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Fishing in Brisbane

The capital and largest city of Queensland, Brisbane is the starting point for most Australian East Coast adventures. This is one of the oldest cities in the country, and while it’s mainly known as Queensland’s administrative and business centre, it’s certainly worth a visit—especially if you’re into fishing. Set around the Brisbane River and looking out into the bountiful Moreton Bay, Brisbane has water at its heart. Visit with a rod and a reel, and you’ll find that fishing’s part of its soul, too.
 
The whole of the southern coastline of Queensland is known for the diversity of its marine life. There’s something to be caught here all year round, and the various fishing charters Brisbane has to offer know how to give you the best experience for the time of year you’re visiting. Whether you’re after a Tuna or a Flathead, you’ll find your match here. 

Known for

The first thing you need to understand about fishing in Brisbane is that it revolves around two clearly defined seasons. In the summer, it’s all about the big game, with Tuna, Kingfish, and Cobia making their way close to town and Marlin being caught further offshore. Come here in the winter, though, and you can expect to fill your Esky with top-notch table fare—big Pink Snappers and Bream are what fishing Brisbane is all about at this time of year.
 

Where to fish

Once you’ve got the season down, all you need to do is figure out where to start. Here’s our rundown of the top fishing spots Brisbane anglers need to know about:

Moreton Bay 

 
Sheltered by Moreton Island, Moreton Bay is 14 km (just under 9 miles) from the centre of Brisbane. A massive 125 km (78 miles) long, it extends from Caloundra in the north down to Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast in the south. This huge, shallow bay has historically been an important port and access point between Australia and the wider world. Now, it’s known for its biodiversity, with around a quarter of Australia’s bird species coming here at some point in the year, and dungong, dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales dropping in. 
 
The fishing Moreton Bay plays host to is no less diverse. Despite its shallow waters (usually between 1-8 m or 3-26 ft deep), the bay attracts a kaleidoscope of species to its artificial reefs and natural sand banks and islands. Mack and Longtail Tuna, Mackerel, Bream, Sweetlip—and of course, the notorious Pink Snapper—are just a few of the species you could encounter round here. 
 
Some of the best fishing spots include West Peel Artificial Reef for a variety of Snappers, Sweetip, Tailor, and Bream, Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef for Snapper, Tuna, and Mackerel, and Mud Island for Tuna and Mackerel, as well as reef fish. 
 

Brisbane River

The sweeping meanders of the Brisbane River contrast with the dense apartment blocks of the city that bears the same name. Twisting and turning all the way up to Lake Wivenhoe, some of the river's most popular inhabitants include the local favourites of Bream and Flathead. That’s far from the end of the story though: adrenaline seekers will find that these waters are home to a large population of Bull Sharks. Brisbane River fishing usually revolves around the less toothy targets, though, with Threadfin Salmon, Sweetlip Emperor, Cod, Tailor, Mangrove Jack, and Jewfish all making their way onto the ends of lines.
 
Freshwater anglers shouldn’t miss Lake Wivenhoe, a huge dam located just 80 km from Brisbane The birthplace of impoundment fishing for native species, this is one of the best places in the country for Yellowbelly and Australian Bass fishing. 
 

Offshore

The best deep sea fishing Brisbane has access to starts beyond Moreton Island. Make the journey, and you’ll be out in open waters, where the ocean’s top predators are hungry for bait. Deep sea trips are best in the summer, with Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna all putting up a serious fight on light or heavy tackle. You can find some good deep sea charters out of Manly, while Noosa and Gold Coast are also within easy reach and have a good selection available.
 

Types of fishing

If you’re after a famous Brisbane Snapper, focus your efforts around fishing at dawn or dusk. Target them by bottom fishing or jigging. Artificial lures are getting very popular in Moreton Bay—casting lures for Tuna in these shallow waters is a game fishing experience you won’t forget. 
 
Offshore, you’ll generally be trolling for Billfish, as well as Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. Light tackle big game fishing is popular around here, and the ultimate test of an angler’s ability. Don’t worry though—all serious Brisbane Fishing Charters stock heavy tackle, too.

Need to know

Get there: Brisbane Airport is the main international airport serving southeast Queensland. There are good train connections between Brisbane and Gold Coast, and Noosa and Mooloolaba are also a short drive away. 
 
Budget: full day private charters cost around $2000 AUD for 10 hours, with shared charters around $200-$250 per person. 
 
Rules and regulations: Fishing licenses are not required for fishing in Queensland, although you do need a fishing permit for fishing Lake Wivenhoe. Size and bag limits apply to a number of species: your Brisbane fishing charter will inform you which fish you are allowed to keep.

Brisbane Fishing Seasons

January
New Year fishing in Brisbane is hot—literally. This is mid summer, and the peak time for catching big game such as Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi, and Wahoo offshore. Watch out for afternoon storms. 
February
The excellent summer fishing continues in February, with pelagics making their way into Moreton Bay as well as the open ocean. Look out for Tuna and Mackerel around the bay’s islands. 
March

As autumn approaches, the tropical weather gradually starts to cool. This is a welcome break and makes visiting the city even more attractive. Threadfin Salmon are just one of many species being caught in Brisbane River. 

April

As the water temperatures start to transition, the pelagic bite gives way to more action around the reefs. Mack Tuna is usually around in good numbers, and you’ll start to notice more frequent Snapper hook ups. 

May

May is a great time to visit Brisbane—the weather is cooler but it’s still not too chilly. As the temperatures drop, Snapper fishing just gets hotter, with Sweetlip Emperor often being caught alongside them.

June

Winter is here, but that shouldn’t stop you getting out on the water. This is peak season for Jewfish fishing in Brisbane River, as they follow the spawning mullet. It’s also the best time of year to target Snapper in Moreton Bay. 

July

The city of Brisbane can be a heat trap in the summer, so July is a good time to combine fishing with exploring in a more comfortable climate. Trevally, Bream, and Whiting are being caught alongside Snapper in the bay. 

August
Reef fishing season continues, with the usual suspects doing all they can to steal your bait: make sure that big Pink Snapper doesn’t do the same to you! If you’re lucky, you may see Humpback Whales in the bay.
 
September
The arrival of spring signals Cobia season in Moreton Bay. Look for them over deeper structure in the northern part of the bay. On land, the weather’s getting warmer and the humidity is starting to build. 
 
October
As the days lengthen and the weather gets warmer, you won’t need an excuse to get out on the water. Threadfin Salmon and Estuary Cod are heating up in Brisbane River, while Cobia is still going strong in the bay.
 
November
Summer’s here, and the festivities have begun. Don’t miss the Brisbane River Classic, an annual fishing tournament in the city’s main waterway. Meanwhile, Mackerel and Tuna are making their way into Moreton Bay.
 
December
The city is very hot, so take a trip to the waterside. Target Kingfish, Cobia, Mackerel, and Tuna in Moreton Bay or test yourself against Mangrove Jacks, Flathead, and Threadfin Salmon in Brisbane River.
 

Brisbane Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Brisbane

Half day trip with captain Brian and 1st mate billy
Daniel G. fished with Top Gear Fishing Charters on January 3, 2020
Best at high tide and even better if you go out on a boat or charter
Half day trip with Captain Brian and decky Billy
Jason Q. fished with Top Gear Fishing Charters on December 23, 2019
Fishing is fishing, sometimes you catch fish sometimes you don't. Don't get upset if you expect something and it doesn't work out.
Half day fishing trip
Siyu W. fished with Top Gear Fishing Charters on December 15, 2019
Take motion sickness medicine before the trip, wear sandals as your shoes will get wet.
Half day trip
Amee J. fished with Top Gear Fishing Charters on August 3, 2019
Target bottom species in August there won’t be any Pelagics around
Fishing with Geoff
Joe P. fished with Noosa Bluewater Charters on July 27, 2019
You have to ask where you can clean your fish without getting a fine/parking ticket
Beautiful day out on the water with the kids
Cassandra T. fished with Fishing Smooth Water Sports Tuition on July 8, 2019
We actually went out at Jacobs Well / it was a bit closer for us. A lovely overcast day. Pack / wet weather gear/ lunch/ drinks/ sun cream & hats.
Fishing with Geoff
Stephen A. fished with Noosa Charters – Wild Thing 2 on May 9, 2019
Great weather, Great boat & crew. Great fishing !!
Half day trip
Dean L. fished with Noosa Charters – Wild Thing 2 on May 6, 2019
Make sure you take your sea sick tablets prior to getting on the boat!!!

Top Fishing Techniques in Brisbane

Top Targeted Species in Brisbane