Northern Territory

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Fishing in Northern Territory

Fishing Northern Territory waters in Australia has to be next on your fishing to-do list. Hard fighting fish, spectacular landscapes, and the friendliest people, all combine to make your trip down under the unforgettable adventure you’ve been searching for.

The Northern Territory is surrounded by three main bodies of water: the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The temperature in these waters varies, allowing for different fishing opportunities around the NT coast.

Northern Territory Fishing Spots

When fishing in the NT, odds are you’ll be heading out from Darwin. There are other awesome fisheries around the coast as well as inland, including the deep sea, bays, rivers, estuaries, lagoons, and billabongs.


Located in the Top End, on a peninsula surrounded by the sea, the fishing in Darwin is some of the best in Australia. This is the place where you have the best chance of catching the native Barramundi. These fighting fish can reach up to 1.4 meters in length. Top fishing spots in Darwin include Shoal Bay and the artificial reefs in the harbour. At ‘The Rock’ in Shoal Bay you’ll hook up huge Barramundi. The artificial reefs, such as Ham Luong and Stokes Hill Wharf, will see you reeling in Jewfish, Estuary Cod, and Golden Snapper.


The NT might have tropic weather, but the Top End has some incredible and diverse ecosystems. Head to the Kakadu National Park for top fishing and a rich aboriginal history. This is a great fishery for Barramundi, with peaks during March and April. You can head to the park year-round, and catch Golden Snapper, Black Jewfish, and more. There are strict regulations for fishing in these prolific waters – amongst them, live bait is not allowed, and the cleaning of your catch must not be done within 50 meters of the waterway.


If you’re driving to the Top End, your journey will include Katherine. Located 300 kilometers south of Darwin, this area has some of the best fishing available. From here, there’s easy access to the Katherine River, where you’ll hook up Barramundi and Sooty Grunter.

Katherine is a great starting point before heading to other local waters. Surrounding Katherine, you have Victoria River (known locally as ‘Mighty Vic’), Daly River, Kakadu, Roper River, and the Borroloola region, all fantastic fisheries with huge Barramundi.

Tiwi Islands

Collectively called the Tiwi Islands, the islands of Bathurst and Melville are excellent for both bluewater fishing and estuary fishing. You’ll need to travel 80 kilometers to reach them, but it’s worth the journey –you can catch some huge Sailfish and Black Marlin here! Make sure you have the specific permit for fishing this island.

Truant Island

Off the north-eastern shores is Truant Island. Travel here in October and November for Grander Black Marlin!

Groote Eylandt

South of Truant Island is Groote Eylandt, located in the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Between November and March you’ll find Marlin and Sailfish aplenty here. For the rest of the year, you can still fish for Giant Trevally, Barracouta, Queenfish, Cobia, and more.

Fishing Tips

  • You’re likely to test out your lures and even lose a fair bit of tackle when battling Barramundi. Do not go into the waters to fish it out! The largest reptile in the world, the saltwater crocodile – or ‘salties’ to the locals – call these waters home and are highly aggressive.

  • The best time to go fishing for Barramundi is during low tide, as it draws them out of their hiding spots among the mangroves and hidey-holes.

  • The top technique for catching Barramundi is by trolling or casting. When you are legally allowed to use live bait, do!

Need to Know

Although called ‘salties’, crocodiles can be found in both saltwater and freshwater. These are dangerous man-eating reptiles – keep your distance and do not approach them. It’s highly recommended to fish with a local guide to best avoid salties.

The best time to fish is during the ‘build-up’. This occurs between October and December when the temperatures rise and the humidity sets in before the wet season starts.


There are many regulations in place in the NT regarding the species you can catch and limits. There are also restrictions on what equipment you can use. You won’t need a fishing licence on your trip, but you do need a permit to fish certain areas.

Protected Species

There are many protected species in Australia. Sawfish, Northern River Shark, and Speartooth Shark are all restricted in the NT, and if accidentally hooked must be released immediately.


Northern Territory fishing trip prices are generally per person, and can be AUD 200 for a short trip, and AUD 350 for a 10-hour trip. Expect to see shared trips as the norm.

Head down under today – fishing Northern Territory waters will keep you on your toes and provide an adventure you’ll never forget!


Northern Territory
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Northern Territory Fishing Seasons

Australia Day is on January 26, so expect celebrations all over Oz! There’s also the Great Northern Barra Bash competition in Darwin Harbour to attend.

February is a great time to head offshore and catch Black Marlin and Sailfish. Inshore, head after Threadfin Salmon.

This is the last month to partake in the Million Dollar Catch for Barramundi. Starting in October, this is a six-month competition to catch the tagged Barra and win big!

Get the ladies together and join the ‘Girls Gone Fishin’. Their competition will have you going after Barramundi during a weekend of fun and fishing.

Top anglers can join in the NT Barramundi Classic, a week-long competition. Festivals are abundant this month – head to the music festival Blacken and food festival Taste of Kakadu.

June is a great month for Longtail Tuna and Giant Trevally. Temperatures reach 31°C in Darwin – expect no rainy days! The dry season is in full swing now.


Territory Day, on July 1, is one of the few days you can legally set off fireworks! Try something new – make a boat out of beer cans in the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta!


The Darwin Festival is perfect for the whole family – 18 nights of dance, concerts, and outdoor activities.

The waters start getting active. You can hook Golden Trevally and Narrow-barred Mackerel now. This is the last month of the dry season.

Barramundi start spawning now. The Million Dollar Fish competition begins – catch the pre-tagged Barramundi and win amazing prizes.

Fishing for Barra heats up now, as well as Fingermark Bream, Threadfin Salmon, and more.

This is the beginning of the monsoon season, with around 17 days of rain but high temperatures of up to 33°C.  

Northern Territory Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Northern Territory



Spanish Mackerel (Narrow-barred)

Spanish Mackerel (Narrow-barred)

Black Jewfish

Black Jewfish

Trevally (Giant)

Trevally (Giant)

Threadfin Salmon

Threadfin Salmon

Trevally (Golden)

Trevally (Golden)

Tuna (Longtail)

Tuna (Longtail)

Marlin (Black)

Marlin (Black)