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A Local’s Guide to Secret Fishing Spots Around Thursday Island

A Local's Guide to Secret Fishing Spots Around Thursday Island
on 31 March 2022 in Travel & Lifestyle

From popular species to great techniques and amazing fishing spots around Thursday Island, keen anglers be sure to read this one.

A fishing haven, the Torres Strait offers a unique fishing experience unlike anywhere else in Australia. With the recent buyback of all non-indigenous commercial fishing licences and the granting of the native title over most of the region, the majority of remote places in the area do not face much fishing pressure.

The landscape of the Torres Strait creates the ideal habitat for fishes to congregate, thanks to its magnificent low reefs of coral that stretch north all the way from Cape York to just kilometres from the coastline of Papua New Guinea.

The region is often referred to as four zones. First is the inner islands that include Possession Island and Thursday Island, which act as the administrative centre of the Torres Strait. Second is the Central and Western islands, third is the North Western islands that include Duane, Boigu and Saibai Islands, offering a clear view of the West Papua coastline. And the final zone comprises of the South East where the Torres Strait central islands are, such as Yam, Yorke, Warraber and Coconut. 

Generally speaking, the most popular species caught in the Torres Strait area include giant trevally, narrow barred Spanish mackerel, Atlantic bluefin tuna, barramundi, crayfish and mud crabs.

The commercial crayfish industry is extremely popular in this region, holding a long history of culture that has been passed on from generations. With divers that explore some of the most remote locations operating out of 6 metre tenders armed only with the knowledge and childhood stories of rocks, reefs, and seasons. There is a small fortune to be made bagging crayfish, with rewards upward of $50 per kilo for live ones.

For those looking to catch some mud crabs and barramundi, the North Western islands is where you’ll want to be.

The Central islands comprise of low lying coral cays of turquoise reef. There is a mackerel fishery here, which naturally results in coral trout, crayfish and Spanish mackerel being the most targeted species in the area. As the dry season hits, the mackerel make their move north, making way for some prolific catches later in the year around the Eastern islands and Northern cays.

Resident fish such as giant trevally, queenfish, tuskfish, come aplenty all year round in Thursday Island and can be readily found along the reefs, rocks and edges along the islands.

Timing your fishing trip is important as tides and wind conditions contribute majorly to your experience, with trade winds tending to blow a fair amount of wind from mid April through to November. April, although the time of transition, may witness patchy winds however the Neal tides and great water clarity enhances your chances of great fishing. 

Fishing is generally good all around the island, with the best spots being the Customs wharf or the Navy wharf. At the Customs wharf, there’s 24 hours access to fishing, whereas the Navy wharf only has after hours access although the locals do seem to prefer fishing from there.

Both spots have plenty of fish to catch, and all you’ll need is a heavy duty handline at least 80lbs and a whole lot of tackle. You’ll find many different species including Spanish mackerel, cod, coral trout, red bass, queenfish, trevally and a never ending supply of reef fish. One of the reasons for having a strong handline is the number of sharks that roam the waters, so be sure to look out for the big bites and be prepared to lose some bait along the way. 

If you’re looking for better secret spots to fish, ask a local as most are friendly to give you some tips. Alternatively, follow the masses and fish where the locals fish. 

You can always hop on a fishing charter to gain the ultimate fishing experience. The Cape York Adventures is highly regarded throughout the Torres Strait, with John and Dave having decades of experience under their belt in catching big barramundi, mackerel, tuna, fingermark, trevally, coral repute, queenfish, and more. A fishing charter experience gives you the opportunity to get the biggest fish while exploring the beautiful islands, offering the best of both worlds.

Make the most of your visit to Thursday Island 

If you don’t have much luck out in the waters, head to the Malu Paru Cafe & Bistro at the Grand Hotel on Thursday Island and feast upon fresh, local caught seafood paired beautifully with an ice cold drink to quench your thirst. The menu is packed with classic seafood dishes along with all-time favourites including steaks, burgers, fish and chips and more. There’s also a kids’ menu for the little ones.

With most fishing trips, it isn’t just a matter of knocking the experience in a day but rather making it a journey that will last over a good amount of time to enjoy. So why not make the most of your time and check into the Grand Hotel for accommodation in Thursday Island? 

Waterfront views of the harbour backed by stunning landscapes and spectacular sunsets will make your time here a once in a lifetime. Accommodation is comfortable with each room having its own ensuite, air conditioning, television, a mini fridge and free Wi-Fi internet access across the hotel. A complimentary fully cooked and continental buffet breakfast is also included with your stay.

Book your stay by calling the Grand Hotel at 07 4069 1557 and enjoy the best of local hospitality.