Catch a Barra to a Whiting and Everything In Between

Multiple Locations

Sure, everyone knows about the deep-sea fishing opportunities off Cairns – it’s one of the world’s most famed deep-sea fishing locations and has even attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest names to try their luck for a marlin. And everyone knows about the Great Barrier Reef. But what’s not so talked about are the world-class fishing options close to Cairns in the Net Free Zone.

And you don’t even need a boat. This region includes many areas easily accessible by land. The headlands around Cairns provide many areas where fish naturally congregate, while the area’s stunning white-sand beaches are full of stunning fishing spots where you can catch everything from whiting to barramundi.

If you do have a boat, Cairns offers a huge tidal estuary that stretches for 85-kilometres and is a boatie’s dream, with everything from golden snapper to grunter lurking below. Or there’s the Barron River, which is one of Queensland’s most significant catchment areas and is full of huge barramundi.

The best time to fish is the warmest time, so be sure to cover up from the sun, watch out for saltwater crocodiles and jelly-fish and pack plenty of water along with Queensland’s famed fishing refresher, XXXX Gold.

Journey Details

Duration
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Distance
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Full Itinerary

Fish the Headlands

The three main headland locations within the Net Free Zone are at the northern end of Yorkeys Knob Beach, and the start and end of Trinity Beach.

Land-based access is easy with all three headlands having access to ample parking and toilet facilities and they’re only a short walking distance from popular Yorkeys Knob and Trinity tourist beaches, and Yorkeys Knob Marina.

Access for boaties is best from either the Half Moon Creek Boat Ramp or Yorkeys Knob Boat Ramp and the distance between all headlands is less than a five-kilometre run. They’re exposed to the wind and swell so wind strength below 15 knots is recommended for smaller boats. These areas always fish best over the larger tides, especially on the lead up to the full and new moon. All three headlands are fed by nearby creeks and on these bigger tides bait is often flushed out of creek mouths. This bait tends to take up residence around the headlands, which in turn attracts fish such as barramundi and mangrove jacks.

This fishing trail is a terrific option as it allows you to fish multiple locations using the same techniques and rigs over a single tide.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel Boat, Walk
Route Type One Way
Fish the Beaches

Cairns is blessed with some of Australia’s best beaches and they offer plenty of incredible fishing spots, especially for land-based anglers. They are all easily accessible. Like the headland route, it’s best to fish over the rising tide and bigger tides and calmer weather with little swell is best.

Machans Beach has many fishable attributes especially with its close proximity to the Barron River mouth. Fishing around the mouth with live and fresh baits can produce some monster barramundi and salmon. The creek mouth is not the only spot to wet a line and anywhere along the open beach may produce fish.

The next stop is Holloways Beach which is fed by Thomatis Creek and is also a hot spot for salmon and barramundi. When fishing both these beaches, standard estuary gear will do the job. In terms of technique, these beaches are very much highways for both bait and fish and when they come through, it can get red-hot very quickly.

Lures, bait fishing and retrievers will work well in the open beach environment with depth of water being the biggest factor to consider. Trinity Beach is not fed by any creek systems but still has many fishable attributes.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel Boat, Car, Walk
Route Type One Way
Fish the Cairns Inlet and Flats

Fish a huge tidal-estuary that stretches 85-kilometres with many creeks, drains, wrecks and snags home to barramundi, golden snapper, grunter, salmon and mud crabs. The Cairns Inlet is accessed by two boat-ramps, Smiths Creek Ramp, next to the sugar terminal, and the ramp at Tingira Street-Smith Creek a few kilometres down the road which is preferred for larger boats.

When the weather makes conditions closer to the mouth undesirable, fish the mid-to-upper reaches of the Inlet. Launch your boat around the top of the tide and head up the Inlet and move around the island where you have the option of fishing Chinamen, Four Mile, Garrison or Skeleton Creek.

If lure fishing, the tide will slowly push you down the creek giving you ample opportunity to flick snags for barramundi and mangrove jacks. Once the tide is low, fish the deeper holes at the creek mouth and junctions.

In good weather, head for Hospital Flats as they hold lots of bait after heavy rain, especially prawns which attract fish. They’re best fished on the last two-hours of the incoming tide and the bigger the tide, the better. This area can be good at night for salmon, grunter and barramundi on.

LINESTRING (145.747633 -16.8544911, 145.7391357 -16.8398689)
Route Details
Mode of Travel Boat
Route Type One Way
Fishing the Barron River and Thomatis Creek

Just north of Cairns lies the almighty Barron River and its side branch, Thomatis Creek. This estuary is best accessed at Stratford, next to the Captain Cook Highway Bridge. This ramp has ample parking, is well-lit and has a pontoon for ease of access.

When starting your Barron River Fishing Trail, launch your boat and head towards the mouth of the creek. Along the way you will see many mangrove-lined riverbanks, which hold good numbers of mangrove jack. However, it is the deeper holes mostly found on the bends of the rivers – especially the last bend of the river before nearing the mouth and the mouths of smaller feeder creeks – which are worth fishing.

Fishing this deeper water on the slack of the tide, preferably the bottom of the tide, with live prawns and mullet, or vibe-style lures, will see some excellent fishing. Threadfin salmon and large barramundi are found in the Barron River, especially when fishing at night. The mouth of the Barron River is also excellent and this is best fished on the outgoing tide. The best bait to use here are herring, mullet and prawn and these can all be caught using a cast net.

LINESTRING (145.6915855 -16.8690505, 145.6953943 -16.8667814)
Route Details
Mode of Travel Boat

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Comet

Comet, Central Highlands Area
Comet is located in the Central Highlands, 39 kilometres east of Emerald on the Capricorn Highway. Comet was established in association with the westward development of the railway line from Rockhampton.

Minerva Hills National Park

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Spectacular jagged peaks provide a scenic backdrop to this Central Queensland national park. Formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, Mount Boorambool and cliff-fringed Mount Zamia dominate the landscape today.

Salvator Rosa, Carnarvon National Park

Tambo, Blackall-Tambo Area
Free Entry
Crystal clear springs add more than ten million litres of water a day to peaceful Louisa Creek and the Nogoa River as they meander beneath a backdrop of rocky sandstone crags and spires. Named by explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1846, Salvator Rosa is at the western edge of the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt.

Rubyvale

Rubyvale, Central Highlands Area
If you love gemstones and jewellery then chances are you're going to love this town. Set in the heart of the Sapphire Gemfields, Rubyvale is home to several gift shops where you'll find everything from sapphire necklaces to sparkling diamond rings.

Virgin Rock

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Virgin Rock, which is situated four kilometres from Springsure is on the eastern side of Mount Zamia and has a naturally formed likeness to the Virgin Mary and Child. The spectacular cliffs are floodlit at night and can be viewed from the Lions Park.

Springsure

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Situated in a delightful valley with spectacular Mount Zamia and Virgin Rock overlooking the town, Springsure is located 66 kilometres south of Emerald on the Gregory Highway section of the Great Inland Way.

Rolleston

Rolleston, Central Highlands Area
Rolleston is in the southeast of Queensland's Central Highlands and is the nearest town to the world renowned Carnarvon Gorge and Carnarvon National Park. Rolleston is 70 kilometres east of Springsure and can be reached by travelling along the Great Inland Way.

Tambo' s Wilderness Way Self Drive Route

Tambo, Blackall-Tambo Area
Free Entry
Travel Tambo's Wilderness Way, a self-drive tour through an area of rugged beauty, known as the ‘Rooftop of Queensland’. The tour traverses a landscape of deep gorges and vast cliff lines. Enjoy vistas of tangled ranges where the wind and rain have created massive sandstone formations which contrast starkly with the grey-green bush.

Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park

Rolleston, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
You’ll need at least a week to fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of this park, set deep in the Central Highlands. Walk, drive, hike and camp in the park's four sections and be captivated by the diverse landscapes and rich wildlife of the Sandstone Wilderness.

Fairbairn Dam, Lake Maraboon

Emerald, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
If you love fishing, you're going to love this holiday destination. Lake Maraboon is stocked with eight different kinds of fish including barramundi, making it a popular spot for anglers. You'll also find a healthy population of red claw crayfish in the area.
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