Waterline Charters, Wessel Islands, NT © Aussie Fly Fisher

Great Fishing Adventures of Australia

Video highlights: Great Fishing Adventures of Australia

Murray cod, NSW © Aussie Fly Fisher

What are Australia’s premier “hero fish”?

That’s a tough one because Australia has so many. However, any short list of Australian angling icons would have to include the barramundi (a silver-plated bass on steroids), the mighty Murray cod (a freshwater grouper that can grow as long as 1.8 metres or 6 feet and weigh up to 100 kilograms or 200 pounds), abundant giant black marlin that gather each southern spring along the Great Barrier Reef, and also unique oddities like the freshwater saratoga (a living fossil related to South America’s arapaima). But because Australia spans such a massive range of climates and ecosystems, variety is the key. Trout to tuna, mackerel to marlin: we really do have it all.

RiverFly 1864, Launceston, TAS © Todd Moen, Catch Magazine

Is it true you have trout in Australia? Isn’t it way too hot?

Australia is a land full of surprises, and world-class trout fishing is just one of them. The alpine and sub-alpine areas, all of which have trout, span parts of New South WalesVictoriaTasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The island state of Tasmania, around the same size as Ireland, is said to have some of the cleanest air and water to be found anywhere on Earth. No wonder the country’s biggest and most abundant trout thrive there.

Renegade Fishing Charters, Whitsundays QLD, © Catch Magazine

When’s the best time of year to visit?

It really depends on what fish you want to chase. Don’t forget that Australia’s seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere. Christmas falls in the heat of summer and July is the middle of winter. The tropical north has a rainy season that extends from December through February. Some of the best fishing for many species takes place in the more settled and mild “shoulder” periods: September to November and March through May. But talk to your chosen guide, lodge operator or charter skipper to get the rundown.

Barramundi, QLD © Peter Morse

What fish do Australians like to catch?

It really depends on where they live, but the more readily available saltwater table fish such as snapper, whiting, flathead and bream are incredibly popular and keenly sought-after. Close to one in four Australians casts a line each year, and the country boasts the highest per capita boat ownership rate on the planet. With a population of less than 24 million people scattered across 7.7 million square kilometres (almost 3 million square miles), there’s still plenty of water (and fish) left for visitors.

Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters, Coral Bay, WA © Scott Wensley

Will I need to bring my own fishing tackle?

Most operators provide quality fishing tackle specifically suited to their location and target species, usually on a “pay-for-if-lost” basis. However, if you have a favourite rod and reel, or a specialist outfit (such as fly casting gear), by all means bring it along. Remember to check the baggage and security restrictions of your chosen airline before packing.

Fly fishing reels © Peter Morse

Can I buy fishing tackle in Australia?

Absolutely. All Australian cities and most major towns and regional centres boast one or more well-stocked specialist fishing tackle stores. Their product ranges and prices are roughly comparable with those offered in North America, Europe and Asia. Your guide or charter operator will most likely recommend a preferred retail outlet. If you wish to shop, ensure that there’s time available within your schedule that matches our shop opening hours (generally 9am-5pm weekdays, with varying hours on weekends and public holidays).

Waterline Charters, Wessel Islands, NT © Joshua Hutchins

What about licences and permits?

Australian sport fishing remains relatively unrestricted, especially when compared to many other countries. QueenslandSouth Australia and the Northern Territory don’t even require you to hold a fishing licence. In New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia, licences are not expensive, and visiting, non-resident anglers pay exactly the same fees as the locals. There are restrictions, however, on the number of fish and the size, depending on the species. Your guide will have all the information you need. In many cases, they will take care of the paperwork before you arrive.

Travellers' stories