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.
Fishing gear for Queensland's tropical watersMuch tropical estuary and river fishing involves casting and trolling lures around snags, where a lure desnagger soon pays for itself. The simplest type is dropped on a cord ... see eBay link here.
Or for a true blue Aussie lure desnagger, try this one ... eBay link here.
When targeting barramundi and other large tropical estuary fish a baitcaster combo is the best option. The small overhead reels on these combos allow thumb control when casting, making lure placement easy. However practise is required to cast these reels and they do not cast tiny lures easily. A baitcaster combo loaded with 10kg braid will handle most barramundi and threadfin salmon, with 15kg line better for large dam fish among timber and when trolling big rivers. See a suitable baitcaster listing on eBay here. The listed rod-reel combo can be used for trolling and casting.
Single-handed baitcaster rods are an option for day-long casting sessions, these combos are missing the rod butt's lower section. DO NOT buy a low-quality baitcaster reel as they can be awful to use - if on a tight budget buy a spinning reel instead.
A 6kg spin outfit (eggbeater type reel) is fine for much tropical Queensland estuary and freshwater fishing. Lighter outfits aren't recommended as you may hook big fish in tropical waters. A 6-10kg rod-reel combo is needed for barramundi and threadfin salmon and this can also be used to cast lures to pelagic fish such as mackerel and tuna. A 3kg spin outfit is ideal for whiting, bream and flathead. See eBay listing here.
For boat fishing, a short, powerful rod with overhead or spinning reel loaded with 15kg braided line is ideal for general reef fishing in water to around 25m deep, and can also be used to troll for pelagic fish. See eBay listing here.
Heavier outfits are recommended for deeper water, always using braided line as its thin diameter is less affected by currents.
Soft plastic grubs and shads are good all-round lures for a range of tropical Queensland saltwater and freshwater estuary species. See eBay listing here.
Jig heads are needed for unrigged soft plastic lures. See eBay listing here.
Bibbed hardbody minnows by quality brands such as Reidys and Classic are generally used for barramundi fishing. Barramundi are strong fish that tear apart the split rings and hooks on cheaply made lures, so buy wisely. Tropical tackle shops are well stocked with these lures.
Squid jigs are useful in tropical Queensland waters. See eBay listing here.
Snapper leads are generally used on a paternoster rig for boat fishing. Heavy leads are needed in deep water because of ocean currents.
For most other fishing, ball sinkers are used, as part of a running sinker rig. Listing on eBay here.
Hooks in mixed sizes (suggest 1# or #2 for whiting, 6# or #8 for garfish, 4/0 for flathead, 11/0 for barramundi, jewfish and reef fish. Listing on eBay here.
Ganged hooks (joined chains of hooks) are used when fishing pilchard or sauri baits for mackerel. Listing on eBay here.
Lastly, Queensland tropical waters have saltwater crocodiles, stonefish, box jellyfish, irukandji jellyfish and ever-present sharks. These can all show up where you don't expect them, including in the shallows around boat ramps and beaches next to tourist resorts. Don't take risks.
BOATS FOR SALE in Brisbane - current eBay listings here.
Email corrections, additions, pictures or video here.
Some external videos about Karumba fishing are featured below.