Top 10 fishing spots in SA with Bart Butson

Third-generation fisherman Bart Butson knows all too well that thrilling tug on the end of a line.

The Port Wakefield local has spent almost as much time on water as he has on land, and says there is no better place to wet a line in than South Australian seas.

“We have the best fishing in the world,” he says.

Brand SA News caught up with the experienced haul net fisherman to gain an insight into what it’s like to fish for a living.

And, of course, we included some of his favourite spots to throw a line.

“When I’m out there and my phone’s not ringing, it feels like I’m on the only person on earth,” he says.

“I’ve always been around fish. I used to complain to my mother when I was three years of age that I wanted to go fishing and she’d give in and let me go.”


Experienced haul net fisherman Bart Butson says his hometown of Port Wakefield is an underrated fishing hotspot. PHOTO: Wildcatch Fisheries SA Inc.

The 45-year-old has fished under a professional fishing license since the 1990s and follows in his grandfather Ronald and father Robert’s fishing footsteps.

His brother is also a professional fisherman on the Eyre Peninsula.

Bart sends his fish to two Port Wakefield businesses, as well as SAFCOL and selected Foodland supermarkets in Adelaide.

His respect for the ocean and the state’s seafood industry is obvious through his sustainable practices and his dedication to Wildcatch Fisheries SA’s Fair Fish initiative.

It involves Bart’s freshly caught seafood being plated up in high-end Adelaide restaurants within hours.

“Twelve hours after I catch it, people are eating it,” he says.

PHOTO: Wildcatch Fisheries SA Inc.

Bart has been fishing since the age of 3. PHOTO: Wildcatch Fisheries SA Inc.

While Bart is a true professional, fishing for fun is an important part of SA’s tourism industry.

Read on for the best places to explore this beautiful, 3800km-long coast of ours.

1. Port Wakefield, Yorke Peninsula.

You probably know Port Wakefield for its roaring hot meat pies or perhaps your last chance for a loo stop before hitting the highway again.

Bart says the often underrated Port Wakefield is a “beautiful, historic and quaint little town” offering good fishing and crabbing spots.

Fishing on Kangaroo Island won't disappoint.

Fishing on Kangaroo Island won’t disappoint.

2. Kangaroo Island.

It’s one of the best places to jump on a fishing charter and learn from the experts.

For less serious fishers, Kingscote’s long jetty won’t disappoint with regular yields of tommies, squid, garfish, leatherjackets and snook.

3. Backstairs passage.

These waters between the mainland off Cape Jarvis and Kangaroo Island are renowned for whopping snapper, nannygai, tuna and sharks.

But it’s not for the faint hearted, inexperienced fishermen or small boat owners.

The waters are around 50-60m deep, with fast moving currents and steep waves when tides go against the winds.

4. Port Hughes old lighthouse, Yorke Peninsula.

About 15km offshore, west from the Port Hughes boat ramp, is the old light house.

Be wary of shallow waters close to the structure, but the area is excellent for good sized garfish and snapper (which must only be fished in season).

Port Vincent's stunningly clear waters make for excellent crabbing.

Port Vincent’s clear waters make for excellent crabbing.

5. Port Vincent, Yorke Peninsula.

About two-and-a-half hours from Adelaide, Port Vincent is good blue swimmer crab territory and promising for whiting and squid.

Far offshore is well known for whiting, while anglers with tinnies can simply drift with a squid jig close to the shore.

6. Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula.

This is the place for “big reds”, a.k.a snapper.

Point Lowly is a good spot for these prized fish, but you must wait until the SA snapper season opens on December 15, with some selected areas closed until January 31. Be sure to also check size, bag and boat limits.

7. Port Neill, Eyre Peninsula.

A beautiful Eyre Peninsula town with white, sandy beaches and clear waters.

For land-based anglers the jetty is perfect for tommies and squid, while many of the beaches are good for yellowfin whiting and even bronze whalers!

Boaties in the area have been known to catch good feeds of King George whiting.

8. Farm Beach, Coffin Bay, Eyre Peninsula.

About half-hour from Coffin Bay on the west coast is Farm Beach, a superb whiting ground.

If fishing by boat, you’ll need to access the area by launching from the beach with a tractor or make the 15km trip from the Coffin Bay boat ramp.

Mt Camel Beach is not far from Venus Bay.

Mt Camel Beach is not far from Venus Bay.

9. Mt Camel Beach, Eyre peninsula.

Mt Camel Beach is a land-angler’s paradise. Nestled in the sand dunes, it’s an excellent spot for surf fishing for salmon.

10. Port MacDonnell, Limestone Coast.

This Limestone Coast gem is ideal for bluefin tuna.

These fish are powerful fighters, and lots of fun to reel in (if you’re lucky enough!)

When fishing in SA, you must follow the rules to ensure we can continue to enjoy a world-class and sustainable seafood supply. 

Size, bag and boat limits apply, as do seasonal closures, aquatic reserves and restrictions on protected species.

Visit the PIRSA website or call the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 065 522 for more information.