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How to catch fish in the Swan River
"Just about every day I hear someone say to me can you catch anything else other than blowies in the Swan River? Well the answer is yes you can but you do need to know what you are doing and where to look at certain times of the year"
Author: Peter Goulding

Online fishing tackle

Just about every day I hear someone say to me can you catch anything else other than blowies in the river? Well the answer is yes you can but you do need to know what you are doing and where to look at certain times of the year. We are now into July and the middle of winter and this is what I call the end of our fishing season for the river. What happens around now is we get heavy rains that give our river systems a good flush of fresh water. The fish that have worked their way up the river over the summer months are forced down to the lower end of the estuary system and the oceanic species that come into the river are forced back out to sea for a while.

The way I look at it is that around the end of August and the beginning of September we get the first of the spring tides. This is when we have extremely low tides where the water really gets very low at some time during the day. Then later on during the high tide which fills the river up again. Now this is when we get the first flush of salt water pushing up stream and along with it comes the fish. From the beginning of September to about November we will see fish such as flathead, flounder, mulloway and tailor start to move up stream and places such as East Fremantle, Point Walter, Mosman Park, the old Swan Brewery site and Canning Bridge are all excellent spots to try.

At the same time the river species start to move upstream and the main species for recreational fishers is the black bream. This time of the year is very important to them because itís breeding season and where they like to do this is in the brackish water where the salt water meets the fresh water. During these periods, good places to look for them are from Perth waters upstream to around Ascot/ Redcliffe area. You can find though that they are pretty hard to catch at this time as they seem to stop feeding for a while. However on the other hand if you are in the right spot at the right time and they decide to feed it can be very exciting. One place I have had success in the past with this is around Ron Courtney Island. There is a deep hole near here that also turns good fish up in the middle of winter as well. In the Canning from Canning Bridge to Salterís Point are the best spots to have a go.

As summer progresses so does the action and the fish move further upstream, but sadly so does the pesky Blowfish population. I strongly suggest especially in the lower reaches that baits become very much unusable as the blowies are on to them in a flash so lures are the way to go. In todayís market there is a huge selection of hard and soft bodied lures and I would strongly suggest that you talk to your local tackle shop owner or his staff on what the best selection for the species you wish to catch. I find the soft plastics are very much enjoyed by our blowfish and they thoroughly enjoy nipping of their tails and rendering them useless, so I choose hard bodied lures instead. Working the shallows and drop offs in the lower reaches in the early morning in summer is great for Flathead and flounder and in the evenings it is great for tailor. Although many of these are undersize so be careful on what you take.

This jetty in Claremont is a popular spot in September to November for species moving up the river


After dark the blowies tend to back off a fair bit for a good night sleep so they can hammer during the day. So at night time there is an opportunity to soak the bait and this opens up the opportunity to catch yourself a nice mulloway. Places worth trying are Mosman Park, Narrows Bridge, and Canning Bridge. There is always some taken around Ron Courtney Island in January and February. I have heard of them travelling well up stream as far as Bassendean and in the Canning right up to Riverton, although I have never caught one up there.

In the mean time our black bream have moved right upstream and inhabit the snags and structures of fallen down trees etc, way up stream as far as places such as Caversham and further. The same goes for the Canning where they go as far up stream as they can which is Kent St Weir. When we get up here the good news is that the blowies do not like it and there are very few which makes it possible to use soft plastics and baits such as river prawns which are very successful on bream. These fish will stay up there as long as the rain holds off. Although some will start to move downstream even if does not rain this is because their biological clock tells them so. Bream are amazing fish and can tolerate water that has only one part of salt to a million and can also handle high per saline water such as that in Lake Clifton. Not all of them are going to come down stream. Some may stay there, but not many.

When the rain does start and that water starts to pour down. Our fish are on the move and it gives the rec fisher time to pick fish up as they move out to sea. An outgoing tide in the evening in June, July and August is time to pick big yellowfin whiting in the East Fremantle area. The mulloway and tailor will be swimming out as well. The only thing is you have to be in the right place at the right time. Other species leaving the river will be prawns, blue manna crabs and squid. So hunt around jetties such as the ones in Bicton, Mosman Park and Claremont. The water in Blackwall Reach and Mosmanís is very deep and the freshwater is only on the surface so some fish hold up in here over winter so it is worth a go. As for the bream they will move down and hang around the yacht clubs and bridges and this is the best place for you to look. Do not cast to far as well, they will be more likely to hang around the pylons or under the jetty. Another place worth trying is in front of storm water drains where there is flowing water. Fish love aeration. So good luck out there and enjoy the beauty of the Swan and Canning Rivers this year even if you catch something or not.