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Robe, the fishing holiday capital of the South East of South Australia
  |  First Published: August 2012



Of all the great coastal towns to stay at along the picturesque South East of South Australia region, there are no other places as fishing and family friendly as the historic township of Robe.

Situated an easy 250km drive from Horsham, Robe is very popular with anglers and their families. This place has something to offer the whole family even if they don’t want to go fishing, as there is just so much to do here.

Robe is the little town with every local convenience that you could need on your trip away with a supermarket, two petrol stations that sell a wide range of fishing tackle and bait, two pubs, plenty of shops down the main street, car and boat wash; the list could go on and on.

Something that I really enjoy about Robe is just how friendly the locals are; everyone always seems to be up for a chat.

A boat anglers paradise

Robe is very popular with boat anglers due to the excellent reef fishing in the bay and access to some great offshore fishing when the conditions allow. The entrance to the sea from the harbor is very safe with no bars to cross and the double dual lane boat ramp is an excellent set up which can handle the largest of boats.

The bay offers pretty safe fishing to those with a good sea worthy boat in seas below about 2m. Most anglers target gummy shark, big King George whiting, flathead and snapper on the reefs which average around 2-4kg, but many much bigger reds are caught here each year.

Good catches of mulloway are also often found on the reefs in the summer months. Many varieties of shark are encountered off Robe, particularly with the aid of berley, including thresher, bronze whaler, seven-gill and school sharks. The warmer months from October to May tend to produce the better fishing off of Robe for boat anglers.

Mako and blue sharks are also found out wide off of Robe where southern bluefin tuna also can be targeted with trolled lures, mostly during the early autumn months.

Towards the shelf, deep water fishing with electric reels is becoming popular here on days of good seas with many excellent table fish on offer such as blue eye, hapuku, gemfish, grenadier, ling and knife jaw to name just a few.

The surf fishing

The beauty about surf fishing in South Australia is that you are actually allowed to drive your 4WD vehicle on the beaches, which makes things so much easier. I always let my tires down to about 15 psi and carry a good shovel, snatch strap and air compressor.

During the summer months when there isn’t as much weed and the sand is firmer, two wheel drive vehicles can also get along Long Beach with ease from the ramp just off Riviera Drive.

Long Beach, while fairly shallow produces some very good catches of mulloway in summer but is best fished after dark for the larger fish. Gummy sharks and a few elephant fish are also caught here along with many eagle rays, which really test your gear.

It is a good idea to know what the tides are doing and always stay about the high water mark so there is no chance of being stuck when a high tide is coming in though.

The beaches around Robe produce a number of different species including gummy, school, bronze and seven-gill sharks, Australian salmon and elephant fish in the cooler months and snapper, but it is the highly prized mulloway that most people are after when fishing the beaches around here.

School mulloway in the 50-80cm size range invade the beaches from about mid-spring until about mid-autumn. A number of very large mulloway are caught off the beaches around Robe every year with fish to 20kg caught last summer.

Most mulloway anglers favour a rising tide after dark and use fresh baits caught on the day in the harbour or off the jetty. Baits that have worked for me with mulloway include whole salmon, garfish or mullet or fillets of them. My most successful bait though is whole small fresh squid or the heads from larger squid. Pilchards are also handy to have especially on the days you have trouble catching your own fresh baits.

There are many 4WD tracks giving access to some great surf fishing beaches running from behind the town rubbish tip and then through to the Little Dip Conservation Park. Back Beach and Evans Cave Beach, just below the rubbish tip, produce very good salmon fishing in winter and good mulloway and a few snapper and shark in summer.

My favourite mulloway spots in the Little Dip Park are the Bishops Pate and Domashenz beaches which are fairly easy to access but the beaches themselves are very soft to drive on so stick to the tracks up behind the beach.

Land-based fishing options

There are numerous spots around Robe that offer safe fishing for those without boats or who simply just want to take the kids out for a quick fish. The harbour and breakwater are great spots that produce some very nice school mulloway in the summer months as well as some cracking bream that hang around the pylons.

Soft plastic lures and vibes work very well here as does bait fishing. Other fish also commonly caught in the harbor and off the breakwater include salmon, flathead, squid and the occasional elephant fish.

The town jetty is a very popular spot and produces some very nice fish, particularly during the warmer months. Bait fishing on a change of tide is best here with flathead, trevally, whiting, salmon and garfish commonly taken. Some thumping mulloway are often caught here as well, particularly after dark.

Bream fishing

There are three great little lakes joined up by channels on the outskirts of Robe off the Millicent Road that offer some pretty reliable fishing for good size bream. Other fish caught here include mullet, salmon trout and sometimes school mulloway enter these lakes as well. These lakes are great for the days it is too rough to head out in the boat or go surf fishing and the jetties here are very safe for the kids to fish from.

The best bream are caught here either early in the morning or in the evenings with baits such as whitebait, pilchard fillet and prawns fished un-weighted off the jetty at Lake Battye working very well here on my latest trip.

Soft plastics and vibes also work very well here, particularly on the bigger bream to 2kg but the average here is around 25-35cm. The other two lakes are called Pub Lake and Lake Nunan and all fish well. These lakes offer great access for those keen on kayak or canoe fishing as well.

Crayfishing

No article on fishing around Robe would be complete without mentioning the very popular cray fishing on offer here. In South Australia recreational anglers are allowed to catch southern rock lobster with up to two registered cray pots or by using cray drop nets. The cray pots are simply dropped on top of likely looking cracks and crevices in the reefy and kelp bed areas and then left over night to be checked the next morning on your way out fishing for the day.

A good sea worthy boat is essential as is a good quality depth sounder so you can find the best areas to drop the pots. Cray hoop nets are used during daylight hours.

Diving and snorkeling for crays is also very popular and is a lot of fun. Strict bag and size limits as well as a closed season apply.

Accommodation

On our latest trip to Robe we stayed at the very comfortable holiday house, The Boat House.

My family and I absolutely loved The Boat House, which is a four-year-old very modern three bedroom home located very close to Long Beach at Robe. This place has all the comforts a family could ever want on a trip away with a touch of luxury as well. The three bedrooms have two queen size beds and two bunk beds and plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space.

The house has a fully self-contained kitchen, laundry and two bathrooms. In the lounge there is a large four seater and two 2-seater lounges as well as a flat screen television, DVD and stereo and reverse cycle air conditioning. Two families could stay here very comfortably.

The master bedroom has an ensuite including spa bath and walk in robe.

Outside there is a large rear deck entertaining area with barbecue and outdoor furniture and outdoor shower for washing the sand off when you walk back from the beach. The shed has a cray fish cooker, bait freezer and fish cleaning area. There is also heaps of room out the front and down the side for the boats and vehicles.

We loved The Boat House and fully recommend it to everyone, check out www. happyshack.com.au for more info on this place.

Other things to do at Robe when not fishing

There are plenty of other things to do and places to visit at Robe when not out fishing which is why this town is so popular with holidaymakers. The beaches have great swimming, body boarding and surfing and four wheel driving along the many tracks just out of town in the Little Dip Conservation park is very popular.

There is a water skiing lake and many great wineries in the area as well. The coastal scenery is well worth checking out with stunning cliffs and interesting lighthouses and historical buildings. The scrub just out of town also has many wombats; we were lucky enough to come across some on our last trip on the track to Bishops Pate beach, the kids thought they were great.

Robe just doesn’t offer great fishing; the place really has something to offer the whole family.

My family and I just love Robe and look forward to getting back there as soon as we can.

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