Fly Fishing Exmouth
If I had to choose only one spot on the whole WA coast I would for sure fish Exmouth. Exmouth is the best fly fishing location I have seen in Australia so far. The town is situated on a peninsula. On the west you have the awesome beaches of Cape Range National Park and its beautiful Ningaloo Reef which is closer to the shore than any other reef in Australia. At some spots you are right on the reef as soon as you put your feet into the water. On the eastern side there is the gulf. So no matter from which side the wind is blowing you will always find a calm“ spot. At Bundegi Beach where you can often spot humpback whales jumping close to shore you can have good fishing if baitfish are abundant and queenfish push them to the beach. There are several spots in Cape Range National Park, too where you can catch bonefish, golden travally, permit and even GTs on the flats if you are lucky. Unfortunately most bonefish at are caught when fishing from a boat. Unlike other spots on the globe the Australian round jaw bonefish (Albula glossodonta) feed in deeper water. They grow quite big but are a little slimmer than at other locations. You need sinktip lines and bonefish flies with heavy eyes to get down fast as the flats are sometimes quite deep. It was Brett Wolf who found out about the big bones of Sandy Bay and after the first publications in fly fishing magazines a real bonefish hype started. Brett is still guiding there but he got quite some competitors meanwhile.
Especially those who guide offshore enjoy quite a good living as the blue water fishing in Exmouth is exceptional. If the weather is good and there is no wind the fly fishing guides go for bonefish, goldens or permit on the flats of Sandy Bay and if it is overcast they head offshore for sailfish or marlin. You can fish for black, striped and blue marlin there.
A Windy Spot
However, if you plan a trip on your own, be advised that the wind can be really nasty and if you have got no boat you will probably not catch too many fish. South and Soutwesterly winds (usually 20-40 km/h) will make fishing on the beautiful flats of Cape Range National Park nearly impossible. You will not see the fish and the casting is difficult. For fly fishing it needs perfect conditions and the wind can destroy your plans. So be sure to have a plan B. Going for bonefish is not that easy from the beach as bonefish are resident fish and heavily targeted. You need a boat to target them successfully although you might be able to catch a bone from the shore or flat. The numbers and catches have declined significantly since 2005 when the location was made public.
If the wind pushes hard from the western side all the fly fishing guides head to the gulf. This means to go by 4WD to Learmonth and then drive a long way by boat to the very bottom of the gulf. That's where the most good fish have been caught within the last years, especially the permit you will see on the Exmouth websites are from there. The fishing is great there for sure but you need to book a guide or just bring your own boat with you or hire one.
Do it yourself?
Although this sounds quite easy, it is not. These guides do an awful good job and are well equipped. Is it possible to do that yourself? Well, yes you can. but ...
First of all you need the right boat. You can hire boats in Exmouth at Exmouth Boat Hire or Ningaloo Car and Boat Hire. These are the two companies I can recommend. If you want to hire a flats boat with a Minn Kota, go to Ningaloo Car and boat hire. They have one. But access for fishing the gulf is limited with it. If you want to fish the gulf you can launch your boat from the beach about 400 m south of Learmonth Jetty like all the local guides do. However, the trailer that comes with the blue fly fishing boat has no extension which means you cannot launch the boat at low tide. The tides must fit as you should also be able to take it out again as the launching spot is not steep enough.This limits your possibilities a lot. If you want to fish the Ningaloo flats with it, this boat is a good joice and launching it from Tantabiddi or Bundegi is no problem. The real problem for the flats are south and southwesterly winds from 20 km/h or more. It can happen that you cannot even fish the flats at all throughout your stay especially in Oct/Nov.
If you want to go offshore in the gulf or outside the Ningaloo reef or if you want to fish Muiron or Peak Island you need a larger boat(6m plus). Get the best price at Exmouth Boat and Kayak Hire. For towing boats you need a 4WD with a tow bar. You get that for a good price where you hire a boat. So you have plenty of options but you need good advice of where to go to in dependence of the wind.
The guys from Bluewater Tackle World Exmouth can help you out and in Exmouth Tackle and Camping Supplies (in the shopping center) Steve and Louise Riley will provide you with their expert knowledge. They are a really great help for anyone who visits their town. Meet them!
Fly Fishing Tackle for Exmouth
9ft. CTS Affinity X (blue water 8ft.)
- # 8(Bonefish)
- #10(Golden Travalley, Queenfish, Cobia, Permit, ...)
- #12+(GT, sailfish, marlin) lifting power required
If you want to take only one rod with you, you should take a #10.
- RIO General Purpose SW I/I (clear)
- RIO InTouch Flats Pro Stealth F/I (clear tip)
- RIO Coastal Quickshooter F/ clear I (1.5 ips)
- RIO Coastal Quickshooter Pro F/ clear I (1.5 ips)
- RIO InTouch OutBound Short //S6 (1.5-6 ips)
- RIO Tropical GT
- RIO Levanthian F/I
Backing: Gel Spun
- 250m; 25 kg Bonefish, Permit, ...
- 400m+; 40 kg (Sailfish/Marlin)
- heavy bonefish patterns: Clousers, Gotchas, Crazy Charlies ...
- (Avalon) crab patterns
- Surf Candies
- poppers (queenies)
- sailfish/marlin tubes
- EP GT patterns
- lots of different species lots of different flies ...
Fluorocarbon 25 -100 lbs
Article Exploring Exmouth
Read my article in the web magazine “The Wading List“
Recommended Fly Fishing Guides in Exmouth
The Exmouth peninsula is a saltwater fly fishing paradise, but most fisherman use spinning gear or fish with bait from the boat as there are so many species around that they can target. I have only seen a handful of fly fisherman up there fishing from shore. Due to the wind it is a quite difficult place to fish the fly but if you are a good caster and have the luck on your side you can always run in some good fish. If you decide to go there, bring your boat with you. If you have not got one and look for a good guide I advise you to spend your money either for Brett Wolf from Ningaloo Fly Fishing or Ben Knight from Ningaloo Sportfishing Charters. These are the best guides at site.
The Ultimate Experience
If you are interested in the ultimate fishing experience visit Wilderness Island. It is a 15 min flight from Exmouth or an hour by boat. The flats fishing is exceptional and there are also huge amounts of barramundi living there.
Wilderness Island for sure belongs to this small but most wanted group of special destinations everyone should visit the other day. I accidently came across a link while looking for fly fishing possibilities around Exmouth and I immediately knew that I had found something special. I had to go there.The little island is only 1.6 km long and 800 m wide and is located east of Exmouth on the other side of the gulf. You can reach it only by boat (1h) or by plane. My wife and I chose the second option.
Cape Range National Park
Besides the fishing the area around Exmouth has much more to offer. Exmouth itself has become quite attractive for tourists as the town has invested a lot into new infrastructure and a nice marina. You will get everything you need there including restaurants, music bars, a good bakery and besides many other shops of course also two outfitters.
As soon as you leave Exmouth towards Cape Range National Park or Bundegi Beach be prepared to see more kangaroos than anywhere else. When the sun is highest they might even chose to have a rest in the shade under your car. But be careful, especially when it gets dark but also in the morning they feed right next to the road. They sit everywhere ready to jump in front of your car. So be advised not to drive when it is dark or drive very slowly.
You will see many more animals like emus(even in town), dingoes, echidnas, eagles, monitors, Australian Bustards and of course many colorful fish. A wonderful underwater world invites you to snorkel or dive even with whale sharks(April/May), humpbacks or mantas. By the way if you fish Bundegi beach you will see jumping humpback whales more or less the whole year round. There is even a canyon that is worth to visit. Not as big as Grand Canyon of course but still quite impressive.
Exmouth is a safe place. You will probably not even see a snake and the sharks have so much to eat that they are not interested in you at all. In summer (Feb-March) there can be a few sand flies around but you can get good mosquito repellent at site.