Cooktown is unique for its wide variety of fishing environments. You can fish the outer reef for the legendary black marlin; the inner reef for coral trout, red emperor, mackerel and tuna. On the beaches, headlands and coastal flats you’ll find trevally, queenies, permit and the elusive bonefish; and in the estuaries chase barramundi, mangrove jacks, fingermark and crabs.
The Annan River is 5 minutes south of Cooktown with a good boat ramp on the downside of the bridge. Out to the mouth at Walker Bay some big saltwater barra can be caught on lures, fly and liveys. Mangrove jacks and fingermark are a common catch plus your usual queenfish and trevallies with good mud crabbing also. Upstream of the bridge there some big deep holes to fish and again, liveys and lures can work well.
Follow the road south out of Cooktown for 12 kms to the Archer Point turn off, then take the dirt road for a further 6 kms and you will reach the beach where beach launches are possible with a 4WD drive. For amazing views of the area go up to the lighthouse where there are frequent sightings of breaching humpback whales during the winter months. Cooktown is close for amenities so this is an ideal spot to have camping, fishing, and family experiences. Visually, it’s fantastic, fringing reef, sand flats, small tributaries and the wet tropics. For further information contact the traditional owners Yuku Baja Muliku
Tropical Islands scatter the coastline and many are accessible by small boats when the weather allows. Some like Lizard Island are big enough to house luxury resorts, airstrips and camp grounds whilst others are relatively small. Camping is allowed on quite a few but booking in advance is necessary with QPWS. Strict regulations are in place to protect these stunning locations and for further info contact GBRMPA/QPWS for zoning maps and camping restrictions.
Going in by chopper to that secret billabong, inaccessible headland or hard to access river mouth has to be one of the ultimate ways to travel and fish. Getting there is usually very quick and spectacular, flying over dramatic escarpments, stunning rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Flooded bridges and corrugated roads are no longer a problem and multiple fishing locations are possible in one day. Half day charters through to extended holidays are available with several local companies offering packages for that once in a lifetime trip.
Unlike many spots along the eastern seaboard of the Great Barrier Reef Cooktown is the closest town to this iconic world heritage site ensuring your fishing time is maximised. Inshore reefs lie just a couple of miles out however, travelling 10-15 miles further will certainly open up a lot more possibilities.
Cooktown with its close proximity to the reef and the continental shelf offers the angler a world class destination. The variety of species on offer is outstanding especially when you consider how far you don’t have to travel to catch them.
From September to December the marlin fleet from across the globe, converge on far north Queensland. Many choose Cooktown as their base, chasing the elusive 1000lb (Grander) black marlin and to fish the Annual Lizard Island Classic. During these months’ big female marlin with their attentive males, are brought down the currents on the outer reefs feeding on the bait supplies.
River and Estuarine: barramundi, mangrove jack, fingermark, tarpon, queenfish, trevally, salmon, cod, bream, grunter, flathead, jungle perch and sooty grunter.
Barramundi closed season; 1st November – 1st February.
Inshore/offshore: marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mackerel, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, coral trout, cod, red emperor, spangled emperor, sweetlip, fingermark, nannigai, queenfish, trevally and cobia.