The following is a basic list of safety guidelines to keep in mind at all times when rock fishing, however you must always check your state authorities prior to fishing, as safety tips can vary a great deal depending on your location, season and more.
1. Do not go fishing alone under any circumstances. Alternatively, always fish in a group of at least three people and keep an eye on each other at all times. Do not allow anyone to wander off alone for any reason. There are several safety benefits to fishing in a group. For instance, if one person is washed in, one person can stay and assist while the other notifies emergency services (call 000). You can call 112 to contact emergency services from a mobile device.
2. Be sure to have let people at home know of your fishing plans and intended whereabouts prior to going fishing. Especially in the case of an emergency, it is absolutely crucial that family or friends will know where you will be and when to expect you back.
3. Do not wear heavy clothing such as jumpers or jeans as these can weigh you down and are often difficult to take off (especially in water). Instead wear lighter clothing items such as shorts and a spray jacket. These lighter clothing options will allow you to swim easier and faster if you are washed in.
4. Always wear properly fitted and appropriate footwear for the relevant conditions: cleats, sandals and sandshoes with non slip soles will suit a variety of surfaces and are the safest footwear options for rock fishing.
5. Ensure that you always carry safety gear: it is especially crucial that you always wear a life jacket or a buoyancy vest. To help you stay afloat in the event of an emergency it is also very important to have access to items that can be easily thrown and held onto. Bring ropes and torches on your fishing trip.
6. Always check local weather, swell and tidal conditions prior to going Rock fishing. Do not fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas. Try to find a calmer spot to fish if any kind of danger is present at any time. Listen to weather forecasts or call the weather information line on 1900 926 101. Remember that conditions can and do change significantly in a very short period of time.
7. Spend at least 20 minutes observing your intended fishing spot before you set up to go fishing. Doing so will give you a very good idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle. Wave conditions can worsen as the tide changes, you should be able to detect whether the tides are high or low and if they are coming in or going out. High tides can cover your fishing spot with water. It is possible to get trapped or to be swept off the rock by a high tide. Preferably do not go rock fishing if any of these conditions are present.
8. If someone is washed in, do not jump in after them. Look for an angel ring, life buoy or another item that floats. Throw this item to the person in the water.
9. Check for large waves and strong winds and avoid fishing at all if these conditions are applicable on the day.
10. Always have a plan of escape in case you are washed in. Make sure that everyone on the fishing trip is also well aware of the escape plan in advance of the trip. In the case of an emergency situation, try to stay calm. If you are washed in, swim in the opposite direction of the rocks and be on the lookout for a safer place to come ashore. Alternatively, stay afloat and wait for assistance to arrive at the scene.
11. Stay vigilant at all times. Never turn your back away from the ocean. If the waves, weather or swell present potential danger ensure to leave the spot as soon as possible.
12. Do some research prior to fishing in a particular spot: ask for advice from locals who know the area well: they will be best able to advise you of appropriate and safe fishing locations.