There are many styles of fishing and, as a hobby, it can be as simple or as complicated and expensive as one wants. With that in mind there are many fishing spots which can be rewarding to try for one who does not own a boat, or enjoy perching on sharp reef in a winter storm.
As I’m often fishing with my significant other, Betina, and she doesn’t particularly enjoy the more extreme aspects of fishing, we’ve come to frequent lots of spots which are easy to access, give a reasonable chance of catching a feed, and have good facilities. These are spots which are great to bring the family, girlfriend/wife, or even the dogs. The Canning Bridge and surrounding parts of the Canning River are one such area.
The Canning Bridge is located where the Canning Highway enters the Kwinana Freeway. It’s an old wooden bridge with plenty of pylons holding it up, meaning lots of structure in the water to attract fish. If you take the Canning Highway exit on the Kwinana Freeway and turn left into Canning Highway, you’ll find plenty of parking options on your right. From where you park it’s a short walk across the pedestrian pathway on the bridge across to the other side. On both sides of the bridge, one can find a myriad of fishing options available.
North Western Side of the Bridge
This is where you’ll find shallow flats that run all the way from the bridge to the South of Perth Yacht Club along Canning Beach Rd. If you don’t mind getting your feet wet, these shallow areas are relatively snag free and are ideal for running a hard body or soft plastic lure for bream and flathead.
If you come here around an hour before high tide, wade in to about knee height or a little higher, and cast out the lure and retrieve back to you, you’ll have a good chance of getting into some bream at least. Keep moving and work your way across the shallows â€“ covering more ground will help you have a higher chance of hooking up to a good fish, especially if you are using lures.
Lures that have worked well for us include the good old River2sea Shed, RMG Scorpions in Brown Trout, and the tiny Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow. There are a fair few blowies here, probably due to the flats being sandwiched between the bridge and the South of Perth Yacht Club, so soft plastics have not really been successful for us.
Closer to the bridge you’ll also find the Applecross Jetty. This little jetty lets you cast out into some deeper water, with bream the target using a sinking rig and bait. The jetty and areas closer to the bridge are best fished at night though, as blowies are a big problem here. It does seem that the blowies are attracted to the areas close to the bridge. However if you venture just a little bit further away from the bridge the number of blowies you will encounter will decrease dramatically. Otherwise, fishing the area at night is a good option, with most areas well lit.
Canning Bridge, Over and Under
From the jetty, a short walk will take you to the bridge itself. In order to get to the fishing platform under the bridge, you’ll have to cross the bridge to the eastern side. The platform underneath gives good access to many pylons home to bream and tarwhine. The trick here is to try to get your bait or lure as close to a pylon as possible, and keep trying different pylons to find where the fish are holding.
This is easy for the pylons directly adjacent to the fishing platform, but can be a real test of casting accuracy for those pylons further away. If you feel up to it, casting towards the end of a row of pylons and then retrieving back towards the platform covers a lot of ground and we’ve landed many bream that way.
I’ve even seen a very brave fly fisherman impressively casting under the bridge within the â€˜corridors’ â€“ now that was some accurate casting! Having said that, I’ve also lost countless rigs to the pylons, as well as to some very large bream that know all too well how to snag you.
The trick is to hop the bait or lure back to you, rather than dragging it on the bottom, to avoid the countless snags lining the bottom of the river under the bridge. When you hook up to a large bream, make sure you have the drag set appropriately and take it slowly. Trying to drag the fish out from a pylon with brute force will only end up cutting the line on the many sharp edges, whereas a slow and steady easing in of the fish will give you a better chance of landing it.
A good resistant leader is certainly an advantage here. My personal best bream, a 43cm 1.4 kilo specimen, was caught using these methods under the bridge using 6lb Fireline with a 3.5kg Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
South Eastern Side of the Bridge
From the bridge, you need to walk past it until you reach the limestone retaining walls. This will give you enough distance from the blowies to be able to use soft plastics. In the summer this spot is crawling with large flathead stalking the dropoff, which is within casting range of the limestone wall, so you don’t even need to get your feet wet.
Using a reasonably abrasion resistant leader to resist the flathead’s sharp teeth and a lead jighead, soft plastics such as Atomic 2â€ grubs in motor oil gold or pumpkinseed colour can be very effective against these fish.
Understanding the behaviour of the flathead is the key to catching them effectively. Their flat and camouflaged bodies are ideally suited for their role as an ambush predator â€“ they sit quietly in one spot until an unfortunate victim comes past and is engulfed by their cavernous mouths. In our case, we want that victim to be our jig hook, so our best bet is to cover as much ground as possible in order to maximize our chances of bouncing the plastic past a flathead’s nose.
I’ve found that flathead are not particularly fussy, and they will take most lures if you put it close enough to them. We’ve caught them on feather tail jigs, garish fluoro yellow double tailed K-mart soft plastics and hard bodied lures, as well as with the traditional live and dead baits.
Baits to use around the bridge will need to be tough and resilient to the constant threat of blowies, even at night. I’ve used cut squid and octopus with good success, as well as river prawns (though the prawns do not tend to stay on the hook as well). Others get some monster bream on tiny whole crabs and small mussels in the shell. These are impossible for the blowies to nibble on, and would be a great option in the daytime.
Something I’m yet to try are little 3-7 gram metal jigs, these would probably be ideal to fish with in the daytime as they are blowie proof and mimic the little hardyhead baitfish that are all around the bridge stay.
The Canning Bridge and its surrounds hold a vast number and variety of fish. I’ve only scratched the surface of this great fishing spot myself, but hopefully armed with this knowledge you can now go out and fish it with a bit more luck. Just remember to keep moving till you find the fish!