Rock Fishing

man wearing lifejacket fishing from rocks


Is catching a fish worth your life?

Rock fishing – fishing from rock ledges, submerged rocks, rock faces and rocks protruding into the water – is possibly the most dangerous sport in Australia. Isolated locations, the unpredictable nature of the ocean and slippery, uneven, and often sharp surfaces contribute to the high fatality rate amongst the sport.

In WA alone there have been 28 rock fishing deaths recorded over the past ten years to June 2020. Royal Life Saving WA encourages people to avoid rock fishing due to its inherent danger, but we understand that some will continue to choose to take part. We urge those who do to follow the tips below so they can fish as safely as possible!

What is the best gear to wear when rock fishing?

  • Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD)
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles or cleats, especially on wet and weedy rocks.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that won’t weigh you down if you are swept off the rocks (jumpers may be heavy and difficult to take off). 
  • If possible, wear head protection. Evidence suggests that many people who have drowned received some type of head injury.

How can I tell if a spot is safe for rock fishing?

No place is perfectly safe for rock fishing, but to minimise the risks;

  • Never fish alone.
  • Fish only at renowned and easily accessible locations.
  • Spend at least half an hour watching the wind and wave action before deciding whether a place is suitable. Know how the weather and changing tide will affect the location.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean.
  • If the waves, weather or swell threaten your fishing spot then leave immediately.

What should I do if I (or someone else) get into trouble?

If you do find yourself in trouble, remain calm. If you are swept into the water, swim away from the rocks and look for a safe place to come ashore. If this isn’t possible, stay afloat while your companions call 000 (mobile phone users can also dial 112 to access emergency services).

Learn more at Recfishwest's Fish and Survive program for more details.

 Image of a man rock fishing wearing a lifejacket

Rock Fishing Safety Checklist

  • Choose the safest possible location.
  • Take time to observe the conditions.
  • Always fish with others.
  • Always watch the waves.
  • Be aware of the tides and weather.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, clothing and head protection.
  • Wear a lifejacket, especially if you are not a strong swimmer.
  • Carry a float and line to help anyone washed in.
An injured person receiving advanced first aid care

Advanced First Aid Training

Suitable for anyone who may be required to provide, coordinate and manage a first aid response across a range of complex situations, include community and workplace settings.

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