Check the weather before you go rock fishing

Bondi head land waves

Rock fishing can be hazardous ... check the weather before you go!

Be careful of the following ... just one, or a combination, could be hazardous.

  • Rising tides and high tides
  • Large waves
  • Strong winds

Before you go

Before heading out, use the Bureau's marine forecasts and warnings and run through the five vital checks to be prepared.

Going rock fishing?  Do the five vital weather safety checks

Check wave conditions


Large waves or swell waves can be hazardous and could sweep you off your rock fishing spot.

Long period swells are typically generated by low-pressure weather systems. These swells can travel for days and many hundreds of kilometres from where they were formed. While they're in deep water, these long, low swells are not a problem, but as they approach shallow water they break powerfully. Because the systems that generate these waves can be far off the coast, these waves can come as a surprise since it could be sunny with little wind when they arrive.

You can check the wave conditions by reviewing the seas and swell section of the coastal waters forecast for your coastal zone, or by looking at the Bureau's forecast map MetEye and selecting the Waves Forecast. Seas or swell greater than 1.5 metres are large enough to be potentially hazardous

In the coastal waters forecasts for New South Wales and southern Queensland, caution statements are included when the conditions are hazardous for swimming, rock fishing and boating.

Check tide times for when the tide will be rising


Water levels rise quickest around mid-tide. Rising and high tide is when wave conditions can change rapidly and make waves break unexpectedly onto the rocks where you may be fishing. You may find the rising tide can also block you exit path.

Check for strong winds


Winds over 15 knots can create hazardous waves, make tide levels higher than predicted, or make you lose your balance on the rocks.

You can check the wind forecast in the coastal waters forecast and on MetEye.

Check for marine warnings


The Bureau provides a range of warnings which alert you to conditions that may make rock fishing unsafe.

Hazardous Surf Warnings are issued for New South Wales and southern Queensland coastal water areas when the weather may generally appear calm, but the surf conditions can still be hazardous for activities such as swimming, boating, and rock fishing.

Severe Weather Warnings are issued for severe weather warnings for damaging winds and heavy rain.

Coastal Hazard Warnings are issued for damaging surf and abnormally high tides.

Marine Wind Warnings are issued whenever strong winds, gales, storm force or hurricane force winds are expected.

Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued for damaging wind gusts, heavy rain and large hail. winds are expected.

You can access warnings for all states on the National Warnings Summary web page.

Check for changing weather


Check the forecast and take note of other weather conditions that may impact your rock fishing trip – for example, reduced visibility from fog or rain, or risks to your safety and comfort from thunderstorms, lightning or squall conditions.

Watch the video below that explains how to use MetEye for rock fishing. You can use MetEye to check the forecast wind, waves and other conditions such as fog, thunderstorms or rain.

Surf Life Saving Australia urges all rock fishers to:

  • Wear a lifejacket.
  • Check tides, weather and surf conditions.
  • Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety.
  • Plan an escape route in case you are washed into the water.
  • Wear the right gear i.e. lifejacket, appropriate footwear, lightweight clothing.
  • Never fish alone, and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Look for Angel Rings or some other flotation device to throw to someone in trouble.
  • Call 000 if assistance is required.