Perth’s famous Swan River is perhaps not as good as it once was but is still a great place to learn to fish and to take the kids fishing, plus it’s the go-to location for a huge number of Perth’s fishos that like to specialise in river species.

Still packed with Bream, most of the other species have declined over the past 20 years but can still be found by those dedicated to chasing them.

Some, like Tailor, are certainly in decline over the years from 2016-2019 and this relates to both the size and quantity of the fish coming into the Swan past the lower reaches of East Fremantle. This means for them (and for other species like Flathead), what was traditionally a good spot for them might not be any more but you can be sure the fish are going to be somewhere.

A good example of this has been the lack of Flathead around the Claremont area but much higher numbers upstream, past East Perth than ever before.

Here’s our collection of Videos about the Swan River. If you’re looking for more info about spots, there’s lots more text about each location at the bottom of this page.


Swan-River-HarbourFremantle Harbour

Back in the day, you could fish from a boat along the walls of the harbour but these days you are restricted to land based on the South Mole side.

Regardless, some huge mulloway are landed here each year and those who chase them know that many long nights are sometimes needed to get your prized fish among the multitude of rays and other pests you’ll encounter.

Tarwhine, skippy, herring, tailor and other fish are common and you will usually see salmon in there from time to time around autumn, plus regular visits from bonito and other tuna, including longtails.

Another trend that’s become popular in recent times is targeting small fish with light tackle and Fremantle Harbour is particularly good for this.

The yellowtail scad and slimy mackerel perform very well on ultra-light tackle and there are a number of other, similar sized fish who respond to berley with a frenzy of feeding activity.

There has been known to be a bit of biff but mostly it’s quite a good place to target a very wide variety of species from tiny to massive from shore.

Swan-River-01-EastFreoEast Fremantle to Chidley Point

It’s easy to overlook the Fremantle Traffic Bridge but if you time the tides right, you can land some excellent tarwhine and even mulloway from the pylons that you can walk to from the shore.

The flats around there used to be good flathead ground but, since the construction of the apartments, this is now mostly a time wasting exercise. However, with the incoming tide and clean water, both herring and tailor are regularly feeding in the evenings particularly.

Some tailor can be 50cm plus but most will be around the legal size so be careful with your measuring. We recommend catch and release with small metal lures to target these fish.

As you head upstream you’re in very good yellowfin whiting country but you’ll have to target them at night to avoid the blowfish and with fresh bloodworms as a rule. Squid will usually be hanging near any lights around here at night as well.

Another fish that’s passing constantly through this area is the mulloway. Small jetties near the water are well worth trying at night, especially when it’s a full or new moon and the high tide is peaking before midnight.

The Blackwall Reach area is very deep (almost 20m) but it’s not easy to fish. Large black bream used to live hard up against the cliffs but they are less common here now and certainly not as big.

In the 80s, bream over 50cm were very common up against the cliffs but fishing the bottom here now is most likely going to produce flathead or flounder and, when the sea breeze is chopping up the water, tailor schools are often feeding on baitfish in the afternoon if you have a small boat to troll.

From shore, you can often reach the schools of tailor from Chidley Beach, which can fish like it’s the ocean at times. Other times it’s dead and flathead are less common here than you think, even though it seems to have a lot of what they like. You will normally find more of them towards the sand spit near Russell Brown Park.

Swan-River-01-PtWalterPoint Walter to Point Resolution

As the rocks of Blackwall Reach turn into the sand spit of Point Walter, there’s an interesting section which can fish quite well for flathead but the rocks are hard to contend with.

The best option is usually the last half of the spit, on either side, depending on the tide and water conditions. flathead are common here most summer, although recent times has seen less flatfish in general this far downstream.

Casting from the end is actually quite productive with lures for tailor and herring, perhaps even the Giant Herring or Elops which does certainly hunt here in warmer months. The channel markers are where most of the schools hang so you’ll need to hit them with a cast or troll past them.

Tailor are also seen feeding on bait schools right in the middle (see video – Trolling Swan River Tailor) and the deep water of Mosmans Bay can produce big mulloway if you get the times and tides right.

Yacht Clubs are often a good place for bream and tarwhine, plus you’ll often catch flathead and flounder on the bottom in the same area. We also have videos about this above.

The jetty at Freshwater Bay is a very popular spot and can produce bream (very smart ones here), tarwhine, flathead, flounder and squid. Night time is probably the best bet to avoid blowies but spots can often be at a premium on nice evenings.

The sandy beach upstream of the jetty used to be a sensational flathead spot but not any more. You can still find them but, in the 2000s, five to ten a session was the norm. These days two would be a fine day but still don’t overlook it completely.

For those with a boat, Karrakatta Bank is very tempting and you can drift around pinging the odd flathead or two. However, it can be fools gold as, during the wrong part of the tide, it’s often a wasteland ruled by a mob of unruly pufferfish ready to assault your soft plastics.

It’s most often a good beacon for tailor schools and birds working over the top means a school is feeding. Trolling the edges is the go with small minnows. Also cast small metal lures into the school for some light tackle action.

Watch out for rocks as you troll because often the tide here is well under the draft of the average boat.

Claremont itself is worth trying along the shoreline dropoffs for tailor, usually the best ones are loners or in very small schools. Bream can also be up on the flats, around yacht clubs and other structure but also along the rocky shoreline that’s around a little further towards Dalkeith.

This used to be a primo flathead spot but is another one that doesn’t produce like it used to. Point Resolution drops away quite quickly and here you can spin for tailor, herring and elops with lures or even set up a beach fishing bait with mulies along the short but nice sandy beach. Late afternoon / evening is the best time for that.

Opposite, you have the Point Walter Jetty and this was, in previous years, an excellent night spot for tailor near the lights. They still come but the sizes have been poor in recent times. The flats towards the boat ramp can often be a very good walk for flathead.

Swan River MapAttadale to The Narrows Bridge

Attadale is mainly flats and is therefore a good place to walk for flathead in the warmer months. Afternoons with a sea breeze are worth trying for giant herring with small metal lures.

There are a number of yacht clubs with tons of structure on the northern side of the river in this area. These are very good for bream but, be aware, everyone knows this so they see a lot of baits and lures.

Tailor are very active in this area during summer and are often spotted by the birds flying in circles above them. Getting upwind and sending long casts into the school is the best idea. You can also troll but try and match the size of the lure to the size of the baitfish they’re rounding up.

The Narrows itself is a spot that can hold any number of different species. Certainly bream are very widespread throughout the structure and they will take baits and lures.

Crab imitations and soft plastics work well, something that can waft down between the pylons. Mulloway are in the river a lot of the year but, once again, it’s the warmer months when the largest numbers are upstream. The Narrows has always been a focal point for anglers targeting them and many are caught each year.

It can be long hours for little reward but one key is the tides. Try to fish either side of the tide change, particularly the high tide, when mulloway are at their peak feeding period.

Flathead and tailor are also around the bridge but the numbers are much lower than bream. Try to target flathead along the dropoffs and tailor are once again spotted by birds working but also baitfish that have been tightly schooled up and seem distressed or chased.

If you take a left at Mounts Bay Road you’ll have Riverside Drive and a long wall with plenty of places to park and fish. Bream, tailor, flathead and mulloway are all possible but it’s going to be 90% bream.



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