Feast of Fishing Opportunities
With a multitude of offshore islands, endless sandy beaches, recreational jetties, second creek, and two first class boat ramps; the Tumby Bay district has something to offer for all fishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re a part time angler, hard core fisher, local resident or visitor from afar; Tumby Bay and the lower Eyre Peninsula provide a myriad of fishing opportunities just waiting to be tackled.
New Snapper management measures are in place from 1 November 2019 to 31 January 2023. Please visit https://www.pir.sa.gov.au/fishing/fishing_limits/snapper for information.
Sir Joseph Banks Group of Islands
Tumby Bay has long been known as the gateway to the groups, and with the nearest islands located approximately 12 nautical miles from the Tumby Bay boat ramp, is a great location for the trailer boat fisherman to spend a day. The groups as it’s locally known is famous for its year round supply of King George whiting; and whilst local knowledge is an advantage, for those new to the area it shouldn’t be hard to locate fish holding structure. Once you’ve found some likely ground, take the time to work out how the tides running; anchor accordingly and use a berley trail to draw the fish in.
Whilst a feed of KG’s is high on most people’s hit list, the groups is home to a wide variety of table fish; and should the whiting be hard to find, garfish, snook, herring, trevally, red mullet, snapper and squid are all likely targets if your after a fresh feed.
Snook are best targeted trolling a variety of mid depth diving lures whilst skirting the rocky shorelines and reefs, by-catch will often include sizeable herring and the occasional salmon. The warmer months are by far the best to target garfish; and a sheltered bay, steady berley trail and a couple of float rigs are all that’s needed to secure a feed of these tasty critters. Patience is a virtue when chasing garfish as they may take 15-20 minutes to find their way into your berley trail; but once they arrive are generally easy pickings and well worth the wait. Snapper fishing the shallow reefs throughout the Groups can be very much a hit and miss affair; and it pays to maximise your chances by fishing the prime times of first and last light whenever possible. Most snapper caught around the northern end of the groups will generally be of rugger size; with the occasional bigger fish on offer, always great fun on lighter outfits. Squid are plentiful year round and are best targeted on the drift with quality jigs and light tackle, pay particular attention to areas of reef and shallow weed beds, and be ready for some ripping squid when the action heats up.
The Groups is not just a great fishing destination; and should the fishing be a bit slow, has some magnificent wildlife on display. Many of the islands are home to resident sea lions with both Winceby Island and Sandy Blyth often hosting a number of these playful creatures, southern bottlenose dolphins are commonly encountered and the resident sea eagles at Winceby Island are spectacular as they soar across the blue skies in search of prey.
Both Tumby Bay and Port Neill offer excellent inshore fishing grounds for the boating enthusiast; with a variety of species on offer throughout the year. King George whiting, garfish, snook, herring, snapper and squid make up the majority of the catch, however leather jackets, red mullet, and silver trevally are also popular by-catch when the whiting are absent.
Generally speaking King George Whiting numbers are more reliable during the cooler months, however can be taken year round in varying numbers for those willing to invest the time. Conversely garfish right up there with KG’s when it comes to table fare are more abundant throughout the warmer part of the year. Squid are available year round and it pays to fish a variety of locations until you locate schooling numbers. Snapper are generally at their best from October through to Easter with peak numbers best targeted at either end of the spawning closures on Eyre Peninsula.
Whilst I haven’t done a lot of boat fishing in the Port Neill area, the bay, phoenix wreck, northern grounds and inshore reefs are worth targeting for a variety of species, with whiting, garfish, snook and snapper the most sought after. There are several locations to target in Tumby Bay with the Sand Hills to the north, the Bay itself and the Ski Beach/Tumby Island area all popular destinations for inshore fisho’s. Hot spots for squid include Tumby Reef, the Island stick, Ski Beach and Second Creek entrance. As with the Groups, if you’re new to the area, look for structure; work the tides and berley to draw the fish, moving from drop to drop until you locate numbers.
Second Creek is a beautiful tidal estuary just south of Tumby Bay and includes a beach access where tinnies and small trailer boats can be launched with 4wd. Take care if heading out to sea via the channel as the entrance can become quite shallow during low tide.
The creek itself is home to a marine sanctuary zone, however the more productive fishing areas are still open for fishing and can be targeted by both small boat and land based anglers. Salmon, salmon trout, herring and mullet are the main species on offer, with garfish plentiful in the warmer months and the occasional King George whiting. Squid can be found in good numbers in the tape weed at the entrance to the creek and at times in the deeper sections of the channel. The creek area is a great fall-back location when prevailing winds make fishing difficult in most other areas.
Ski Beach & Back Beach
Both Ski Beach and Back Beach on the southern end of Tumby Bay can be accessed either by four wheel drive or a short walk from various car parks and provide sheltered fishing depending on wind directions. Yellow Fin Whiting arrive along these beaches around November each year and may be caught in varying numbers on the incoming tide through to March. Other popular species including flathead, herring, small salmon, mullet and garfish can all be caught at different times and make for a nice mixed bag for the keen angler. The low energy nature of these beaches makes them an ideal location for young families to enjoy a bbq and spot of fishing in relatively calm conditions.
Beach and Rock Fishing
The extensive coastline within the district provides numerous publicly accessible beaches and rocky outcrop’s ideal for the land based angler; and depending on wind direction can provide productive fishing throughout the year. The beaches south of Tumby Bay are great for chasing flathead on the incoming tide and the rocky outcrops often produce squid and garfish in good numbers once a decent berley trail is established.
The rocky shoreline adjacent the Island residential area is also worth trying with snapper, garfish, herring, snook and squid all a possibility. Snapper fishing from these platforms requires a level of persistence for results, very much a case of being there when the fish are, however dawn and dusk from October through to March can produce some memorable fishing if you’re prepared to invest the time. Squid can be caught all year round and some ripping garfish can be berleyed up in the summer months. The foreshore beach in Tumby Bay can yield a good feed of yellow fin whiting during the summer months; with best locations being the tidal flats at the southern end of town and around the sand bag groynes located along the beach.
Tumby Bay Marina
The local marina can provide some excellent fishing throughout the year; with several locations open for public access including the boat channel that heads out to sea. Yellow fin whiting, trevally, flathead, bream, herring and snook are regularly encountered and can be great fun when chased on ultra light gear and soft plastics. Kingfish and mulloway have also been known to invade the system throughout the year and whilst hard to tempt can provide some real entertainment in the confines of the marina. The resident bream population has taken many years to become established in the marina and with their extremely slow growth rates; catch and release is strongly encouraged for these spirited sport fish.
Situated approximately 15km north of Tumby Bay, Lipson Cove is a beautiful beach location with several camp sites and vehicle access to the beach. Due to the feature-less nature of the beach; a steady flow of berley will be required to draw and hold fish in your location; salmon trout, herring, mullet and a few yellow fin whiting are the most common species. However schools of larger salmon will occasionally cruise through the Cove and it always pays to have a few heavy metal slices on the ready for when they turn up. This section of coastline is also very popular with the local land based shark fisherman; with bronze whaler sharks up to 10 feet in length regularly caught and released during the summer months.
The beaches to the south of Port Neill can provide some excellent fishing during the year with salmon, herring, mullet and flathead the most common species. The beaches to the north of town will yield good numbers of yellow fin whiting during the warmer months; beach worms are by far the best bait to tempt these guys; with small surface lures an entertaining way to target them. Garfish are also readily available along this section of coastline and with the wind in the right direction can be successfully targeted from most rocky headlands during the warmer months.
There are two great recreational jetties in the district, one in Tumby Bay and the other at Port Neill; both jetties are equipped with night lighting and offer excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year.
The Tumby Bay jetty has a variety of fish with herring, snook and squid caught year round, King George whiting in the winter, yellow fin whiting and garfish in the summer and a variety of other species throughout the year.
Port Neill jetty is reliable for garfish, snook, herring and squid; and due to its location is often more sheltered from the prevailing sea breezes. Whilst in Port Neill the boat ramp break-wall is also worth a visit with herring, garfish, leather-jackets and squid generally available.
Lower Eyre Peninsula
Should the prevailing winds make fishing difficult along the eastern coast, the remainder of lower Eyre Peninsula boasts some of the best fishing in South Australia; with numerous beaches, bays and secluded coves to try your luck. Most locations are within an hour or two’s drive from either Tumby Bay or Port Neill and you can really take your pick on what type of fishing you prefer.
The National Parks and west coast often some excellent flathead and salmon fishing, Coffin Bay is always reliable for a feed of KG’s or garfish; and with a little berley most of the rock ledges will yield a good feed of herring, trevally and sweep.
The offshore fishing from both Port Lincoln and the west coast can be spectacular, with reliable numbers of southern bluefin tuna during summer; samson fish, kingfish, queen snapper, snapper and red bight fish all readily available. When considering this form of fishing always be aware that conditions on the water can vary significantly from day to day in this part of the world; and it is imperative that you plan your fishing accordingly.
The Eyre Peninsula is a beautiful location; known for its spectacular coastline, great fishing and friendly laid back nature; if fishing’s your thing strike up a conversation with some of the friendly locals for a heads up on what’s biting and where, and above all, enjoy your stay.
Please visit https://tumbybay.com/ for information on local fishing charters, boat and bicycle hire.
Recreational Fishing in SA Marine Parks
South Australia has 19 marine parks to help protect our marine life. While fishing is not permitted in sanctuary zones, South Australians can still enjoy their favourite recreational activities such as swimming, boating and diving within these areas. In all other areas of the parks, fishing is allowed, along with other recreational activities.