Queensland’s Mary River marks the beginning of the barramundi’s southern range on Australia’s East Coast, with regular catches in the river and an occasional fish from the labyrinth of channels and creeks that make up the Great Sandy Strait to the south.
Barramundi prefer the turbid water of the river from River Heads, at the river mouth, through to Maryborough, rather than the clearer water found in sandy creeks of the strait.
There is a real chance of catching a trophy saltwater barra or salmon in the Mary River, along with hordes of blue salmon.
Bass are stocked in the freshwater section of the Mary River, where barramundi are also caught.
Most local fishos chasing freshwater barramundi however head to stocked Lake Lenthalls, on the headwaters of the Burrum River. Lenthalls is probably Australia’s most southerly stocked barramundi fishery, disregarding stocked waterbodies with artificially warm water.
The main saltwater catch in the Maryborough region is whiting (summer, tin can and diver species), flathead, southern and pikey bream, tailor, blue and threadfin salmon, mangrove jacks, northern and southern jewfish, perch (which look like a small jewfish), mud and blue swimmer crabs, and prawns.
There are many drying banks in this area and fishermen who explore on a falling tide may become landlocked in creeks or stuck on a sandbank.
Flathead are found at the mouths of small creeks and gutters, as well as over tidal flats, especially near channels.
Whiting and flathead move over the flats on incoming tides.
Jewfish are found in the deep holes, and tailor chase bait in the deeper areas of the estuary.
Beaver Rocks, near the ramp at Beaver Rocks Road, is spot to try.
Note that the Mary River has crocodiles.
Also note that Australia’s Northern Territory also has a Mary River, a famous barramundi fishing area.
Immediately south of Queensland’s Mary River, the Great Sandy Strait includes a vast labyrinth of drying areas and channels and should be navigated on a rising tide with plenty of spare fuel.
A channel is marked through the strait.
Reef fish are caught around most deep lumps and bumps.
Nearby, the east side of Fraser Island is famous for its annual tailor run, with sharks and jewfish also taken.
Hervey Bay’s long Urangan Pier is a very popular landbased spot that produces big fish.
Bonefish and permit occur in this area, with bonefish occasionally caught in deep water off Fraser island’s Rooney Point, but golden trevally are the more likely catch for those chasing sportfish, with plenty of slatey bream and snapper on the local reefs.
Permit are caught on the ocean side of Fraser Island, as well as north of Moon Point on the west side.
The west side of Fraser Island has a coffee rock ledge running south from Moon Point that in places is accessible from shore at low tide, giving land-based anglers a chance to catch reef fish.
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This broad, shallow and mostly sandy estuary 20km north of Yeppoon is the mutual mouth of Waterpark and Fishing Creeks.
The bay mostly dries at low tide, leaving shallow shifting channels, that finally run to sea past a rocky headland.
Careful trip planning and navigation is required.
Much of the bay is surrounded by national park, and the bay itself is part of the exciting Capricorn no-commercial-netting area proclaimed in 2015.
Outside the bay is excellent bluewater fishing, with the Keppels, Finlays, The Barge and Pinnacle producing good fish, and Karamea, Goodwin and the Douglas Shoals out wider for those with suitable boats.
Waterpark Creek has the two launch sites, with the upstream site at Corbetts Landing being sealed but with hazardous rocks located above and below in the creek.
Kellys Landing is further downstream but the road in is poor.
The creek upstream of Kellys Landing is closed to bait-netting, so bait must be collected in the bay for use in the creek.
Corio Bay has good yabbie banks and a broad spread of species. The most common are whiting, bream, flathead, barra, jacks, blue salmon, flounder and tarpon.
Tripletail are caught on occasion. Prawns are patchy.
There is a fair chance of picking up a barramundi in summer, a prospect that seems to have improved since net fishing was banned in the bay from 2018.
Barramundi are found in the low-tide holes and along rocky edges, or where baitfish gather.
The mouth of the inlet produces big jewfish on the turn of large tides.
Mud crabs are caught at times.
Corio Bay is famous for its whiting. In winter flathead can be prolific, and blue salmon schools provide furious action.
There are numerous fishable rockbars and holes above and below Corbetts Landing. The landing itself has a log wall which is a good land-based fishing spot.
Queenfish, trevally and mackerel are found near the bay’s entrance, with good grunter on any rough ground outside.
Waterpark Creek flows freshwater at the top.
Corio Bay’s Greenslopes and Sandfly Creek are not usually accessible at low tide.
To access Corbett’s Landing. Take the Byfield road and turn right at signpost 2km inside state forest.
One of the more popular spots is around Hannah Rock off the south-east tip of Great Keppel Island. A detailed micro chart of this spot is featured in the North Australian FISH FINDER book.
Reef fish are also caught in an area just n-w of Ross Reef, on the south side of North Keppel Island. This area can produce mackerel all year, along with sweetlip, cod and coral trout. Fish an incoming tide.
Coral bommies can be seen on the sandy bottom in this area.
Another good spots is “40 Acres” on the west side of Great Keppel and Miall Islands.
Plenty of mackerel are caught at the ends of the channel between Barren Island and The Child islands, and off the north-east point of The Child.
Nearby Corio Bay, Causeway Lake, Yeppoon Inlet and Cawarral Creek all have quality grunter, bream, flathead and whiting.
Barramundi, blue and threadfin salmon and mud crabs are caught in Cawarral Creek.
In the lead-up to summer, big barra are found on sheltered coastal rocks, but keep in mind the annual Queensland barramundi closed season.
The inner Rosslyn Bay marina near the mangroves has seasonal prawns, and is a good area to collect mullet, herring and gar.
Double Head and Rosslyn Bay marina rock walls are excellent landbased fishing spots.