Tips for Coral
Fishing in the Whitsundays
If you are interested in fishing charters, it is always desirable
to fish as 'light' as possible using minimum
weight and hardware.
Fish over the edge
of the reef one hour before or after high
tide for best results. Early morning and
evening are also better than when the sun
is high. Nighttime on a rising tide can
Trolling along the edge of a reef may also
Fishing bait in the Whitsundays that is readily available are prawns, squid, a small fish known locally
as a herring and garfish. If you have a
throw net, small fresh fish from the shallows
make excellent bait.
Hand lines are easier
to manage on the fishing charters whereas rods have
the advantages when fishing from rocks on
Fish feeding can help visitors learn about
the fish of the Great Barrier Reef and get
them closer to large schools of fish, but
it is important that fish feeding is done
carefully. Some fish become aggressive when
fed and can be dangerous to the person feeding
the fish or other close by in the water.
Most food that people eat, particularly
bread and meat, is generally bad for fish
and may damage their health.
Best Practices for Fishing in the Whitsundays
only raw marine products or fish pellets
no more than a kilogram of food
the fish food onto the water. Do not feed
directly by hand.
fish feeding areas where fishing also takes
and snorkellers should not be in the water
at the time of fish feeding
Fishing in the
do we have size limits?
In Queensland for many fish species there
are limits on the size of fish that can
be legally taken. There are minimum size
limits and also some maximum size limits.
Size limits are typically based on biological
cycles. Minimum size limits generally allow
fish to spawn at least once and contribute
to the population before they are taken.
However, some species
spawn as they become larger which means
a maximum size limit applies. For example,
most barramundi begin their lives as males
and later, as they grow larger, become females.
A maximum size limit is applied to protect
large females and to allow them to spawn.
are fish measured?
Fish are measured from the tip of their
mouth to the end of their tail. If you unintentionally
take a fish that is not the legal size,
return it to the water immediately, taking
as much care as possible to avoid causing
it any injury.
do we have take and possession limits?
A take and possession limit is the number
of fish that one person can legally take
and keep. These limits serve several purposes.
heavily exploited species;
species that are susceptible to capture;
the catch more equally among anglers;
the illegal marketing of fish; and
the message of ethical and responsible behaviour
do we have closed seasons?
Closed seasons prevent fishing charters and people from fishing in the Whitsundays
at certain times of the year and protect
species at particularly vulnerable times
of their lifecycle such as spawning seasons.
do we have closed waters?
Closed waters prevent fishing charters and people from fishing
in certain areas. Closed waters can be areas:
a population of endangered or threatened
fish congregate during or before spawning;
fish may mass or be stranded near artificial
barriers and be susceptible to overfishing.
are there restrictions on fishing gear?
A number of restrictions apply to fishing
gear in Queensland to protect fish stocks
No licence is required for recreational
fishing in the Whitsundays and Queensland tidal waters.
Throughout the Queensland east coast, a
closed season applies to barramundi from
midday 1 November to midday 1st February.
Contact the Queensland Boating and Fisheries
Patrol (QBFP) for more details of the timing
of the closed season and future closed seasons.
Reef fin fish
Three, nine-day periods have been implemented
as closed seasons to the taking of all coral
reef fish in October, November and December
each year around the 'new moon" period.
The closures are designed to protect the
spawning aggregations of most coral reef
For 2004 the closures will be:
(a) 8 October to 16 October
(b) 6 November to 14 November; and
(c) 6 December to 14 December
Throughout Queensland a closed season applies
to spanner crabs from 20 November to 20
Fishing in the Whitsundays:
Spear guns and spears must not be used to
take fish while using or wearing underwater
breathing apparatus other that a snorkel.
Spear fishing in the Whitsundays is prohibited in all fresh
waters and also in the
following tidal areas:
western and southern sides of Lindeman Island
western side of Long Island
northern side of south Molle Island
eastern southeastern and southern sides
of Hook Island
southern and western sides of Hayman Island
Waters under or within
main wharf at port Dennison Bowen and
structure attached to the wharf.
foreshores and waters seaward 50m from low
water mark from the boat ramp in greys bay
around cape Edgecombe to the eastern headland
of horseshoe bay.
The following activities are illegal throughout
Jagging or foul hooking fish
explosives poisons or electrical devices
to take fish (divers may use a powered on
a spear gun for protection against sharks)
with authorised aquaculture activities.
oysters from any oyster ground. However
a person may consume oysters on the spot
in any public oyster reserve or on unlicensed
lawful netting operations damaging or interfering
with fishing apparatus or removing fish
from apparatus without lawful authority.
or carriage of prohibited apparatus in closed
waters unless the apparatus is dismantled
stowed and secured.
of coral without lawful authority.
Interfering with marine life in a fish habitat
area. (Note: line fishing is allowed in
certain areas of marine parks, and there
is no specific prohibition on fishing in
a fish habitat area. Digging of yabbies
with a hand pump or worms taken by hand
capture is also allowed in fish habitat
damaging or interfering with markers or
signs erected under the authority of fisheries
A number of research programs are conducted
throughout Queensland to give scientists a
better understanding of fish movement growth
and surninal rates. Unregulated, tagged fish
can be taken. However if you take a tagged
fish, phone 1800 077 001 toll free or return
the tag to the tagging coordinator, Mr Bill
Sawynok, PO Box 9793, Frenchville, Qld, 4707
with the following information: the tag number.
If the fish has two tags, record both tag
date and place of capture:
fork and or total length: and
the fish was kept or released.
If the tag has a keep frame on it, Fisheries
officers may wish to examine the fish. Freeze
the fish and contact the coordinator on 1800
077 001 or your local QBFP office.