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Targeted Species - Game, Reef & River Fishing

There are literally hundreds of different fish to angle for in our region. We have short listed the most popular species in which anglers, charters and fishing guides are wanting to target.

As with all fish species please check the fishing regulations in your local area for size and bag limits. It is your responsibility as an angler. For more information visit

Game Fishing - Light & Heavy Tackle/ Popper Fishing

Marlin Marlin

We pay homage to the Black and Blue Marlin and boast the best marlin grounds in the world. Statistically 85% of the world's 1000lb plus fish are caught on our local grounds of the Great Barrier Reef. From all corners of the globe anglers arrive on our doorstep to achieve what many consider as the Holy Grail of Fishing.

During the months of September to December the bigger females arrive from the Pacific Ocean to breed with our smaller male stallions which reside all year round. This congregation occurs on the edge of the continental shelf adjacent to our outer reef systems only 30 miles from the coast. Port Douglas has the quickest access to these grounds anywhere along the east coast.

The use of game vessels is paramount to handle the furious pace of this fishing once hooked-up to a marlin. They are extremely strong and have extremely dynamic fighting capabilities launching into the air and offer surging runs at lightning speed.

With modern technology many fights average 15-30 minutes in length but many have been known to last several hours. 80lb-130lb reels are used to tame these beauties during the breeding season and 30lb-50lb stand-up tackle is used outside of this for the smaller resident models. Trolling big skip baits is the industry standard for the bigger fish but they also are caught on game fishing skirted lures and garfish rigs (more so the smaller male species and blue marlin).

An experienced specialised crew is essential to be successful at this pursuit because it's claimed as the pinnacle of fishing achievements. It's Formula One Grand Prix Fishing and simply a pure adrenalin rush you'll never forget.

Marlin are released as standard industry practice.

Sailfish Sailfish

We are blessed to have a resident population of these fish on our local grounds all year round. They do however appear in better numbers during the warmer months and become an awesome by-catch to the marlin. Once the marlin breeding season switches off these classic fish continue to show up for a month or two later on the same grounds.

They are awesome sport on 30lb-50lb stand up gear and offer a visual display on the surface like no other. They will take game skirted lures and garfish rigs. The photos taken of your catch onboard are nothing short of spectacular and leave you with long life memories. Fish sizes vary up to 100kg.

Sailfish are released as standard industry practice.

Yellowfin Tuna Tuna

Our outer reef systems and the continental shelf offer an array of tuna species including yellowfin tuna and dogtooth tuna as the preferred species. At anytime of the year we can produce these powerful fish with the warmer months peaking. They work in schools rounding up baitfish and multiple hook-ups are common.

A variety of methods are employed to catch these fish including trolling, jigging and spin casting. They offer tremendous angling opportunities with powerful runs and models can range up to 40kg plus. They are all part of the light and heavy game fishing process and add to the spectacle on the Great Barrier Reef.

Tuna are considered a very worthy catch to keep and consume and ideal for sashimi dishes.

Dolphin Fish Dolphin Fish

Also known as El Dorado and Mahi Mahi. A classic fish which appears on the fresh currents of the continental shelf and outer reef edges during the warmer months. These fish party hard and die young but can grow up to 20kg in only 4 years of living.

They are part of the package which arrives along with an array of pelagic species and are considered highly as a sporting fish. They tend to hunt in packs searching for their quarry and once hooked they will parade mostly on the surface.

Once in the boat their ever changing colours are the best in the angling world as their skin exhibits transforming gold, green, lime, purple and aqua colours. They are often caught when targeting tuna and Spanish mackerel/ wahoo using light tackle game fishing methods attacking a variety of lures.

Dolphin fish are considered an excellent quarry to keep and consume. Minimum size - 50cm

Wahoo Wahoo

These fish are the ultimate speedsters of the ocean hitting lures at incredible speeds. We see them at their peak later in the year in big numbers from October - January on the continental shelf edge and are mostly caught using stand-up light game fishing gear. They will attack a variety of lures but can't resist a high speed skirted lure trolled at around 6-8 knots.

Once hooked they offer blistering runs one after the other and are a formidable catch. They are often found in schools and multiple hook-ups are very common once you've run across these fish. They can reach up to 40kg.

Wahoo are considered as a top rated species to keep and consume. Minimum size - 75cm

Giant Trevally Giant Trevally

Our Great Barrier Reef system is riddled with these ultimate light tackle adversaries. Using high quality spinning rods and blooping large popper lures across the surface is the best tactic to attract the attention of a giant trevally. Sourcing bait schools which are nervously twitching on the surface along the reef edges often will often have a Gt hovering nearby. The popper action resembles an injured baitfish and consequently will be ambushed.

Once hooked Gt's pound for pound are arguably the hardest fighting fish on the planet. They fight hard and dirty, have incredible power and have earned the reputation as the 'thugs of the sea'. Anglers and tackle are tested to the absolute limit and thus the Gt is a trophy fish. Being a pure sportfish they are released upon capture.

Spanish Mackerel Spanish Mackerel

Closely related to the wahoo species these fish are built for speed and are found along our entire Great Barrier Reef system and along the continental shelf. Trolling a variety of lures or rigged garfish these fish hit at lightning speed and offer a series of blistering runs. They fight with pulsating vigour all the way to the boat and are your classical light game fish using 8-15kg class line.

Often they will be found in large schools as they collectively herd up bait schools on the surface. They patrol the deep reef edges and open grounds and can grow to 40kg. They are a very popular species to target and are a highly regarded sporting fish. They can be caught all year round but turn up in larger numbers in the cooler months.

Spanish mackerel have a beautiful firm flesh and their flavour is extremely widely appreciated. Minimum size - 75cm

Reef Fishing

Coral Trout Coral Trout

This species is considered as our most commonly known and most popular reef species to capture on the Great Barrier Reef. They inhabit the maze of reef systems dotted along our coastline and are normally caught by bait fishing methods. They are however caught at times using poppers and lures cast around shallow reef bommies.

They fight really hard when they hook-up trying to surge back into their cave amongst the reef. This is when the angler must stop them in their tracks, turn their head and persuade them to the surface. This first impact is very hard hitting and many an angler has lost this battle for this prized fish. Once the fish has been prevented from diving back into the reef they tend to come to the surface a lot easier.

Coral Trout can grow to 20kg and can be caught all year round. Their firm white flesh and mild flavour is famous worldwide. Minimum size - 38cm

Red Emperor Red Emperor

The red emperor is considered by most as the ultimate reef fishing capture. These extremely slow growing fish take over 5 years before they can reproduce successfully and therefore have a large minimum size limit. They inhabit a variety of areas on the reef but the bigger models seem to prefer the rubbly ground and bommies in deep water. They are caught using bait fishing methods for this reason.

With a huge head and broad shoulders these fish pack a serious punch once hooked. They pull really hard and offer surging runs. These fish will fight for every inch through the water column until it is boated. Their fighting capabilities are legendary.

Red emperor can grow to 20kg and their beautiful firm flesh is considered the cream of the crop of all reef fishing species by many. Minimum size 55cm

Nannygai Nannygai

Also known as sea perch these fish can be caught in the small mouth and large mouth variety. The small mouth is generally smaller in size and a bit slimmer, whilst the large mouth grow much bigger and bulkier with a larger head. They are generally found in large schools in the deep waters with rubbly ground or near a grouping of deep bommies. For this reason they are mostly caught using bait fishing methods and can be enticed using lures in a jigging motion.

These fish offer great angling fighting stubbornly once hooked. As they come through the water column the bigger species will kick and punch all the way to the boat. Small mouth grow to 8kg whilst the large mouth will grow to 20kg.

Their flesh is firm and has excellent eating qualities. Minimum size 40cm

Golden Trevally Trevally

There are many varieties of trevally which travel the Great Barrier Reef system in schools looking for schools of bait to feed on. They are nomadic and can turn up unexpectedly turning a mild fishing session into a wild fishing session. They are true fighters in all facets and offer great angling opportunities. Our more common species you come across whilst reef fishing include gold spot trevally, tea-leaf trevally, golden trevally and bludger trevally .

Trevally can be caught by bait fishing, trolling, casting or jigging as they tend to work the bait schools the entire water column. They often are encountered whilst targeting the same grounds as the nannygai and turn up as a commendable by-catch.

The golden, gold spot and tea-leaf species are considered highly as a table fish when eaten fresh.

River & Estuary Fishing

Barramundi Barramundi

This fish is the iconic fish of the tropics which people travel vast distances to catch. Their beautiful silver flanks and aerial fighting capabilities are legendary. They are caught in all our rivers, creeks, estuary systems, beaches and headlands along our coastline. They are most aggressive between the months of September to mid May and go into a slumber during the coolest months. They must also be released between the start of November to the end of January during their breeding season. Barramundi begin their lives as males and turn into females around the 65-75cm range.

Barramundi are targeted in a variety of methods with lure fishing and live bait fishing being the most common. They are a challenging fish to engage and some expertise is necessary to be successful at capturing them. Once hooked they will jump to dislodge the hooks and are very efficient in achieving this. They also offer deep surging runs into snags presenting further challenges. Once caught though they are considered a trophy fish and catching one exceeding the one metre mark is considered by many as the equivalent of a 1000lb marlin.

The barramundi which reside predominantly in the salt water as opposed to the brackish water offer the better eating qualities. Minimum size 58cm - Maximum 120cm Australian East Coast.

Estuary Mangrove Jack Mangrove Jack

This species is highly regarded as the hardest hitting fish on our coastline. They are very aggressive in nature and patrol their habitat with intent. They are caught all year round and turn up the heat in the warmer months. They are caught live baiting, dead baiting and lure fishing and tend to be found around structures such as fallen trees, submerged logs, rock walls and mangrove edges.

They begin their lives in our river and estuaries and grow up to 55cm before heading offshore to live on our outer reefs and become a prized reef species where their mean demeanour only grows in stature.

Their eating qualities are considered by many to be the best product available in our rivers and estuaries.

Fingermark Fingermark

Also known as golden snapper in northern parts, these fish are rated very highly for their eating and fighting abilities. Being from the same family as the mangrove jack they possess all the same quality attributes but do prefer slightly different habitats. They tend to prefer the deeper holes and channels in our rivers holding some form of structure and bait. They are best targeted using live bait presented close to their home.

Because they reside in the deeper water they are best targeted in between the change of the tides or on neap tides when the current is less. They have been known to venture into the shallows across the flats in search of food. As they grow larger they will head offshore and reside along our coastal headlands and inshore reefs. They can be caught all year round becoming more aggressive in the warmer months.

Fingermark are an extremely slow growing fish and take many years to reach maturity. Their flesh is sweet and firm and considered a delicacy. Minimum size 45cm.

Queenfish Queenfish

The highly sort after giant or talang queenfish is targeted for its sensational sporting attributes. Once hooked they are acrobatically spectacular to watch as they dance and cartwheel across the surface. The bigger models up to one metre and more will also offer powerful runs on top of the aerial stunts. They can be caught all year round and can grow up to a powerful 12kg.

They travel up and down the coast and enter our systems on a rising tide sometimes travelling miles upstream. They will also tend to congregate along headlands and inshore islands where bait schools gather. They swim with intent and speed looking to run down any prey in their wake. They can be targeted by a variety of methods with live baiting, trolling lures and casting surface poppers as the most effective.

They are considered purely as a sportfish and are generally released. Minimum size 50cm.

River Trevally Trevally

On rising tides these fish enter our rivers and creeks in schools and are mainly the juvenile to the medium models, however bigger species will venture in as well at various times. They will travel for miles upstream at can take up residency in deeper holes at times for a short period. They like to feed on small bait schools and can create quite a frenzy when they attack as a group.

They are caught most effectively using live bait, or casting smaller lures, poppers or saltwater flies. They are present all year round but do prefer cleaner conditions as they rely heavily on sight to ambush their prey.

There are a variety of species which reside along our coastline with giant trevally and golden trevally being a couple of the more common known species. Golden trevally are the only species worth keeping for consumption.

Javelin Fish Javelin Fish (large spotted)

Also locally known as grunter, these fish seem to go under the radar but the reality is they are a superb fish to catch and consume.

They seem to prefer river entrances and mangrove flats along the coast and also further upstream. They are best targeted in these shallow waters on a rising tide and during low light periods. They can be caught using live bait or fresh dead baits. They can grow up to 55cm plus and at this size are a worthy adversary on the end of the line.

Their eating qualities are excellent. Minimum size 40cm.

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