The best places to catch a marlin in Queensland

Reel ’em in: The best places to catch a marlin in Queensland

So you like fishing? I bet you do.

But do you like MARLIN fishing?

Strap in (no seriously, in some cases you literally have to strap yourself onto the boat so you don’t end up waterskiing behind a giant fish), hold on (no seriously, you have to hold the rod tighter than a mother hugging her kids on the first day of school) and get your reeling arms ready to catch your lifelong dreams.

Here are the best places in Queensland to catch a marlin.

Cairns and Lizard Island

If Lizard Island was Vegas it would have gone broke a long time ago because everyone wins at this black marlin fishing mecca.

The Great Barrier Reef island is renowned as the best place on the planet to catch a “grander” marlin. What’s a grander? Well, it’s a marlin that weighs over 1000 pounds (or 453.593kgs… 1000lbs has a much nicer ring to it).

For every one grander caught in the rest of the world, two are caught between Lizard Island and Cairns. In fact, 70% of all granders are caught here. Woo!

When to go: From September to December

How to catch them: First thing’s first, get to the gym. Some of these fish take HOURS to reel in, so a little bit of fitness will go a long way. You don’t want to have to pass the rod to someone else because your arms got tired.

Secondly, join a charter. You can try yourself but these guys make a living out of catching these monsters.

Nomad Sportfishing Adventures offer a game boat option, leaving from Port Douglas (one hour north of Cairns). Tell them you want to catch a Giant Black Marlin and then watch them laugh as your arms fall off after you get it to the boat.


If you don’t feel like going after a 1000lb horse with fins, don’t worry, they don’t start off that big. In Townsville, the juvenile marlin hangs out, listen to loud music and generally get into trouble.

It’s the perfect place to wet your beak in the crazy world of marlin fishing.

But while the marlin here is smaller, they’re still marlin. They range from 10-30kgs and swim faster than Michael Phelps on a jet-ski.

During peak times you can catch up to 35 blue or black marlin in a day. That’s a whole lotta fun.

When to go: August to September (use this as a warm-up before heading to Cairns), however, this is the peak time. You can fish for juvenile marlin as early as April.

How to catch them: KEKOA Charters operate out of Townsville from August to September to catch a juvenile black marlin. With 28 years worth of experience they are as close to a “sure thing” as you can get in the fishing world.

If you want to try it on your own, Cape Bowling Green is a short high-horse powered blast away.

The bay here is pretty much a juvenile marlin’s version of a shopping centre. They just hang out. The Burdekin River empties out into the bay and that means lots of nutrients for shoal fish (little yummy marlin treats), so just troll your lures around any kind of surface action and hold on tight.

Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is in the enviable position of having marlin and sailfish around all year long.

Billfish, as they’re known, tend to come and go with the changing temperature but because the Sunshine Coast sits right beside the warm currents that the turtles in Finding Nemo use, the marlin never, EVER leave.

That’s where you come in. You want these guys on the end of your line.

You can catch black and blue marlin here and they range from 10-60kg. A 60kg fish that jumps out of the water, and takes hundreds of metres of line in a single run on light tackle, is a handful of fun and something everyone has to experience.

When to go: All day, every day.

How to catch them: Launch your boat at Mooloolaba and head 10-20 nautical miles offshore. Then it’s up to you to troll your lures for as long as it takes.

You want the water to be around 50-60m in depth and a water temperature of between 22-26 degrees. This is important because these temperatures affect the shoals of baitfish.

If you see any birds or frothing water then make a b-line right towards it and troll your lures around the edges of the school. If you’re lucky you’ll hook a tuna, a mackerel, and if you are really lucky you’ll hear a screaming reel and your mate Matty will tell you “if the reel starts smoking, dunk it in the water”. That’s a pro tip, by the way.

After all your hard work you might end up with one of the world’s most sought-after fish.

If this fails, then head back into Mooloolaba and call the team at Deep End Fishing Charters and let them know you want to catch marlin. When they tell you “Yep, we can do that”, jump up and down and get your sunscreen, hat and brawny arms ready for a fight.

Did we miss any spots? Care to share your secrets on marlin fishing? Let us know in the comments section below!