Cairns Reef Fishing

Fish Tales Charters Cairns offers a truly Sportsfishing adventure; only a short distance from Cairns-into the Great Barrier Reef, on board vessel dont know, your fishing guide Darryl, this is our Cairns Reef Fishing Charter.

Within the world famous Great Barrier Reef Marine Park their are numerous wrecks, reefs and islands with up to 1400 known fish species. 

Fishing methods include 

  • live-bait and/or dead-bait fishing,
  • bottom fishing,
  • jigging
  • as well as lure and popper fishing with surface lures.

We ask you to meet vessel `dont know` and our experienced fishing guide at the Cairns Marlin Marina in front of the Pier Shopping Centre on Finger D berth 2 at 6.30 am. Parking is available underneath the Pier Shopping Centre.

From 6.30 am to 3.00 pm (app).

Common Reef fish species caught but not limited too:

  • Cobia,
  • Trout including Common Coral and Barred cheek,
  • Fingermark,
  • Mackerel Species including Spanish, Doggie, School and Spotted,
  • Trevally species including Golden, Giant, Bludger and Tea leaf,
  • Nannygai species including Small mouth and Large mouth,
  • Barracuda,
  • Red Emperor to name a few.

On all our Cairns Reef fishing Charters  we supply the following gear PENN 560 slammer reel on a 15-20 kg ugly stick rod with 50 lb. braid fishing line.

For our popper fishing charter we supply Shimano Saragosa reel on a Jawbone Popper rod with 50 lb. braid fishing line. If you prefer you can bring along your own fishing gear.

Check out our fish gallery https://fishtales.com.au/fish-gallery/

CORAL FIN FISH CLOSURE

The following dates are for the Coral Fin Fish Closures.

More details can be found https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/recreational/rules-regulations/closed-seasons-tidal-waters

3 October 2021 to 7 October 2021 and 2 November 2021 to 6 November 2021

22 October 2022 to 26 October 2022 and 21 November 2022 to 25 November 202

12 October 2023 to 16 October 2023 and 10 November 2023 to 14 November 2023

This applies to following groups of fish species Cods & Groupers, Emperors, Parrotfish, Sweetlips, Wrasses, Trout, Fusilliers, Surgeon Fishes, Tropical Snapper and Seaperch.

Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns
Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns
Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

CAIRNS REEF FISHING CHARTER

SHARE CHARTER

Full Day Reef Fishing

From 6.30 am to 3.00 pm (app.)

Maximum of 5 people per share charter

Live/dead-bait & bottom bouncing fishing

Only a short distance from the Cairns Marlin Marina your charter may start with the gathering of live bait before travelling into the Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkMultiple locations are selected for bottom bouncing based on tides, weather conditions, current movement and target fish species. Bottom bouncing simply means dropping baited hook with heavy sinkers in the water; this is a productive way of fishing.

Let us know before your Cairns Reef Fishing Charter if you have a preferred target fish species (happy to help out with the bucket list!).

We supply the following for your Cairns Reef Fishing Charter

  • all top quality rods and reels,
  • all bait including dead and live and tackle,
  • cooled bottled water,
  • esky with ice,
  • a delicious lunch,
  • you will be guided by our experienced fishing guide.

We ask you to wear

  • a long sleeve cotton shirt,
  • one wide brim hat.

We ask you to bring along the following

  • your sunglasses
  • your camera,
  • your sunscreen,
  • a few beers are Okay (cans only please)

Require more information? Email us

$270 per person plus EMC-Reef Tax

CAIRNS REEF FISHING CHARTER

PRIVATE CHARTERS

Bottom bouncing and/or Live/Dead Bait fishing

From 6.30 am to 3.00 pm

From 1 person to 4 people only

Bottom Bouncing simply means dropping baited hook (with either live bait or dead bait) with heavy sinker into the water; this is a productive way of fishing. Only a short distance from the Cairns Marlin Marina your Cairns Reef Fishing Charter starts; your fishing guide may start with the gathering of live bait via a cast net, before moving into The Great Barrier Reef. Mulitple fishing locations are selected based on tidal movement, weather conditions, current movement, target fish species

Let us know if you have a preferred target fish species (always happy to help you tick off your bucket list!)

We supply on all our fishing charters

  • all top quality rods & reels,
  • all bait including dead and or live and tackle,
  • cooled bottled water,
  • a delicious lunch,
  • esky with ice,
  • you will be guided by our experienced fishing guide.

We ask you to wear the following

  • a long sleeve cotton shirt,
  • one wide brim hat.

We ask you to bring along the following

  • your sunglasses,
  • your sunscreen,
  • your camera and or video,
  • A few beers are Okay (Cans only please).

Require more information? Email us

$1080 plus EMC-Reef Tax

Additional people $270 each

Lure and/or Popper fishing

From 6.30 am to 3.00 pm (app.)

From 1 person to 3 people only

Within a short distance from Cairns, on the Great Barrier Reef are numerous wrecks, and inshore reefs. All these make potential target sites for you, your rod & reel along with a selection of lures and or popper attached. Ideal Popper fishing is tidal flow over rocky outcrops and exposing reefs. With a little technique, vessel positioning and a keen eyes….It`s your turn for the fun the begin!

We supply the following on your fishing charter

  • all top quality rods & reels,
  • all lure and poppers (supplied on bases if lost to be replaced),
  • cooled bottled water,
  • esky with ice,
  • a delicious lunch,
  • you will be guided by our experienced fishing guide.

We ask you to wear the following

  • a long sleeve cotton shirt,
  • One wide brim hat.

We ask you to bring along the following

  • your sunglasses,
  • your sunscreen,
  • your camera and or video,
  • a few beers are Okay (cans only please).

Require more information? Email us

$1080 plus EMC-Reef Tax

GT Popper fishing on the Reef

From 1 person to 3 people only

From 6.30 am to 3.00 pm (app.)

Only on short distance from Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef, on the reef edges & bommies, with the low tide exposing and the sun shining, let the battle begin. Giant Trevally commonly referred to as GT`s will not only continually smash poppers, they will ambush deep diving lures, in, under and around structures; all done with great speed, hard fights and mind blowing runs. To add to your fun day, the Giant Trevally GT or GT`s maybe in schools, shoulder charging through the water in pursuit. While conditions have to be right, is it your turn to experience the mighty Giant Trevally GT or GT`s caught on popper…..Let the fun begin!

We supply on your fishing charter

  • all top quality rods & reels,
  • all lures and/or poppers (supplied on the basis if lost to be replaced),
  • cooled bottled water,
  • a delicious lunch,
  • esky with ice,
  • your experienced fishing guide.

We ask you to wear the following

  • long sleeve cotton shirt,
  • A wide brim hat.

We ask you to bring along

  • your sunglasses,
  • your sunscreen,
  • your camera and/or video,
  • a few beers are okay (cans only please).

Require more information? Email us

$1080 plus EMC-Reef Tax

COMMONLY CAUGHT
REEF FISH SPECIES

Barred-cheek Coral Trout

Plectropomus maculatus
Can be found around inshore and coastal reefs, islands in the warm tropical waters.
Have distinguishing horizontal elongated spots to the head.
Colour pattern can vary, depending on where they live for example living in deep water they can be bright red while those species that live in shallow water can be dark brown.
Minimum size take is 38 cm.

Bludger Trevally

Carangoides gymnostethus
Can be found around Coral and Rocky Reefs. Prefers shallow sand flats and/or reefs with access to deeper water. Recognised be their round, muscular body shape and lack of scales on their belly. Typically blue, green to grey in colour, often with scattered dark orange spots on their sides. Perfect fish species for a little stretching of the arms!

Cattledog Cod


Combined limit of 5 in total of all cod species.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Cobia

Rachycentron canadum
Known as a Black king fish. This is a pelagic species with dark brown on back and down sides; two sharply defined narrow silvery bands; and yellowish belly. Minimum size: 75 cm and are common up to 1.1 metres. An excellent table fish.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Common Coral Trout

Plectropomus maculatus
Minimum size 38 cm. These are a bottom-dwelling fish species. Horizontal elongated spots to the head distinguish this species; wide colour variations; from brilliant reds/oranges to pale red/oranges within each species and similar colour forms between species can make some trout difficult to identify. These are highly regarded for their eating quality.

Cairns Reef Fishing for Coral Cod

Coral Cod

Cephalopholis miniata

Minimum size limit is 38 cm. Coral Cod has a red coloured body with blue dots as well as a yellow edge to pectoral fin. Makes it one of the prettiest fish species to encountered.

Fishing from Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef

Chinaman Fish

Symphorus nematophorus

Known by the locals as a `galloper`. Minimum size 50 cm to maximum of 80 cm. The adult fish are mottled pink and red, forming indistinct vertical bars (stripes). The small adults and juveniles have horizontal blue stripes on body and elongated spines on the soft dorsal fin, growing to long filaments. A highly regarded eating fish.

Lutjanus johnii

Fingermark

Lutjanus johnii
Fingermark as adults can live on the reef. Their bodies have a bronze to silver sheen, shading to silver-white on the belly and underside of their head. On back a round black spot/saddle (usually above the lateral line but below the anterior soft dorsal fin rays). Scales have a reddish-brown spot often in the centre of each scale, giving an overall appearance of horizontal lines on the body. An excellent table fish.

Fish Tales Charters Cairns GT Reef Popper Fishing Charter

Giant Trevally

Caranx ignoblis
Referred to a `GT`. There is no size limit. The body and head are silvery grey; with a black back; usually paler belly; fins are usually uniformly grey to black. Excellent sports fish for popper fishing.

Pristipomoides multidens and Pristipomoides typus

Gold Band Snapper

Pristipomoides multidens and Pristipomoides typus
Minimum size is 38 cm with possession limit of 5. Has a forked caudal fin; yellow/rosy colouration with 6 broken gold stripes; top of the head has yellow bands; side of snout (below the eyes) has 2/3 golden strips bordered by some blue; dorsal fin is covered with with yellow stripes or rows of spots.

Fish Tales Charters Cairns Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Green jobfish

Aprion virescens

Can grow up to 112 cm; with their long torpedo shaped body with pale green colouration across it`s upper half leading to purple to paler green towards the belly, and have may dark spots. Has an incredibly powerful jaw, full of strong/sharp teeth. Minimum size is 38cm. Green Jobfish are very good eating.

Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Australia

Gold spotted trevally

Carangoides bajad

Commonly called `Gold Spots`These trevally species are a strong and robust sports fish. They have aggressive feeding patterns making an excellent target fish species for the sports fisher. They have silver belly colouration’s and golden to yellow colouration’s in the upper torso`s and fins. They have orange to gold coloured spots throughout the side of their body with a small mouth with small teeth.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Golden trevally

Gnathanodon speciosus
These trevally species have no size limit. The body of older fish has yellow-green back, pale belly, The Golden Trevally like all trevally species is a strong and robust sports fish.

 

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Large-mouth nannygai

Lutjanus malabaricus
Known as a Saddletail snapper. There minimum size 40 cm. Has crimson all over with dark saddle blotch becomes less distinct with age has bigger mouth than crimson snapper (small-mouth nannygai). Known for there excellent fighting abilities and known as an excellent table fish.

Fish Tales Charters Cairns Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Long-nose emperor

Lethrinus olivaceus

Minimum size 38 cm. Night feeder with large eyes. Have a long pointed snout with wavy lines that break up into spot radiating from eyes across snout and cheeck. Top lip is commonly red. It`s eating qualities are mild, slightly sweet flavour, low oilnesss and moist with firm flesh with large flake.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Mackerel Tuna

Euthynnus affinis
Can be referred to as Mack Tuna. While known as a smaller tuna, they have gained the reputation of a feisty and unstoppable stamina, no second chances when encountering the Mackerel Tuna. Easily recognised by their distinctive mackerel patterns on their shoulders. Have 3 to 5 small black spots below pectoral fin. Can grow up to 15 kg, however not uncommon for 6 kg species.

Fish Tales Charters Cairns Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Moses snapper

Lutjanus russelli

Colouration from whitish to silvery greyish-pink. Has a horizontally-elongated black spot on lateral line. Juveniles generally found in sheltered areas and estuaries. Minimum size is 25cm.

 

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Painted sweetlips

Diagramma pictum subsp. labiosun
Live fish are flushed with bronze that fades to slate-grey with death. They may have irregular dark spots scattered over the upper body. Have small mouths with large fleshy lips. This fish species undergo dramatic colour changes as they grow. Minimum size is 25 cm with a possession limit of 5.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Pan fry snapper

Lutjanus sebae

Minimum size 55 cm. Juveniles and young adults have broad dark red bands which converge at a point beyond the top of the spiny dorsal fin; bars fade with age and fish become pink-red all over; dark edges with fine white margin may still be visible on dorsal, anal and top and bottom of tail fins; each scale carries a white dot.

Alectis ciliaris

Pennantfish

Alectis ciliaris

A deep silvery blue to silvery grey fish; can have black blotches on front part of the dorsal fin. Juveniles have long filaments trailing from the dorsal and anal fins.

Fish Tales Charters Guided Estuary Fishing Tours in Trinity inlet, Cairns

Red Emperor

Lutjanus sebae
Minimum size 55 cm. Juveniles and young adults have broad dark red bands which converge at a point beyond the top of the spiny dorsal fin; bars fade with age and fish become pink-red all over; dark edges with fine white margin may still be visible on dorsal, anal and top and bottom of tail fins; each scale carries a white dot.

Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Australia

Red Bass

Lutjanus bohar
NOTE: The red bass is a no-take species.

It is a known ciguatoxin carrier and must not be eaten. Has dark red-brown upper body paling to reddish on sides and belly; fins dark red with almost black outer edges. Excellent sports fish for popper fishing.

Fish Tales Charters Cairns Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Redthroat Emperor

Lethrinus miniatus

Have large eyes for feeding at night. Colouration can be from red to orange on spiny dorsal fin-base of pectoral fin-around eyes and inside mouth. Minimum size is 38cm.

Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Reef Jack

Lutjanus argentimaculatus

A Reef Jack is an adult Mangrove Jack. While juveniles spend their first few years in rivers and estuaries; once they reach maturity between 40 and 50 cm in length (taking 4 to 8 year to reach maturity), most mangrove jacks move on onto offshore reefs. Mangrove Jacks jacks around 70 to 80cm long can be anything from 15 to 30 years old. While, as a juveniles, there is nothing like catching a jack on Lure! just wait until you come across an adult! Hold on!

 

Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Australia

Robinson`s Sea Bream

Gymnocranius grandoculis
They commonly referred to as sea Bream they are not related to the Perch or Bream family. They are a highly sought after table fish found in the northern warmer waters. Have large eyes for feeding at night with wavy blue lines across their snout and check. Minimum size is 25 cm with a possession limit of 5.

 

Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Australia

Rosy Jobfish

Pristipomoides filamentosus

Minimum size limit is 38 cm. Pectoral fins are long and the caudal fin is forked. Their backs and sides are cvariable from brown to lavender or a red-purple colourations. Can have narrow yellow lines and blue spots around the snout.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Small-mouth Nannygai

Lutjanus erythropterus

Also known as a crimson snapper. Minimum size catch is 40 cm. Has evenly serrated teeth on both jaws and dark and or black tinge on the caudal fin rays. While mostly caught on the reef at certain times they can be caught while fishing in the estuary. An excellent table fish.

 

Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Spangled Emperor

Lethrinus nebulosus
Minimum size 45 cm. Has large eyes for night time feeding. The top of pectoral fins are blue in colour. Distinct scales and strong spines on their fins. Pale blue spots are ‘spangled’ over the upper body, blue lines radiate from eyes over snout.  Their is a presence of a pale-blue spot located centrally on each scale that forms longitudinal streaks along the flanks.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia

Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorus commerson
Minimum size 75 cm. A pelagic species; has numerous thin, wavy vertical bands on body; iridescent blue-grey back; silver sides with bluish reflections; juveniles frequently spotted. Not only are they an excellent target fish they have excellent fighting abilities.

Cairns Reef Fishing for Spanish Flag Fish

Spanish Flag Snapper

Lutjanus carponotatus

A bluish-grey to whitish snapper with 8-9 yellow to golden-brown striped along the sides, can have yellow fins. They can feed on fish and inverebrates. Juveniles generally found over inter-tial areas.

Reef fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Tea Leaf Trevally

Carangoides Chrysophrys
Can be known as a Long Nose! The tea leaf trevally is a strong, robust sports fish. Have aggressive feeding patterns making them highly sort after sports fish. The name Tea Leaf derives from the small, dark tea leaf like patterns found on their body. Their bodies can be from silver to gold, green to grey in colouration’s with lightly coloured fins. Can grow up to 12 kg and up to 90 cm typically caught around the 4 kg.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, Qeensland, Australia

Yellowfin Parrotfish

Scarus flavipectoralis

Minimum size is 25cm. Parrotfish are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominate male. They are not territorial, living and feeding in harmony with other fish species. Their teeth are fused into powerful beaks which are used for grabbing filamentous algae from dead coral, often found feeding in a cloud of sediment.

Reef Fishing for Tea Leaf Trevally

Black Marlin

Istiompax indica

The black marlin are a highly prized game fish for their speed and jumping abilities. Cairns is known as the Marlin Capital of the world in the heavy tackle season. While he actively dont seek to target the larger fish species we do on the odd occasion are able to catch a baby.

Fish Tales Charters Guided Reef Fishing from Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef

Goldspotted Estuary Cod

Epinephelus coincides
Commonly referred as `the coral trout of the estuaries`. The flesh is coarse yet creamy texture. Delicious table fish species. Size up to 180 cm and 100 kg. Minimum size limit is 38 cm to 120 cm. Usually lives alone or in small groups, covering a variety of habitats from rivers and estuaries to offshore reefs.

Cairns Reef Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, Qeensland, Australia

School Mackerel

Scomberomorus queenslandicus

Minimum size is 50 cm. Has a silver-grey body. Sides of adults have 3 indefinite rows of indistinctive bronze-grey blotches were as juvenile do not. Found along the Queensland coast in inshore waters, bays and estuaries. Considered an excellent table fish.

 

Fish Tales Charters Cairns

Mon 6:30am–8:30pm
Tues 6:30am–8:30pm
Wed 6:30am–8:30pm
Thur 6:30am–8:30pm
Fri 6:30am–8:30pm
Sat 6:30am–8:30pm
Sun 6:30am–8:30pm

(07) 4045 0234
0418 194 517
1 Pierpoint Road, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, Cairns City QLD 4870

4 Victory Close,

Edmonton, Queensland, 4869, Australia.

© Fish Tales 2017
Handy Links:  Weather  |  Sea Info  |  Fishing Limits