Freshwater Fishing Tully


Tully is a small sugar cane town located roughly 1.5 hours south of Cairns or 2 hours north of Townsville, making it an ideal day trip from either major city.

The town boasts being the wettest town in Australia, so it makes sense that there’s a lot of freshwater around. With so much water to explore, I’ll keep things simple for travelling fishos and focus on the Tully river gorge as a starting point but as a rule, all the streams/rivers in the area hold fish.


Heading west from the town follow the Tully River Gorge Rd through the banana fields, thick rainforest and army training grounds for around 25km where you will spot the river for the first time. Access can be a little tricky but I find parking on the roadside at the numbered bridges and following the small streams to the river is the easiest way to go. From memory, there are about 5-6 of these small bridges before you reach the main bridge that crosses the river, from there on you’ll see tracks from the white water rafting tours that provide river access.

Now to the fun part, the fishing. The river is home to some iconic Aussie species including, Barra, Jungle Perch and Mangrove Jacks, as well as Tarpon and some big Sooty Grunter.


Lures are the way to go in this system with both soft and hard bodies working well, my favourites would have to be 3in Zman grubs or squidgy bugs. Rigged up on light 1/20 -1/12 jigheads that make a great action worked slow and drift down the river at an ideal speed, also being cheap you won’t want to cry when a big fish busts you off or you cast into that thorny bush on the other side of the river.

You don’t need to go too fancy with your setups either, a simple light 1-3kg rod and 1000-sized reel spooled with 4-8lb braid mainline with a rods length of 6-10lb fluorocarbon leader being plenty to knock over most fish, pretty much what you would use for bream or trout down south.


I’ve found that it pays to take a minute to check out the structure of your spot before you start fishing, as most of the river flows fast, fish like to find somewhere to hide from the flow and ambush prey. Stillwater in front of rocks or logs is a likely spot, especially if they’re at the base of a set of rapids or have some shade.

Aim casts deep into structure and pay attention to your line as soon as your lure hits the water as that’s when a lot of hits occur. Usually, you can pull a couple of fish off the one snag before they wise up and go off the bite. Then it’s simply a matter of moving on to the next snag and starting again.


Finally, there are a few important notices, crocs do live along the river so you need to pay attention to your surroundings, a first aid kit is recommended because there are a lot of slippery rocks, thorny bushes and the like with little to no phone reception. Also remember to keep the fluids up as heat stroke is a bad way to end a trip.


Is there anything you can add to this great article? Share your experience through the comments section below.

Travis Grundmann

Mad keen fisho exploring the lesser known areas of North QLD in search of great fish.