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Fishing Blog - Summer 2020-2021

SUMMER OF FISHING FUN ON THE MCLAREN VALE & FLEURIEU COASTProvided by - Fishing SA Magazine

Summer is here, and so are the peak months for fishing along the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast! 

What a great time of year to visit, with caravanning and camping holidays popular along the spectacular coastal locations. Perfect for those after extended stays or a quick trip. From Christies Beach and Moana, through to Aldinga and Sellicks Beach, there’s a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and styles, and with nearby fishing to boot, this really is the fishing and holidaying coast! 

So where to start your Summer fishing and holidaying adventure down south? 

Hot Locations and Species

Fish in Focus - Squid Sensation

Cook your Catch - Smoked Fish

Top Tips for Success

Hot locations and species

McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast fishing trip is all about planning what you want to catch and where you want to do it. There’s an abundance of options to explore from shore or boat, in windy or calm weather, and there’s lots of great spots to base yourself.Here’s a few top spots. 

Boating

Mild conditions will pave the way for regular boat sessions in these waters, and if you can launch early and beat the afternoon winds all the better. Boaties can launch from the O’Sullivan Beach boat ramp, or beach launch at numerous locations down the coast such as Sellicks Beach, Silver Sands, Aldinga and Moana. These points provide access to fish-rich inshore grounds that are teeming with garfish, squid, King George whiting, snook, trevally, flathead, sand crabs and much more. If you like mixed bags then exploring by boat is the way to get them! 

Common approaches for those boat fishing is to anchor over a ‘broken bottom’ which is essentially a seafloor with a combination of sand, weed or rock. These areas typically hold a selection of species. Using berley will bring many fish species to you if you give it time, making for relaxed sessions on the water. 

Another great way to fish along the coast is to drift or troll lures. Drifting involves you moving with the wind and current and covering ground while casting out squid jags or throwing out soft plastics, hard-bodies or metal lures for snook and salmon. You can also bounce baits on the bottom for whiting, flathead and others. It lets you cover ground and find fish.  

Otherwise trolling lures at various depths, preferably using metal lures or diving hard-bodied lures, will catch you snook, salmon and much more, and is an effective way to fish and cover vast amounts of water. 

Aldinga Beach

Onkaparinga River 

The Onk’ is a Summer hot spot for land-based and kayak anglers. Its banks provide many estuary favourites such as mulloway, bream, mullet, salmon trout, flathead and yellowfin whiting.  

Closer to the sea at the Foot Bridge, you tend to see more true saltwater species like yellowfin whiting, flathead and other surprise catches. As you move upstream towards Perry’s Bend, the many holes and structures above South Road will hold more bream, mulloway and other estuary fish. 

Both bait and lure have their place for estuary fishing, with small 3-inch soft plastics and hard-bodies great for bream, while larger 4-5 inch lures better suit mulloway. Dead fish and prawn baits work for both species also, while live tommies, mullet and striped trumpeter work best for mulloway both day and night.  

A word of caution is to always look out for snakes when fishing next to the Onkaparinga River over Summer. Like any large water body this time of year these creatures can sometimes be found nearby, keep an eye out at this great all-weather location for all anglers young and old! 

Onkaparinga River Fishing

Onkaparinga River Fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaches

Warm weather means great beach fishing, and the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast has plenty of sandy stretches for you to swim, fish and relax – usually right next to your car with minimal walking required! 

Popular beaches include Sellicks, Silver Sands, Aldinga, Maslins and Moana. These locations offer gently lapping waves, and the perfect excuse to dip your toes in the water, while having a fishing rod in your hands of course!   

Yellowfin whiting are the prize fish and will move about in schools along these beaches, sometimes within metres of the shoreline. Live or dead worms available from local tackle shops are a great bait to use and should be fished on a running sinker rig. Other species to come along can include mullet, flathead, salmon and tommies. If you

 Fishing on Port Noarlunga Jetty

Port Noarlunga Jetty  

This is a go-to location for many anglers and will be busy over the Summer ahead.  It’s already producing impressive results! 

From sand crabs, through to squid, garfish, tommies, snook, and a plethora of other bycatch, the Port Noarlunga Jetty offers enough diversity and challenges to entertain anglers of all skill levels.  

A great way to experience what the jetty has to offer is to use a float rig and a steady berley trail and you’ll generally find yourself hauling in tommies and garfish and other surprise catches. Otherwise it’s super reliable for squid if you fish morning and night, or on a rising tide.

Port Noarlunga Jetty

Focus Fish - Squid Sensation

Few species have the following along the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast that squid do, which is partly due to their widespread nature and their versatility as a tasty food source or reliable bait for other fish. Whether from the Port Noarlunga Jetty (day or night), O’Sullivan Beach breakwater, or drifting around in inshore waters right along the coast, squid are easy to track down and are always welcome (except when they squirt you with ink!). 

You don’t need much gear to catch squid. A 2-4kg rated rod and reel, bucket and small selection of squid jags will see you in the running for squid rings for tea! With jags be sure to bring dark and bright options to cover bases, and both 2.5 and 3.5 sizes. The smaller jag is great when they’re being fussy and need a more stealth presentation. Alternatively try using a tommie suspended under a float and on a ‘squid prong’ which is a wire jig threaded through the fish. Using fish baits is super effective on the slow days and it’s easy fishing as you can kick back and wait for a squid to latch on, unlike actively working jigs. 

Try fishing the low light of dawn and dusk from the jetty or breakwater, but they can be caught at any time. At night is great when they’re attracted to the lights. In a boat you can fish ‘office hours’, just mix up your depth until you find where they’re holding and try working a sand and weed combination bottom instead of just plain sand. Remember to watch that flying ink and enjoy! 

Fishing in mclaren vale and fleurieu coast

Cook Your Catch - Smoked Fish

Being able to utilise readily available Summer species like snook, tommies, salmon trout, yellow-eye mullet and turn them into some unbelievably tasty seafood, is one of the real joys of fishing this time of year on the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast. 

An easy (and super tasty!) way to enjoy them is placing them in your hot smoker, creating a Summer seafood feast for a sit-down meal, or perfect casual ‘finger food’ to wash down with your favourite cold beverage. 

When it comes to smoking your catch, a hot smoker such as the popular upright Hark gas model is ideal, but you can use a cheap smoke box if needed, easily purchased from a tackle or camping store and for around $50 will provide years of use.   

Smaller fish like tommies, salmon trout and mullet can be scaled, gutted and have their head removed, while larger fish like snook can be filleted before being soaked in a brine (AKA cure) mix. A basic mix is to use 12 cups of water, 1 cup of table salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. After soaking your fish in this for at least an hour or so, pat them dry. Once dry you're free to add some extra flavour to the fish, with cracked pepper, garlic and extra sugar. One of the best is simply to add extra brown sugar, rubbing it into the gut cavity and on the skin, and it really seems to draw out the flavour.  

Oil your smoker cooking racks so the fish don’t stick, then place them into the pre-heated smoke box. A tip for extra flavour is to double smoke some fish, particularly those used whole like mullet or tommies. Cooking times vary between 20-minutes to over an hour depending on the thickness of the fish, and occasional checks of your fish will soon tell you how well cooked it is.  

Feel free to experiment, whether it’s using different flavoured wood chips or different seasonings on the fish itself. 

Served with a fresh garden salad, or simply eaten cold, hot smoked fish is a Summer must-do if you love your seafood! 

Cooking fish in mclaren vale and fleurieu coast

Top Tips for Success

When it comes to capitalising on the fantastic array of fish species on offer along the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast there are a few things you can do to put the odds in your favour this Summer season and reel in the best catches. 

Being flexible with your approach, in terms of the fish you want to catch and being able to travel to the location. These months produce arguably the most variety of species, and inevitably you’ll cross paths with many different fish types when you put a line in. Having the tackle and bait/lures on hand to catch them will mean that even if your target fish isn’t biting you’ll still have an enjoyable time and bring home some sublime seafood and usually a mixed bag. So pack a few bait types like pipi (cockle), squid, gents and maybe a couple of different lures (squid jigs, metal slices, soft plastics) and you’ll be amazed at how many different fish you’ll land from the one location. 

We are lucky to have many great eating fish on offer like whiting, garfish, as well as tommie ruff, snook, mullet, sweep and yellowfin whiting, remember to care for them correctly so they can be cooked and enjoyed by family and friends.  

Bring a cooler and some ice with you wherever you’re fishing to keep your fish in the best possible shape, and always try to keep fish out of direct sunlight. Clean them up promptly at the end of the session, and you’ll find many of these ‘lesser known’ species are actually taste sensations.  
 
After your successful fishing trip to the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast, please tag #valeandcoastfishing when posting your local catches or general fishing pics on social media – we’d love to see them! 

Fishing in mclaren vale and fleurieu coast

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