Whitsundays Fishing Guide
Here’s why you will love fishing in the Whitsundays
Fishing in the Whitsundays and hiring of fishing charters is one of the popular activities on the Great Barrier Reef. Careful treatment and handling of fish caught maintains the quality of fish, and gives released fish their best chance of survival. Marine sanctuaries (Green Zones) and some restrictions in Yellow Zones, bag and size limits, tackle restrictions and seasonal closures are used to manage fish stocks.
Fishing Spots & Tips
If you are interested in fishing charters, it is always desirable to fish as ‘light’ as possible using minimum weight and hardware.
Fish over the edge of the reef one hour before or after high tide for best results. Early morning and evening are also better than when the sun is high. Nighttime on a rising tide can be excellent.
Trolling along the edge of a reef may also produce dividends.
Fishing bait in the Whitsundays that is readily available are prawns, squid, a small fish known locally as a herring and garfish. If you have a throw net, small fresh fish from the shallows make excellent bait.
Hand lines are easier to manage on the fishing charters whereas rods have the advantages when fishing from rocks on the mainland.
Fish feeding can help visitors learn about the fish of the Great Barrier Reef and get them closer to large schools of fish, but it is important that fish feeding is done carefully. Some fish become aggressive when fed and can be dangerous to the person feeding the fish or other close by in the water. Most food that people eat, particularly bread and meat, is generally bad for fish and may damage their health.
Best Practices for Fishing in the Whitsundays
Use only raw marine products or fish pellets
Use no more than a kilogram of food
Throw the fish food onto the water. Do not feed directly by hand.
Avoid fish feeding areas where fishing also takes place
Swimmers and snorkellers should not be in the water at the time of fish feeding
Fishing rules and size limits
Why do we have size limits?
In Queensland for many fish species there are limits on the size of fish that can be legally taken. There are minimum size limits and also some maximum size limits.
Size limits are typically based on biological cycles. Minimum size limits generally allow fish to spawn at least once and contribute to the population before they are taken.
However, some species spawn as they become larger which means a maximum size limit applies. For example, most barramundi begin their lives as males and later, as they grow larger, become females. A maximum size limit is applied to protect large females and to allow them to spawn.
How are fish measured?
Fish are measured from the tip of their mouth to the end of their tail. If you unintentionally take a fish that is not the legal size, return it to the water immediately, taking as much care as possible to avoid causing it any injury.
Why do we have take and possession limits?
A take and possession limit is the number of fish that one person can legally take and keep. These limits serve several purposes.
Conserve heavily exploited species;
Conserve species that are susceptible to capture;
Share the catch more equally among anglers;
Reduce the illegal marketing of fish; and
Convey the message of ethical and responsible behaviour
Why do we have closed seasons?
Closed seasons prevent fishing charters and people from fishing in the Whitsundays at certain times of the year and protect species at particularly vulnerable times of their lifecycle such as spawning seasons.
Why do we have closed waters?
Closed waters prevent fishing charters and people from fishing in certain areas. Closed waters can be areas:
Where a population of endangered or threatened species lives;
Where fish congregate during or before spawning; and
Where fish may mass or be stranded near artificial barriers and be susceptible to overfishing.
Why are there restrictions on fishing gear?
A number of restrictions apply to fishing gear in Queensland to protect fish stocks from overfishing.
Recreational fishing licence
No licence is required for recreational fishing in the Whitsundays and Queensland tidal waters.
Throughout the Queensland east coast, a closed season applies to barramundi from midday 1 November to midday 1st February.
Contact the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) for more details of the timing of the closed season and future closed seasons.
Coral Reef fin fish
Three, nine-day periods have been implemented as closed seasons to the taking of all coral reef fish in October, November and December each year around the ‘new moon” period. The closures are designed to protect the spawning aggregations of most coral reef fish species.
For 2004 the closures will be:
(a) 8 October to 16 October
(b) 6 November to 14 November; and
(c) 6 December to 14 December
Throughout Queensland a closed season applies to spanner crabs from 20 November to 20