Recreational Fishing / Licences

Responsible Fishing

As an individual we can all exercise responsible fishing to ensure there will be fish available for the future by releasing all undersize and excess fish. To avoid wastage be prepared to store your fish catch to maximise its freshness until you get home Fish is best stored in the shade in a wet cotton bag or in an esky with ice slurry made up of two-parts ice and one-part seawater and the temperature should be -04 degree C. Once home or back at your RV/camp site the quicker you can chill your fish to zero degrees and store it the longer its shelf life will be.

Non-native pest fish should not be released into waterways as they compete with the native species causing a reduction in native fish and affects their habitat. If a non-native pest fish is caught it should not be released back in the water but killed humanely. Do a Google search for state government sites for additional information.

Fish hooks – for those fish being returned to the water minimising hook damage will give them a better chance of survival. Start using larger hooks or hook types such as recurve or circle hooks that will hook the fish through the lip as the fish will have a better change of survival when released than if it has been hooked through the gills or throat. Long-shanked hooks and barbless hooks are not only good for hooking a fish but are much easier to remove.

Releasing fish – minimise stress and bruising to the fish by using a knotless landing net to retrieve the fish from the water as scale damage or removal of the protective mucous on their scales can lead to infection. To avoid damage to the protective mucous, place the fish on a damp surface and use a damp cloth or wet hands.

A good set of long-nosed pliers will help you remove the hook and a damp fishing glove on the other hand will help you hold the fish and avoid spikes from any barbs. If the fish caught has been deep hooked or hooked deep in the gut leave the hook (it will rust out over time) as you may pull out vital organs, then cut the line 20-30cm from the hook as this will not impede the fishes ability to continue to feed.

Fish can be exhausted after the struggle of being caught and may need some assistance upon release. When returning the fish to the water, hold it on top behind the head with a fishing glove or damp cloth and move it through the water like it was swimming and repeat if necessary as this pushes water over the fish’s gills so it can get enough oxygen to recover. Once it starts to give a few flicks of its tail it is ready to release.

Boating Licences – if you have a boat don’t forget to brush up on the rules and regulations for your boating licence.

What Is The Best Humane Way To Kill A Fish?

Most of us at one time or another have walked past someone’s fish catch left flapping and ‘gasping’ on the deck of a boat or in a bucket and it does look distressing for the fish.

The best way to kill a fish humanely is by a technique known as ‘iki jimi’ which is spiking the fish in the brain, just behind the eye with a sharp instrument. The fish is likely to respond by convulsing, flaring its gills and mouth and then relax.

Another way to kill a fish is to hit it with a sharp blow to the head just above the eyes (adjacent to the brain) using a special tool such as a priest or heavy wooden handle. If done correctly, the fish’s gill covers should stop rhythmically moving and the eyes remain still.

Warm-water small to medium-bodied fish cab be dispatched using an ice slurry if equal volumes of crushed ice and water. A fresh water slurry should be about zero degree C so monitor the temperature and add more ice if needed. Put the fish in the slurry, avoiding contact between the ice and fish, and leave in the slurry for 10 – 20 minutes until breathing has ceased.

After the fish has been killed, fish intended for eating should be bled by cutting the throat or gills area as this improves eating quality.

Recreational Fishing Licences

Each state and territory has various regulations, exemptions, terms and conditions as well as fees applicable for the issuance of a fishing licence. Penalties can apply for fishing without a licence or infringing the conditions of use. The regulations as well as terms and conditions can be changed over time depending on depletion of certain stocks of fish and other reasons so it would be a good idea to keep yourself up to date. Licences are issued upon payment of a fee and the time limit for a license can vary (eg: 3 day up to 3 year licence).

For example, in Queensland anglers don’t require a licence to fish recreationally except if fishing in some stocked impoundments such as Queensland dams where a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required for about 32 dams. Size, take and possession limits apply. In New South Wales you must obtain a fishing licence to fish in saltwater or freshwater anywhere in NSW.

To conserve fish stocks catch sizes and bag limits can apply and these limits may also vary according to the various species of fish. Bag limits or possession limits are a type of catch quota for recreational fishers. The possession limit definition for Queensland states ‘A possession limit refers to the total number of fish an individual can legally take and have in their possession at any one time – it does not apply on a per day basis. This includes the fish you have caught previously that are in you freezer at home.’

Possession limits on the number of a particular fish species can also apply particularly to coral reef fish.

Closed seasons and closed areas apply to various waters as well as the species of fish particularly during spawning season. Some fish species may be protected fish and must be released whilst other species may be classed as ‘noxious’ or non-native pest fish and not be able to be released back into the water as they compete with native species. Also check with Marine Parks such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority or the Environmental Protection Agency if the area you intend to fish is in a ‘green zone’ (ie: no take area).

Restriction on the use of live bait – check out if you are permitted to use live bait in certain areas. For example in Qld their website states ‘To prevent the spread of disease and parasites in Queensland’s freshwater systems, the use of baits from the marine (saltwater) environment has been prohibited unless the bait has been frozen, cooked or preserved’.

Where Can I Get A Recreational Fishing Licence?

An application for a fishing licence can be made on-line through various websites (see links below) or from their authorised agents.

QLD – a Stock Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required for about 32 dams in Qld. For the Baroon Pocket Dam, Hinz Dam, North Pine Dam and Storm King Dam a Council Permit to fish in those dams is required. For the SIP you only need one permit per couple (defacto or married) and if you are under 18 years of age you don’t need one at all. Discounts apply to concession card holders. Permits are available at authorised outlets and on line here.

Before you go saltwater fishing also check where the marine park boundaries on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Part Authority ( and zoning maps here.

NSW – apply on line at DPI, DPI Fisheries Offices, or one their Gold agents or NSW listed agents. In New South Wales you must carry a receipt showing your payment of the Recreational Fishing Fee. This fee applies when hand lining, bait collecting, prawn netting, spear fishing, trapping or when in possession of fishing gear in, on or near freshwater or saltwater. Those under the age of 18 years , an aboriginal person and holders of Age Pensioner or Veteran’s Affairs Concession Cards are exempt from payment of the fee. For full details and to obtain a fishing licence to fish in saltwater or freshwater anywhere in NSW. See their website.

ACT – a recreational fishing licence to fish in public waters of the ACT is not required. The public waters in the ACT are divided in open waters, trout waters and prohibited waters. Some restrictions/regulations apply. For full details see ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate – Environment (website)

VIC – apply on-line at the Department of Agriculture, one of their many offices or business outlets in Victoria as listed on their website. A Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL) is required when taking, or attempting to take, any species of fish by line fishing, bait collection, gathering shellfish, prawning, yabby fishing, prawning and spear fishing. Exemptions apply. Purchase of a licence is non-refundable. See their website for full particulars.

TAS – apply on line at the Inland Fisheries Service or one of its 120 agents including major fishing tackle and sports stores. In Tasmania you do not need a licence to fish with a rod and line in marine waters but for angling in most inland waters an Inland Fisheries Angling Licence is required. A Recreational Sea Fishing Licence is required for sea fishing for certain types of fishing such as scallops, rock lobster pots, abalone etc. Exemptions apply. See their website for full particulars.

SA – currently, a licence to fish recreationally with rods and handlines in South Australia is not required. See PIRSA Fisheries website for regulations relating to permitted devices, closed areas and bag limits. Recreational fishers are not permitted to sell or trade their catch. A review of recreational fishing and boat and bag limits is being undertaken with all submissions to be received by 29 April 2016. An app, “SA Recreational Fishing Guide” is available free from The App Store.

WA – apply at the Department of Fisheries and all Australia Post outlets. Recreational fishing in Western Australia is managed within four biological regions and each region has fishing rules and regulations to suit the regional ecology, fishing pressure and mix of species. A Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) is required for any fishing activity from a powered boat. A Recreational Fishing Licence is required for Rock Lobster, Abalone, Marron, Freshwater Angling and Net Fishiing. See their website for further details as well as maps of the biological regions.

NT – No fishing licence is required for recreational fishing in the Northern Territory but note none of the catch can be sold or bartered. In Kakadu National Park some additional fishing controls apply (Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources).

For recreational fishing on aboriginal land and adjoining waters, there is also a requirement to obtain a permit to enter. For these areas enquires should be directed to the Northern Land Council (NLC) or

In the NT they have a ‘General Personal Possession Limit’ rather than a boat, trip or daily limit. The NT Government website states ‘A General Personal Possession Limit (GPL) of 15 fish applies. This is the maximum number of fish a person may have in their possession at any time (other than in their place of permanent residence). Included within the 15 fish limit you may only have a maximum number of specified fish ..’ ie: certain species are limited.

For full details see DPI&F website.

Concessions Or Exemptions For Fishing Licences

When applying for a fishing licence or permit check if you may be eligible for a concession or exemption from either having to have a licence or for payment of a fee.

For example:-

In Queensland you are under the age of 18 years you do not need a Stock Impoundment Permit and in some states children under 14 or 16 years do not need a licence to fish. In Victoria there is an exemption for a licence to fish if you are over 70 years of age.

In a number of states you may not need to have a licence to fish if you hold either a Seniors Card, Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner or Repatriation Health (TPI) Card or Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card coded either (DSP), (DSP Blind), (AGE), (AGE Blind) or (CAR). Please make your own enquiry.

Disclaimer: As fishing licence regulations, terms and conditions may change in the various state or territory since this article was written, you should make your own enquiry with the relevant state fishing industry control authority.

James Mitchell

Hi, I’m Jimmy Mitchell and I love exploring this great country with my wife and two boys. I have a 2015 Sterling LX that is the Mitchell Family camping machine. Lets Getaway is the website where I share things about my trailer as I learn them, and help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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