Land based game doesn’t get much better than Western Australia’s Steep Point. It’s renowned all over the world as one of the top shelf destinations for getting amongst some of the premier sportfish available to land based game anglers.
Located approximately 1000 kilometres from Perth WA, Steep Point is famous for being the most westerly point of mainland Australia and is actually one of two peninsulas that make up the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Steep is also famous among anglers for another reason, land based game fishing! The point itself is basically a rocky headland with several cliffs and ledges to fish from, ranging from just a couple of meters off the water to 40 metre high towers of sandstone. When fishing the higher cliffs hooking fish can be the easy part, landing them is where it gets tricky! 12 metre long poll gaffs, huge extendable landing nets and flying gaffs are all employed to help land fish. Running long heavy leaders means that smaller fish like snapper and bald chin grouper can be lifted up by hand, as long as you are quick enough to avoid the marauding packs of ever hungry whaler sharks and the 200 plus kilogram resident grouper “Mr Jingles”.
Like any fishing destination, Steep Point is at the mercy of the weather gods and big swells can bring dirty, green and stirred up water that can literally shut the fishing down for weeks on end. This year saw us arrive just after one of these green water patches and from the first day the water just got deeper, darker and bluer. From the first morning it was apparent we were in for something special as within the first couple of hours we had landed mackerel, yellow fin tuna, longtail tuna and even the Prince of all land based game targets – the sailfish.
I had chosen two set-ups to take with me on this trip. The first was a Stella 10000 matched with a Revolution Inshore 902 spin for heavier lure chucking and bringing angry fish to heel. The second was a Sustain 6000 on a second Revolution Inshore, the Snapper 862 long cast. This secondary set-up would be for lighter spinning and working soft plastics. You may be thinking that this is not a very “light” set-up, but when your fighting a 15 kilo mackerel or tuna off the rocks it feels very light!!
I must take a few moments here to talk a bit more about the Revolution Inshore rods. I’ve been using these two rods for a while now and I must say they are the nicest rods I have ever used, with the 862 snapper long cast being the real standout. When targeting big tailor from onshore reefs I fish it matched with a 4000 size reel and it the most perfectly balanced outfit I’ve used. If you haven’t checked them out yet, head into your local tackle store and have a look..
There are two main methods of targeting game at Steep Point – Gas ballooning (which I will detail in my next article) and spinning. The first couple of days saw us employing both methods and although they both accounted for good fish, it soon became clear that the fishing was only getting hotter so everybody’s focus turned solely to spinning. The next three days saw the fishing go from hot, to white hot, to absolutely nuclear! The mackies were coming thick and fast and were mixed in with catches of tuna, big gold spot trevally, pink snapper, cobia, shark mackerel and large tailor. The swell had dropped to such a level that we were able to fish some low ledges that are normally inaccessible when the swell is up. Out come the Stickbaits! Double hook-ups, blistering line peeling runs and slugfests with several unstoppable brutes kept everyone busy for most of the mornings before retiring to our camp for a good fry up and a few well deserved beers.
Make no mistake, Steep is not for the faint hearted. It is only accessible via four wheel drive and anyone travelling there must first obtain written permission from the resident ranger as “accommodation” is very limited. There are only very basic facilities available in the form of long drop toilets and there is no fresh water available anywhere on the peninsula. All your water, food, fuel, ice, bait, spares and camping gear must be taken with you and all rubbish must be taken out at the end of your stay. Temperatures in summer can be over 40 degrees Celsius for days on end and the only shelter that is available is what you take with you. There have been times when plagues of mice, flies, mosquitoes and moths have made conditions unbearable and fishing the cliffs themselves have claimed more that one life in the past. Aside from all of that it really is one of the most amazing fishing destinations Western Australia has to offer and if your serious about targeting big land based game fish then it should defiantly be on your to do list!