Treat your family to a great day out by organising a fishing trip expedition. No experience necessary, and you can get by with a minimum of equipment.
Around Australia there are more fishing hot spots than you can shake a line at. And more folks fishing them – according to government authorities, somewhere around five million Australians are devotees of recreational and sport fishing.
Fishing is a pastime for all ages and all pockets. The small fry can easily join in on a fishing trip with just a cheap hand reel and some bait. Or if you’ve got some cash to flash, try a charter fishing tour. Even family members who share Mark Twain’s thoughts on fishing (something about a jerk on one end of the line and a fool on the other!) can find something to admire or explore in our beautiful coast and wilderness while the fishing enthusiast dangles a line. You can travel a thousand kilometres or just trot down to the nearest jetty.
Fishing for beginners
First-time fisher persons need to know a few basic rules before starting out. Whether you plan to fish in freshwater or saltwater, you will probably need a recreational fishing licence. These are easy to get and are often available online or through bait and tackle shops. Every state has different regulations for recreational fishing, covering bag limits (how much you can take home), endangered species, legal sizes and methods of fishing. These vary widely depending on location so it’s best to check with the authorities, either online or by phone, when planning your expedition. Tackle and bait suppliers are among the sources you can turn to for local knowledge if you’re not a local yourself.
Passionate fishers will tell you to take only what you need from the water; to ensure you use the right tackle and gear for the fish you are hunting and to ensure any fish you catch are killed humanly and quickly. Leaving fish to flop around a bucket of water in the run is a horrible way for fish to die – and you won’t be too impressed with the end result on your plate either, because stressing the fish ruins the catch.
There’s also a national code of practice in Australian for recreational fishing. The code focuses on treating the environment, the fish and other users of the waterways with respect. Regardless of the fish you are trying to catch, the authorities all agree on the fragility of our marine environment and the need for care. Tread lightly in your travels and, as the experts say, “if you bring it with you, take it home”.
Catch and go - humane fish handling
There are lots of reasons that you might need to let a fish go – it could be too big or too small or you may have accidentally caught an endangered species. Here are some tips that will help you handle fish and set them free with a better chance of survival.
Make sure you pack a pair of long nosed pliers in your fishing kit and use barbless hooks – it will make it much easier for you (and the fish) when removing hooks. Always use wet hands or a wet cloth when handling fish to avoid damaging their sensitive mucous layer, and don’t place fish on hot, dry surfaces. If you can, avoid lifting the fish from the water. If you need to lift the fish, use a knotless landing net (obviously avoid using a gaff).
If you can’t remove the hook without damaging the fish, it’s best to cut the line (about 10cm outside the mouth for deep hooked fish). And if you want a happy snap before you set it free, hold the fish horizontally only.
Top fishing hot spots in Queensland
You’ve missed the boat, so to speak, if your new year’s resolution included the popular Aussie dream of landing a big, wild barramundi in the Gulf of Carpentaria this year. It’s the annual barra break (in place from September until late January – their spawning season). Those still wanting to catch the iconic fish can throw a line in at 18 of Queensland’s stocked impoundments (one fish per fisher), including East Leichhardt Dam and Belmore, Corella, Julius and Moordarra lakes.
Top fishing hot spots in New South Wales
Go west! Two hours from Sydney are the trout streams of the Central Tablelands. This is fishing for the fly enthusiast. The Duckmaloi and Campbell Rivers boast trout of a serious size.
Top fishing hot spots in South Australia
You’ll find jetties and boardwalks around South Australia have helpful signage for measuring and identifying your catch, plus information about bag limits. Along the shore at Glenelg and Brighton, and all the way to Port Adelaide, you will also find great food and coffee within easy walking distance if the family patience wears a bit thin and the fish refuse to take the bait.
Top fishing hot spots in Victoria
All year round good fishing can be found at Black Rock and the reefs in an around this area. Fisher tips: the best catches are early morning or late afternoon; good fish can be found around the wreck of the Cerberus, about 100 metres from the car park, and vary your bait for best results.
Top fishing hot spots in Tasmania
Dangle a line into the Derwent River from a wharf in Hobart or take a boat down to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel where you will discover 50 glistening kilometres of sheltered waters between the Tasmanian mainland and Bruny Island. The Huon River flows into this channel and is home to brown trout. If you’re lucky you’ll catch huge sea run trout too