Fishing in North Queensland


Here are a few frequently asked questions, I hope my answers are satisfactory!    

What business are you getting from this site Dan? are you a charter company?

None and no. This site has been created purely as a place of learning and sharing. The primary objective has been to share some of my fondest angling moments. As might be obvious I have literally thousands of images that would have otherwise been discarded or left to gather dust on an old hard drive. These pictures (and my stories) are the only evidence of my life as an angler so I value them highly (I hope you like them). The second objective has been to learn techniques and approaches of likeminded anglers. The 'who shares wins' mentality is especially true in a challenging fishing arena like North Queensland.

So what do you get out of putting the time into making a website?

Unfortunately this transactional type of mentality has completely taken over the internet in recent years. For me, I do not view the time invested in these pages or the tidbit funding involved in renewing the content as a financial investment that has to repay me. If I don't make a cent from the creation and maintenance of these pages it really doesn't bother me one iota. The value has been (and always will be) in sharing and learning as that's what makes us rich as anglers. What you see is what you get here! Just enjoy!

Will there be chat forums on this site?

Not in the foreseeable future. While I have participated in a few forums like Ausfish, Fish'n'tales and the Townsville fishing forum (view links) I would really prefer not to go down the path of forums. When I set up this site I incorporated a guestbook page that started out well but eventually became like a mini-forum in itself. Everyone just crammed into the page and flooded it! I was answering and/or deleting posts on a daily basis! Now I can just see the kind of situation that will unfold if a forum is set up. You could probably guess I'd much rather be fishing in my spare time than moderating forums. However, this site does have an interactive side through messaging and image uploads. At the end of the day I am a human being and work a normal job like most of the members here. If you'd like to check out some great forums view my links page, those sites are run by dozens of moderators who do a great job of providing a fully interactive portal. Otherwise, if you have a specific question regarding fishing in north QLD feel free to email (I check my inbox once per week)

Some good forum links:


So what is your day job exactly?

Since early 2013 I have worked in a town called Mourilyan located near Innisfail FNQ. Here I have worked in barramundi aquaculture (fish farming). This way I get to work with my favourite species of fish all the time! I reckon Mourilyan is possibly the best fishing location I have ever experienced living in- so that doesn't hurt either! In the past I have also worked in retail, the mines and in government occupations in different NQ towns. Apart from the tropical north there are some really special places in Queensland that gave me some very fond memories in recent years. Two standouts are Mount Isa for its unapologetic outback Aussie community spirit and Hervey Bay for the mild climate and classy lifestyle (and monster tuna). I reckon it strengthens your angling ability when confronting vastly different locations and enhances your appreciation of the rewards!

 If you were traveling to North Queensland for a week where would you fish?

#1 Choice: Book a houseboat based either from Weipa, Arukun or Mapoon and choose a week long stay on the water. All you will need is a suitcase and rod tube(s) as Qantas operates from Cairns to Weipa regularly.This is truly the best way to experience the fishing the fish-rich Cape country. Fishing is taken seriously up that way- a lot of helpful people too. The guides, tacklestore staff and even the houseboat operators themselves give great advice not only with tackle/techniques but in specific locations (including GPS marks and navigation tips). I did one of these trips in April 2013 and it was by far the best fishing trip I have ever done. In one day we caught barra, mangrove jack, queenfish, mack tuna, bludger trevally, giant trevally, Spanish mackerel, fingermark, gold spot cod and black jew. It doesn't get much better in my opinion! Note these houseboat companies require bookings one year in advance (they are popular for good reason!)

Check this link out:

#2 Choice: Spend a week in Cairns suiting the fishing style to the prevailing weather. In ideal calm conditions I would target reef species and/or black marlin. In poor weather it would be reasonable plan B to organise a charter targeting barra, mangrove jack and queenfish from either Trinity Inlet or the Russell/Mulgrave. If in August-November I would also try and squeeze in a trip via hire car to Lake Tinaroo at Atherton. Huge barra over 60lb are caught landbased at night time from the shoreline around Yungaburra each year. The Atherton tablelands are still a great location to visit regardless! For the light tackle angler there are plenty of good rivers offering sooty grunter and jungle perch fishing for anyone with a good set of hiking boots. Some of the better rivers include the Mulgrave and Russell in the stretches well upstream of the Bruce Highway.

A few helpful links:

What are your three best tips for an angler new to North Qld?

1. Local weather and tides should decide where you are fishing.

2. Be prepared to sacrifice time and effort for quality captures.

3. Adopt a mentality of viewing fishing outcomes rationally.


Have you ever written for any fishing magazines?

I have contributed for NQ Fish and Boat magazine since 2006. This is a great Queensland based publication with a tonne of useful content each month.


What are your most memorable fishing trips?      

A few years back I can remember fondly (although a bit tentatively) losing around 70 meters of 14lb braid one night to a large Barron River barra. in Cairns. She ran into the dark winter abyss at lightening speed, through the fog, and alongside a deep drop off. After some fifteen minutes of stubborn resistance in strong current the big fish finally threw in the towel. I will never forget seeing close to a meter of chrome illuminated by our head torches as she neared the surface. It was the first fish for my boat! Other memorable trips include the many reef trips I have done with mates in Cairns.  Some that come to mind are: hooking thirteen Spanish mackerel in one afternoon, landing twenty kilo wahoo at Linden banks, and snorkeling the amazing sand cays off Cairns.

(click here for the full story)


What are your most memorable fish?      

My most memorable fish would be my 30.2 kg (65lb) barra. I was fishing with my larrikin mate Theo Davis and my brother Ryan one cold winter’s morning. It was the first Lake Tinaroo trip I had done with my (at the time) new boat. We hadn’t even fitted an electric motor; in fact Ryan was rowing us to casting distance from the snags. We had only been fishing for twenty minutes when the quiet early morning air was suddenly filled with loud profanities. The hardest part of the fight though was saved for the end when Theo and I had to use some considerable effort to carry the big barra up to the official weigh-in scales at Kairi. Another notable mention would be a black marlin I hooked one morning off Cairns back in 2005. We eventually got the fish boat side after twenty minutes on 24kg stand-up gear. Then just as it reached our fingertips it took one last head shake and escaped. To this day I have never managed to hook another black marlin.

(click here for the full story on the Tinaroo barra) 


What’s your favourite type of fishing?

I think reef fishing is the ultimate type of fishing, the size, aggressive nature and sheer number of reef species is just phenomenal.  The one thing with reef fishing being so good is that almost anyone with a decent boat can just go out there and get passable results. That is why I’d have to say in terms of a great challenge my favourite type of fishing is targeting barramundi. I reckon the barra angler has to have a pretty accurate idea of what approach they are going to take in the session ahead (i.e. fish the run-in tide at spot ‘x’ with the blue lure). Once on the water it is then a case of perseverance and confidence in this approach. Generally speaking I think doing a wide range of fishing styles makes it less repetitive, therefore less of a chore too.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you while fishing?            

In mid 2008 I hooked a ten kilo Spanish mackerel which swam straight at the boat.  We had been catching them in good numbers successfully for a few years. My mate took a fluky early swipe with the gaff bringing the fish onboard within seconds. The mackerel went ballistic, and as fate would have it my attempt to pacify the fish came at the exact moment a wave hit us. My hand ended up getting pretty badly cut by the razor sharp mackerel teeth requiring two operations and nine weeks of therapy. The whole recovery time I was getting told by local pub experts "ya shouldn't put ya hand near their mouths ay". I reckon that was worse than the actual event itself! Interestingly I did not feel a thing when the cut occurred as it happened so quickly. It took over 6 months to regain total use of the hand. On my desk is a small cup with a tooth from the mackerel that was lodged in my knuckle for two months.

(click here for the full story!)

What are your fondest memories of fishing?         

My fondest memories of fishing are really just spending time away from the crowd, with family especially.  Simple things that happen during some trips are hard to forget. There was a time a flying fish flew straight into my chest, and another time I held a big green turtle.  At the end of the day it is great to be able to reflect on these kinds of experiences. There is no other hobby that allows you to interact with the natural world in the way that fishing allows!

Where have you fished?               

I have fished all over the east coast of Queensland fishing saltwater estuaries, freshwater rapids, impoundments and of course the adjacent reefs. In recent years I have done the trip to Weipa a few times and did the trip to the tip (Seisa) one year. When I was 15 I did a special trip to New Zealand’s North Island going after snapper and kahwai which was certainly something different. To be honest though, we have so many fishing options in North Queensland I find it very hard to justify travelling elsewhere! The far north really is a world within itself. From the rainforest fed rivers of the east coast, to the Atherton tablelands, outback and gulf country there is more on offer than could be experienced in a hardened lifetime of discovery. Over time I have personally sampled parts of the picture...thus helping add inspiration for this site concept. 


Who had the most influence on your development as a fisho?           

I think it would be unfair to name just one person! As mentioned earlier my family were very encouraging with this activity in the early years, but there are so many other people who I have also been fortunate to learn from. Just simple things like watching a ‘gun angler’ throw a cast net, twitch a lure, or rig bait properly all help instrumentally. Over time some of my fishing mates have helped heaps! Some from past years have pursued different endeavours while others still remain as close comrades. Fishing can sure bring out rare kinds of enduring mateships in a world that is increasingly anonymous. Out of the popular media personalities I'd have to say Alex Julius and Steve Starling have been the most influential in my formative years. Alex for his love of adventure in lawless remote Australia and Steve for his immense knowledge of tackle and superb presentation of his insights.

How do you see the future of fishing?       

I have mixed feelings for things ahead in the future of fishing. Some positive trends are happening with the increase in popularity of sports fishing practices (such as catch and release fishing), and looking after our stocked impoundments.  At the current time I believe there is a fair balance between reef protection and the rights of anglers too. What I’d hate in the future is for the general public to perceive all fishers as thoughtless environmental vandals. Ultimately it would be an appalling shame for restrictions on fishing to keep on increasing to the point where it is impossible to enjoy a day on the water. At a grass roots level in bigger NQ towns an anti-fishing stigma seems to have begun and is now seriously interfering with our freedom to fish. In the past few years this integral part of our lifestyle has become frowned upon increasingly at many land based locations within easy reach of Cairns’ young people.  I’m lucky that I have been able to enjoy growing up with a passion for such a healthy, enriching past time like fishing.

Would you support a recreational fishing license?

Absolutely. Currently there is a huge issue with the Queensland government undervaluing the economic benefits of the recreational fishing community. If every angler hypothetically paid a sum of $30 for a general yearly saltwater license there would finally be a way of quantifying the potential economic value that our group already contributes.  We all know that Queensland has some of the finest fishing in the country and that people already pay through the nose to experience it. Whether that cost is through accommodation, food, fuel, guides, tackle or entertainment rec fishing peripherally strengthens all of the above business- everyone knows it!  If you need any proof take a look at how rec anglers in N.S.W have already benefitted significantly from their licensing initiatives. We have enjoyed great impoundment fishing for over a decade thanks in part to licensing (stocked impoundment permits). For the cost of a couple of lures our community could make things a lot easier for ourselves by supporting a general license concept. Id you'd like to learn more about this topic and other unique anomalies in our Qld waters check out the following links:


If you could only fish landbased in North Queensland, what would be your top ten easily accessable spots?

Here they are listed south to north:

1. Aplins and Gleeson's Weirs (Townsville): Big barra fishing by lure- great at night in warm months. The walls are hotspots for casting anglers though Aplins has undergone some changes in recent years. A great stocked fishery.

2. Townsville breakwater: hundreds of meters of rock wall structure. Ideal for small pelagics like blue salmon, queenfish and doggy mackerel. In calm conditions during winter it fishes exceptionally well.

3. 'The Lakes' Townsville (near Castletown). Two large man-made lakes offering good barra, tarpon and giant herring action. Best fished toward the end of the wet season when the predators wait for the inflows. Use light spin tackle for best results.

4. Lucinda public jetty: Some big fish lurk here at night, and big tarpon are reasonably easy to catch. An awesome location for camping and general holidaying with views of the southern side of Hinchinbrook and the enormous sugar jetty.

5. Cardwell public jetty: Reasonable fishing for barra and threadfin salmon, but can be busy during holidays. A great place to set up a live bait while the sun rises over nearby Hinchinbrook Island.

6. Mission Beach: Clump point jetty and rock walls can produce good barra fishing. A water taxi does transfers to Dunk Island daily from nearby Wongaling Beach. Another top option for small pelagics (queenfish, trevally etc)

7. Mulgrave river at 'green patch' and upstream. Excellent landbased fishing for sooty grunter and jungle perch for the light tackle sportsfisho. A few random rainforest tracks hug the river edges. Each clearing presents a chance for a cast!

8. Lake Tinaroo at Yungaburra. Casting expanses of shallow water at night for world record sized barra. The drive to the tablelands is probably the hardest part of the equation if you are not familiar with the area. The Gilles and Palmerston Range roads are very steep and windy.

9. Marlin Jetty (Cairns). Fishing is restricted here nowadays but still offers easy access suiting bottom fishing methods for fingermark, mangrove jack and sometimes barra. Fitzroy Island ferries leave regularly from the protected marina- some good fishing around the Island for mackerel and trevally for those with a sense of adventure.

10. Palm Cove: A hugely popular and amazing fishing spot as it sees the full gamut of saltwater species pass through at various times of year. Barra, mackerel, trevally, and queenfish are all caught with reasonable regularity. In rough conditions it is difficult though! The beaches further north (like Ellis Beach) are renowned for big barra off their shoreline.

Some links that might be helpful:


Well, I reckon that covers it! Thank you for reading this page.  

I hope the above information helps you get a general idea of what to find in this site.

I'd love to see your catches so please join as a member and post up your pics!


 Dan Bowater (Admin) and Theo Davis with a dream 123cm barra at Lake Tinaroo. Big impoundment barra fishing is one of the many awesome options available for the NQ angler.