Rock fishing is popular in Western Australia where the rocks on the coast allow access to deep water and the possibility of avoiding unfavourable wind conditions and beach currents.
There is a long history of accidents occurring along the South Coast of Western Australia, in particular between Albany and Walpole, and around Esperance. Rock fishing is also popular in the South West Region along much of the coast in the Leeuwin – Naturaliste National Park.
The following safety tips can be found on this page:
- Key messages for rock fishing safety
- If you go in
- If someone is washed in
- Anchor points
- Angel rings
- Rock fishing safety videos
Accident data show that many of the incidents involve local residents who often have considerable prior experience of the coastline. More recently, DPaW staff have indicated that there is a trend towards a greater proportion of rock fishers being of Asian background and visitors to the region, unaware of the risks or unable to read the warning signs.
Key Messages for Rock Fishing Safety:
Always let friends or family know where you are going, when you’ll be back and if your plans change.
Never fish alone
Always fish with a buddy; if you get into any trouble, they can help. If you’re new to rock fishing, go with an experienced fisher.
Know the area, know the conditions
Read all safety signage – it’s been placed there for a reason. Ask locals about the spot you plan to fish from if you’re new to the area. Make sure you are aware of the latest weather, swell and tidal predictions before going fishing (check the Bureau of Meteorology website www.bom.gov.au or call 9263 2222 between 9am to 4pm). Be aware that conditions may change quickly and can vary from predicted averages.
Wear the right clothes
Light clothing such as shorts and a spray jacket will allow you to swim more freely if you are washed in. Wear appropriate footwear with non-slip soles or cleats suited to the surface you plan to fish from.
Wear a PFD
Wear a life jacket or buoyancy vest at all times. Also bring something buoyant (your fishing bucket with its lid firmly clipped on makes a great float) which can be thrown to someone in trouble to help them stay afloat. Carry rope and a torch at all times.
Life jackets are available on free loan from the following tackle stores:
Albany Rods and Tackle – 40 Stirling Terrace, Albany
Trailblazers Albany – 184 Albany Hwy, Albany
BCF Albany – 319-331 Cr Hanrahan & Mawson Street, Albany
Little Grove General Store – 639 Frenchman’s Bay Road, Albany
Tateys Bait n Tackle – 39 Norseman Rd, Esperance
Southern Sports and Tackle – Shop 16 The Boulevard, Esperance
Esperance Diving and Fishing – 72 The Esplanade, Esperance
Dempster Sporting and Tackle – 65 Dempster St, Esperance
Quobba Station – 80km NW of Carnarvon
Carnarvon Tackle and Marine – Harbour Road, Small Boat Harbour South Carnarvon
Tel-O-Mac Tackle – 348 Robinson St, Carnarvon
Augusta X-Treme Outdoor Sports – 3/66 Blackwood Ave, Augusta
Down South Camping and Outdoors – Shop 1/40 Station Road, Margaret River
Observe first, fish later
Spend time (at least 20 minutes) watching your intended fishing spot to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle. Be prepared for waves twice the height of those observed during this period. If in doubt, don’t fish.
Plan your escape
Scan the area and look for the safest place to come ashore should you be swept in. Decide on a quick getaway route from your fishing spot, well above the high tide line should you see a large wave coming.
Use appropriate Public Safety Equipment
Know how to correctly utilise rock anchor points if they are in place at your fishing location. You will need to bring your own rope to tie up; a bowline is the best knot to use. Know where the nearest public safety equipment is – and know how to use it.
If you go in…
Stay calm, swim away from the rocks and remove any heavy or waterlogged clothing. Float on your back and await rescue, or if you’re capable, swim ashore to the safe area you identified from your initial observations.
If someone is washed in
Do not jump in if someone is washed into the water. Use your rope or something that floats to help rescue the person. If there’s public safety equipment nearby, know how to use it. Dial 000 (vaild across all networks within range) on your mobile phone to get help.
Anchor points have been trailed and installed at selected rock fishing locations in the Leeuwin – Naturalise National Park including: Rocky Point, Cape Naturaliste, Sugarloaf Rock, Torpedo Rocks, Wyadup, Contos, Boranup (North-Point) and Skippy Rock.
To tie up to an anchor point you will need about 10m of rope (length varies depending on site). Use this to tie a bowline knot at the anchor point and check the knot is secure by pulling it.
Using the other end of the rope attach it to a harness or wrap around the waist and secure. Avoid slack in the rope when fishing as waves can still wash you off your feet and onto the rocks.
Angel rings are life buoys, which are designed to keep the victim afloat and away from the rocks until help arrives or a rescue can be organised. Since 1994, 47 lives have been saved as a result of angel rings being installed at coastal locations across NSW. Angel rings have recently been installed at key locations in Western Australia.