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Top deep sea fishing experiences

This island nation has plenty of choice spots to chase the monsters of the deep – marlin, tuna or even sharks – just board a charter vessel and head for the big blue.

By Steve Starling 

Australia’s coast is surrounded by some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world, whether you are chasing marlin off the Great Barrier Reef or casting for tuna off Kangaroo Island in South Australia, you can be guaranteed a huge, often record-sized, catch.

Far North Sports Fishing, Port Douglas, Queensland

Far North Sports Fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Far North Sports Fishing operates a bespoke fleet of vessels out of Port Douglas a one-hour drive north of Cairns, ranging from the fully re-fitted 21 metre (70 foot) mother ship Blue Martini and 12 metre (40 foot) game cruiser Black Magic down to a trio of fast six metre (20 foot) sport fishers. This professional outfit caters for a broad range of fishing adventures: from targeting the giant black marlin that gather along the outer Great Barrier Reef (from late September until late November each year) to long-range, live-aboard expeditions into remote northern reef waters. They also do inshore light tackle sport fishing and barramundi safaris.

Renegade Fishing Charters, Hamilton Island, Queensland

Renegade Fishing Charters, Whitsundays Queensland

Hamilton Island is a renowned holiday getaway located inside the Great Barrier Reef on Queensland’s island-studded Whitsunday Coast, a short one hour flight from Cairns. Renegade Fishing Charters is owned by Luke and Allira Griffiths, Whitsunday locals who love sharing everything this region has to offer – especially the fishing action for marlin, sailfish, Spanish mackerel, coral trout and red emperor.

Providing professional, personalised service to visitors from all over the world, Renegade Fishing Charters operates primarily from Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach, but can easily arrange pick-ups from other island resorts in the area upon request.

Calypso Fishing Adventures, Port Stephens, New South Wales

Calypso Fishing Adventures, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Port Stephens is a three-hour drive north of Sydney and is the gateway to some of the best game fishing anywhere in Australia. From December until May each year, the East Australian Current pours south from the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, bringing with it all manner of tropical and sub-tropical sport fish species. Foremost amongst these are prolific numbers of striped, black and blue marlin averaging 70 to 120 kilograms (150 to 250 pounds). Captain Tim Dean of Calypso Charters has developed a reputation as one of the finest operators in these waters and has many record captures and tournament victories to his credit. His well-appointed game boat will have you in the best spots in no time and all tackle is provided. Calypso is available for day charters and longer bookings.

T-Cat Charters, Phillip Island, Victoria

T-Cat Charters, Phillip Island, Victoria

T-Cat Charters is based on Phillip Island, at the southern entrance to Melbourne’s vast Western Port Bay, a one-hour drive from the city centre. This long-established company operates two large, fast and comfortable charter vessels. Go day or night fishing for the region’s famous pink snapper and King George whiting, as well as gummy sharks, flathead, mulloway and several other species. Share a charter with other keen anglers or put your own group together. Fish half a day, a full day or even consider a 14-hour overnight trip.

Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures, with its own private harbour at Western River Cove on the rugged coast of Kangaroo Island (a four-hour drive from Adelaide), is perfectly set up to help you explore the exceptional deep sea fishing available here. In the cool southern seas off South Australia you will find pink snapper, Bight redfish, queen snapper, swallowtail, yellowtail kingfish, Samson fish, King George whiting, tuna and sharks. As well as a comfortable 20 metre (65 foot) charter vessel, Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures also boasts its own self-contained cottages right at Western River Cove and they will happily help you clean and prepare your day’s catch for a sumptuous seafood banquet when you return to shore. Talk to them about live-aboard, long-range trips and circumnavigations of the island.

Mills Charters, Perth and Geraldton, Western Australia

Mills Charters, Whitsundays, Queensland

The family-owned Mills Charters operation runs two fast, modern deep-sea vessels that spend most of the year working the waters of the southern Indian Ocean off Perth in Western Australia. Here you will catch West Australian dhufish, pink snapper, queen snapper, Samson fish, King George whiting and several other delectable species of fish. However for a few months each season between March and May one of Mills Charters’ vessels moves north to the crayfishing port of Geraldton to offer three-to-five day live-aboard charters to the incredibly rich seas surrounding the Houtman Abrolhos. The Abrolhos is a group of 122 low, limestone islands scattered across 100 kilometres (60 miles) of warm ocean, a half day boat ride west from Geraldton. Here, sub-tropical species such as baldchin groper, coral trout, emperor, Spanish mackerel and at least a dozen other desirable fish can be added to the target list.

Mackerel Islands, Pilbara Coast, Western Australia

Deep sea fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The rich, blue seas surrounding the aptly named Mackerel Islands off Western Australia’s Pilbara Coast are jumping with fish. The islands are 20 minutes off the coast of Onslow, a two hour flight north of Perth. As the archipelago’s name implies, there are plenty of big Spanish mackerel here, along with wahoo, tuna, giant trevally, red emperor and Indo-Pacific sailfish, but that’s just for starters. Anglers fishing in these prolific waters have recorded over 70 different species. Fish from the comfort of Mackerel Islands’ fast, 8.2 metre (27 foot) boat, or walk and wade the beaches and rocky shorelines to cast a lure or fly, all while staying in idyllic, castaway-style beachfront cabins

Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters, Coral Bay, Western Australia

Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters, Coral Bay, Western Australia

Operating two large, seaworthy vessels — the 48 foot (15 metre) “Southern Comfort” and 55 foot (17 metre) “Stormy”  — Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters ply the warm, blue waters outside Ningaloo Reef. Here anglers can expect to encounter at least four billfish species (black, blue and striped marlin, as well as Indo-Pacific sailfish) along with abundant mackerel, trevally, tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi (also known as dolphin fish or dorado) and a plethora of colourful reef species including the hard-fighting and delicious-tasting red emperor, coral trout, gold-band snapper and many more. Book a private charter or join an existing group for the fishing trip of a lifetime off Australia’s wild west coast.

Elizabeth EII Luxury Liveaboard Charters, Mackay, Queensland

Elizabeth EII Luxury Liveaboard Charters, Mackay, Queensland

“Elizabeth EII” is a beautifully appointed and meticulously maintained 108 foot (33 metre) live-aboard charter vessel that has been transporting keen anglers to the outer waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for more than three decades. Capable of accommodating up to 24 passengers in style on extended blue water cruises, this elegant mothership with her classic seafaring lines offers access to some of the finest reef fishing in the Coral Sea. Target species on typical four to 10 day trips include red and spangled emperor, coral trout, sweetlip and various cod, along with pelagic species such as mackerel, wahoo, tuna and trevally. Spacious, comfortable cabins and chef-prepared meals add a level of service not often encountered aboard fishing charter boats.

Bay Fish N Trips, Mornington, Melbourne, Victoria

Bay Fish N Trips, Mornington, Victoria

Built during the Second World War, the stately vessel “Plover” represents the perfect platform for a wonderful half or full day of fishing out on Melbourne’s expansive Port Phillip Bay. Pink snapper, King George whiting, flathead and gummy sharks are all prime targets, but half a dozen other species are always on the cards as well. Along with a tasty, nutritious lunch, all tackle and equipment is supplied, but clients are also free to bring their own.

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