AUSTRALIA'S PREMIER FISHING DESTINATION
With the continental shelf only kilometres offshore from the outer edge of the Ningaloo Reef, and the vast, shallow Exmouth Gulf offering protection from the open ocean, Exmouth and the Ningaloo Coast offers a wide range of fishing environments that are home to a bewildering array of prized game and sport fish. For this reason, the Ningaloo Coast is regarded by many anglers as Australia's premier fishing destination.
There are many opportunities for beach, reef, game, sport, flats and fly fishing in the diverse environment of Ningaloo.
Land-based fishing is popular as there are many different species to be caught. Beach fishing within the Ningaloo Lagoon or along the shores of the Exmouth Gulf often produces spangled emperor (nor-west snapper), queenfish, whiting, bream, trevally and some surprising reef species. The humble looking Learmonth Jetty near the bottom of the Exmouth Gulf can produce anything from whiting and bream to longtail tuna and Spanish mackerel, and the rocks around the tip of the North West Cape are renowned for the monster giant trevally that patrol their edges.
The sandflats of the Ningaloo Lagoon are famous in fly fishing circles for offering the Australian mainland's only reliable bonefish fishery. These highly prized sportfish can be sight cast to in the shallow, crystal clear waters of the Ningaloo Lagoon, along with permit, golden trevally, queenfish, spangled emperor and others. The Exmouth Gulf also holds many exciting fly fishing opportunities, from sight casting permit and queenfish on the flats through to chasing surface feeding tuna schools in open water. Several fly fishing guides operate out of Exmouth.
Exmouth is also recognised as one of the finest game fishing destinations in the world. All six Australian billfish species (blue, black and striped marlin, sailfish, broadbill swordfish and shortbill spearfish) are encountered here, along with yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi (dolphinfish), wahoo, cobia, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally and many others. Every year in March the Exmouth Game Fishing Club hosts its annual GAMEX tournament - Western Australia's greatest fishing event. GAMEX always produces some fantastic and often record breaking catches, particularly in terms of tag and release numbers. Game Fishing charters operate out of both Exmouth and Coral Bay.
For those looking to take home a feed of tasty reef fish, professional charter boats depart Exmouth and Coral Bay daily. They offer a range of tours including half and full day fishing trips, as well as being available for private charter. Some of the sought after species include spangled emperor (nor-west snapper), coral trout, red emperor, gold band snapper and bluebone.
BOAT LAUNCHING FACILITIES
Exmouth has three boat launching ramps. The Exmouth Marina Boat Ramp is located 2km south of the Exmouth townsite and is an all weather, all tide, two lane ramp that affords access to the mid reaches of the Exmouth Gulf.
Bundegi Boat Ramp is located 12km north of Exmouth at Bundegi Beach. This is a single lane concrete ramp tucked just inside the tip of North West Cape, at the mouth of the Exmouth Gulf. It is recommended to avoid launching or retrieving at Bundegi Boat Ramp on very low tides or during periods of strong easterly aspect winds.
Tantabiddi Boat Ramp is 35km from Exmouth (just north of the Cape Range National Park boundary) at Tantabiddi. This is a two lane concrete ramp that provides easiest access to the Ningaloo Lagoon, Ningaloo Reef and the open Indian Ocean. Tantabiddi Boat Ramp is useable in most weather conditions, although launching or retrieving around very low tides is not recommended.
Other small boat beach launching areas are available from campsites in the Cape Range National Park, but these are generally only accessible to 4WD vehicles.
Coral Bay boasts an excellent new, multi-lane, all tide boat launching facility. The channels leading out to sea either to the north or south of Coral Bay can be difficult for inexperienced boaties to navigate, so use of an accurate GPS charting system is recommended.
The Ningaloo Marine Park is a multiple-use Marine Park that stretches approximately 300km along the west coast of the Cape Range Peninsula, from Bundegi in the north to Red Bluff in the south, for a total area of 5070 km2. Within this area exist several special conservation 'sanctuary zones' where fishing is strictly prohibited.
For information on these sanctuary zones, please visit: www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/ningaloo or contact the local Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPaW) office on (08) 9947 8000.