Fishing in Australia is extremely popular.This vast and sparsely populated country is surrounded by over 25 000 Klm (16 000 miles) of pristine coastline with half of this being in the tropics. These waters are alive with hundreds of fish species and they rarely breed them small in the tropical waters of North Queensland.

The best months to be fishing Queensland waters are September to May when the water and air temperatures are warmer. The south east trade winds over the winter months of June to September can make conditions a bit bumpy and choppy especially when fishing the Great Barrier Reef. The cyclone season is October to April with most cyclone activity from Christmas to March. The warmer and gentler northerly winds predominate from October through to Christmas making the latter a great time to be fishing in Australia.

Primary target species

Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally, Golden Trevally and Gold Spot Trevally; Snapper, Jewfish, Cobia, Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Queenfish, Nannygai, Grouper, Tuna, Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, Threadfin Salmon just to name a few are some of the 50 plus species regularly caught in these waters. All of these fish can be caught on lure, with bait or with a saltwater fly fishing outfit. Trolling, bait casting, jigging, popper fishing and drift fishing are all popular methods.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It is a huge fringing reef occupying the north east corner of the continent. This system of reefs comprises over 3000 individual reefs stretching thousands of kilometers along the coast of Queensland. The major entry points are the cities of Cairns and Townsville in North Queensland and The Whitsundays, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone in central Queensland. Cairns is a major port for Marlin fishing with regular catches of over 1000lb Black and Blue Marlin between October and March. Very large Dog Tooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Mahi Mahi and Big Eye Tuna are caught on the outer edge of the GBR. Day, overnight and extended fishing charters can be arranged from all above ports.

Cape York

Cape York is a large sparsely populated wilderness area in the far north east corner of Australia. It is bordered by the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef on the east, the islands of the Torres Straight in the North and the calm shallow waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the west. If you are planning a holiday fishing in Australia Cape York should be at the top of the list. The ultimate in reef fishing is the Great Barrier Reef(see above) and it covers the entire length of Cape York. The further north you travel the closer the reef is to the coast. Both the east and west coasts of Cape York have incredible mangrove lined estuary systems which are the home of fantastic fishing for species such as Barramundi, Threadfin Salmon and Mangrove Jack. The Cape also has its fair share of golden sandy beaches, rocky headlands and inshore reefs systems delivering a wide variety of fishing environments. There are a number of fishing lodges and mother ship operations in various areas of Cape York.

Hinchinbrook Island Channel

This jungle clad island measuring 40 klm by 10 klm is situated only 5 klm of the North Queensland coast south on Cairns. Between the island and the mainland is a large shallow channel surrounded by pristine mangrove swamps. This channel is popular with saltwater fly fishermen and others chasing Barramundi, and Permit (Snub Nosed Dart) along with Trevally, Fingermark, Mackerel and many more. The best fishing at Hinchinbrook is when the water is warmer from October to May as the cooler water in winter tends to make these estuary species sluggish. The coastal town of Cardwell has accommodation, bars, restaurants and all required facilities and there are a number of professional fishing guides available.  

Fishing in Australia’s tropical north should be preceded by careful and thorough planning with advice taken from knowledgeable people who live and fish in the area.

Paul Collery is a life long fishing enthusiast and writer based in Darwin, Australia.

He is a licenced travel agent specialising in the very best in fishing holidays in Australia, NZ and the Pacific. Paul saves his clients time and money with expert knowledge, experience and an extensive range of unique all inclusive fishing adventures.

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