Sandy beaches, great surf, bustling cities, and turquoise seas – you can see why they named it the “Sunshine State”. Queensland shares its name with Florida in America and that’s not the only thing they have in common. They’re both global capitals of epic sportfishing, and the fishing charters Queensland is so proud of put the rest of the world to shame! Catch some fish for tea or take on the ocean’s top predators. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it here in spades!
With over 7,000 km of coastline and thousands of fish to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re after deep sea fishing charters, North Queensland has some of the world’s best Marlin fishing. In the south, the Tuna bite is incredible, and Central Queensland is a real who’s who of inshore and reef fish. And that’s without even getting started on the state’s freshwater bite. You’re not going to get bored here, that’s for sure.
Fishing is a huge part of the area’s culture, and life revolves around annual migrations and fishing seasons. Local skippers spend their lives perfecting their favourite techniques, and only the best crews cut it. It makes sense – if you’re surrounded by some of the world’s best gamefish, who would want to do anything else than get really good at catching them?
QLD Fish Guide
Black Marlin are the poster child of Australian angling. Reaching well over 500 kg (1,100 lbs) and putting up one of the toughest fights in the ocean, they draw anglers from around the world. It’s not just Black Marlin you’ll be going after, though. Striped and Blue Marlin also show up in force, and the Sailfish bite doesn’t get anywhere near the praise it deserves.
The Marlin fishing Queensland is most famous for is in the north, out on the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is legendary for its heavy tackle Marlin season with good reason, but Port Douglas, Mission Beach, and dozens more are also outstanding. The bite down in Brisbane doesn’t compare to Cairns, but it’s still better than what most of the world gets.
The biggest Black Marlin show up in September and stick around well into summer. As soon as they move on, Blue Marlin arrive to keep the action going all the way through until March. Even when the big females move on, “small” male Marlin in the 100 kg range stick around all through winter.
“Billfish are great,” you say, “but I want fish I can fight and eat!” Sounds like Tuna fishing is the thing for you. Southern Bluefin, Yellowfin, Dogtooth, Longtail, and Mackerel Tunas all show up along Australia’s eastern coast, and all of them put up some serious fight.
You can catch most Tuna species along the whole of Queensland, but they show up in the biggest numbers around southern towns like Brisbane and Gold Coast. Tuna fishing is productive year-round, with Yellowfin peaking both in winter and summer and other species switching out as the year rolls on to make sure the action’s always hot.
Even Tuna can’t compare to the taste of the many bottom fish you can reel in on the reefs. Coral Trout, Pink Snapper, Red Emperor, and Golden Trevally fill eskies state-wide, with big GTs to add some extra fight to your bite.
Whether you’re popping out to your local wreck or venturing offshore on a multi-day trip to the Swains or Saumarez Reefs, you’ll be heading home with a boatload of delicious fish. Reef fishing is great year-round, so you don’t need to lose out on the action just because you missed heavy tackle season.
But what if don’t have time for a long journey offshore or just don’t handle choppy water well? No worries! You can catch metre-long Barramundi just a stone’s throw from shore or even inland, and you’ll find plenty of Flathead, Tailor, Trevally, and Mangrove Jacks in the Sunshine State’s northeastern shallows.
The Barramundi bite is great in all but the depths of winter. If you miss Barra season, don’t worry – Flathead are at their best in the colder months, when they swarm the bays and estuaries. They didn’t become Australia’s favourite fish for nothing, you know.
And So Much More…
You could spend a lifetime discussing the endless species you can catch here. Many people have! From Jungle Perch and Australian Bass to Swordfish and Queensland Groper, there’s always more to discover in this sportfishing paradise.
Need to know
Light Tackle vs Heavy Tackle
If you’re used to fishing in other parts of the world, you might be confused by the seasons here. You can crack out your biggest lever-drag reels and trolling rods, but it’s still light tackle season if you’re fishing in March. Heavy tackle season runs from September to December, when the biggest Black Marlin show up offshore. It’s a big deal among Queenslanders, especially in towns like Cairns, where prices go through the roof in the summer.
You don’t need a fishing license to fish from shore or on a charter in Queensland. In certain stocked fisheries, you’ll need a Queensland impoundment fishing permit, which costs $10 per week and can be bought online. Size and possession limits apply to most species and some waters are closed to all fishing seasonally. Fish with a local or charter a guide to stay within the law and still catch a tonne of fish.
With such a variety of gamefish, it’s no surprise that a lot of people here are passionate about angling. You can find a skipper to match any style and a spot that’s perfect for every species. Throw in the fact that this is a holiday hotspot even without wetting a line, and you have to wonder why you aren’t there right now. Simply put, the fishing charters Queensland has in store for you are amazing. So next time you’re out east, why not spend some time on the water?