10 Best Fishing Spots in Australia - The Complete Guide
Feb 28, 2020 | 15 minute read
Reading Time: 15 minutes

Australia is world renowned for the incredible fishing it offers. Boasting thousands of kilometres of fertile coastline, the continent is unmatched in the abundance and variety of fish species it has. As if coastal wonderlands weren’t enough, it possesses countless lakes and rivers teeming with fish, as well. With more than 5,000 fish species to choose from, and a myriad of spectacular locations to see, picking your spot can be a little daunting. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Join us today as we look at the 10 best fishing spots in Australia.

The fact that one in four Australian fish species can be found in no other place on earth is incredible in and of itself. Add to that the fact that some big game fish are larger here than anywhere else, and you’ll quickly realize that fishing in Australia is like a honeymoon in Paris – there’s just no place better.

an areal view of Noosa

Speaking of honeymoons, Australia’s fishing hot spots aren’t just your one-trick pony. Apart from great reel action, these places are also known for breathtaking wilderness, spectacular outdoor action, and top-notch entertainment. No matter if you’re a nature lover or a city slicker, Australia has a perfect fishing spot for you.

Without any further ado, let’s take a look at our picks for the 10 best fishing spots in Australia. It was hard not to play favourites so here they are in no particular order:

1. Cairns, Queensland

Fishing in Cairns

Often referred to as the big game capital of the world, Cairns offers a wide variety of exciting trophy fish to go for. The area prides itself on record-breaking Black Marlin – “Granders” bigger than 1,000 pounds are regularly caught off the coast of Cairns. If that sounds a little too ambitious for you, there’s an abundance of nearshore species like Wahoo, Spanish Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, Trevally, and Sailfish to go for.

If calmer waters are your thing, the estuaries around the beautiful Trinity Inlet are brimming with the likes of Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, Threadfin Salmon, Grunter, Bream, Queenfish, and more.

As far as the seasonality is concerned, September through December is the best time for heavy tackle Black Marlin, as well as Mahi Mahi, Giant Trevally, Tuna, and Great Barracuda. May and June are great for light tackle Blue Marlin, Queenfish, and Spanish Mackerel. If you’re after Barramundi, your best bet is September and October, or February and March.

the beautiful coast near Cairns

Things To Do in Cairns

When a foreigner thinks of Australia, they usually think of white beaches, tropical rainforests, exotic cuisine, indigenous culture – and, of course, The Great Barrier Reef. What they don’t know is that there’s one place that has it all. You guessed it: Cairns. If you’re in the city, enjoy a relaxing day on the Cairns Esplanade or visit the famous Rusty’s Markets. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are countless scuba diving options along the Reef, bungee jumping tours, and more. Our pick would be the Skyrail through the rainforest.

To keep things as diverse as possible, we’ll give the nearby town of Port Douglas an honourable mention.

2. Darwin, Northern Territory

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory, and an important gateway on the Timor Sea. The city’s proximity to Southeast Asia has earned it its distinctive cultural flavor. With a population of just over 150,000, Darwin is Australia’s smallest capital city.

Fishing in Darwin

Darwin is recognized as the place to go fishing for Barramundi. Of course, depending on the season, there are a host of other species you can catch.

The Darwin fishing seasons are organized around the four weather periods known as the “build-up,” “wet season,” “run-off,” and “dry season.”

Wet season (December to February) is a period of high humidity, monsoonal rains, and storms. At this time, the backcountry changes and some roads become boggy and impassable. This is an unpredictable time, but can be productive for fishing. We recommend hiring a good experienced guide to make the most of your trip.

The run-off season (February to May) is the best time for Barramundi fishing in Darwin. It is particularly good for fishing around March and April. At this time, as the flood waters empty into the creeks, rivers, and billabongs, the Barra swoop in to feed on smaller fish.

You can also go for pelagics like Queenfish, Giant and Golden Trevally, as well as reef fish like Golden Snapper and Black Jewfish. The dry season (May to September) is pleasantly warm, with dry sunny days and cool nights. This is high season for tourism in Northern Territory, when people flock to the area to escape from the cold South. Head offshore for Longtail Tuna, or hit the reefs for some Jewfish, Golden Snapper, Coral Trout, or Nannygai.

Build-up season (September to December) is when the weather begins to warm up leading up to the monsoons. As the water temperature rises, the Barramundi and Saratoga feeding activity picks up dramatically. As the Southeast trade winds diminish and the seas become calmer, offshore fishing takes off. The build-up brings some truly spectacular thunderstorms when people come out to look at the skies as they light up in breathtaking fashion.

a view of the beach in Darwin

Things To Do in Darwin

Darwin may be Australia’s smallest capital, but if we’re talking culture and history, the city is a legitimate treasure trove. Arts and crafts of all types are on display at the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is the region’s leading cultural institution, where Aboriginal heritage, rich history and fabulous archaeology meet to tell the most amazing stories.

Want to come face-to-face with a croc? Head straight to the city center and check out the popular Crocosaurus Cove. If you’re looking to do some snorkelling, picnicking, or simply to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, look no further than Berry Springs Nature Park. No matter what your style is, one thing’s for sure – Darwin has you covered.

3. Exmouth, Western Australia

Located on the shores of Western Australia, Exmouth is a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ningaloo Coast. The coast is hemmed by the Ningaloo Reef, an incredible 260 km stretch of ocean lined with colorful corals and filled with fish of all shapes and sizes. These waters are so healthy, marine life is astoundingly rich and diverse. The best part is that the continental shelf drops just a few kilometers off the coast, so you’re able to reach those deep blues within minutes of leaving land. Not only that, but the upwelling created by the drop off creates a nutrient-packed environment fish just can’t ignore.

Now, this all might sound a lot like the Great Barrier Reef, but in reality, the two areas are like night and day. First of all, Exmouth is a town of only 2,500 inhabitants. Second, where the eastern waters of Queensland are met by lush rainforests, the Ningaloo Reef is contested by the barren sand dunes of the west. You might think that Exmouth is too small to compare to the tourist gem that is Cairns but think again. Thanks to the fantastic fishing it offers, Exmouth welcomes more than 300,000 visitors every year (per Department of Parks and Wildlife of Western Australia).

Fishing in Exmouth

And it’s easy to see why. An all-star lineup of Billfish swarms these waters, including Black, Blue, and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Shortbill Spearfish. Many skippers in the area specialize in multi-day liveaboard trips aboard spacious powerboats, allowing you to pursue these beasts for days on end.

What distinguishes Exmouth fishing from other locations is the addition of Bonefish. A fly fisherman’s favourite, Bonefish are on the bite almost year-round here. But maybe you’re not in it just for sport. In that case, you can always wet your line for a Snapper, Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Mahi Mahi, or Wahoo dinner.

Whale Shark near Exmouth

Things To Do in Exmouth

With such a thriving marine ecosystem, it makes sense for most of the activities near Exmouth to be centred in and around the water. The Ningaloo Reef is home to over 500 species of fish, and another 200 species of coral, all of which you can experience up close on an exciting snorkelling dip. The Reef is also world famous for the Whale Sharks who visit each year. These gentle creatures congregate from April to July, so if you’re visiting during this time, be sure to go for a swim. If you want to see a Humpback Whale, the official season usually lasts from August through November.

Keep in mind that Exmouth is not the friendliest of environments, though. This is one of the driest places in all of Australia, with an average annual rainfall of 230 millimetres. Winds over 200 kilometres per hour are not uncommon, either. That’s not to say that the area is entirely inhospitable, of course. As long as you keep safe from the extreme temperatures and wind gusts, you should be fine.

Our honourable mention for WA goes to Broome.

4. Port Lincoln, South Australia

Three-and-a-half thousand kilometres to the southeast, the scenic city of Port Lincoln lies safely nestled in South Australia’s Boston Bay. Often referred to as the Seafood Capital of Australia, the city owes a lot of its growth to the bountiful waters of Spencer Gulf.

Fishing in Port Lincoln

Bluefin Tuna is the signature species in these parts. You can get a hookup from December all through May. You can even make good money off it. In fact, Bluefin fishing is said to have made Port Lincoln the town with the highest number of millionaires per capita in the country.

If you’re in town during summer, you can look forward to Bronze Whaler Sharks and Kingfish. As for Nannygai, Gummy Sharks, Yellowfin Whiting, Snapper, and Garfish, you can catch them year round, but be aware of the state fishing regulations. Lastly, Crabs and Lobsters are usually caught in summertime and early Autumn. You don’t need a license for recreational fishing in South Australia.

Location-wise, you’ll have a lot to choose from. Port Lincoln offers a great number of beach and rock fishing spots, as well as a host of charters departing from the towns marinas.

shark close up at Port Lincoln

Things To Do in Port Lincoln

There are a number of nature tours and expeditions in town. The most popular among these will teach you how to catch posh seafood, after which a master chef will prepare dinner while you enjoy a stunning beach sunset. Not a romantic? Maybe Shark watching from a cage is your thing:

On the other hand, if you’d prefer some terra firma under your feet, you can enjoy a day with kangaroos and emus in Lincoln National Park.

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria

Some 300 kilometres east of Melbourne, on the edge the Gippsland Lakes, lies the acclaimed tourist hot spot and fishing goldmine of Lakes Entrance. Uniquely positioned next to the Lakes and the scenic Ninety Mile Beach, Lakes Entrance is the perfect family getaway. The charming little town doesn’t only wow you with its natural beauty; it also offers some serious inshore and offshore fishing.

Fishing in Lakes Entrance

Believe it or not, the Gippsland Lakes are the largest inland water system in the Southern Hemisphere. Having such an extensive network of inland waterways just a stone’s throw away means that you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect fishing spot. The waters between Lake Tyers and Newlands Arm are teeming with Bream, Flathead, Mulloway, Luderick, Tailor, Whiting, Perch, and Salmon. If you’re looking to do some surf fishing, there are countless jetties and pylons to choose from.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to go offshore, you’ll have a chance to get your hands on Gummy Sharks, Makos, and Snapper, as well as Tuna and Swordfish. While many of these species can be caught year round, some are best targeted during a two- or three-month stretch. For example, you can catch Gummy Sharks in March and April, and Tuna from late February through to June. Swordfish is on the bite between April and July, whereas Snapper is caught from January to April.

No matter when you visit Lakes Entrance, there will be something exciting on the other end of your line. Just remember to get a valid Victorian fishing license.

Things To Do in Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance is one of Australia’s premier holiday destinations. The heart of the township is at the Esplanade, which is home to many cafes and seafood restaurants. But arguably, that’s not where its soul is; you’ll have to venture a little into the wild to feel the real pulse of this area. Head out for a walk on the scenic Ninety Mile Beach and join the pelicans looking out into the ocean where the whales make their show. Or, go inland to explore the vast system of waterways as you make your way to a serene picnic in one of the many surrounding parks. Kangaroos, dolphins, and curious birds of all types roam this picturesque area. Whichever way you turn, one thing’s for sure – there will always be something special to steal your gaze.

6. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Kakadu National Park is a rich ecosystem of incredible natural beauty. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to some of the best Barramundi and Saratoga fishing Australia has to offer. You’ll be hard pressed to find a place so wild and full of life. The best spots include South Alligator River and East Alligator River, which are accessible through boat ramps in the area.

Fishing in Kakadu National Park

The Alligator Rivers take their name from the crocodiles that inhabit the lower reaches of their flows. South Alligator River lies around 200 kilometres east of Darwin, and is one of the premier Barramundi fisheries in Australia. East Alligator River is another hour due east, and is also a great place to go for Barra, as well as a host of other species. As many as 46 fish species call this place home.

Barra fishing is best during wet season and the run-off period. During other times, you can scour the reefs around the mouth of the rivers for Golden Snapper and Black Jewfish. There’s a lot to see and catch here – just make sure to fish sustainably. According to the Northern Territory recreational fishing regulations, you may only keep three Barramundi up to 90 centimetres long, with one Barramundi over 90 centimetres per boat.

Kakadu Waterfall

Things to do in Kakadu National Park

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll have no shortage of things to do in Kakadu National Park. Start your day with a dip near one of Kakadu’s breathtaking waterfalls, then stroll the billabongs on your way to the ancient Aboriginal rock paintings, do some crocodile spotting, and finish it off with a traditional local dinner.

Wherever you go, remember to stay crocwise.

7. The Gold Coast, Queensland

If there ever was a place built around water, it was the Gold Coast. Forget about Venice, this place is overflowing with waters of all kinds. Canals, waterways, lakes, and the deep blue ocean encompass the city from all sides. One of Australia’s leading tourist hot spots, the Gold Coast has rapidly grown to become Queensland’s second largest city. The city is widely known for its surfing beaches, entertainment parks, exciting nightlife, and lush hinterland.

Fishing in The Gold Coast

Traditionally, December and January are the best months for offshore fishing in the Gold Coast. The big dogs make their appearance, and Blue and Black Marlin are better than ever. Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, Spanish Mackerel, Yellowfin Tuna, and Wahoo are also caught in numbers, so you’ll do well to cast your lines at this time.

the species you can catch in January in the Gold Coast
There’s no shortage of species to go for in January

As the waters cool down, Cobia, Kingfish, Snapper, and Amberjack start biting. You can catch them anywhere from April to November.

As far as inshore and surf fishing is concerned, Trevally, Flathead, Dart, Bream, and Whiting are all on the menu. The best spots to throw your cast from include the Seaway, the Sand Pumping Jetty, and Surfer’s Paradise.

an areal view of Gold Coast
Nothing quite like it

Things To Do in Gold Coast

It’s easy to see why Gold Coast is such a tourist magnet. Amusement parks, wildlife sanctuaries, modern restaurants, beaches – this town has it all. If you’d like to escape the towering skyscrapers, take a tour of the pristine Gold Coast Hinterland. Alternatively, you can do some shopping at Harbour Town Shopping Centre, the renowned Pacific Fair, or visit any of the local markets.

Gold Coast is a bustling town with endless possibilities, and it should be on any angler’s bucket list.

Before we continue, we need to give an honourable mention to the capital city of Queensland, Brisbane.

8. Queenscliff, Victoria

Queenscliff, a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula, stands sentinel over beautiful Port Phillip Bay. The town was once an important cargo port, and even a major tourist attraction in the late 19th century, boasting a number of luxury hotels and coffee palaces. The town saw its significance wane in the 20th century, but is experiencing a renaissance thanks to the fantastic fishing it offers.

Fishing in Queenscliff

Perfectly situated on the doorway to Port Phillip Bay, Queenscliff is a great starting point for all sorts of fishing ventures. Starting from Queenscliff Harbour, you’re minutes away from a hook-up in the Bay or an adventure in the Bass Strait. You can even wet your line in freshwater in the nearby Lake Victoria.

The Bay is home to King George Whiting, Flathead, Salmon, Snapper, Perch, Calamari, Garfish, and many other species.

Offshore fishing may be right in front of your nose, but is wildly different from the Bay. The choppy waters of the Bass Strait are a force to be reckoned with. However, a good skipper will know to pick the right time and place, so you’ll have no shortage of reel action. The species you can catch range from Mako Shark, Bluefin Tuna, Nannygai, Morwong, and Gummy Sharks to the famed Swordfish.

Most of the offshore fish are in season from December through February, with the exception of Swordfish, which are on the bite during April and May.

a look at the sea from the Queenscliff dock

Things To Do in Queenscliff

Queenscliff might be a small town, but don’t be fooled: there’s no shortage of things to see and do here. Naturally, you can find all sorts of water activities in this seaside locale. There are a number of exquisite restaurants, serving local delicacies for all tastes.

But the real treasure this town has is its history. To learn about all the fascinating things that happened here, visit two of the best museums in Victoria. Fort Queenscliff Museum will show you a detailed account of the town’s role in World War I and World War II, and the Queenscliff Maritime Museum will let you experience tales of shipwrecks, rescues, fishermen, lighthouses, and all the maritime heritage around the Rip.

9. Merimbula, New South Wales

If our list had a prize for “most scenic,” Merimbula would definitely take the cake. With dazzling sandy beaches on one side, and the gorgeous Merimbula Lake on the other, the “Heart of the Sapphire Coast” is a traveling angler’s paradise.

Fishing in Merimbula

Thanks to its exceptional location on the Sapphire Coast, Merimbula offers all kinds of amazing fishing opportunities. The best fishing locations are so close to each other – one minute you can be battling Bream and Trevally on the Lake, then hooking up Tailor or Mulloway from the beach just moments later.

Inshore fishing is great, and you can target anything from Bream, Flathead, and Tailor to Gummy Shark and Whiting. All the inshore species are bitting pretty much year-round.

If you’re up for some bottom fishing, hit the reefs and get your hands on Tasmanian Trumpeter, Pearl Perch, Snapper, and Morwong.

Merimbula has some spectacular big game fishing. The continental shelf drops just 25 kilometres off the coast, so you won’t be spending a lot of time getting to the good spots. You can catch Black, Blue, and Striped Marlin from December all through March and April. Bluefin Tuna is great in June and July, whereas Yellowfin is on the bite in December and January, as well as April and May.

Merimbula Broadwalk
The stunning Merimbula Broadwalk

Things To Do in Merimbula

With picture-perfect beaches, fairytale-like backcountry, and an array of cafes and restaurants to visit, Merimbula has become a favourite getaway spot for thousands of Australians.

Families will enjoy the Potoroo Palace, an animal sanctuary where you can wander among the kangaroos, hang out with koalas, and learn about what you can do to preserve their natural habitats. A walk to the Pinnacles, an easy stroll suitable for people of all ages, will guide you through some stunning scenery. If your walk leaves you feeling peckish, be sure to check out the restaurants around Market Street – the food is to die for.

10. Noosa, Queensland

Finishing our list, we’re back in Queensland. The location: the wonderful town of Noosa. The entire Sunshine Coast is dotted with fishing villages and bustling towns built around the hook and reel. These places not only have great weather almost year-round, they also have fishing most of the world can only dream of. You could say that it’s tough to stand out in a crowd like this, but Noosa shines bright as one of the very best fishing spots in the world.

Fishing in Noosa

Fishing in Noosa will let you go for a multitude of fish species and try all sorts of different techniques. The tranquil waters of Noosa river are teeming with Flathead, Whiting, Bream, and Tarpon. You can experience some fantastic reel action on the 40 km stretch of water, all the while enjoying the wonderful surroundings about you. The upper parts of the river are home to Australian Bass, so if you’re a bass fisherman, you don’t want to miss this.

Thanks to the unique geography of the area, surf fishing in Noosa is great. Laguna Bay and Sunshine Beach mark the spot where you and the ocean will first meet. This is where most anglers like to start their day. The Bay and the Beach are conveniently protected from the elements by the Noosa Heads, so surf fishing is great around here. You can expect to catch Bream, Flathead, and Whiting.

Reef fishing will take you around 15 kilometres offshore. The reefs around Noosa produce some fantastic catches – Spanish and Spotted Mackerel, Yellowfin Tuna, Coral Trout, and Snapper are all on the menu. The most popular reefs are Jew Shoal Reef, Chardon’s Reef, North Reef, and Big and Little Hall’s Reef.

Offshore fishing is where the big boys await. Big game off the Sunshine Coast is never bad, but Noosa just takes it to another level. During the summer months, you can catch Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Cobia, and bigger Yellowfin Tuna. If you’re out during the winter season, expect Bluefin Tuna, Maori Cod, and Red Emperor.

areal view of the Noosa Heads and Sunshine Beach
The Sunshine Beach

Things To Do in Noosa

Noosa is packed with attractions and fun opportunities.

Take a walk down Hastings Street, a buzzing avenue full of amazing restaurants, arts and crafts, and people from all walks of life. It’s where you can truly feel the pulse of this charming town. The Noosa Regional Gallery is located on the Noosa River and it presents a diverse program of contemporary exhibitions featuring local, national, and international artists.

If you had something a little more tangible in mind, go check out the Bay Village Shopping Centre. If you prefer the outdoors, go straight to Main Beach and choose from the collection of water activities at your disposal. A short drive from Noosa can take you to Eumundi, where the Eumundi Markets present artisan treasures for all senses.

Try as we might, picking 10 locations simply doesn’t do justice to the fishing in Australia – the local waters are so incredibly rich and diverse. Without question, there are countless other fantastic fishing spots in Australia, but you’d probably need a book or two to learn all about them.

Do you agree with our picks for the 10 best fishing spots in Australia? Have you ever fished in one of these? What are some locations you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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