Perth Metro Area
Carnac / Mewstone / Stragglers / Champion Reefs
This stretch of reef running from the northern tip of Garden Island to the east side of Rottnest is relatively shallow (7-14m) and characterised by lots of caves and ledges. Being so close the area has been fished pretty hard for many years but for the persistent diver there is plenty of tasty species to be found.
It often pays to look right up in the shallows as these are area often bypassed by line fisherman. Species that are relatively common to the area include King George Whiting, Queen Snapper (blue morwong), harlequin, small dhufish and Samson. Crayfish can also be counted on during the season.
Occasional bonus species will appear as Greg Pickering found when he took the state record Baldchin at Stragglers.
Five Fathom Bank
Five fathom runs from the south side of Rottnest all the way to Mandurah. Obviously a large area it comes out of 20m on the western side to an average of 12m on top, although some sections do break and come within a few metres of the surface. Inside the bank the dropoff is very pronounced and the depth is over 20m.
Five fathom certainly has “hotspots” that regularly hold good dhufish and other tasty species but there is certainly large areas that look similar but have no fish.
Species encountered include Blue morwong, Samson, reasonable size dhufish and Blue groper. It is not unusual to see decent Spanish mackerel and Yellowfin tuna toward the northern end during autumn.
A selection of Five Fathom fish
Good Dhufish hideout
Rottnest Island is 11 nautical miles off the Western Australian coast and is a well know destination for holiday., With all the excellent bays and reefs, Rottnest Island is an ideal spot for surfing, fishing, snorkeling, spearfishing and scuba diving
The main settlement on Rottnest Island is in Thomson bay, because it is the most protected bay on the island. This is where most tourists come via the ferries from the mainland. With this bay being so protected the water clarity is often very good all year round. There is a marine reserve in the middle of the bay surrounding the washing reef and the wreck. The reef and wreck makes for an excellent scuba dive or just snorkel. For the not so adventurous there is a glass bottom boat that can take you on a tour of the reef.
Outside the marine reserve there are still many good diving areas, such as Pilot Reef and Kingston Spit having good caves and ledges where there is a great abundance of fish life and large rock lobsters.
Pink Snapper and King George Whiting are quite common species to be found on this ground. Sometimes larger fish are also seen here such as Samson fish and Yellow Tail Kingfish.
BFWA member Lee Paxman currently holds the State Spearfishing Record for the largest Yellow Tail Kingfish taken from that area. 34.25 kgs
All spearfishing at this part of the island has to be done a minimum distance of 800 meters from the island.
Bathurst PT to North PT
Off the Basin, Longreach Bay and Geordie Bay there is a lot of shallow ledges and caves, a good area to do a shore dive for rock lobster, as there is an abundance of these crustaceans inside the bays. The Basin in particular is very well protected and a well know spot for families and beginners to snorkel and enjoy the under water marine environment.
Further out beyond the 800meter spearfishing and netting restriction zone in much deeper water, in areas such as Roe Reef there are huge lumps and caves, probably one of Rottnest Islands most spectacular scuba diving areas.
Lee & Blue Mowie
Typical fish of this area are Blue Morwong, Western Australian Dhufish and Baldchin Groper.
Lee Paxman & Dhuie
Bronze Whaler Sharks and Mako Sharks are not uncommon in this area.
North PT to Cathedral Rocks
Along this stretch of Rottnest Island there are many large bays and lots of good sand holes fringed by reef, perfect ground to see schools of Tarwine and some nice King George Whiting. Out from these bays there are small reefs that wash, good for tailor fishing or in the month of April are good for large Australian Salmon.
Straight out off Rocky Bay, around Swirl Reef divers regularly see large schools of Spanish mackerel and even the odd Wahoo from late summer through autumn. Often these pelagic species are accompanied by large sharks such as Bronze Whaler sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Mako sharks and occasionally due to the leeuwin current Tiger sharks maybe also be sighted.
The western most point of Rottnest Island is Cape Vlamingh also known as West End. This area is known for its excellent fishing and scuba diving but is not for the faint hearted, as this area has no protection from the elements. Large swell is not uncommon here and is very dangerous if you are unfamiliar with the location. There are many large lumps in deeper water that can break unpredictably when a big swell rolls in.
Out side of the breakwater the ground slopes off quite rapidly, in about 20meters of water there are large caverns and ledges that are often dived on by scuba divers and free divers such as myself. There is a great abundance of fish life and rock lobster in these caves. Late summer through to autumn off the west end of Rottnest island pelagic and more northern species of fish can be seen by divers, such as Spanish Mackerel, Shark Mackerel, Wahoo and various types of tuna, divers have also encountered large Queensland Gropers dwelling around these big caverns.
Divers that have not dived the west end before should be warned that currents can be extremely strong and divers can be carried away from the boat and may not be able to make it back.
Please note a large sanctuary zone has just been implemented at West End, please check with the Rottnest Island Authority for current zoning
Wilson bay is a well known rock lobster diving spot for lots of free divers I know, it is good for free diving because of the shallow and the amount of good ground in this area. Just out side of this bay there is a good surf break called radar reef and a side break mainly for body boarders known as Rotto box.
Further along the southern side in Strickland bay there is another surf break. Right next to the break is a great place for a snorkel or to catch a feed of crays, there are heaps of good ledges and caves that house many small reef fish. Strickland bay often has a pod of dolphins or the odd seal hanging around, always a pleasurable sight to see.
Around from Strickland bay is Salmon bay and as you can imagine from the name at certain times of the year large schools of salmon congregate around the reefs in this bay, usually it is in April but odd ones are quite often seen all year round in the bays of Rottnest. This bay like most bays of Rottnest has a large number of Rock lobster in it.
Parker point has great caves and ledges all around the point but there is a total marine reserve were no fishing of any sort is aloud, which makes for an excellent observatory dive. There are lots of different species of fish all around this area. Often large scuba diving boats are seen around parker point, so definitely worth a look.
Dyer Island itself has an abundance of rock lobster in the ledges around the island, being mainly shallow water definitely the depth for a free dive.
Moving in a southeast direction from Dyer Island out about 1 nautical mile good ground for Blue Morwong, Western Australian Dhufish and Pink Snapper can be found in about 17 meters of water.
Lee Paxman & Pink Snapper
DYER Island to Natural Jetty
The ground along this area is mainly shallow and the main place to dive for Rock lobster, there are heaps of jumbo crays around the small islands and being such shallow water its not to hard to catch a feed. Often when diving this area, blue groper up to around 70lb are sighted, always good to see that there is still lots of them around.
Offshore Freediving and Spearfishing at Direction Bank is not for beginners as these waters generally exceed depths of 25 metres! This bank of reef runs North and South of Rottnest Island approximately 15 to 17 nautical miles off shore. Whilst there are a few pinnacles along the reef, they are well spaced out.
Most dives on Direction Bank will encounter visibility where the bottom cannot be seen, but on the few days where the visibility is really good it is a great diving experience!
These waters are home to many pelagic species, including Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Tuna, Samson fish and Yellowtail Kingfish. The usual bottom species are there also, but searching holes and cave at these depths is risky.
A diver spearfishing in these waters needs a reliable and competent dive partner to dive alongside them. The risk of finding big sharks here is a reality and most species of sharks have been encountered.
Even given all of risks many people have taken magnificent fish from the depths at Direction Bank, some of these include 30 kg Spanish Mackerel and 20 kg Jewfish.