Fishing the Abrolhos Islands

By Lloyd Lyons

The Abrolhos Islands are located approximately 35 miles west of the coast of Geraldton Western Australia, there are 3 main islands Wallabi Easter and Pelsart but for this article I'll be discussing fishing the southern group of Islands otherwise known as Pelsart Island group. The group extends eighty kilometres running north-south, with the Wallabi group to the north, then Easter, and finally the Pelsart group to the south. The islands are predominantly coral based, and the protected waters harbour some of the most magnificent coral gardens in the world, rivalling the larger Great Barrier Reef and the fishing is nothing short of world class.

The main issue when heading 35-40 mile offshore in a trailer boat is safety and a big part of that is making sure the weather and conditions are right before heading over. I choose to launch from Geraldton W.A. which is the closest point to reach the southern group of islands, the trip across is around 25 mile to reach the first fishing spot and on a good day will take around an hour and a half to get there. Once I have made the decision to go over the first Island that I like to stop at is Hummock Island.

Hummock Island is a mine field of coral and lime stone bommies ranging from 12 - 38m. Drift fishing the football fields of broken ground that can be found around Hummock Island are nothing short of amazing. I prefer to jig this area using squidgy 140mm wrigglers, 125mm Squidgy Shads and 55 - 110gm Butterfly jigs. Jigging here has resulted in catches of big WA Dhu Fish, Baldchin Grouper, Spangled Emperor, Red Throat Emperor, Pink Snapper, Coral Trout, various Cod species and Sampson Fish.

Slightly south of Hummock Island is Pelsart Island or as the locals call it Long Island which is a real hot spot for local anglers. The eastern side or sheltered side of Pelsart island holds massive long stretches of shallow reefy coral garden flats ranging from 2 - 20m that are home to a host of bottom and pelagic fish. Bouncing lightly weighted Squidgys around the coral bottom is a sure fire way to connect to a hard running Baldchin Grouper or Coral Trout which are far easier to hook than land. There are also hordes of school size Pink Snapper that lurk in this area and are great sport on light tackle and go hard in shallow water.

Another technique that works well is to cast 115mm Ocea sinking pencil baits around the shallow coral bommies that litter the coral flats. By working the top section of water column you will draw out any pelagic fish that are hunting in the area, I have caught everything from Spanish and Shark Mackerel to Mack and Long tail Tuna. I have also encountered Coral Trout crunching surface lures here, they just love charging out from the shallow bommies to destroy a well worked stick bait. They also destroy all but the most prepared and most experienced anglers. 

One of the main attractions to Pelsart Island is the dangerous southern point or tip of the island appropriately named Wreck Point. (Due to a few ships which have run aground here over previous years) Wreck Point can only be fished in all but the best conditions and is simply a fish magnet with the commotion that the southern swells create constantly crashing hard against the west side of the island. A quick run behind the breakers watching the sounder soon reveals a 10m edge that quickly drops of to 40-45m in a heartbeat. This is the area I like to concentrate on whether it be jigging or casting this is where it happens. 

If the swell allows I like to position the boat along the 25 - 40m edge and vertically jig the drop off with Butterfly jigs and Squidgy soft plastics. The main target is horse Coral Trout and some of the resident Trout that call this ledge home are simply XOS and in the unstoppable class. Even 50lb tackle is no match for some of the brutes that live along here, but one thing is for sure we will keep coming back for more no matter how many times we get smoked.

When I'm not jigging I like to cast 150mm Ocea and 160mm Orca stick baits into the many washes along Wreck Point. Spanish mackerel are the main catch through here but lately there has been some massive Yellow Tail Kingfish to 30kg plus seen and some landed. This opens a whole new world to what is possible by anglers willing to put in the time casting at likely looking reef washes. The chances of hooking into a solid Yellow Fin Tuna are also high when surface fishing this area. You will also tangle with hordes of various Tuna species and good sized Shark Mackerel. 

When the swell is up or conditions are not suitable the best option for fishing Wreck Point is to troll shallow and deep diving lures a safe distance behind the breakers. All the same species can be caught trolling the deeper drop offs and hidden structures.

There you have fishing the southern group of Abrolhos Islands in a nut shell, the opportunity’s are endless and I am yet to scratch the surface of the fishing potential out there. 

Abrolhos Islands are an amazing place which should be high on every sport fisho’s to do list.