Situated in the centre of Perth, the Swan and Canning rivers offers quite a few options to the keen fly fisher. Species on offer vary through the seasons. Black bream are arguably the most keenly sought species, and they can be found year round. Other common target species include herring (tommy ruff), tailor, skippy (silver trevally), flathead, flounder, mulloway, giant herring, samson fish, yellowtail grunter, and whiting.
For the shore based fisher, there is easy access to many spots around these two systems.
Some commonly fished spots include East Fremantle and Claremont foreshore. The area surrounding the Narrows bridge, Canning bridge and the Causeway also produce good fishing. East Perth and Burswood are also regular fishing haunts. The key to success is to remain mobile and keep moving till you find where fish are holding.
Having access to a boat will open up more options. The fishing isn’t necessarily better fishing out of a boat, but it means that the boat fisher can cover more ground.
Tackle wise, a 4 – 6 weight outfit will cover most instances. Fishing light will increase the fun factor, given the average size of fish caught. If targeting mulloway, an 8 – 10 weight will be a better choice due to size of fly used. 2/0 to 4/0 clousers are the fly of choice.
A floating line will cover most situations. Intermediate lines are useful when fishing out of a boat, fishing deeper water, or where there is faster water flow. Temperate lines work well for most of the year. When the temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius, a tropical rated line will be a better choice.
Light tippets will result in more success. There’s not many situations that you will need more than 10 pound tippets. If there are a lot of tailor around, 20 lb mono bite tippet will help reduce the number of flies lost to bite offs.
Size 2 – 6 flies will catch most species on offer in these rivers. Flies that mimic baitfish and prawns are most popular. Crazy charlie, clouser minnow, bms and surf candies all have their place in the fly box. Surface flies such as poppers and crease flies will also attract attention at times. It’s worth having a variety of colours on hand, as what works one day may not necessarily work the next.
We have reasonably small tides in Perth. Under a meter of water movement on the largest spring tides. Whilst small, the tide still plays a major role. As a rule, fishing is better when there is some water movement. Fish (as well as bait) tend to be more spread out at the top and bottom of the tide.
On a final note, fishing these systems is generally better on weekdays. River activity has increased dramatically over the years as Perth has grown. Certain areas get very crowded, especially on weekends. Fishing early morning, or last light will increase your success rate when there is less activity on the river.