How does a holiday where you are practically guaranteed to catch fish, squid and blue swimmer crabs sound? Whether you have a boat or not this is a real possibility in Moonta Bay on Yorke Peninsula, with the other options being to wade and catch fish on the incoming tide or making use of the jetty.
A small tinnie is ideal to take to Moonta Bay with many people using this option and launching once from the nearby Port Hughes boat ramp then leaving the boat anchored in the bay for the duration of the holiday. The trick is to keep an eye on tidal movement and ‘walk’ the boat in or out as need be when the tide moves, to make going fishing easier and in fact, even possible. Moonta Bay is very sheltered as a rule, so our usual routine is to go out early (ish) in the morning when all is calm and the tide is in, stay relatively close to shore on the far side of the bay, then return when it either gets a bit choppy on the water, too hot in the open tinnie or hopefully, when the catch is enough to call it a successful day.
By lunchtime the tide is usually out quite a way and bringing the boat back in means a longer walk back to the caravan with the catch in buckets. It’s all worth it though if it’s been a good day and there are usually plenty of willing helpers to meet the boat and crew and help out. The boat is usually beached on the sand by late in the day and as the tide starts coming back in its time to start walking it back in once it is floating again. The closer in the boat is the easier it is to reach the next day.
The catches can vary of course from day to day and depending on what seems to be schooling around, but if you are lucky you can return with quite a seafood selection. It’s not unusual to come back with a mixture of garfish, King George whiting, tommies (herring), blue swimmer crabs and squid. Sometimes we’ve also caught salmon trout, flathead and Port Jackson sharks which of course go straight back in. So do any female crabs caught if they are carrying eggs and even if not, if the crabs are plentiful.
The jetty is always a popular choice with holidaymakers when the weather is conducive and even if not for some hardy souls. You could say that literally every man and his dog can be out there!
The exact same species can be caught from the jetty as from the boat with crab nets tied on and thrown from the jetty and squid jags bouncing away being the most successful ways to try. Always measure your catch, there is a station on the jetty that explains species and sizes. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing people keep catches that are too small and unfortunately some do keep everything regardless. Fisheries Department officers do patrol the area, so hopefully those doing the wrong thing get their just desserts.
There’s only one thing left to do after a day of fishing fun and that’s to clean and either cook the seafood as soon as possible or bag and freeze to share another day. Some seem to do more of the work than others though!