Everything you need to know about fishing in Exmouth
Known as the gateway to the Nyinggulu World Heritage Ningaloo Coast, Exmouth is a premier spot for recreational fishing enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. If you’re looking for your next fishing adventure in Australia, head to Ningaloo Marine Park. Home to hundreds of species of fish, stretching over 250 km, it is one of the largest fringing reefs in the world. The opportunities to cast a line are plentiful. So, come on; cast a line in our beautiful backyard and take advantage of the world-class fishing opportunities. This is your chance to make the catch of a lifetime.
Exmouth is known for having one of the most diverse and active fishing grounds in the world, and the Ningaloo region has established a reputation as Western Australia’s premier game fishing destination. Blue water game fishing in Exmouth is world class and has been for a long time. Today, the region is not short on unique experiences and attractions to bring in tourists – hello, whale sharks. But having the continental shelf, just a short distance offshore continues to be a big drawcard to deep-sea fishing enthusiasts across Australia and the globe, with species like red emperor, rankin cod, goldband snapper, ruby snapper and all manner of species.
Here on the Ningaloo coast, the marine life is so rich and diverse. Our clear and shallow warm waters offer ample opportunities, whether you’re into reef, game, or beach fishing. So, whatever type of fishing floats your boat, read on as we tackle your most frequently asked questions about what Exmouth and Ningaloo have to offer anglers – excuse the puns!
I’ve heard Exmouth in Western Australia is a sport fishing mecca. What species of fish can I catch?
It’s a fishing paradise with diverse marine life and a surprising variety of fish species. So yes, Exmouth is a must-visit if you enjoy recreational fishing. The opportunities are endless for all levels of fishing enthusiasts.
Some species to target would include, blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, trevally, Spanish mackerel and queenfish in the waters of Ningaloo. And then there’s the bonefish and permitt, these are iconic sportfish and a dream catch for saltwater fly-fishing fisho’s. Bonefish are available almost year-round here. For shore-based fishing, you can target snapper, bluebone, coral trout, queenies and trevally, as well as yellow fin whiting, flathead, mangrove jacks and don’t forget our squid.
Whether you prefer to fish from a boat or the shore, the fishing here is epic. We would even go so far as to say there is nowhere else in Western Australia that compares. We have everything from Whiting to Marlin. Call us biased, but it is a special place to fish.
Sounds great! What is the best time of year to fish in Exmouth?
There is different tides and different times for some fish, but there is something to catch all year. Generally a good time of year to come would be from September to May, when it is warmer waters, and big tides for big pelagics. That said, there are peak seasons for most of the species which populate our pristine waters. For example, the peak season to fish for blue marlin is November to February, while the peak time to visit to catch black marlin is between April and June. If you’re planning a trip to Exmouth to enjoy some shore-based fishing, you should focus on the location and tides more than the time of the year.
Where will I find the best fishing spots in Exmouth?
There are a couple of tackle shops in town, and the friendly, knowledgeable staff will be only too happy to provide you with all the information you need to enjoy your recreational fishing in Exmouth. They will know all the best spots, depending on whether you plan to fish in the shallows of Ningaloo Reef or want to head out to deeper waters in a boat.
One spot you must not miss is King Reef in the Exmouth Gulf. It is just three nautical miles from the town’s marina and a popular location with local anglers as it is teeming with marine life and an array of fish. It is also Exmouth’s first purpose-built artificial reef –and the largest integrated artificial reef deployed in the southern hemisphere. Constructed in 2018, King Reef is one of the most accessible spots to fish in Exmouth. Over five years on, it remains one of the easiest places to cast catch a fish.
Fishing in the sheltered calm waters of the Exmouth Gulf offers the chance of coral trout, longtail tuna, Spanish mackerel, queenfish and giant and golden trevally. The beaches close to town offer opportunities to catch whiting and flathead, and sometimes a passing queenfish or trevally too. Other popular fishing spots include Learmonth Jetty, Pebble Beach, Five Mile Beach, and Exmouth Marina. If you’re happy to travel a bit further to cast your line, there’s also Sandy Bay, about 80 km from the town, and Five Fingers Reef, 150 km away in Coral Bay. If you dream about catching blue and black marlin and sailfish, the waters off the back of the reef, all the way out to the 400 metre mark (just 10 nautical miles away) is a prime location. For a chance to catch the prized bonefish, head to the flats inside Ningaloo Reef.
If you are keen to fish offshore, you could hire a boat from a local boat hire company like Ningaloo Car and Boat Hire or Exmouth Boat Hire. Or you could book a spot on a guided fishing tour; professional charter boats depart daily from Exmouth. Private charters are also available. Some of the charter fishing companies in Exmouth are:
- Evolution Charters Exmouth
- Innkeeper Sport Fishing Charters
- Blue Horizon Fishing Charters
- Maccydave’s Kayak Fishing Adventures.
Do I need a permit or licence to fish in Exmouth?
You do not need a licence if you are fishing from the shore, you need a recreational fishing licence if you intend to fish off a boat. However if you are on a charter fishing tour you fishing licence will be covered in your charter fee. A licence costs between $40 to $50, depending on the type of fishing you plan to do. The WA Fisheries website is an invaluable source of up-to-date information. We also recommend downloading the RecFishWest app to your phone.
Is there anywhere I’m not allowed to fish in Exmouth?
Recreational fishing can be enjoyed in most areas of Ningaloo Marine Park, although, with five different types of zones in the park, some zones are subject to special rules. Fishing is strictly forbidden in marine park sanctuary zones or in marine nature reserves. We advise familiarising yourself with the regulations, depending on where you want to fish and the type of fishing you want to do. And, even if you’re fishing in a permitted area, remember to check the weather and tide forecasts beforehand, too. Check with your local tackle shop.
Fishing has always been one of the great Australian pastimes, and the opportunities to catch fish in Exmouth and on the Ningaloo coast are magnificent. You will get hooked on fishing here long before it is time to leave. If we still haven’t managed to reel you into making a trip, read our recommendations for more exciting things to see and do in Exmouth and Ningaloo.