Karumba is the gateway to the rivers of the lower Gulf of Carpentaria and, for those with suitable boats, Cape York Peninsula’s south-western rivers.
Karumba is a gulf port 72km by sealed road from Normanton.
There are two boat ramps at the Norman River mouth.
The lower Norman River is not netted.
The main species caught are barramundi, threadfin and blue salmon, golden snapper (fingermark), grunter, black jewfish, goldspot cod and groper, mackerel, queenfish, trevally, catfish and mud crabs.
Also present but rarely targeted are pikey bream, flathead and whiting.
Grunter are hugely popular and mostly caught in the dry season, which ends with the onset of hot weather around September.
Mackerel are best in the dry season (winter months).
Jewfish are occasionally caught off the beach at Karumba Point.
Offshore structure is hard to find, but if you do find some you will catch golden snapper and jewfish.
Most action takes place along the channel edges and markers.
Big jewfish, barramundi and golden snapper are best around Karumba in Sept/Oct as the weather warms.
Unfortunately the winter tourists season is also the time of slowest barramundi activity.
Barramundi are best in warm, still weather.
A big wet season in the lower Gulf catchment will produce good fishing long after the floodwaters subside.
Poor wet seasons tend to produce poor fishing for the rest of the year.
A popular overnight trip from Karumba is the 26 nautical miles to the anchorage within the Smithburne River.
Travel between the mainland and Pelican Island only at high tide.
Grunter and salmon are caught out the front and along river mouth channels, and foreshores at high tide, jewfish are in the hole at the Norman mouth, with mixed species in the rivers.
Walker’s Creek is easily accessible as the crossing is on the sealed road between Normanton and Karumba.
There is limited access to the Leichardt, Flinders and Bynoe Rivers on the Normanton-Burketown Road.
The Flinders, Bynoe and other smaller waterways are all worth fishing.
Travelling up the peninsula by long-range boat is a true adventure, but this is truly remote country that requires careful navigation, as the coastal mudflats extend far out to sea, and on a diminishing tidal cycle it is possible to become stuck for several days.
Keep in mind the mouths of many Gulf rivers are shallow and constantly changing and should be entered only on a rising tide.
Plan the trip home for a rising tide or near high water.
Inland river crossings in this region can fish well for barramundi during flooding, but vehicles can become trapped if the floods rise to form an inland sea.
Detailed fishing maps for Gulf and Top End rivers are available in the North Australian FISH FINDER book.
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