. A great whiting area, it is well protected from most winds and can be fished safely and successfully from small trailer boats.
The north coast from Point Marsden to Cape Borda is an excellent offshore fishing area. Investigator Strait, which separates Kangaroo Island from the lower Yorke Peninsula, abounds with all manner of quality fish.
Emu Bay all-tide ramp can handle large trailer boats comfortably, but is open to northerly winds. Both Emu and adjacent Smith Bays are legendary for huge King George whiting, which often exceed 1 kg and 55 cm.
The western end of Investigator Strait, from Western River Cove to Cape Borda, isn't easily accessed by trailer boat. However, it yields terrific catches of big whiting, small to medium snapper, sharks, nannygai, morwong and even Samson fish exceeding 30 kg.
Because it is open to the Southern Ocean, Kangaroo Island's south coast offers few boating opportunities. Tractor launching is available at Vivonne Bay, but the incessant swell makes life difficult in all but exceptional conditions.
Because of low fishing pressure, offshore angling along the south coast is first class. Big nannygai, snapper, trevally, morwong, groper, sharks, kingfish and Samson fish are plentiful as are southern bluefin tuna in season.
Kangaroo Island's roads are mostly unsealed and unsuited to fast driving and the volume of tourist traffic they carry each year is of growing concern.
Most south coast surf beaches yield salmon, mullet and occasional tailor. Mulloway aren't common on Kangaroo Island, but a few small ones come from the Emu Bay region each summer.
Rock fishing opportunities on the south coast abound Salmon, big sweep, silver drummer and blue groper are quite easy to find. However, these rocks are dangerous and should not he tackled by the inexperienced, alone, or in anything but perfect weather.
Bream can be found in the Chapman, Middle, Western and Cygnet rivers. Some of these are big fish, over a kilo, but most are small.
Because of location, Kangaroo Island is inherently windy. Summer south easterlies strengthen to a peak by mid afternoon, then gradually diminish through the evening. April, May and June can be far kinder to the angler and attract many more visiting anglers than was once the case.
Strong tides dominate fishing in several areas, especially Backstairs Passage and Investigator Strait, so knowledgeable anglers plan their trips around tide changes when water movement is reduced.
Tackle, Bait and Ice Fishing tackle and bait are available from Kingscote, American River, Penneshaw and Vivonne Bay, and fishing tours are conducted from American River and Kingscote.
Fishing & Tourist Locations
Penneshaw - The town jetty produces tommies, garfish, squid and snook. A boat ramp allows access to sheltered waters for whiting as well as the deep waters of Backstairs Passage. Not too far down the coast is Antechamber Bay and Cape Willoughby where whiting, gar, tommies, salmon, snook and even kingfish can be found.
Chapman River - Near Penneshaw the Chapman River has a population of big bream although undersized fish are prolific, keeping them company are salmon trout, mullet and whiting. The estuary mouth runs into the beach of Antechamber Bay where whiting, salmon, flathead and mullet can be caught in the mild surf. Camp grounds right on the river are controlled by the District Council of Dudley and arrangements can be made at Penneshaw. This is a great place for kids to catch their first fish as the waters are sheltered and the estuary often landlocked by sand bars.
Pennington Bay - This bay is a classic surf beach and rockfishing spot only a kilometre off the highway where salmon, mullet and tommies can be caught. At night even mulloway can be encountered. It is a good spot to introduce kids to surf fishing because it is reasonably sheltered. No camping is allowed and the nearest accommodation is at American River.
American River - A beautiful sheltered waterway where you can catch almost anything. Charter vessels, hire boats, the town jetty, boat ramp and the sheltered waters are at your disposal. Feeds of whiting, gar, squid, tommies and even scallops are available close to the boat ramp. With most weather, boat fishing either with bait or trolling lures is calm and safe.
Kingscote - The town's jetty is the Island's largest and fishing from it can be productive in both quantity and variety of species. Whiting, tommies, gar, squid, trevally, snook, barracouta, kingfish, snapper and sharks can be found, depending on conditions and time of year. The town's saltwater rock wall swimming pool just down the beach provides an interesting and safe rock fishing platform.
Cygnet River - On the outskirts of Kingscote is Cygnet River. This estuary is popular for a dusk or dawn stroll along the banks to flick out unweighted prawn baits for bream. It's simple fishing, a light rod, a very light sinker and one hook, some prawns or mullet flesh for bait, a torch and insect repellent. Again a good place for kids but be warned big bream pull very hard and can take a rod out of unsuspecting hands.
Bay of Shoals - Bay of Shoals is the location of Kingscote's boat ramp. The bay is a total mixture of shallows, channels, sand bars, spits, tide races, razorfish beds and deep holes and it's not uncommon to bag multiple species only minutes from the ramp. Look for sand patches along the edge of the channel for whiting, weed beds for garfish and squid and wherever the tide surges around a point, cast lures or bait for salmon or snook.
Emu Bay - Close to Kingscote, Emu Bay is usually sheltered from winds that might affect the Bay of Shoals and vice versa. The bay has a good boat ramp as well as a jetty and sheltered beach fishing for the kids.
Stokes Bay - Down the coast from Emu Bay, Stokes Bay has a boat ramp of sorts although local knowledge should always be sought at the store on boat launching and fishing conditions. Because of the exposed nature of the ramp this location is more for the experienced boat operator only. Fishing along this stretch can be well worth the trouble with crayfish an added incentive.
While at Stokes Bay follow the signs on the shoreline that lead you through a cliff face and onto the most incredible beach you'll ever see. A little further down the coast are the beautiful Middle River and Western River Cove for more estuary, beach and rock fishing.
Flinders Chase National Park - Flinders Chase National Park offers beach or rock fishing locations, how remote and pristine the spot depends on how far you are prepared to hike. Wherever rivers enter the sea the surf beaches are spectacular with steep pitching shores forming deep holes and gutters close in. Salmon and mulloway are the prime targets. Get a map of the park and take a little time to explore some spots if you are going to be camping there. You will probably be the only anglers fishing the whole beach which is why only experienced anglers should tackle this coast especially with rock fishing.
Seal Bay - Seal Bay is famous for its large colony of rare Australian Sea Lions, estimated to comprise ten percent of the world population of the species. The inhabitants are relatively tame, and do tolerate human incursion into their midst. Nonetheless, they can be dangerous and entrance into the area is restricted to minimise disturbance to both the mammals and their breeding. Guided tours take visitors closer to the large mammals. A Ranger's hut above the beach provides information on the sea lions' living habits. The full length of Seal Bay Conservation Park has been declared an Aquatic Reserve swimming and fishing are prohibited.
Hanson Bay - The park has a boat ramp of sorts but it has rocks at the bottom and at low tide its above the water. The South West river enters the bay forming an estuary for the bream and mullet. On the other side of the estuary is another great surf fishing beach.
Vivonne Bay - Vivonne Bay has a long estuary which is home for a large quantity of bream, surf beach, a rocky headland and a jetty. There is a track leading down to the beach for boat launching but its 4WD or light dinghy stuff and be aware that with an onshore wind you will be exposed to the full power of the Southern Ocean. Salmon, very large trevally and tommy ruffs can be caught from a boat or the jetty.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse - Telephone (08) 8531 191 Twenty five kilometres south-east of Penneshaw on the eastern-most point of Kangaroo Island, the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse is the state's oldest. Built in 1852, the 27 metre tower is made of local limestone and sits on a cliff 73 metres above the sea. It has been converted to electricity.
Admiral's Arch - Admiral's Arch is a magnificent natural arch sculpted by the elements. At Cape du Couedic , it is the playground for groups of New Zealand Fur Seals, which laze on the rocks nearby.
Vivonne Bay - This small settlement is located on a long sweep of clean sandy beach which is magnificent for fishing, walking and beachcombing. Several areas have been set aside with barbecue facilities and public conveniences.
Antechamber Bay - Named by Matthew Flinders in 1802, Antechamber Bay is a long sweep of coast at the eastern tip of the island. Bounded at its southern end by Cape St Albans, the beach is superb while the tree-lined Chapman River is safe for swimming, canoeing, boating and has good fishing. There are excellent camping spots, barbecue facilities and picnic spots,with plenty of walking trails. Above the bay and just off the road, there are good views of the mainland over the beach.
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