The Hinchinbrook region’s fishing appeal lies mainly in the 45km channel that runs between Hinchinbrook Island and the mainland.
This vast, relatively sheltered area has hundreds of kilometres of mangrove-lined creeks and flats, located away from major population centres.
While the channel is the main attraction, visiting fishos can also enjoy beach fishing, wharf fishing at Lucinda and Dungeness, freshwater fishing in the Herbert River, and offshore fishing out to the Great Barrier Reef for the full gamut of tropical species.
As well as great fishing, this area has great scenery, with a backdrop of rainforest-covered mountains.
Hinchinbrook is 200km south of Cairns, about half way between Cairns and Townsville.
The northern end of the channel has the tiny township of Cardwell on the highway, with the smaller Lucinda settlement at the southern end.
This is a true tropical location, with heavy rainfall and high humidity in summer, and cooler dry weather in winter.
The area is sometimes hit by summer cyclones, which bring prolonged heavy rain that is good for fishing on the long term.
The larger cyclones also bring destruction, including extensive damage to the mangrove forests.
Species caught in the channel and island creeks include barramundi, queenfish, salmon, mangrove jacks, trevally, permit, fingermark, grunter and cod.
Mud crabs and prawns are usually abundant, with seasonal variations.
The channel is a huge area, about 6km across at its widest point, so there are usually places to fish away from other boats.
Prevailing winds at the time may help choose your location.
Casting baits or lures to the mouths of mud drains as the tide flows out is an effective method for catching barramundi during bigger tides.
Trolling quietly up creeks also works well on smaller tides when the water is clear. An electric motor is useful for this.
On a large incoming tide look for baitfish or predator activity along flats edges.
Drifting along creeks with the current and casting lures to snags is a very popular fishing method for catching barramundi, mangrove jacks and cod.
Rocky foreshores and rock walls are always worth fishing.
The water in the channel, depending on prevailing winds, can be quite clear on the flats, allowing for good sight fishing.
Local sardines, herring and small mullet are the ideal livebaits and will almost always produce fish if dropped at a creek mouth or near a decent snag.
Deep grounds yield fingermark and jewfish.
Though Hinchinbrook tides are not huge, with 3m of movement being a big tide within the channel, strong currents flow, so fish deeper areas at the turn of the tide.
Use a sounder to locate bottom fish.
The channel really fires after big wet seasons, when the freshwater has subsided.
Dry years bring slower fishing as the bait cycle winds down.
Cyclones produce fallen mangrove timber, and the submerged horizontal logs often hold a barramundi or two, or mangrove jacks.
Missionary Bay on the north-west end of the island is a series of creeks and flats that produces good fish, but should only be visited in calm weather.
The southern coast inside the island has the Herbert and Seymour River mouths, with mangrove islands and channels. The upstream freshwater sections have sooty grunter and jungle perch.
From Lucinda it is a 38km run out to the first Great Barrier Reef, which is Bramble Reef
Most local fishos head the extra few kilometres to the larger and more complex Britomart Reef.
Britomart has an extensive plateau and reasonable shelter for anchoring.
The bommies have trout and tropical lobsters (crays), and deep water around the edges holds red emperor, trout, nannygai, sweetlip and more.
Britomart fishes best on big tides, although some fishermen prefer fishing the deep water between the reefs on small tides where hard bottom can produce fish such as nannygai and red emperor.
Expect mackerel and trevally around the reef edges.
Closer to Dungeness, the Sea Hound trawler wreck is a popular spot, but it can be busy on weekends.
The Sea Hound is about 17km north-east of Lucinda, at approx 18 24.433S 146 25.742E.
This area has large crocodiles, so take care when fishing. Crocs can show up on seaward beaches too.
While Hinchinbrook is located far from major cities, expect local van parks to be overflowing during holiday periods.
There is no nearby stocked dam in this area, the nearest is Koombooloomba located further north towards Cairns.
Get the best Hinchinbrook fishing spots in the North Australian FISH FINDER book of fishing maps.
Hinchinbrook boat ramps
Dungeness, Lucinda – four- lane concrete ramp, pontoon, wash-down area, trailer parking, security lighting, toilets. Gateway to Great Barrier Reef and Hinchinbrook Channel.
Mona Landing, Halifax, on the Herbert River – single-lane gravel ramp and small gravel car park. Access to the Herbert River and 15-minute run to Hinchinbrook Channel.
Taylors Beach – Double-lane concrete ramp, wash-down, security lighting, toilets.
Forrest Beach – Single-lane concrete ramp, large bitumen carpark, toilets, washdown, exposed to wind and waves.
Cassady Beach – Single-lane concrete ramp, small car park, washdown, no good at low tide.
Ingham Volunteer Coast Guard – VHF Channel 16 or VHF Channel 81
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