Where to catch BIG fish in Queensland

“Fish on!”

From that initial bite to the tug-of-war battle, there’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve got a big fish at the end of your line. As the rod bends and your mates cheer, the sudden kick of adrenaline forces you to level up and reel that fish in.

When colour hits the water’s surface and the fish species is identified, your final task is to get it into the net and in the boat. But once that fish is slapping around on the floorboards, you can finally celebrate that the suspense is over and you’ve bagged yourself a nice one. Yee ha!

If it’s time you headed out for another fishing adventure, Queensland has you covered with some of the best fishing destinations and local hot spots where you can bag your next big fish. And, if you’re up for some friendly competition, show us what ya’ got at a local fishing competition.


They breed ‘em big in Tropical North Queensland and off the coastline of Karumba are some incredible fishing spots (in the Gulf of Carpentaria) where you can reel in prize-worthy fish including jewfish, barramundi and king salmon.

No boat = no problem. Fishing charters are available, but shore-based fishing is also great in Karumba with local spots along the Norman River Bank or at Karumba Point.

Fishing Competition: Karumba Community Anglers Classic
Date: 28-30 Sep 2018

With a variety of ‘catch and release’ fishing categories for seniors and juniors, the Karumba Community Anglers Classic is an epic long weekend of non-stop, rod-bending action.

This volunteer-managed event raises funds to support the ongoing efforts for barramundi restocking in the Gulf rivers. With entertainment and novelty land-based activities to complement the fishing, it’s an event for the whole family (with cash prizes up for grabs).


Travel 25km south of Gladstone and you’ll find Boyne Island and its twin city: Tannum Sands.

Both destinations are picturesque coastal communities offering more than just great ocean views. In fact, the area is a popular fishing hub that invites anglers of all skill levels to fish the Boyne River and other great local spots.

Boyne Island also grants easy access to the south of Facing Island where reef fishing is most popular.

The waters around Gladstone are a transitional zone where warm water from the north meets the cool water from the south. As a result, the area offers a variety of big fish and species can vary from sweetlip, coral trout and tuna to trevally, grunter and queenfish.

Fishing Competition: Boyne Tannum HookUp
Date: 3-5 May 2019

Celebrating its 22nd year, the annual Boyne Tannum HookUp is a family-friendly fishing competition offering entertainment, stalls and novelty events hosted over three days.

With a prize pool worth over $300,000, it’s no wonder why the event attracts up to 4,000 competitors and 3000 visitors. Categories are divided amongst Juniors and Seniors and include Spanish mackerel, cobia, salmon and large mouth nannygai.


VMR Bundaberg Family Fishing Classic | Where to catch big fish in queensland

VMR Bundaberg Family Fishing Classic

Home to Bundaberg Rum and the popular Mon Repos Conservation ParkBundaberg is also a top fishing destination for passionate anglers.

Although there are land-based options, off-shore fishing is favoured and trolling is a very successful method to catch big fish like GTs, mackerel, tuna and billfish.

Tip: You’ll definitely need to run a wire trace to keep these big boys from snapping your lines.

When trolling or casting, keep an eye out for feeding birds around bait pools and you’ll most likely pull up big fish beneath the pelagics at the surface. Head further out and you can even chase marlin in the deeper waters.

Fishing Competition: Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg Family Fishing Classic
Date: 29 June – 1 July 2018

Take part in the VMR Bundaberg Family Fishing Classic with three of the most popular categories being mackerel, red emperor and coral trout.

The comp kicks off at 6am on Friday 29 June and the licensed bar opens from noon, so when you turn up to weigh your fish in, grab a cool beverage and show off your biggest catch of the day.


Tight Lines Fishing Classic | Where to catch big fish in queensland

Tight Lines Fishing Classic (event now cancelled)

Venture 38km north of Rockhampton and you’ll find the coastal township of Yeppoon. It’s a tropical haven that grants easy access to the Keppel Island Group and some hardcore fishing.

Yeppoon falls neatly within the newly created Net Free Fishing Zone which recreational fishermen can now enjoy.

From flatheads and snapper to mackerel and cobia, the fish are biting in Yeppoon and along the Capricorn Coast.


The Big Mango isn’t the only ‘big thing’ in Bowen. In fact, avid fishermen can pull in big fish species too! We’re talking GTs, Spanish mackerel, mangrove jack and red emperor.

Located at the top of The Whitsundays, Bowen has untouched beaches, beautiful bays and pristine fishing conditions. But it also has many creek systems which hold healthy numbers of bream, mangrove jack and whiting.

Try your luck fishing along the Adelaide and Duck creeks in south Bowen or try the Bob Moses and Boat and Meatwork Creeks in the north. However, when you’re fishing in Bowen, please be aware there are Great Barrier Reef Zones in place.

Fishing Competition: Bowen Family Fishing Classic and Wet Weekend
Date: 22-23 September 2018

Now in its 27th year, the Bowen Family Fishing Classic and Wet Weekend offers fishing families the opportunity to engage in some friendly off-shore fishing competition.

On-shore, families can be entertained by the line-up of performances and novelty events, including net-casting competitions and crawchie racing. Last year this event attracted over 3000 people on opening night!


Women that fish Barra Classic | Where to catch big fish in queensland

WTF Women That Fish Barra Classic

Rockhampton is Australia’s beef capital, but it’s slowly becoming the barra capital as well. Since the Net Free Fishing Zone was introduced, the Fitzroy River has started to grow into a barra hot spot for local and interstate fishermen.

In fact, anglers are pulling in large barramundi right in the heart of the city (5 mins from the Quay Street boat ramp)!

Please note the barramundi season on the Queensland east coast closes from midday 1 November – midday 1 February. And, the best time to fish for barramundi along the Fitzroy River is in spring when the river is firing with barra and king threadfin.

You’ll also find the estuaries are steaming with flathead, whiting, grunter and blue salmon.

Fishing Competition: WTF Women That Fish Barra Classic
Date: 21-22 September 2018

Move over gents, let the ladies show you how it’s done. The WTF Women That Fish Barra Classic is hosted on the Fitzroy River, celebrating female anglers.

Open to women over 18 years of age, this unique event began in 2012 and aims to empower women and build their confidence on the water.

Fishing Competition: Rocky Barra Bounty
Date: 16-18 October 2018

Don’t worry fellas, I haven’t forgotten you. The Rocky Barra Bounty which is also hosted on the Fitzroy River is perfect for skilful fishermen.

It’s a tag-and-release event and was one of the first to introduce photographing and releasing fish instead of weighing in.

Proceeds from the competition go to enhancing recreational fishing in the Fitzroy River. Categories include barramundi, king threadfin, blue threadfin and black jewfish.

Author’s Comment:  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the thrill of reeling in a big fish! I caught these bad boys in the Torres Strait in Tropical North Queensland.


Fishing Infographic | Where to catch big fish in Queensland