How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef – Great Keppel Island

6 places to go fishing along the Southern Great Barrier Reef

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No doubt about it, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton are three cities that can put more fish on the table than a cat in a fishbowl.

But there’s 300km of coastline, the conglomerate that is the Southern Great Barrier Reef just offshore, and a tonne of lakes… so where exactly do you fling that lure?

This guide will point you in the right direction (usually toward water) and once there, you’ll have the opportunity to find a secret spot that NO ONE will ever know about except you (and us, when you add a comment, of course).

Bundaberg North Burnett

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef- Lake Monduran

The first stop on our Southern Great Barrier Reef fishing spectacular will be Bundaberg. Everyone knows about the turtles but did you know you can catch world-record barramundi in Lake Monduran?

Start your road trip in Bundy (as it’s called around these parts). Grab a bottle o’ rum from the Bundaberg Distilling Co (they have special flavours you can’t get anywhere else in the world), then head out to Port Bundaberg. You can toss a line in off the rocks here for your chance at bream, mackerel and barramundi so it’s a solid place to start your fishing adventure.

Then head inland to Lake Monduran, a world renowned barra-fest. Even though they’re notoriously finicky to catch, it’s worth it when you do.

Barramundi like the heat, so if it’s a hot, windless, cloudless day (like 90% of Queensland days) then you’re on. Lake Monduran is HUGE so hook up with a charter company, like Lake Monduran Barra Charters if you want some help navigating.

How big do the fish get here? Well… there are bass, which aren’t very big but holy moly they fight like a hungry chihuahua in a butcher’s shop. That’s why they’re sought after around the world.

But what about the big dawgs?

The barra here are massive. 44.6kg kind of massive. 1.35m long kind of massive.

Hook in and enjoy what it feels like to be a tow truck.

When you’re done on the lake, we can head out to sea. Offshore options abound.

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Bundaberg is a sunken ship called The Barjon. It sits in 20m of water, houses some monster fish, and is a great place to anchor up and spend an hour or two.

Launch your boat at Port Bundaberg and head here quick smart for a chance at trevally, cobia, mackerel, barracuda, snapper and tuna.That’s lunch AND dinner taken care of, even if you have an extra 10 family members tagging along.

The technique for catching these beauties is pretty simple. Talk to the guys at Salty’s Tackle Shop and ask them which lure is working best. It can change from week to week because fish are like that.

Lures will get you the angry attacking fish and for the laid-back bottom feeders, grab some sinkers and drop your bait (prawns, squid, pilchards) right to the bottom and wind up about one metre. This will (hopefully!) land you red emperor, snapper and the delicious coral trout. Just be patient and enjoy the eventual screaming reel.

Check out more top fishing spots in Bundaberg North Burnett here.

Gladstone Region

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef-

Next stop: Gladstone. Once you get there you’re going to need to make a decision… Do you want to catch something in the ocean? Or in a lake?

Just kidding, you can do both over a weekend EASILY.

Head south of Gladstone for an hour and half to reach Agnes Water and The Town of 1770. They’re fun even without a fishing rod (check out this five-day guide) but the fact they have good fishing too just reinforces how lucky you are to be in this part of the world.

Off the coast of 1770 you’ll find every fish species you would ever need to catch – snapper, mackerel, tuna, cobia, red emperor and sharks (if that’s your thing). Take a trip with MV Night Cross Coral Charters for a full week on the Southern Great Barrier Reef with five friendly crew members and the only stress screaming from your biceps when you’re pulling in some humongous fish.

If you don’t feel like going all Captain Nemo, grab some bait and head out to the rocks, or down on Agnes Waters beach – a great place for the little ones to hook up with flathead, whiting and thousands of dart.

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef - Lake Awoonga

If you’ve pillaged the ocean of all its spoils then it’s time you head to Lake Awoonga. There’s plenty to do here, like boating, kayaking, swimming and walking around, but don’t let all this fun fool you…

This is a serious fishing place.

Stocked to the shore with sea mullet, saratoga and barramundi, fishing here is a mountain of rod-bending fun. You can hire a tinny and take the kids out thanks to Lake Awoonga Boating and Leisure Hire.

Check out more top fishing spots in the Gladstone Region here.

Capricorn Region

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef- Fitzroy River

In the Capricorn Region there’s a massive river that flows right through Rockhampton, full of king salmon, barramundi and other fishermen with great advice.

The Fitzroy River is a big one and it also houses the most diverse range of freshwater fish in Australia. Bring some extra lures and bait because you never know what’s going to turn up.

Having a boat is a must for fishing the Fitzroy, because at 480km long there are lots of places for fish to hide. You’ve got to go and find them.

A few hints to make it easier…

  • Look for holes. Not with your eyes, but with a depth sounder. Look for sharp drop-offs that seem to come out of nowhere.
  • Try to find some structure. Trees poking out of the water, bridges, pylons, rocks… anything that looks like a fish might hide near it. Barramundi lie and wait, ambushing whatever can fit in their enormous mouths.
  • Your job is to make them think your lure is worth the energy… they can be lazy so be patient!

If you’re looking to do some fishing on the coast then we need to head to Yeppoon.

How to fish the Southern Great Barrier Reef-Keppel Bay Marina

This coastal town has beaches and rocky peninsulas, but most attractive of all, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is a short fishing charter away. Kona Fishing and Cruising Charters or Bite Me Marlin and Reef Charters Yeppoon will look after you well.

Prefer to DIY? Head south down the Scenic Highway (sounds awful doesn’t it?) toward Rosslyn Bay and the Keppel Bay Marina. The marina is surrounded by rock walls and if you’re careful, you can find a nice flat one and set out to catch some mackerel, tuna or anything with teeth.

While you’re there, you might as well hop a ride on Freedom Fast Cats and take a tour of Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Snorkelling with sea turtles is never a bad idea, and after all this fishing, your arms could use the rest.

Check out more top fishing spots in the Capricorn Region here.

Have you fished the Southern Great Barrier Reef before? Tell us your tallest tales in the comments section below.




  • Fay Read

    My son and grandson will be spending 8 days in Gladstone/Tannum Sands and whould like a guide to take the fishing for 1 or 2 days arriving 8 August 2017 can anyone help or provide advice would be appreciated.

    • http://queensland.com/blog Queensland Blog

      Hi Fay you can check out some more info about fishing in Gladstone here (https://www.queensland.com/en-AU/explore-queensland/gladstone-region/things-to-see-and-do/fishing) but we’d also suggest your grandson drop into the Visitor Info Centre when he arrives or one of the local bait and tackle shops to get the lowdown on the best fishing tour options. Someone else might be able to jump in on here and give you a local’s suggestion, too. (Anyone?!)