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Top Australian freshwater fishing experiences

It is not just the ocean around Australia that is teeming with fish; the lakes, rivers and billabongs (inland ponds) are all full of adventure.

By Steve Starling

Go fishing in parts of Australia where few other anglers have ever stood, chase the legendary barramundi, Australia’s most sought-after (and delicious) sports fish or scour inland waterways for several varieties of introduced trout; freshwater fishing in Australia never disappoints.

Helispirit, Kununurra, Western Australia

Helispirit, Western Australia

Few experiences can match the excitement and spectacle of a Helispirit helifishing trip across the breathtaking sweep of Australia’s remote and rugged East Kimberley region in the far north-east of Western Australia. Be whisked by helicopter to secret fishing hot spots that are otherwise all but inaccessible, and which have only seen a handful of other anglers over the years. Cast your lures or flies into glassy green billabongs to tempt hungry barramundi, grunter, archer fish or catfish. Spy crocodiles, kangaroos and other wildlife from the air, then land beside a tree-fringed waterhole to enjoy a delicious lunch, accompanied by local boutique beers and premium Australian wines. This is a trip you’ll talk about for years

Victorian Inland Charters, Buckley, Victoria

Trevor Holmes runs Victorian Inland Charters from his home base in the Victorian rural town of Buckley, just over a one hour drive from Melbourne. He guides clients from his boat on various inland waterways including Toolondo and Rocklands Reservoirs, Lakes Fyans and Wartook, as well as further afield (by prior arrangement) to the volcanic lakes of Purrumbete and Bullen Merri in the state’s south west. Target species include brown trout, rainbow trout, redfin (English perch) and several other introduced and native freshwater varieties.

Lake Monduran Barra Charters, Gin Gin, Queensland

Jamie Bein from Lake Monduran Barra Charters has been fishing in the tree-studded waters of Lake Monduran, near Gin Gin (an hour inland from Bundaberg) in Queensland, for 15 years and knows the habits of its massive barramundi better than anyone else.

On this serene lake, chances are you’ll experience a barra strike your lure and the battle that follows. And if you haven’t managed to catch one during your half day tour, Jamie will stay on the water for up to two extra hours, free of charge, in the hope of landing a barra.

Ord River Ultimate Adventures, Kununurra, Western Australia

Freshwater Fishing, Kununurra, Western Australia

Travel an hour by four-wheel drive from Kununurra, in Australia’s far north near the Northern Territory/Western Australia border, to Hairy Dog’s Fishing Camp. Hairy Dog refers to Greg “Hairy Dog” Harman, the legendary fisherman who established and still runs this celebrated fishing destination. Renowned for the number of one-metre-plus (40 inch and over) barramundi fishing expeditions it produces each year, Hairy Dog’s Fishing Camp caters to day-trip visitors as well as those wishing to stay for several nights as they pursue the mighty barramundi: arguably Australia’s most sought-after sport fish.

Driftwater, Tasmania

Driftwater, Meander Valley, Tasmania

Nestled in the Meander Valley, Driftwater is a boutique accommodation and fly fishing lodge and perfectly positioned as a base to discover Tasmania’s fishery. With its access to diverse waterways, pristine rivers and streams, clear mountain lakes, abundance of fish and experienced guides – Driftwater offers a well-rounded fly fishing experience. Driftwater provides unique purpose built handcrafted timber drift boats that are perfect for drift fishing on the lakes.  Guests can incorporate one day of fishing into their itinerary or choose to be immersed in five days of fly fishing with a different experience and a new spectacular destination each day. Packages are available from one to seven days; all levels of experience are catered for and tuition can be provided in all facets of fly fishing.

Driftwater offers contemporary accommodation in a purposely renovated century old homestead, enhanced by its rural setting and surrounded by extensive gardens. Each night, guests are invited to unwind around a shared dining table where exceptional locally sourced food and wine is served along with stories from the days’ luckiest anglers.

Riverfly 1864, Tasmania

RiverFly 1864, Tasmania

As Tasmania’s only fly fishing outfitter, RiverFly 1864 offers a diverse range of options for beginners to advanced anglers, and can get you to those lesser-known waters with the largest private access across Tasmania. Riverfly’s local Tasmanian guides are some of the finest in the country, with decades of experience across the diverse wild trout fishery.

RiverFly Wilderness Huts are in a wild and picturesque region known as Skullbone Plains, within the famed Western Lakes. They are the only privately-owned huts located in this sight-fishing mecca, giving anglers exclusive fishing to these remote waters. Guests contribute to the conservation of this area with a portion of every trip fee going to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

Sight-fishing to wild brown trout across rivers, lakes and tarns using mostly dry flies is a specialty at RiverFly, and educating guests is all part of the experience. They offer gear and advice at their speciality retail fly shop in Launceston city, and are known globally for their handcrafted premium flies. Drop in for the latest fishing reports and local fly patterns before heading out on the water.

Helifish, Darwin, Northern Territory

HeliFish, Darwin, Northern Territory

Helifish is the premier helicopter-based sportfishing business operating in Australia’s ruggedly beautiful Top End. Flying from their base in Darwin, Helifish offer clients unprecedented access to some of the Northern Territory’s most remote and productive barramundi waters. On a typical one-day charter, Helifish customers will enjoy at least two hours of flight time and up to six hours of fishing at several different locations, as well as the opportunity to view and photograph this unique part of the world from the air. Anglers fortunate enough to sample Helifish’s service will never forget this amazing experience.

Outback Floatplane Adventures, Darwin, Northern Territory

Outback Floatplane Adventures, Darwin, Northern Territory

This highly professional operation is the brainchild of Matt Wright, better known to millions of TV viewers around the world as National Geographic’s Outback Wrangler. Outback Floatplane Adventures utilises a fleet of floatplanes, helicopters, airboats and powerboats to transport its clients into the untamed wilds of the remote Top End. Indulge in a one-day helicopter and airboat fishing adventure to chase the iconic barramundi, choose a premiere heli-fishing package that combines a helicopter and fast catamaran vessel to chase a full range of tropical species, or let Outback Floatplane Adventures tailor something extra special to suit your specific desires. The sky is literally the limit!

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