queensland fishing


In the first half of 2016, I was fortunate enough to get up to Northern Queensland for a much-anticipated break with my mates. With our tackle boxes loaded up and rods ready, we headed over to Mackay to check out the new net-free fishing zone from St Helens to Cape Hillsborough. I can tell you, it did not disappoint.

The Barramundi were going berserk and we were really hauling them in. Based on the experience of previous trips to Northern Queensland, they were bigger than the ones we used to catch before the net-free zones were introduced. This time around they were absolute monsters and I can’t help but think the removal of the commercial fishing nets might have something to do with this.

During some much-earned post fishing drinks, we were speaking to some locals, who told us that some fishos were catching Barra over a metre long for the first time ever. They said that the fact that people were catching bigger Barras since the net-free zones were introduced in November of 2015 would indicate that the fish are living longer and therefore able to grow much bigger. Before they were being caught in the commercial nets before they could reach these sizes and the recreational fishos were missing out on the real prizes. Now it’s definitely a free for all up there and would recommend a visit to anyone up for the fight.


It seems the Barramundi have caused a bit of a stir as commercial fisherman aren’t pleased with the net ban and don’t believe that the Barramundi being caught in the net-free zones are any bigger than those caught before. They seem to think that they have been catching big Barramundi for years and that the reason people were catching bigger Barramundi from February through June is because the bigger Barramundi come out of the deep and the headlands at various times of the year.

Personally, I can recall seeing some pretty big Barramundi in the past being removed from commercial fisher’s net. I think it’s highly possible that the bigger Barras have been around for a while but the recreational fishos were never catching them because they were getting caught up in commercial nets before they came within range of our rods.


Despite the clamour of the commercial fishermen, there is little chance of them allowing nets back in anytime soon. In an online survey conducted by the Queensland fisheries, more than 92% of locals voted for the introduction of the net-free zones and it’s certainly boosting the economies of the local towns as fishos flock to the area get a piece of the Barramundi action.

Ultimately the ban is good news for recreational Australian fishermen and women. The less Barramundi being taken by the commercial fishers leaves a larger breeding population in the area and this is going to have a long-lasting positive impact on Barramundi stock and the longevity of the population.

We had a great time up in Northern Queensland and would highly recommend the region for fishos who want to challenge themselves against some of the biggest Barras Australia has to offer.


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Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.