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Top Australian saltwater sport fishing experiences

It's easy to find good quality saltwater fishing in Australia, whether you are casting a line within sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or heading out for a full day on the high seas off the coast of Queensland.

By Steve Starling

Chasing some of the saltwater giants, like longtail tuna, black marlin or the much-prized barramundi, is one of the best things a keen fishing fan can do Down Under. There is great fishing all around the coastline, whether you choose to fish close in at Sydney Harbour or go out all day to the deeper ocean.

Hervey Bay Fly and Sportfishing, Hervey Bay, Queensland

Hervey Bay Fly and Sportfishing, Hervey Bay, Queensland

Andrew “Chozza” Chorley is the owner and head guide of Hervey Bay Fly and Sportfishing. He grew up in Hervey Bay – a three hour drive north of Brisbane – and began fishing at the age of five. Hervey Bay Fly and Sportfishing targets a range of exciting inshore fish species, including trevally, tuna, threadfin salmon, queenfish, barramundi, snapper and even the juvenile black marlin that visit these waters annually from October until December. A range of charter options is available, utilising both fly and conventional tackle, from half-day and day trips to week-long packages and trips to the fish-rich northern end of Fraser Island.

Fishabout Tours, Sydney, New South Wales

Despite being Australia’s largest city, with well over four million people, Sydney and its iconic harbour offer superb sport fishing opportunities. Join Fishabout Tours to chase yellowtail kingfish, bonito, Australian salmon, tailor, mulloway, flathead and up to a dozen more species on bait, lures and fly, often within sight of the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Cobourg Fishing Safaris, Coburg Peninsula, Northern Territory

Saltwater Fishing, Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory

An hour flight north-east of Darwin, Cobourg Peninsula is widely recognised as one of the Top End’s premier fishing regions. Operating its own comfortable, safari-style coastal camp at Port Essington, Cobourg Fishing Safaris takes care of everything from airport transfers to fishing tackle and meals, many cooked on the campfire under the stars. The standard of fishing around the Cobourg Peninsula is exceptional, with an extensive list of tropical species on offer. Offshore you’re likely to encounter Spanish mackerel, queenfish, trevally, longtail tuna, cobia, saddle-tailed snapper, golden snapper, coral trout and emperor, while along the shorelines, and in the region’s tidal estuaries, barramundi, mangrove jack and cod abound. Typical fly-in, fly-out packages run from three to six nights.

Equinox Fishing Charters, Darwin, Northern Territory

Offering half-day, full-day and extended-day (15 hour) offshore packages, Equinox Fishing Charters are one of the Top End’s most respected fishing operations, with two spacious, comfortable vessels: the 11.5 metre (38 foot) Tsar and 17 metre (56 foot) Equinox II. Equinox Fishing Charters runs from Cullen Bay on Darwin Harbour to fish a variety of offshore grounds extending as far as the Tiwi and Perron Islands in pursuit of black jewfish (northern mulloway), golden snapper, coral trout, emperor, Spanish mackerel, trevally and cobia. Meals on board, bait and tackle are all included, and your catch will be expertly cleaned and packed for you by the crew.

Dhippirri Barra & Sportfishing, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Dhipirri Barra & Sportfishing Lodge, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Arnhem Land is the traditional home of the Yolngu people and the wildest corner of Australia. It’s also a place that very few visitors ever get to see, as a special permit is required to enter the land. Dhippirri Barra & Sportfishing Lodge operates in this area with the express permission of the traditional, indigenous land owners, offering you a unique opportunity to experience fishing as it must have been centuries ago. The broad, green waters of the Glyde and Woolen Rivers, along with the warm inshore seas along the northern coast of the Top End, teem with fish. Barramundi are the number one prize here, but guests will also encounter up to 20 or 30 other species during their stay, including mackerel, queenfish, trevally, golden snapper and mangrove jack, all while enjoying the comfort of Dhipirri’s bush camp.

Kimberley Coastal Camp, The Kimberley, Western Australia

Kimberley Coastal Camp, The Kimberley, Western Australia

There are few places where you can enjoy fabulous scenery, gourmet food, beachfront accommodation, spectacular fishing and ancient indigenous rock art — all combined with superb hospitality. Yet that’s exactly what Kimberley Coastal Camp offers. Nestled on the shores of Admiralty Gulf, on the northwest coast of Western Australia and hour flight from Darwin, Kununurra or Broome, Kimberley Coastal Camp is your doorway to some of the most exciting and spectacular tropical saltwater sport fishing available anywhere on earth. Travel on foot, by boat or helicopter to pursue the iconic barramundi, along with a supporting cast of other tropical stars including mangrove jacks, queenfish, trevally, cobia, mackerel, emperor, snapper and tuna. This is truly unforgettable fishing.

Tiwi Islands Adventures, Melville Island, Northern Territory

Saltwater Fishing, Northern Territory

The Top End’s Tiwi Islands (Melville and Bathurst) lie just a 30 minute flight from Darwin airport, yet travelling there is like stepping back in time, especially for keen anglers. Tropical salt and freshwater species such as barramundi, black jewfish, mangrove jacks, cod, golden snapper, trevally and queenfish swim here in numbers rarely seen elsewhere. Tiwi Islands Adventures operate two separate camps: one on the shores of Snake Bay and the other on the upper reaches of the Johnson River, with access to arguably the best saratoga fishing on the planet, alongside the bounty of other species. Stay at one or both of these comfortable camps and sample the amazing action on offer in the remote Tiwi Islands.

Goin’ Off Safaris, Port Lincoln, South Australia

If you love fishing and also delight in eating fresh seafood plucked straight from the ocean, a trip with Goin’ Off Safaris on the Eyre Peninsula is definitely for you. Heading out from Port Lincoln, a 50 minute flight from Adelaide, the crew from Goin’ Off take you to secluded spots normally only visited by locals to hunt down your very own “catch of the day”. Cast a line for hard-fighting Australian salmon (similar to sea bass) in the clean surf breaks of the Eyre Peninsula. Hunt and gather abalone and cockles along the rocks. Tour Coffin Bay’s legendary oyster farms… and then sit down to a sumptuous meal prepared by your personal chef!

Groote Eylandt Sports Fishing, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory

Groote Eylandt Sports Fishing, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory

Located in the warm, shallow waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the east coast of the Northern Territory’s remote Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt is renowned as a world-class destination for visiting anglers. Groote Eylandt Sports Fishing’s know-how, experience and equipment to allow you to tap directly into this fishing paradise, just an hour and half flight from Darwin. Their target species list is long, and includes black marlin, sailfish, tuna, cobia, mackerel, queenfish and giant trevally, as well as a host of highly desirable reef dwellers from emperor, grouper and cod to coral trout and golden snapper. You may also choose to pursue barramundi, mangrove jacks and threadfin salmon in the extensive estuaries of Blue Mud Bay, on the mainland to the west of the island. Return each evening to your luxurious lodge where you can soak in the swimming pool before enjoying a sumptuous meal at the Seagrass Restaurant.

Nomad Sportfishing, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Nomad Sportfishing, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Nomad Sportfishing pioneered long-range expeditions beyond the edge of the Great Barrier Reef into the vast Coral Sea, and they remain industry leaders in this demanding field. These are some of the most remote and fish-filled waters to be found anywhere on the globe. Utilising their 80 foot (24 metre) mothership “Odyssey” and a fleet of 18 to 25 foot (5.5 to 7.6 metre) centre-console skiffs, Nomad’s team of expert guides specialize in the pursuit of massive dogtooth tuna, giant trevally, mackerel, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, billfish and a kaleidoscopic array of reef-dwelling species. Clients can chill out in luxury at night aboard the well-appointed mothership while enjoying great dining and a well-stocked bar.