Fishing Tours in Cairns - Great Barrier Reef - Rivers - Estuary

Just ask a Cairns local – the Tropical Far North Queensland waters of the Great Barrier Reef are a fantastic place for fishing tours. Not only does this part of the world enjoy beautiful warm weather most of the year, but the tropical waters are brimming with exotic sea life. Recreational fishing is a major pastime in the area, for obvious reasons and attracts world travellers on fishing tours.

During the Black Marlin & Sailfish seasons sporting anglers from the world over flock to Cairns to book fishing boats for weeks on end to live on the high seas to catch these giant monsters of the deep

Cairns is known world wide as having the biggest Black Marlin fish sizes on the planet.

Cairns fishing boats are also recognised as world leaders in conservation as they all work on a tag and release conservation basis to preserve these species for future anglers enjoyment in years to come

When fishing in the Far North, please respect fishing seasons, bag limits, and the fragile tropical ecosystem. If you don't intend to eat your fish, release it back to the wild to live another day.

Please note big fines and jail terms apply if you do not follow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authorities Green Zone guidelines

Fishing in Cairns

Many groups of men and woman come to Cairns & Port Douglas to either compete in fishing tournaments or to take a shared charter or private charter fishing boat out for a day or for a few days to catch our prized local fish.

For liveaboard fishing charters the first night in Cairns is normally spent in a hotel so we always recommend you stay in a central Cairns Hotel near the Cairns Marlin Marina so you can make an early getaway on the boat and have your first line in the water by around morning tea time. The same applies on your liveaboard fishing boat tours return as you can never be sure the boat will get back to harbour in time for you to catch a night flight.   

In Port Douglas again the same applies, stay close to Macrossan Street so you are able to walk down to restaurants and to the Port Douglas Boat Marina. 

For more information on Cairns & Port Douglas Accommodation speak to our Reservations Team on 1300 780 806

And to book a fishing tour from Cairns or Port Douglas speak to our Reservations Team on 1300 761 612 


What fish can I catch in Cairns Tropical North Queensland Australia?

 The two most famous fish to catch in this area are Barramundi and Black Marlin.

Barramundi is an elusive fish that spawns in freshwater creeks and then migrates to saltwater estuaries and grows amongst the fragile Mangrove eco system. During this transition, the Barramundi changes sex from male to female. Barra, as is it commonly called in the north, is a delicious table fish and is without doubt the most sought after catch. Please note that Barramundi must be released back into the wild between midday 1st of November to midday on the 1st of February to ensure the breeding cycle is not interuppted.

In Cairns Black Marlin are big game. These monsters of the deep are the equivalent to trying to catch a lion on a rope in the African wilderness, without the danger of driving it to extinction. Boat tours operate seasonally to hunt for the Black Marlin and they are normally booked out many months in advance if not years. These are large fish, several meters long and they provide an exciting fight for any angler.

Sensibly Cairns fishing boat operators operate on a tag and release basis to preserve these fish for the enjoyment of future anglers. This sustainability will ensure the future of these magnificent animals and their growth to ensure more fish populations of the future. 

 Other prized fish in the Cairns area include:

  • Mangrove Jack
  • Black Marlin
  • Coral Trout
  • Flathead
  • Sooty Grunter
  • Barracuda
  • Snapper
  • Red Emperor
  • Sweetlip
  • Spanish Mackerel
  • Jungle Perch
  • Queenfish

…the list goes on…

Here are some Cairns Fishing Tours for you to look at

Species Illustration Size J F M A M J J A S O N D
Barramundi 30kg
Threadfin Salmon 15kg
Mangrove Jack 4kg
Trevally 30kg
Queenfish 15kg
Marlin 600kg
Sailfish 60kg
Mackeral 30kg
Yellowfin Tuna 100kg
Snapper to 15kg
Shark 1,000kg
Brown Trout 8kg
Rainbow Trout 6kg
Quinnat Salmon 15kg
Best Months   Average Months   Not Recommended

In the Tropical Far North of Cairns Queensland, there are multitudes of fishing environments to experience.

  • Estuary Fishing – Mangrove-lined creeks such as the Cairns Trinity Inlet are the nursery and fertile breeding ground for many marine creatures thus they are highly important eco systems that need to be protected from development and pollution. Top catches in the local esturaries include Mangrove Jack, Flathead and Whiting. While fishing in this area, place a few crab pots alongside the mangroves and score a feed of fresh mud crabs but just be careful of the ferocious saltwater crocodiles.
  • Beach Fishing – There is very little surf in this part of the world, making beach fishing relatively easy. Large scavengers patrol this area of water, including small sharks and mackerel and you can even catch prawns on the beaches in the green season.
  • Reef Fishing – One of the most popular areas to fish because of the crystal clear waters and exotic table fish you can catch in great numbers. Coral Trout and Red Emperor are the big prize when fishing the reef.
  • Deep Sea Fishing – This is where the big boys play. Seek out marlins, big sharks, and barracuda.
  • Freshwater Fishing – Creeks, lakes and dams are home to large varieties of fish. Tinaroo Dam on the Atherton Tablelands, 1.5 hours drive from Cairns, is home to the biggest wild barramundi in the world.

Here's a small selection of just some of the fishing companies and tour operators which leave from Far North Queensland. Click on their business names below to see their tours. You may also find many individual charter operators as the members of the Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association.

Estuary Fishing

  • Fishing The Tropics - A long-term Cairns local business, Fishing The Tropics is a very well known local fishing tour. Offering lure & fly fishing, river fishing and estuary fishing, Fishing The Tropics provides quality Daiwa fishing tackle on all charters.

Reef Fishing

  • Cape Tribulation Wilderness Cruises - With full day reef fishing charters form just $165 with all tackle included, this charter is hard to go past. Additionally, their set off near the Daintree Rainforest location means it takes just under 1h to reach the great fishing areas of the Cairns Great Barrier Reef.

Deep Sea Fishing

  • Moana Cairns Marlin Fishing - Clocking up the biggest marling award in last year's Lizard Island Classic, Moana Marlin Fishing is one of the best operators if you are looking for a heavy tackle charter, or hoping to do a spot of black marlin fishing. Skip Daniel is mad keen and highly experienced.
  • Billfish Sports Fishing – Highly celebrated crew in Cairns, MV Billfish specialises in heavy tackle marlin fishing, popper casting and light tackle sports fishing.

For comprehensive information about fishing throughout Tropical North Queensland, please click here. This website provides detailed instructions about the best fishing spots in the region and how to catch the silver giants beneath the waves.

Port Douglas Reef Fishing

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Port Douglas Reef Fishing Shared Charter - Great Barrier Reef
  • Departs From: Port Douglas
  • Duration:

    7.5 hours approx

Grab the family or some mates and join the local Port Douglas crew with over 25 years experience for a spectacular day of fishing out on the Great Barrier Reef. The 18m purpose-built fishing vessel is very stable and with a top speed of 28knots you'll spend less time getting there and more time putting fish on deck! Choose from trawling, jigging, bottom fishing, live baiting or flicking poppers along the reef edge, it's all possible on this full day fishing charter.

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Best Value Accommodation Deals in Cairns
Hilton Hotel Cairns

Located on the Cairns Waterfront, the Hilton Hotel is a great base for your Cairns Fishing holiday. Ensure to ask us about our Accommodation Specials when booking your Cairn Fishing adventure.

Mantra Trilogy Cairns

Mantra Trilogy Hotel and holiday apartments located on the Cairns Esplanade in the heart of Cairns.  With night markets, Cairns Lagoon and restaurants at your door step it's a great base to explore Cairns and the region.

Pullman Cairns International Hotel

Enjoy five-star luxury in the vibrant heart of Cairns city with harbour views and close access to shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. The Pullman Cairns International offers exclusive extras like pillow menus, a premium guest floor and multi-lingual staff who can help foreign guests with any questions or advice they need. Enjoy the sunshine beside the roof top lagoon-style swimming pool. 

Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns

Perfectly positioned atop the Pier Marina Shopping Complex, the Shangri-La Cairns offers guests 5 star luxury with amazing views of the mountains and ocean across the bay. The complex features nine restaurants, fitness centre, wellness spa, lively bars and boutiques to enjoy some shopping. 

Pacific Hotel Cairns

Offering four-star luxury at great value the Pacific Hotel Cairns is perfectly positioned on the Cairns Esplanade directly opposite the beautiful Cairns Lagoon swimming pool. Enjoy a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service, free WiFi and friendly staff who will help make your stay as comfortable as possible. 

Cairns Luxury Apartments in Harbour Lights Complex

These absolute waterfront luxury private apartments are available in one, two or three bedroom self-contained open-plan living layouts and present beautiful views of the harbour to the east or forest-covered mountains to the west. Enjoy a modern elegant decor and very close proximity to the Marlin Marina where Cairns' reef & fishing boats depart each day. You can also order room service from the great restaurants within the Harbour Lights complex including Cairns' most awarded restaurant, Ochre. 

Best Value Accommodation Deals in Cairns