Rock Fishing

man fishing while standing on rocks

12 people drowned while rock fishing in WA in the five years from July 2012 to June 2017. Royal Life Saving WA encourages people to think twice about rock fishing due to the inherent danger of the sport, but we understand that some will continue to choose to take part. We'd urge those who head out rock fishing to follow the tips below so they can do so as safely as possible!

Q. What is rock fishing?

A. Rock fishing is the process of fishing from rock ledges, submerged rocks, rock faces and rocks that go out into the water.

Q. Why is rock fishing dangerous?

A. Rock fishing is probably the most dangerous sport in Australia, due to the difficult locations where people are fishing, the sometimes unpredictable nature of the ocean and the nature of the rocks themselves - slippery, wet, uneven and often sharp.

Q: What is the best type of gear to wear when rock fishing?

A. Wear gear that stops you from slipping into the water or reduces problems if you do go into the surf. Wear lightweight clothing such as shorts and a spray jacket so that if you are swept off the rocks,you are buoyant and your clothes don’t drag you down. Jumpers may be heavy and difficult to take off. Wear a lifejacket. Wear shoes with non-slip soles or cleats. Rock plates or cleats are essential on wet, weedy rocks. Also, wear head protection. Evidence suggests that many people who have drowned received some sort of head injury.

Q: How do I know whether a spot is safe for rock fishing?

A. No place is perfectly safe for rock fishing. To minimise risks, fish only with others in places where experienced anglers go. Spend at least half an hour watching the wind and wave action before deciding whether a place is suitable. Think – what will your fishing spot be like in a few hours time with different tides and weather? Perhaps a local can help you.

Q. What should I do if I or another fisherman gets into trouble?

A. Don’t ever turn your back on the sea – if the waves, weather or swell threaten your fishing spot then leave immediately. If you do find yourself in trouble stay calm - if you are washed in, swim away from the rocks and look for a safe place to come ashore or stay afloat and wait for help to arrive. Always wear a lifejacket. Fish in a group of at least three people and stay within sight of each other. If someone is washed in, one person can stay and help while the other alerts emergency services (dial 000). Mobile phone users can also dial 112 to access emergency services.

Check out 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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