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Top Fishing Charters in Cairns

Fishing in Cairns

The area around Cairns is often referred to as ‘the number one game fishing region on the planet.’ Go there, and you will see why. The tropical landscape of North Queensland is home to one of the most diverse fisheries in the world. But not only does Cairns fishing equal a huge quantity of fish species, it also boasts incredibly good quality fishing. It’s not fair on all the other fishing destinations, really.

Known For

Angler or not, you probably know of Cairns as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. This vibrant city’s tourist season revolves around Great Barrier Reef tours and diving trips, which will take you up close and personal to the only structure made of living organisms that can be seen from space. But for serious sport fishing anglers, this part of the Great Barrier Reef means only one thing: Black Marlin, and big ones. One of the primary breeding grounds for the species, this one of the few places in the world where Marlin weighing over 1000 lbs are consistently caught, year after year. 

Every year from September to December, anglers flock to the area between Cairns and Lizard Island to experience what is arguably the best Black Marlin fishing in Australia - or even the world. Ever since American angler Richard C Obach hooked a 1064 lb Black Marlin on 80 lb line here in 1996, Cairns has become synonymous with legendary sport fishing. Now, all you need to do to hook your own 'grander' is to find a local captain aboard that perfect fishing charter Cairns has waiting for you.

But the offshore reefs aren’t the only good fishing spots in Cairns. The area’s pristine estuaries and tropical waterways are the perfect breeding grounds for firm Australian fishing favorites such as Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, and Fingermark. Just five minutes from the heart of the city, Trinity Inlet marks the beginning of 90 km of beautiful winding waterways just waiting to be explored. Daintree River is less than an hour and a half away, while beach fishing can see you sight casting to schools of Golden Trevally.

From Cairns' booming popularity as Australia's new fly fishing central, all the way to heavy tackle fishing for everyone's favorite pelagics, there's something in store for everyone here. And to all you die-hard Barramundi lovers, looking for that perfect fishery to indulge in your obsession - welcome home.

Rules & Regulations

No license is necessary for recreational fishing in Queensland tidal waters, but licenses may be required if fishing in some stocked impoundments. There is an annual closed season for Barramundi, which runs from the first of November through the first of February.

Types of Fishing

Heavy tackle fishing for Black Marlin flourishes from September through December. Marlin charters are often booked well in advance and will traditionally involve trolling with large bait - Rainbow Runner, Queenfish, Tuna, and Mackerel typically make up the menu.

Try your hand at light tackle Marlin fishing from July to August - if you want to tackle a Billfish on 12-20 lb line, this is your chance. Trolling with rigged baits will also get you in a good place to battle Wahoo, Spanish Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, Trevally, Sailfish and more for some serious light tackle fun.

Looking for an even greater challenge? Try to set a new heavy tackle fly fishing record in the capable hands of a knowledgeable local captain. As far as fishery and local knowledge are concerned, this is one of the best places in the world to enter the record books.

Less ambitious anglers are bound to enjoy Great Barrier Reef fishing, which will usually involve ‘bottom bouncing’ with 60-100 lb line for delicious and colourful species such as Nannygai, Red Emperor, and Coral Trout.

As if this wasn't enough, finish your day by fishing the beaches for Mangrove Jack, Flathead, Trevally, Barramundi, Fingermark, and more. Hey, we told you this fishery was diverse.

Cairns
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Cairns Fishing Seasons

January in Cairns is HOT. Humidity is high and the rainy season peaks, making for impressive bites in creeks and estuaries. Offshore, make the most of the pelagic bite or target GT around the reefs.

The rainy season continues, with water temperature high at an average of 29ºC. Barramundi season reopens after a seasonal closure since November, and Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo are making waves offshore.

With the aftermath of heavy flood rains, March sees rivers and estuaries stocked with tasty prawns - and plenty of hungry fish. Make the most of the Mangrove Jack and Threadfin bite as they fatten up for winter.

While Cairns' tropical location doesn't really see a winter as such, it does see slightly cooler weather from April to August. This is great for Queenfish and Trevally fishing, with reef fishing also good.

With the rainy season now far behind, May in Cairns sees pleasant temperatures. Fishing is good over the reefs, with Red Emperor, Nannygai, and Coral Trout making for delicious and beautiful catches.

Thanks to lower humidity, reasonable temperatures, and low rainfall, this is peak tourist season. Escape the crowds and target a huge Spanish Mackerel offshore. The majority of fishing done at this time of year is inside the reef.

July is the beginning of the light tackle Marlin season in Cairns, when juvenile Black Marlin can be caught near the reef. Don't miss the Cairns Blue Water Billfish Tournament to show off your skills.

Light tackle Marlin season continues, with reef fish also biting well still. Offshore, the Wahoo bite picks up and will remain good through December. Peak tourist season continues.

Spring arrives, and with it comes humidity, which will build up until the rainy season arrives in December. Heavy tackle season starts as female Black Marlin come to the reef to spawn. 

Cairns is bustling with Marlin fishing charters, as visitors come from far and wide in the hope of catching a Marlin weighing over 1000 lbs. Inshore, Barramundi are biting actively. Mahi, GT, and Tuna are also caught.

Barramundi season closes until February. Billfishing remains excellent, with Sailfish being added to the mix of catches. The reef comes alive as the coral spawns and swimmers need to watch out for jellyfish.

This is the month for a Billifsh Slam, with Blue Marlin joining Black Marlin and Sailfish on potential catch lists. The wet season begins and will last through February. Don't let a soaking put you off!

Cairns Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Cairns

"October fishing trip"

Robert Goldsmith fished with Fish Hunter FNQ on October 12, 2018

Must book this fella had an awesome day even had home made muffins very nice indeed ! 10/10

"Whole day trip from Cairns on 3/4/18"

Jerome Bain-king fished with Cairns Reef Fishing on September 3, 2018

Pack the sea sick pills to avoid ruining your day

"Full day with Dan & Dean. "

Mic Deacon fished with Cairns Reef Fishing on August 27, 2018

Check out how to rig a line to catch reed fish. Take your own rig to fit on line or just go with the the flow.

"Half day with the captain"

Ric Grey fished with Paradise Sportfishing Adventures on August 23, 2018

Take the time to check the tides and try to coordinate with the fisho.

Top Targeted Species in Cairns

Trevally (Giant)

Queenfish

Barramundi

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Nearby Fishing Destinations