Fishing is a classic Australian pastime. Spending the day on the boat with your mates or an evening on the jetty with your family is about as Aussie as it gets. But if you have the urge to go fishing on your holidays, you may find yourself asking: what fish can I catch year-round in Australia? Where are the best fishing spots for each season?
For that reason, we’ve prepared a guide to help both new and expert Aussie fishermen determine which season is best to fish in. We cover each of the four seasons, including where is best to fish in Australia at that time of year and the kind of fish you’re likely to catch.
Read the guide below to learn more.
Can I Fish All Year Round in Australia?
Yes, it is possible to fish all year round in Australia! There is plenty to catch in all four seasons, but the type of fish and the best location to fish will definitely differ depending on the season.
Australia is home to almost 60,000 kilometres of coastline containing more than 4,000 marine species. Wherever and whenever you decide to fish, there will always be choices. As long as you have the best type of bait for the fish you want to catch, you should have no trouble reeling in big ones all year long.
Recreational fishing in Australia is considered to be a very important leisure activity, as it provides both economic and social benefits to the Australian community. The Australian Government has an important role in supporting the recreational fishing industry, and part of that is regulating recreational fishing licences.
When is the Best Fishing Season in Australia?
Australia’s best fishing seasons are in Spring, from September to November, and Autumn, from March to May. However, it’s possible to catch fish in Australia all year round because there are plenty of active fish in every month of the year across the country.
Ready to find out where to fish in each season? Keep reading!
Summer Fishing in Australia
Summer fishing in Australia arguably attracts the most number of anglers as the weather is ideal — with more hours of daylight and some of Australia’s prized pelagic fish noticeably more active.
Summertime is considered to be a very busy fishing season in Australia, so there are some preparations you should make to ensure your trip is a success. Listed below are the critical things you need to prepare for and check when planning to fish in summer:
- Service the boat and trailer – Nobody wants a bad trip, and having the motor serviced and checked by a professional is one way to avoid this. Conduct a visual inspection of the trailer, and check if everything is working and in order. Make sure the trailer has a spare wheel and is pumped up. Check other things such as the trailer’s wheels, bearings, lights, motor, electronic switch panels, and the fuel among others.
- Check your safety gear – Ensure that your safety gear is not damaged or out of date. Much like checks and maintenance on mechanical components, the same has to be done on your safety gear as it may decide your fate in the event of an accident. Check for corrosion and this will cause overheating. Check your life jackets, set up the right anchor, and test the NAV lights.
- Service your fishing gear – Fishing reels have to be serviced at least every 12 months if regularly used. You can take your reel to a local tackle shop if no parts have to be replaced. Inspect for rust, sharp nicks, and test if the drag is sticking or not. Give your rod a silicon spray and make sure the runners have no cracks or nicks.
What Fish Can I Catch in Summer in Australia?
When summer hits in Australia you can catch Yellowtail Kingfish, Flathead, Snapper, Tailor, and Bream, among others.
We’ve listed down the more well known fish during summer, including where to catch them.
- Yellowtail Kingfish – They live inshore and in areas of continental shelf waters where they prefer reefs, jetties, marker buoys, and pylons. You can generally find schools of juveniles in offshore waters, and prefer temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius. But you can occasionally find them in cooler waters. They are called kingies, yellowtails, hoodlums, or even bandits. But whichever you prefer to call them, they are tough and dirty fighters. Catching one requires a tackle that is in top condition. Leader material has to be a minimum of 20 kg, and could vary depending on the bait and hook size.
- Flathead – There are at least 18 different flathead species found throughout Australia, the primary ones being the Dusky Flathead, the Eastern and Southern Blue-spotted Flathead, the Southern and Northern Sand Flathead, and the Tiger Flathead. This fish relies on its camouflage, and lives partially buried in sand or mud. If you want to catch one of these you have to focus on areas like the edges of mangroves and breakwalls, in between and underneath oyster racks, at the bottom of marker buoys and poles, and bases of bridge pylons among others.
- Snapper – The Australasian snapper has a cult following in a number of fishing circles. It is known for its succulent white flesh when cooked which is considered to be one of the tastiest reef species. They can be found in reefs, wrecks, and structures.
- Tailor – These fish inhabit the coastal waters off all Australian states, from the northern tip of Fraser Island in Queensland all the way to Onslow in Western Australia. They are less common in Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. They can grow to over a metre in length and are best caught at dawn, dusk, and on overcast days. They can be found in estuaries, creeks, bays, and washes off the rocks and lose inshore reefs.
- Bream – Yellowfin bream can be found in the estuarine and coastal waters of eastern Australia. This covers Townsville in Queensland up to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. Black bream on the other hand, inhabit the estuarine waters from Myall Lakes in central NSW to the Murchison River in Western Australia, and the islands of Kangaroo Island and the Bass Strait. On the other hand, Pikey bream can be found around the northern coast of Onslow all the way to central Queensland.
Where in Australia Is Best to Fish in Summer?
Heading into open ocean around Australia is the best place to catch fish in the summer. When the temperature rises, fish move to cooler waters and often find themselves out in the open waters of the seas and oceans around Australia. Summer is the best time to catch snapper in particular, beloved around the country.
- Port Lincoln, Boston Bay, South Australia. It is often referred to as the seafood capital of the country, whose growth was greatly spurred by the bountiful waters of Spencer Gulf. If you decide to fish here during summer, you can expect to catch Bronze Whaler Sharks and Kingfish. You can also catch fish that exist in the waters all year round, such as Nannygai, Gummy Sharks, Yellowfin Whiting, Snapper, and Garfish. A fishing licence isn’t required for recreational fishing in South Australia.
- Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. You can fish at a number of locations in and around Noosa, including Laguna Bay. If you plan to fish in Noosa during summertime, you can expect to catch Mahi Mahi, Blue Marlin, Blac Marlin, Sailfish, Cobia, and bigger Yellowfin Tuna.
- Woodman Point, Western Australia. Woodman Point is an old fisherman’s secret, and one of the best fishing spots in WA. While not known around the country, Woodman Point is always teeming with life and teeming with fish, especially in the summertime. For herring, garfish and snapper, there’s no better place to catch them in summer.
Winter Fishing in Australia
The winter season is actually a good time for recreational fishing in Australia, especially for fish like Barramundi and Longtail Tuna. The winter months are still very productive if you know where to fish.
It is important to avoid rivers or lakes with elevated currents, as these pose a safety issue, on top of making it more difficult to fish. Instead, go for lakes and rivers that have naturally stable currents even in winter.
- Check the weather conditions – It is also crucial that you check the current conditions of the area. When planning your fishing trip, regularly check the forecast and adjust accordingly. Certain conditions may make it too dangerous to fish, or too difficult to catch. The conditions will ultimately improve or worsen your odds. Weather fronts also play a part in how many active freshwater species can be found in the area. Fish are generally less active right after a front, so it is best to plan the trip before it passes.
- Get your equipment in order – The temperatures in winter can place additional stress onto your fishing gear. So it would be in your best interest to make extra preparations such as cleaning and lubricating your reel bearings, and conditioning your lines to keep them supple and to prevent twisting.
What Fish Can I Catch in Winter in Australia?
When winter hits you can catch Barramundi, Spanish and Broad Bar Mackerel, Longtail Tuna, and Cobia, among others. Other fish you can catch during the winter are Broad Bar Mackerel, Longtail Tuna, Cobia, Queenfish, and the Giant and Golden Trevally.
We’ve listed down the more well known fish during winter including where to catch them.
- Barramundi – People from all around the world travel to Australia to catch our famous “barra”. The fish is known to put on an incredible show of aerial acrobatics, and lives in both fresh and saltwater. They can be found in impoundment dams, rivers, and rocky headlands.
- Spanish Mackerel – These fish have razor-sharp teeth known to have a “bad attitude”. But they are regarded as a thrilling sportfish to catch, and are very much capable of aerial assaults. Although they are commonly eaten, those that exceed 10 kg should not be eaten due to the risk of ciguatera poisoning. You can find them in coastal and offshore reefs.
Where in Australia Is Best to Fish in Winter?
Fishing off the coasts of Australia is the best place to fish in winter. The cold weather brings out a whole new range of fish, making it a great time of year for anglers wanting to catch black bream and kingfish.
- Noosa, Sunshine Coast Queensland. Beautiful and balmy all year round, Noosa is a great spot to catch some sun for a mid-year camping and fishing adventure. If you plan to fish in Noosa during wintertime, you can expect to catch Bluefin Tuna, Maori Cod, and Red Emperor.
- South Australia also offers a number of ideal fishing spots during winter time — Hallett Cove, West Beach, North Haven, and inshore near Brighton Jetty.
- Wave Break Island, Queensland. On the remote part of the Gold Coast, Wave Break Island is a great place to start your winter fishing season. Molloway and kingfish populate these waters in huge numbers, making them a great choice for beginner or seasoned anglers.
Spring Fishing in Australia
Spring fishing in Australia can net you some pretty good catches. This is because fish have slower feeding cycles during the winter months and they are fired up during Spring and become much more active.
However, there are some important preparations that need to be done when planning to do some recreational fishing in Spring months.
- Order new boat parts ahead of time – Marine electronics manufacturers are operating all throughout late winter. This is because professional anglers and even some experienced weekend anglers are already submitting their orders during this time. This leads to slower shipping time, insufficient inventory, and backorders. As such it is essential to order ahead of Spring to ensure that your equipment and gear are all set for the Spring season.
- Do your fishing “housekeeping” – This is a good time to conduct a housekeeping of some sort on your fishing gear. Take your boat to the shop, order hard baits, put new fishing lines, reorganise your fishing supplies and purge unneeded items.
What Fish Can I Catch in Spring in Australia?
When Spring hits you can catch Southern Calamari, King George Whiting, Snapper, Mulloway, Golden Perch, and Barramundi, among others.
We’ve listed down the more well known fish during winter including where to catch them.
- Southern Calamari and King George Whiting – These are good targets for southern bays in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. They are regarded as one of the country’s finest table fish. Spring season is when these fish move from their winter grounds and transition into hard bottom.
Other fish that can be caught during this season are Mulloway, Snapper, Golden Perch, and Barramundi.
Where in Australia Is Best to Fish in Spring?
Some of the best Spring fishing spots can be found in the southern estuaries and bays of Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. Inshore locations throughout Victoria, WA, and SA, and waterways in the Northern Territory and Queensland are also great fishing spots during spring.
Great places in Australia for spring fishing include:
- Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Exmouth in northern WA is a popular destination for both holidaying, and fishing. With beautiful beaches, oceans and jetties, people travel from around Australia to fish in Exmouth. Spring is one of the best times to visit Exmouth, with lots of fish activity before the peak of Summer. Exmouth is known for being one of the best places to catch Barracuda in Western Australia.
- Great Oyster Bay, Tasmania. On the remote east side of Tasmania is the Great Oyster Bay. The southern waters are highly populated in the spring time and make it the perfect destination for anglers and fishermen alike.
- Hervey Bay, Queensland. Located just north of Brisbane, Harvey Bay is a populated tourist destination built on the fishing tourism it generates every year. As one of the most eastern points in Australia to fish, it has a unique pool of fish that are teeming in the springtime. In particular, flathead, red emperor and coral trout are abundant, especially in springtime.
- Port Phillip, Victoria. Located in the middle of Melbourne, Port Phillip bay is one of the most popular spring fishing spots in Australia. With the city of Melbourne built around it, there’s great infrastructure to get in and around the bay, with plenty of tackle and fishing stores nearby to stock up on supplies.
Autumn Fishing in Australia
Temperature changes brought about by Autumn generally drive fish deeper into the water or farther south in search of warmer water. This coincides with a change in their metabolism that ultimately affects their behaviour.
This means typical or usual fishing spots may not work as well or at all during this season.
You will also have to research local conditions, since different fishing spots will have different temperatures and conditions, which means fish behaviour and species available will also vary. Your state fish and wildlife agency may have some pointers and information about these. Below are some other tips when fishing in Autumn.
- Fish during the afternoon – Although it’s normally more common to get a good catch in the morning and the early hours of the day, the lower temperatures in this season means that the fish also have lower metabolism, which equates to sluggishness and less activity. They only feed later in the day, so it’s best to wait for the water to warm up in the afternoon.
- Move to the back of creeks – Calmer waters usually have more insects near the surface, which attracts more fish. These areas also have more trees around, which also attracts insects and other baitfish.
- Look for hiding spots – Drops in water temperature cause fish to congregate around green vegetation such as pondweed. Although these areas can be beneficial for your fishing activity, your bait can also get caught in these vegetation so be careful.
- Fish deeper – As previously mentioned, lower water temperatures cause fish to go deeper, since the surface cools faster than the water below. So try pulling your lure close to the bottom, and slowly raise it around six inches with every pass.
What Fish Can I Catch in Autumn in Australia?
When Autumn hits you can catch Gould’s Squid, Sand Whiting, and Ocean Jacket, among others.
We’ve listed down the more well known fish during winter including where to catch them.
- Gould’s Squid – One of the species of squid that is locally caught in Sydney. This is caught across the southern half of Australia, with most of the catch originating from the southeast.
- Sand Whiting – Mostly caught in estuaries by using gillnets and haul nets, these are also sometimes caught as a by-catch of inshore prawn trawling. They have a delicately sweet flavour, with low oiliness and flaky flesh.
- Ocean Jacket – Known for its weird appearance, they are primarily caught in the Great Australian Bight in traps or demersal trawlers.
Other fish that can be caught this season are Yellowfin Bream, Blue Swimmer Crabs, Southern Garfish, Sea Mullet, and Smooth or Spikey Oreodories.
Where in Australia Is Best to Fish in Autumn?
Inland rivers are the best places to fish in Autumn. During this time of the year lots of fish are migrating. Typically, fully grown bream are moving down river while other fish like flathead are moving upstream. The movement and cooler weather make it a great time to catch a variety of freshwater fish.
The best fishing spots would depend on a number of factors, such as where you are located and what type of environment you prefer, or are equipped to fish in.
- Port Lincoln, South Australia. Autumn season means it is prime time for tuna in Port Lincoln. But crabs and lobsters can also be caught here in the early parts of the season.
- Maria Island, South Australia. The remote island of Maria Island is a short ferry ride from the mainland. Although the island has an area where fishing is prohibited, the remainder of the island has some of the largest fish available anywhere in the Northern Territory.
- Daly River, Northern Territory. The Daly River is one of the best spots for catching fish in Autumn. In particular, fans of barramundi travel from across the state to enjoy some of the most barramundi rich waters around. The Daly River area is expansive, so there’s always plenty of fish, with heaps of room to cast comfortably.
- Bremer Bay, Western Australia. Even in autumn, Bremer Bay has an incredible selection of fish teeming in the waters of the coast of Western Australia. From salmon to mulloway, Bremer Bay is one place to add to every autumn fishing trip. For those keen on 4WD camping, some of the more remote fishing spots become accessible to you, allowing for beautiful scenes while you catch amazing fish.
What Is the Best Weather for Fishing in Australia?
Fish appear to be more active and more abundant while it’s raining or overcast, which can make it easier to catch fish while it’s raining. While it’s raining, fish are able to feed easier and closer to the surface, making it a great time to go fishing.
The best catch, best conditions, and best fishing spots vary on the type of fish you’re aiming for and the area you’re in. Instead, it is much more reasonable to identify and be aware of how the environment affects fish activity, so you can adjust and prepare accordingly, wherever & whenever you plan to fish.
- Weather patterns – Due to fish anatomy, they are affected by weather and barometric pressure differently. Barometric pressure is the amount of pressure the Earth’s atmosphere is exerting onto the surface. Declining or low barometric pressure typically indicates an incoming storm, while higher pressure is usually representative of clear skies. As such, higher pressures and warmer temperatures is a sign that fish will be more active in shallower depths. The opposite is true for decreasing pressure.
- Sunlight – Fish are cold-blooded, and rely primarily on their environment to heat or cool their bodies. Ideally, dusk or dawn are the best times during the day to fish as the sun’s rays aren’t too hot when hitting the surface of the water. So a brighter day will also cause fish to dive deeper.
- Turbidity – This determines how murky or clear a body of water is. This is measured by the number of particles suspended in the water. Since fish rely on their sense of sight for good, highly turbid water will cause fish to struggle, and they may not be able to find your bait.
What Is the Best Season for Saltwater Fishing in Australia?
The ‘dry’ months between May and September are some of the best for saltwater fishing. Many popular fish like mackerel, tuna and trevally are very active, in large numbers.
However, the exact month to go saltwater fishing depends on what type of fish you want to catch. When you are going saltwater fishing, here are some things to consider:
- A slack tide indicates that the tide is neither outgoing or incoming, and that the water isn’t moving too much. It isn’t advisable to fish during these times.
- An abundance of water movement signifies that baitfish and crustaceans will be moving in and are active. Remember, when the bait is active, so are the predators.
- A number of the best fishing times occur whenever there is a strong incoming tide, since the current brings in the baitfish and other crustaceans with it.
- The best way to really find out the best fishing tide is to check a daily tide chart.
What Is the Best Season for Freshwater Fishing in Australia?
From September to November, and from March to May are the best times to go fishing. These months are in between the peaks of Summer and Winter, and are when fish are generally more active.
However, different fish prefer different seasons. For instance, barramundi are more active further into December than other species of fish.
- Seasonal Lake Turnover – This refers to the exchange or transfer of water from the surface and the bottom in a lake or pond. This happens twice a year, and affects the “best time” to go freshwater fishing.
- Spring Turnover – The water on the surface begins to warm, and sinks when it reaches 39 degrees. Cooler water from below then replaces it and rises to the surface. This continues until water temperature across the lake is constant.
- Summer Stagnation – The sun heats surface water but does not cause it to sink. Stratification eventually develops, which puts a well-defined warm layer of water over cool water. Temperatures are constant during this time and is one of the best times to go freshwater fishing.
- Fall Turnover – The water at the surface cools and becomes nearly as heavy as the colder water at the bottom. Autumn winds will move surface water around, which causes mixing with the deep water. Continual mixing of the water will make the temperature and oxygen levels more uniform, which allows fish to move much more freely.
Every fish has a different range of water temperature it can survive in. Fish will always be found in waters close to that temperature. A combined knowledge of lake turnover and water temperatures specific to certain fish will allow you to predict which fish are located in which locations, at which depths, at specific times of the year.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Go Fishing in Australia?
The best times of the day to go fishing are: one hour before and one hour after high tides and low tides, around sunrise or sunset, during the rise and set of the moon, and when the barometer is steady or on the rise.
Other optimal times include when there is a hatch of flies (caddis flies or mayflies), when the breeze is from a Westerly quarter, and when the water is still or tightly rippled.
Is it Legal to Fish Anywhere in Australia?
Recreational fishing is allowed in 97% of Commonwealth waters within 100 kilometres of the coast. The Australian Marine Parks set out where people can fish. Recreational fishing is allowed in all zones in Australian Marine Parks, except for Sanctuary Zones and National Park Zones, which are considered “no-take”.
Each state has its own recreational fishing rules that have to be followed:
- New South Wales Fishing and Aquaculture
- Victorian Fisheries Authority
- Queensland Fisheries
- South Australia Fisheries
- Western Australia Fisheries
- Tasmania Sea Fishing & Aquaculture/ Tasmania’s Inland Fisheries Service
- Northern Territory Fisheries
- Australian Capital Territory Fisheries Management