Rock fishing – don’t put your life on the line

Just last week, an Esperance local was swept off rocks while fishing at Warrenup Beach. Despite emergency services risking rough conditions to search for the man, he has not been found.

Kalgoorlie police inspector Craig Davis made the following statement.

“Ten minutes after he left his mate, his mate thought he’d check and see how he was going — he walked onto the rocks and found him missing,” he said.

“On the rocks where he was fishing there was two bait boxes still there, plus one of his fishing rods, his six-foot fishing rod, was still on the rock but his 12-foot fishing rod was missing.

“Where the bait box and fishing stuff was, it was all covered in water.”

Sadly, this kind of devastating tragedy is not uncommon in Australia. There have been 158 rock fishing fatalities between 2004 and 2017, making it one of the most dangerous sports in the country.

If you are considering rock fishing, please read these important safety tips.

Don’t do it

Yep, our number one tip, even for experienced anglers, is to avoid rock fishing altogether. In most cases, the fish species you’re after can be caught off the beach, which is much safer.

If you absolutely have to be on the rocks, then make sure you know how to swim, pick the safest location you can and always wear a lifejacket.

Here’s what else you need to know.

Check out your spot

When it comes to any ocean activity, it’s vital that you have at least 2 trusted friends with you, so they can assist if an accident occurs. Be sure to ask experienced local anglers for the safest area to cast a line, as they tend to have the best knowledge.

Only rock fish from known fishing spots. Most of these locations will have Angel Rings (flotation devices on a pole nearby) but be sure to double check with locals first. The town camping or tackle store is a good place to ask questions, if you don’t have local contacts.

Before you set up, spend at least 30 minutes checking out the area from afar. Take a look at the weather, the wind, the tide and the waves, before you move to the spot. Consider what that spot will be like a few hours, should changes to the weather or tide occur.

Know when conditions are dangerous

Rock fishing is dangerous, full stop. But, particular conditions will increase your risk. Here is why:

  • High tides and rising tides cause waves to break onto rocks, causing you to be swept off the rocks or trapped.
  • Hazardous waves caused by strong winds can sweep you off slippery rocks.
  • Large swell and seas can also push you off rocks.

How to check for conditions

Always check weather conditions, including tides, before you head out on a fishing adventure. This information, coupled with the recommendations described above, will improve your chances of remaining safe while rock fishing.

The Bureau of Meteorology is one of the best and most accurate weather sources, however there are many good apps available for anglers and boaties. Keep an eye on severe weather warnings, coastal water forecasts and tide predictions, before and during your fishing trip.

Need comprehensive cover?

We provide comprehensive cover for anglers, boaties and marine businesses across Australia. Ask us about our affordable marine insurance, so you have peace of mind while casting a line, and as always, please stay safe out there.

We’d like to thank Surf Life Saving Australia and NSW Water Safety for providing the safety tips shared in this blog.