Fishing and Boating in Shark Bay
Shark Bay is one of Western Australia's premier recreational fishing destinations and this massive protected marine embayment offers excellent fishing opportunities for small boat and shore-based anglers. There are innumerable fishing sites around the bay but it is important to be aware of the different zones and regulations in place before heading out to catch yourself a feed. Both the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Parks and Wildlife have regulations and marine zones in place that you must be aware of or risk a hefty fine. Read below for more details.
Where can I fish in Shark Bay?
A large part of Shark Bay is protected as marine park, but there are only a few areas where line fishing is prohibited. These areas include Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve and the following sanctuary zones: 18 Mile Beach, Mary Anne Island, Gudrun Wreck, Surf Point, Sandy Point, Big Lagoon, Disappointment Reach and L'haridon Bight.
Visit our interactive map or download the marine reserves brochure to find out what activities are allowed in each zone.
Steep Point, False Entrance and South Passage
Famous for its cliff fishing for mackerel and other pelagic species, Steep Point attracts hard core anglers prepared to use special equipment to land prized fish. This is not your normal fishing however as helium balloons are used to float bait offshore and special gaffs are required to haul fish up the cliff face. The late summer months are the best time for catching pelagics from the cliffs but camping spots are in high demand during this time so book ahead.
Further south is False Entrance, which like Steep Point offers cliff fishing for mackerel and other pelagics. The limestone rock in this area is very jagged however and can be demanding on your footwear; bare foot fishing is not recommended! Camping is possible here at informal sites near the beach.
For all camping at Steep Point, Shelter Bay, False Entrance and South Passage you will need a 4WD and have a permit. For all the information on preparing for a trip to Steep Point go here.
Dirk Hartog Island
The waters around Dirk Hartog Island are quickly gaining a reputation with anglers as the place to land some mighty fish. The western side is similar to Steep Point with anglers seeking out the cliffs for some hefty pelagic species like tuna, mackerel and kingfish. The flow of warm water from the north, known as the Leeuwin Current, can also bring gamefish close to shore, with sailfish and marlin being sought after species.
The eastern side is great for land based fishing with tailor, flathead and even giant trevally being caught.
Visit our Dirk Hartog Island visitor guide for all the information on access, accommodation and permits.
Francois Peron National Park
A popular destination with easy access to a number of quiet coastal campsites, this park is perfect for a relaxing fishing holiday. Shore based fishing is less demanding here and with relatively little effort you can catch a feed of whiting, flathead and tailor from the numerous beaches. Access to each of the coastal camping sites is by 4WD only and if you wish to fish further offshore in a dinghy make sure you have a high clearance trailer. For all the details on Francois Peron National Park see our visitor guide.
Fishing is possible in the waters off Monkey Mia and from the beach areas adjacent to the resort. Although the water is generally shallow in these areas it is possible to catch some of the inshore species like whiting and flathead. Basic supplies are available from the resort. Please avoid fishing within the dolphin interaction zone.
The wide expanses of water in Shark Bay make it an attractive destination for boaters. Fully formed boat ramps suitable for large boats are located in Denham, Monkey Mia and Nanga Bay Resort on South Peron. Small boats can be launched off the beach at Gladstone and Bush Bay on the Wooramel coast, Shelter bay at Steep Point and some sites in Francois Peron National Park. Download our Shark Bay map to locate these sites.
- In summer the southerly winds can be fierce. Always check local conditions before heading out.
- Generally the water is shallow across the bay so keeled boats will have difficulty navigating through some areas.
- Boat access is restricted in certain areas to protect sensitive habitats. For example the Gladstone Special Purpose Zone is closed to boat access at certain times of the year to protect the breeding dugongs that congregate there. Similarly access to the Dolphin Interaction Area at Monkey Mia is restricted to protect the feeding dolphins.
Be prepared! There is always an element of risk when boating. Manage the risk and you will have a great trip. Check this website
out for everything you need to know about recreational fishing safety.
Don’t have your own boat and want to go fishing offshore? Several charter boat companies in Denham can either take you on fishing charters or even hire out boats for you to use. Visit this search engine to find a charter company to suit your needs.
Rules and regulations
Whilst the fishing in Shark Bay can be very productive there is a fine balance between conserving fish stocks and ensuring there is enough fish for everyone to catch a feed. Fishing regulations can be divided into three areas:
- Bag and possession limits
- Shark Bay Marine Reserves zones
- Fisheries Zones (particularly for pink snapper fishing)
Bag and possession limits
Special bag and possession limits are in place for Shark Bay so as to better manage local fish stocks. In the inner gulfs of the bay for example it is illegal to fillet fish whilst at sea; only whole fish can be brought ashore. For all of the rules and regulations that apply to Shark Bay see the Department of Fisheries' Recreational Fishing Guide for the region.
Shark Bay Marine Park zones
The Shark Bay Marine Park was declared to conserve Shark Bay’s rich marine biodiversity while allowing public enjoyment of the region. A zoning system is in place within the marine park to appropriately manage the local marine ecosystems. These regulations not only protect fish stocks but also dugong habitat, seagrass meadows and stromatolites.
Fisheries zones and Pink snapper regulations
Over and above the marine park zoning system there are special zones in place to better manage the local Pink snapper population. Pink snapper stocks in Shark Bay's inner gulfs are vulnerable to overfishing and at one stage were badly depleted. Stocks are now back at sustainable levels thanks to a long-term research and management program. As a result, the daily bag limit of pink snapper per recreational fisher in the gulfs is now two. The legal size of Pink snapper in the bay is 50cm - 70cm. There are three management zones for this specie, two of which have seasonal closures. For more information visit the fisheries website.
Caring for the marine environment
Shark Bay is one of our most significant natural treasures and a World Heritage listed site. Please help protect the area by doing the following:
- Reduce boat speed around dugongs, turtles and whales. Approach dugongs and turtles at slow speed and keep at least 50m away. stay 100m from whales and do not go within 30 degress either side of their direction of travel.
- Note the location of seagrass banks and stay away from shallow areas to minimize propeller damage. These plants are the key ecological driver in Shark Bay and once removed, they can take decades to recover.
- Coral anchors cause severe damage to coral and seagrass and should not be used. Anchor only in bare sand.
- Shark Bay is rich in bird life, including migratory and breeding seabirds. It is also Australia’s most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles. Observe and conserve – do not disturb nesting turtles and seabird colonies.
- Fish for the future – Take only what you need. Observe state-wide possession limits now in place. Quickly return undersize and unwanted fish to the water. Discard of all rubbish and fishing line appropriately.
Going rock fishing? It can be very dangerous and serious accidents can and do occur! To make sure you are fully prepared and aren't putting your life in danger grab a copy of our information sheet.
For more information contact…
Department of Parks and Wildlife
Shark Bay District Office
63 Knight Terrace
Denham WA 6537
Ph: +61 8 9948 2226
Fax: +61 8 9948 1024
Monkey Mia Office
Ph: +61 8 9948 1366
Fax: +61 8 9948 1512
Mid-west Region Office
201 Foreshore Drive
Geraldton WA 6530
Ph: +61 8 9921 5955
Fax: +61 8 9921 5713
Western Australian Department of Fisheries