Autumn Fishing Options Around Australia
Jamie Crawford provides a snapshot of what to expect while fishing during the Autumn months. It's an exciting time to go fish, right around the country!
Autumn would have to be my favourite time of year for fishing in Australia. It's a great time of year to be on and around the water, with the heat of summer being replaced by crisp mornings and mild to warm days. And while it's a popular time of year for fishing, it's not generally over-run by anglers compared to the peak holiday fishing periods, so you can still expect some shoulder room at your favourite spots.
At this time of year we have stable weather down south, with multiple days of light winds in a row a common feature across our southern states. This stable weather opens up some great offshore locations for the blue water enthusiast.
Up north we have our peak barra season coinciding with the run-off. We have Australian salmon down south, and enough freshwater options to satisfy fly fishers, lure casters and bait fishers alike. Let's look at some autumn fishing options around our country.
Where to fish in Southern Australia during autumn
Southern anglers look forward to the stable weather patterns of autumn, offering relatively calm seas. Down in Tasmania the autumn months offer good inshore and blue water sportfishing for southern bluefin and albacore.
Locations such as Maria Island, Pedra Branca, St Helens the Tasman Peninsula off Eaglehawk Neck all offer good fishing for tuna during autumn.
While most of the bluefin average around the 15-20kg size, some barrels up over 100kg make an appearance most seasons, just to spice things up. Likewise, the albacore average 3-5kg, but some better fish of up to 20kg can get in on the action.
Keeping the blue water theme going, the offshore fishing in South Australia can be red hot during autumn. At this time of year bluefin tuna are still available - although they start to thin-out in our western waters as autumn progresses. This is the peak time of year for the bigger yellowtail kingfish and samson fish around the western reef systems and islands.
Locations such as Rocky and Greenly Islands, out from Coffin Bay on SA's Eyre Peninsula, the Cabbage Patch and South Neptune Island offshore from Port Lincoln, and Wedge Island offshore from Yorke Peninsula all offer fantastic blue water fishing during autumn when conditions are favourable.
Live baiting and jigging are the main methods for targeting the seriola clan, with the bluefin still taking skirts and divers near the surface when fish are found. There are a couple of reputable live-aboard charters operating out of these waters at this time of year, offering multiple-night forays to these offshore islands.
Fishing NSW during autumn
The NSW south coast beaches salmon are available during autumn months. The salmon found in these parts are Eastern Australian salmon, and don't grow to the same proportions as their western cousin. Some nice fish of 1.5-2.5kg are still fairly common in the deeper gutters fringing these south coast beaches.
Bonito are also encountered during the autumn months for NSW fishers. These inshore pelagic fish can be caught by small boat fishers trolling or casting hard body lures, or by rock spin fishers working the stones along the east coast.
While not recognised as a premium table fish, bonito are great light tackle sportfish and cook up okay when bled and iced immediately.
Where to fish in Western Australia during autumn
Moving westward, the blue water fishing along WA's Pilbara coast is arguably at its finest during autumn.
The Exmouth Game Fishing Club hosts Gamex annually in mid-March to coincide with this blue water action. Small black marlin are typically around in good numbers at this time of year, with fish averaging 30-50kg offering plenty of mid to light tackle fun.
A few blue marlin are also taken through the wider grounds off Exmouth during autumn, with the usual dolphin fish, wahoo and occasional yellowfin tuna getting in on the action as well.
Exmouth's inshore grounds also fish well at this time of year, with queenfish, turrum, golden trevally and GT's on offer around Ningaloo Reef and the North West Cape. It can be a breezy location to fish, so early morning forays are a good option.
Less seasonal are the spangled emperor, yellowfin emperor, coral trout, baldchin groper and coronation trout that can be found around the coral bommies and reef systems near Exmouth, and they offer a good shallow water option when it's too windy to hit the blue water.
Autumn is Australian salmon time along the south coast of Western Australia. Vast schools of salmon push into the surf beaches along the south coast, with the stretches of sand around Esperance, Bremer Bay, Albany and Margaret River all offering good action for the surf fisho. Late autumn and into early winter see these fish push further along the coast and they can even make an appearance off the Perth metro beaches.
Spinning 30-60g metal lures in the surf is one of the most effective ways of connecting to these aggressive surf speedsters, especially when a school is visually located and within casting range. However, soaking a pilchard in a deep gutter is another effective approach for picking up big salmon in the surf, and has the added advantage of picking up bycatch including flathead, gummy sharks and the occasional mulloway.
NT run-off season
March and April is run-off time in the NT, and is regarded as the best time of year for barra in the Territory. The run-off is when the floodplains recede after the wet season, which results in baitfish and terrestrial feed being flushed into the tributaries and big rivers of the Territory.
The exact timing of the run-off varies each year, depending on when the wet season finishes. The extent of the wet season and volume of water to drain from the plains generally dictates how good the fishing will be during the run-off. A year with plenty of water and feed draining off the floodplains generally equates to good fishing in the NT.
Some of the popular waters for big barra include the Daly, Mary, Adelaide, Roper, South and East Alligator Rivers, just to name a few. Trolling accounts for plenty of big barra, but casting hard body lures and soft vibes at feeder creeks and snags also accounts for some quality fish during the run-off. With the amount of feed getting flushed out of these systems, other predatory fish, including threadfin salmon and black jewfish, can also be caught around the lower reaches of these rivers, especially around the river mouths and the first deep hole of each river.
Autumn freshwater fishing options
Moving back down south into some cooler climates, the trout rivers in Victoria and the high country of NSW are still open during autumn, and can result in some good fishing, especially late autumn as fish start pushing up into these rivers from nearby lakes in preparation for spawning.
These rivers generally close on the June long weekend, with May being a pretty good time to don the wading boots and trek up a picturesque river for some trout fishing. Both fly and spinning accounts for some rainbow and brown trout at this time of year. Down in Tasmania most public waterways close at the end of April, with some good fishing being reported as the season draws to a close.
Staying in the fresh water, the Murray River fishes well in autumn, and is my favourite time of year to hit the big river. The water often clears up a bit at this time of year and lends itself well to lure fishing for golden perch. With the river temperatures still up, the goldens are generally quite active and willing to swipe at a passing lure.
Fishing around structure such as fallen timber, roots and rock bars often yields a few nice goldens on lures and baits. Fishing lipless crankbaits down against structure is an exciting way of fishing the timber in the Murray, and accounts for some nice goldens. Bobbing baits such as shrimps, tiger worms and small yabbies also accounts for some nice golden perch.
Well, there we have it - a whirlwind lap around our country offering up some autumn options. March to May really is a great time of year to hit the water, so get out there and enjoy the spoils of autumn.