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Big kingfish are a possibility at Coffin Bay, especially in spring.

COFFIN Bay, located on the south-western tip of the Eyre Peninsula, is one of South Australia’s top holiday and fishing destinations. The bay system and nearby national park have so much to offer for the land based and small boat fisho, from bread and butter species, to surf fishing and even some bruising shallow water kingfish.


Situated 680 km west of Adelaide, Coffin Bay is a quaint township located on the shores of the bay that shares the same name. And don’t let the sombre name of Coffin put you off. The town has a permanent population of around 600 people, but this figure swells during peak holiday periods.

There are several branching arms of the bay, and together they amass a big bay system – somewhat daunting at first. The bay is stunning and is largely tree-lined, being fringed by the Coffin Bay National Park along its western shores. The area offers a multitude of beaches, rocky points and protected bays, meaning there’s always somewhere to fish in all weather conditions.
Some great inshore fishing options are accessible by boat.

Bay system by boat

The protected water of the bay system extends for around 20 km from the shallows of Kellidie Bay through to Point Longnose, which separates the shallow inner bays from the semi-protected outer bay. In this feature we’ll just look at the inshore fishing options and won’t delve into the blue water.
The inner bay system is quite vast, and includes Port Douglas, Mount Dutton Bay, Dutton Bay West, Kellidie Bay and Yangie Bay. There are five marine park sanctuary zones dotted within the bay, so be sure to check the zones before venturing onto the water.
King George whiting are undoubtedly the most popular target from inside the bay system. The edge of the main channel produces a few whiting, as do the scattered sand holes from inside Mount Dutton Bay, and near the oyster racks in the central zone of Port Douglas. Fishing near the oyster racks can be a heap of fun, and by anchoring away from the lease and creating a berley trail, you’ll be able to draw some whiting into your area. You’ll also get some good bycatch in the form of salmon trout, herring, silver trevally, flathead and garfish.
If you’re specifically after a feed of gar, anchoring over scattered eel grass away from the main tidal flow will give you a good chance of finding a few little ‘beakies’. Using a surface berley such as bran and tuna oil will help to draw the gar to your boat. 
Salmon trout up to around half a kilo are a reliable option inside the bay system. Casting or trolling small lures around Goat Island, the Brothers Islands and around some of the older oyster racks will produce a few chunky trout, along with a few snook and some big herring.
For the sport fisho, Coffin Bay is renowned for producing big kingfish through the shallow waters of the bay during spring. These big kings aren’t an easy target though, and you must be prepared to spend multiple days on the water, for often one hook-up. These are a serious class of fish though, averaging between 20 to 30 kg.
Most of the fishing for kings is done by sight casting live baits to packs of fish as they move over the shallows – exciting stuff, or alternatively fishing live baits under balloons in the main channel. Both forms of fishing require patience, and lots of it. 
Other big fish targets inside the bay include snapper, although the annual run of snapper is seeing less fish entering the bay. Fishing the deeper holes around Seal Corner, the main channel, and through to Black Springs sees the bulk of the snapper activity. Gummy sharks are also active through the shallow bay system, especially at night around the full moon periods in winter. Most of these gummies are smaller sharks in the 5 to 8 kg range, but expect to hook a few stingrays in between the gummies.
Motoring past Point Longnose, which is about a 17 km run from the main ramp, will bring you to Coffin Bay outer. This semi-protected body of water is still quite shallow, averaging 5 to 10 m. Through this area we have the famed Farm Beach whiting grounds, which extend up the eastern side of the bay to Frenchman’s Bluff, and up the western side of the bay to Point Sir Isaac. The whiting hit their peak in this area throughout winter, and the fishing can be exceptional. When fishing in this area, especially in the deeper 8 to 12 m grounds, it’s worthwhile having a slop line set for a roaming gummy shark. 
The main township of Coffin Bay has a first-rate launching facility which accommodates vessels of all sizes. The multiple lane ramp has floating pontoon access and is often a hive of activity with the local oyster farmers launching and retrieving their work boats. The only word of warning when using the Coffin Bay ramp is to be mindful of the side-current. The tidal flow can be quite strong pushing past the ramp.
This ramp gives good access to all of the nearby inner bays. Another launching option is from inside Mount Dutton Bay. This is a single lane ramp, also serviced by a floating pontoon, but the access road is not sealed and it’s a 20km drive if you’re staying in Coffin Bay. This ramp does give good access to Mount Dutton Bay if that’s your targeted body of water. 
The other two launch sites are from Farm Beach and Little Douglas. Both of these launch sites offer easy access to the outer bay and the renowned Farm Beach grounds, but they require beach launching and are only recommended for boats 5 m and under.  
Flathead can be targetted by land-based anglers.

Fishing land based

If you don’t have a boat, don’t despair as there are plenty of land based fishing options in the region. Starting close to town, the main jetty can fish quite well for silver trevally, herring and salmon trout. King George whiting are a possibility from the town jetty but are generally smaller fish. Some better size King George can be caught from the rocks along the Ledge (the rocks on the northern side of the main channel which are accessible via Kellidie Bay Road). A few good flathead are also caught along here when fishing with bait for whiting.
Other good places to try land based for whiting include the inside of Mount Dutton Bay (again watch the marine park boundary), plus inside the Coffin Bay National Park from Black Springs to White Lady rocks. If you have a 4WD, the trek from Yangie Bay through to Point Sir Isaac is a great day out. There’s plenty of four wheel driving over sand dunes and along beaches, so be sure to deflate your tyres before venturing onto the soft stuff. 
While out in the national park, some good bread and butter fishing can be found along Seven Mile beach, especially near the limestone outcrops about half way along the beach. Casting baits out to the nearby sand holes sees a few King George caught, although these generally aren’t large fish. Setting up a berley trail and using a float rig is a reliable way of catching a feed of small to medium sized garfish, along with plenty of herring and a few salmon trout. This is a safe beach for swimming too, especially when the wind is blowing from the southerly quarter.
Continuing the 4WD track from Seven Mile Beach will bring you to Morgan’s Landing and eventually on to Point Sir Isaac. The rocks along this stretch produce quite a few King George, with some nice flathead taken from the stretches of sand in between the rocky points. Casting 70 to 100 mm paddle tail or prawn imitation soft plastics is effective on the flathead.
The rocks along this coast are still facing semi-protected water and front sand and scattered weed, but once you round Point Sir Isaac, the water tapers quicker with a lot more broken bottom and heavy reef nearby, and hence more reef fish as a result. These rocks face unprotected water, so they are open to more weather. Sweep, silver trevally, Australian salmon, the occasional snapper and plenty of wrasse are caught along these rocks.
There are some great beaches for surf fishing around Coffin Bay.

There are a couple of great surf beaches in the Coffin Bay National Park which offer good fishing for Aussie salmon. The first surf beach you’ll come across as you enter the park is Gunyah. This beach requires a 4WD to access, and the beach can be very soft so take caution. Being able to drive along the beach gives you the option to look for schools of salmon, and parking right in front of your chosen gutter is handy. There are usually some good troughs of water along this beach to choose from.

Almonta Beach is the continuation of Gunyah, and can accessed with a conventional car from the Golden Island end of the beach. You’ll have to walk over a sand dune and along the beach by foot in this area, with no 4WD access. This stretch of sand is usually shallower than nearby Gunyah as it’s partially buffered by Golden Island, but the shallower water makes it a good venue for visually spotting schools of salmon.
Sensation Beach is out the end of the Coffin Bay Peninsula, and is about a 1.5 hour 4WD trek to reach. The salmon fishing can be good along this beach too, but the gutters are quite shifty and not as reliable as Gunyah. This beach also yields some nice mullet, herring and a handful of flathead.
As you can see, there are lots of different fishing options for fishos visiting Coffin Bay. It’s a picturesque little township situated right on the shores of one of SA’s most beautiful bays. 

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