Pier Fishing on the NSW South Coast

Various members of our family have been pier fishing for 50 years or more and the consensus seems to be that if you don't have a boat; it is the next best thing. There are many benefits to fishing from piers and wharves, but as you'd expect, there are also some drawbacks [as with most things].

There are also many tricks and techniques that can be used while pier fishing.
We've included this page to show other anglers, some of the best rigs, tips and techniques from our accumulated experiences.

The Tathra Wharf, is one of the best fishing piers on the South Coast and a nostalgic favourite for my wife's family as they spent many summer holidays camping at Tathra from the 1960's through the 1970's.
With its pristine beach sweeping from the famous Tathra Wharf north to the mouth of the Bega River water activities abound. Beach and river fishing, deep sea charters, water skiing, diving, surfing and swimming are all available for the active and adventurous. With a natural boat harbour at Kianinny Bay, and no dangerous bar to cross, Tathra is renowned as one of the South Coasts most popular fishing and diving destinations, while the clean waves, and clear and temperate water make Tathra a veritable mecca for surfers.

The Tathra Wharf has changed roles in recent years, but is still the hub of activity in Tathra. Today, the wharf houses a maritime museum upstairs whereas underneath it carries crafts and souvenirs, refreshments, seafood on the wharf, and of course, supplies for fishermen and divers. out on the restored platform, the fishing is keen and the view is spectacular.

The Tathra Wharf Restaurant and Trading Post operates from the only remaining coastal steamer wharf in NSW. The restaurant prides itself on good seaside fare affordable for the whole family. The wharf, in use for commercial shipping between 1862 and 1952, was restored by the National Trust, Department of Planning and local residents. It remains a favourite fishing spot for tourists and locals as it features deep water and spectacular scenery. Bait and tackle is available at the Trading Post. Diving in the area is also popular. A small museum on coastal shipping is housed in the warehouse, open on Sunday afternoon or by appointment.

Comments from previous Pier Fishing visitors to Tathra Wharf:

"Spent a week of my summer holidays at this picturesque town with the bulk of the fishing down at the the famous Tathra wharf. Also caught some undersized flatties but it was the slimies that were mainly on the bite.
Wife caught the trevallies, banjo shark and 3 of the mullet whilst I caught the biggest mullet on the surf rod. You might also like to try fishing the Bega River in a tinnie.

A summary of our entire catch is as follows:

  • 19 x snapper @ 30cm-50cm
  • 15 x flathead @ 45cm-plus
  • 2 x leatherjacket @ 50cm
  • 1 x hammerhead shark @ 1.2m
  • 20 x Maori wrasse @ 30cm-45cm
  • 2 x red rock cod @ 30cm

We also saw a lot of people catching salmon off the wharf, and tailor... great size salmon 45cm plus".

"We spent our holidays in this lovely little town after all the crowds had left. The weather was fine on most days and we spent lots of time at the beach. When we weren't at the beach we were fishing. We did this most mornings and evenings trying many different locations on the surf, river, estuary and wharf. The fishing was excellent everywhere except the wharf.
We bagged out (5 in NSW) on salmon nearly every outing and many other fish were caught also. My 11 year-old son caught a 1.75 kg salmon off the beach all by himself and was absolutely over the moon about it".

Pier fishing has many advantages over boat fishing don't have, we are usually up quite high, so with the proper polarized glasses you can see fish from great distances, there is not an opportunity to get sea sick and we don't have to spend two hundred dollars in gas chasing bait because the majority of the time it is right under us.

The key to pier fishing is location, you have to know where the artificial reefs are or if there are any at all. If not, you should probably try and target piers that have some sort of reef structure, structure holds fish.
Things to look for when looking for a good pier fishing potential area, is water flow, bait and structure. With these three things you can't go wrong.

Pier Fishing Etiquette:

When you set your line, keep in mind the other rigs that are already out on the pier. Try to keep your line at least 50 feet away from others. Pay careful attention to other anglers when casting your line.

Keep a bait bucket on hand that you can lower to the water in order to have a good selection of bait handy.

If you're lucky enough to need to bring up a large fish to the wharf height, you'll be glad to have a rope gaff on hand. It's lowered down below the fish (when the angler has brought the fish to the pilings) and quickly jerked upwards, digging itself to the sides of the fish. Then the fish is pulled up by the rope. Sometimes if the fish is large, two gaffs can be used. If the fish is small, a net can be used so the fish can be released alive.

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