About the town
Kalbarri is a small town almost exactly 600km from Perth. Its unique appeal to anglers lies in the fact that many southern and northern fish not only share the same water, they thrive. Of all the northern fishing locations in WA, Kalbarri is certainly the most versatile and easiest to fish from land.
You can take the new coastal drive from Northhampton (just north of Geraldton) through some beautiful hamlet country which makes the last 100km just fly by. Whether you have a boat or simply want to fish the beach or rocks, youll find something in Kalbarri for you.
What fish will you catch?
The Murchison River flows alongside the town and is home to an increasing variety of fish. Southern species such as black bream, mulloway and whiting are mixed with northern fish like mangrove jack, giant herring and trevally.
The river mouth is a hotspot for tailor and mulloway while inshore waters accessible by small boat for tailor, mulloway, pink snapper, skippy and tarwhine.
Beach fishing can produce tailor, mulloway, sharks, mackerel, tarwhine and even pink snapper.
You dont have to travel far for deep sea fishing where there is a wealth on offer. Pink snapper, many species of emperor, coral trout, baldchin groper, breaksea cod, crayfish, spanish mackerel and tuna are all very common for a large part of the year.
HOW TO FISH IT
Land based fishing
The Murchison River – The river has long been a home for some huge black bream and mulloway which enter through the rocky maze at the river mouth. Canoes and dinghies can be cheaply hired to take a trip around the different sections which are, more often than not, very safe for inexperience boaties.
The island near the boat ramp is excellent for bream and anchoring close to it of an afternoon is the way to go. There are also bream around the boat pens and further upstream but a bar across the river makes navigation dangerous past the caravan park so take care. Large boats wont make it.
In recent times, the mighty giant herring and mangrove jack have taken up residence in the area with jacks also living on the reef next to the boat ramp and around the pens at certain times of the year.
It is also very possible to catch some huge tailor by anchoring up near the tip of Oyster Reef and casting poppers as the tide starts to run in. Fish up to 5kg are not uncommon.
As the wet season rains bring a deluge of muddy water into town from the plains to the east, mulloway school up offshore then, two weeks after it clears, an awesome mulloway run starts at the river mouth.
For the kids, whiting can easily be caught along the sand bar close to the mouth.
Wittecarra Creek & Red Bluff – Wittecarra is talked about alongside Dirk Hartog Island as a mecca for tailor lovers all over the country. Some monster fish live here and are joined at various times by even bigger specimens that can top 7 or 8 kilos. The average, however, is more like 1-2kg.
The area opposite the creek mouth is often a deep hole and many mulloway are caught here by tailor fishers. During the day, the tailor and mulloway will go quiet but you can then catch whiting, dart and tarwhine.
Red Bluff isn’t the same sort of tailor hotspot but, when huge garfish turn up over summer, fishing the corner of the rocks is fantastic for them. The beach running north from the rocks has some flat reef at the waters edge and this too can be good for tailor.
Blue Holes – This is another famous tailor spot but you’ll struggle without some local knowledge. Most of anything you’ll need to know can be found in a great book called “Kalbarri Fishing Guide” by Howard Gliddon. This book is available all over Kalbarri and only costs $3.
You need to fish in the hole at the northern end of the car park by baitcasting gardies or mulies over the broken ground. You are likely to lose a few rigs so don’t go packing the lead.
To fish it, cast at the entrance to the reef and allow the usually strong current to draw the bait back towards you. Tailor to 4 or 5kg are not uncommon here.
Wagoe – Another famous beach just south of Kalbarri, Wagoe is privately owned and you need to stay in the chalets to fish there. The reward is land based game fishing for monster tailor, spanish mackerel, tuna, mulloway and just about everything else you’ve wanted to catch from a beach.
Huge sharks can either be a problem or loads of fun, depending upon your point of view, but you’ll not lose many fish to them.
There are probably more than 10 great spots we haven’t covered here with 30km of the township and, if you’re lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in the area, you’ll probably find some more.
The town boat ramp is very simple but its close to the river mouth. It doesnt have a jetty or even concrete and ordinarily Id say its not up to scratch but you cant really get into trouble, even in a breeze.
Without doubt, the thing I love most about Kalbarri is the huge distances required to travel to the fish. In the case of tailor you have to drive a good two minutes and some 300 metres from the boat ramp to get into the five kilo fish. Diabolical.
Oyster Reef can be the best tailor fishing in the country at times because youre fishing from the safety of the calm side which is less than two metres deep. The sometimes massive swells that pound the mouth of the Murchison River are negated completely as they trickle around the point, creating enough wash for tailor to hunt from but not enough to cause you trouble.
From a boat, choose an incoming tide and anchor just off the tip. Let the anchor rope out until youre a safe cast away from the foam and youre done. Depending upon the day, the fish will want either garfish or poppers so taking a variety of both is the way to go.
I use a fat gardie on a gang of 5 x 5/0 Tarpon Youvela hooks. They come as either chemical hooks that can be ganged (a rarity!) or galvanized hooks with the eyes already opened for you.
Black Rock sits evilly at the mouth. Swells smash over it, splintering the water into white foam and occasionally exposing a reef thats seen the undoing of many an unwary angler. It is, however, THE premier tailor water in the country.
Several national records have come out of the foam but its extremely dangerous and WE DONT RECOMMEND YOU FISH IT. If you decide to then fine but remember we told you not to if anything happens.
When the tailor cant found anywhere else, theyre almost always in front of the rock and, as luck would have it, its the hardest place to get into. A safer way is to get yourself onto Oyster Reef.
You can hire a dinghy from the foreshore and putt your way onto the beach north of Oysters. Tie it up safely then take your best beach rod and walk to the spot directly in front of Black Rock. This is where you want to launch your heaviest poppers as far as you can and crank them like theres no tomorrow.
In the afternoons, especially, its not uncommon to see six kilo fish being taken from the shore here and if theres a full moon and an incoming tide in the afternoon, watch out! Youll rarely miss.
We head north as a rule to Sand Patch. This is a nice little reef about four miles north of the river mouth and it can hold some fine fish at times. A few dhufish and plenty of snapper have come from here regularly.
Bald Face is another excellent spot but you have to find the right spot. You are looking for that rubbly sort of ground that dhufish often school over. 29 metres has some good ground.
South of town also has some top fishing. In summer, locals load up the trolling lures and head to the 38m line. This is where the yellowfin are usually caught from directly in front of the mouth but if theres no action you can head further south to Wagoe and Goat Gulch.
Mackerel are prevalent at Kalbarri over summer but most are in the 5-7kg bracket. Over winter, the fish are much larger but harder to find. Your best bet is to travel down to about Natural Bridge (on the coastal gorges) and troll the 18m line towards Wagoe.
In Kalbarri, you can almost be positive that the mackerel will be around the bait schools and when they start to come off the bottom the bait is hunting even smaller bait and the mackerel will start to hunt them all.
Goat Gulch is an horrendously large cliff that locals scale to fish for big greenbacks. A big left hander usually pounds the fishing platform creating great foam for tailor fishing. Watch the backwash and surge.
27° 36.237 South 114° 07.947 East
Block of reef close to shore for pink snapper in winter and other reef dwellers including the odd dhufish.
27° 28.894 South 114° 04.436 East – 27-29m depth.
Fantastic winter dhufish grounds with good rubble and weed. Also samsonfish, coral trout, breaksea cod, red throat emperor, pink snapper.
27° 50.823 South 114° 06.156 East
Good tailor fishing to 3kg and occasional snapper. Insanely dangerous in a large swell but safe if care is taken in swells under 2m. Cast into the foam. Also troll the 18m line in the area for mackerel.
What gear will I need?
|River: 5-6 bream rod|
|Beach: 8-10 casting rod|
|Inshore: 5-6 bream rod, 6-7 6kg tailor rod|
|Offshore: 15kg trolling / bottom fishing rod|
|River: Light eggbeater|
|Beach: Heavy eggbeater / baitcaster|
|Inshore: Light eggbeater / baitcaster|
|Offshore: Overhead trolling|
|Offshore: 15kg braid for bottom fishing, mono for trolling|
|River: 6kg coated mono if jacks are around, otherwise none|
|Beach: 20kg coated mono for small tailor, wire for larger tailor|
|Inshore: 40kg coated mono or wire for tailor|
|Offshore: 40kg coated mono to make rigs, wire for mackerel trolling, 40kg coated mono for yellowfin tuna|
|River: Soft plastics and hard bodied minnows for bream and jacks|
|Beach: Metal slices such as Javelin Lazers, poppers, Predators, swimming minnows|
|Inshore: Metal slices such as Javelin Lazers, poppers, Predators, swimming minnows for tailor|
|Offshore: Halco Laser Pro or River2Sea Triho trolling minnows, white lead head jigs for bottom fishing|
|River: River prawns, worms, mussels, coral prawns|
|Beach: Garfish preferred over mulies, worms for whiting and tarwhine|
|Inshore: Coral prawns for small bottom fish, garfish for tailor|
|Offshore: Fresh fish fillets, mullet, squid, octopus, mulies as a last resort|
|River: Small sinkers, wide gap #4 hooks, long shanked #8 hooks|
|Beach: Surf sinkers, 5/0 gangs for garfish, live bait hooks, wide gap #4 hooks for smaller fish|
|Inshore: Small sinkers, wide gap #4 hooks, long shanked #8 hooks|
|Offshore: Snapper leads, 5/0 gangs for garfish, 5/0-7/0 chemically sharpened hooks|
|River: Casual fishing clothing|
|Beach: Beaches are safe, nothing special|
|Inshore: A spray jacket is handy if the wind gets up|
|Offshore: Wet weather clothing will be handy if its chilly because the wind can be nasty offshore|
You will be doing a quasi-beach launch into the river so a good car and trailer are needed. The sea rescue is right near the ramp and youll need flares and an EPIRB to head offshore.
Huge amounts of fuel arent required as most of the fishing is close to town. Diesel, leaded and unleaded fuels are available but premium unleaded is hard to find.
There are only a couple of deepsea only charters and we recommend Kalbarri Explorer Charters (9937 2027).
Plenty of restaurants are located on the main road. Prices are quite reasonable. There are two hotels and a couple of general stores.
Although there are no fast food restaurants, there are enough take aways to keep your stomach full if you cant catch any fish.
We always stay at the Sunsea Villas (9937 1187) which offer self contained units of excellent quality and at a good price. Many other motels, caravan parks and self contained units are available and you must book in advance for summer.