Magnetic island is a unique fishing location in Tropical Far North QLD with fishing available in one location or another in all weather conditions.
The benefits of tropical island fishing are the incredible diversity of fish species available near the shore. There are multiple quality locations should you want to do relaxing bait fishing with the kids or get more serious and toss lures for big pelagic species, Take a look around then drop in to see Dale for all the latest fishing Goss. A current fishing guide is listed below. Magnetic Island is 360 degrees of fishing paradise, with a location for all weather conditions, and charters to take you off shore.
PICNIC BAY JETTY (A) Yellow Zone, 1 Rod per person
The picturesque Picnic Bay Jetty is a favourite location for family fishing, close to amenities, and the friendly local pub which also supplies takeaway, and is safe for kids and easy access for prams and the elderly. Midway down the heritage listed jetty you will find coral bommies and many seaweed covered rocks providing protection to smaller fish and northern squid. This area provides excellent fun for young children to catch and release juvenile Grassy Sweetlips, Red Throat Emperor, Coral Trout, many varieties of Cod, Stripey’s as well as stacks other colourful reef species. Aggressive Squid hang around the seagrass and will strike at small 2-3.5cm squid jigs.
The jetty pylons provide protection for many bait species like schools of Hardy-heads, Pike, Herring, Yakka, Gar and Mullet. These bait schools attract rod straining GT’s, Golden Trevally, Queenfish, Mackerel as well as the hard hitting Cobia. In addition Remora, Blue and Northern Catfish and Reef sharks hang around in murkier waters caused when the winds are strong. Keep an eye out for Turtles and the occasional Dugong floating above the weeds.
The best bait is small squid, for reef species, tasty to most fish and holds onto hooks very well. Use Paternoster rig. Also popular is small prawns and strip Garfish. Run the strip Gar without weight in the currents near the pylons. Float Pillies in Winter when the big Pelagic species are inshore and in October November when the Grey Mackerel move in. For the lure fanatic tray small Berkeley Gulps (green is a good colour, especially for GT’s.) For hardbody lures, use small RMG deep divers, small Razorback squid jigs and 10-20 gram jigs and chromies. Mack spoons and twisty slices are also superb with enticing actions that attract cruising aggressive predators. LIVE BAIT- When bait schools are residing under the jetty, they can be caught on a 6 hook jig rig or by cast net. ( legal in QLD )Live bait is excellent for catching large pelagic species which periodically stalk the jetty area. These include massive Trevally, Mackerel, Barracuda, Catfish, Cobia, Queenfish as well as Coral Trout, Cods, Emperor, Stingrays and multitudes of shark species including Hammerhead and Tiger Sharks.
The jetty has sun cover at the end, and a wash station part way down. The area is great birdwatching, with Eagles, Kites, and Osprey’s common to the area. 2. Picnic Bay Surf Club Area (B), and Picnic Bay beach (C) The rocks at the northern end of Picnic Bay just past the swimming area afford Pelagic action and is one of or our most neglected fishing spots.
Watching the sun set over the mainland on a summer afternoon while dangling a line and eating a fish burger, Magical.
Around the corner to the north is the tiny and largely inaccessible Bacon Bay and the serene Cockle Bay, which mark the commencement of the Mangroves and Mudflats. This area can get you big Northern Bartail and Yellowtail Flathead, Grunter, (Silver Javelin) Blue Catfish, Fingermark, Parrot Fish, Queenies, Tuskfish, Trevally and Mangrove Jack. Bait Use big Endeavour prawns, (peeled) , sandworms, pippies, and floated whole pillie on gang hook. Also try Whiting and Gar fillet strips, Mullet fillet and whole Mullet. Lures The elasto Zman and Chasebait soft plastics, in white, gold black, and pearl/ Glow Also Halco Twisties and small RMG lures. Tilson barra lures and Zerek 90mm Barra X are also regularly starring in this area.
At the southern end of Picnic Bay is a shipwreck and shallow rubble strewn waters, attracting Trevally, Flathead, Grunter and Summer Whiting. Fish with small lures, soft plastics, or small prawns. For the Summer Whiting fish with peeled small prawns, worms, or Gulp soft plastics. The boat ramp and lower jetty are good night squidding areas providing sweet Calamari for dinner. Popular colours are Pink and Orange squid jigs or use your own choice.
COCKLE BAY (D)
Cockle Bay is one of the favourite locations for Fly Anglers. During large low tides, the water can recede up to 500m from the beach line exposing the shipwreck City of Adelaide. the Coffin Pool and acres of sea floor, great to explore. On the tidal run in Trevally, Flathead, Mangrove Jacks, Queenies and many other species race to be the first back into to the safety of mangroves, or to chase bait fish across the shallows.
Cockle Bay is the start of the Main Mangrove line and home to the sweet Maggie Prawns, from Cockle Bay through to West Point. They are great eating and amazing live bait. Fish the incoming tide or walk out to the coffin pool when the tide is .8m or below to fish the water hole for all sorts of local species, including Cods, Flathead and Golden Trevally. If you have boots and waders walking out and tossing soft plastics and chromies.
Be aware of Stonefish all the time and stingers in Summer, plus be aware on the flats the local Stingrays are abundant.
On the high tide the waters can be fished with prawns, strip Gar, live mullet and Gar to target Flathead, Jacks, Grunter and Trevally. On the drop tides walk to the south past the blue house and fish off the rocks.
NELLY BAY (E), (F), (G) and PRESTO BREAKWALL OUTSIDE HARBOUR (E)
This lightly fished rock wall affords some amazing fishing action in the mornings and evenings. The dropping tide also allows drift and float fishing for Coral Trout, Estuary Cod, as well as G’T’s Golden and Diamond Trevally, Mackerel, and big Queenfish. This area is one of our finest lure locations, although bait can also produce the goods. Reef Sharks are also in abundance, particularly just after dark, and when the water is murkier.
Lure Tips. On larger rigs try 4” spoons, 15gm Halco Twisties and shallow divers. On lighter gear 5g Twisties, soft and hard vibes and soft plastics. Pelagic species will take the fast-retrieved shiny lures. Floating soft plastics over each Bommie will entice reef species to strike, Divers jigged slowly over the rocks also works well. Bait Fishing Tips Try to float an unweighted line or use a paternoster style rig to fish (sinker on the bottom and hook higher up). If your float fishing, use the tide depth to ascertain your line depth below the float, (minimum 700mm).
Best bait in this fun area are Pilchard, Poddy Mullet, strip Mullet fillet, Squid and Gar Fillet. At night live bait is exceptional, followed by Pilchard gang floated or single hook cut in half. Main beach (F) . Nelly Bay Beach is a shallow bay, and is bommie and rubble strewn, so fishing at higher and drop tides will usually get the best results. Coral reef fish and reef sharks are commonly caught, along with Flathead, Whiting, and smaller Trevally at the Harbor end.
Many species of our reef fish, Queenies, Squid and Whiting are favourite target fish at the Western or X Base end. Lures- Soft plastics are a winner in this area. Gulp Squid Viscous and Nemesis, Prawn Chase Baits and Z-man 3-4 inch. Colours. Pink, Blue, Orange and Pearl/ Natural. Small squid jigs 2.5cm work best for squid, Bait – Peeled prawns, any fresh filleted fish, the shinier the better. (Mullet, Gar, Pike.) Fresh squid are a winner as well in this area. Harbour (G) .
A no fishing Zone encompasses the area involved in boating operations, and the marina area. This encompasses the walkways and pontoons and prohibits throwing lines or lures near any boats.
Fishing can occur in many other areas including the public boat ramp, bridge area, as well as the southern beach. Also fish the rock walls and the edges of Gustav Creek. A safe fishing area for kids, the harbour provides protection for a huge range of juvenile and large schools of bait. Home to schools of Tarpon and massive Barra, night fishing can test the best angler. The rock protection and bait attracts many visiting predator fish which come in for a feed. Also present are Trevally, Queenies, Flathead, Trout, Cod, and the bucket list Mangrove Jack. Other fish schools include Dart, Grunter, Blue Salmon and bream.
The harbour is top notch family fishing, especially on windy days. Both sides of the public launching ramp are great kid fishing spots. Favourite baits here are pilchard, squid and especially small and large prawns, peeled. Soft plastics and small Halco’s are great, blue, gold and caviar. Shallow divers worked slowly across the weed beds and around the rocks will encourage hits from fish hiding for protection. Live bait is gold, particularly at night. Throw a cast net on the beach side to get Herring, Mullet and Hardyhead. Live Bait works particularly well after dark.
WEST POINT (H), (I). Yellow zone, 1 rod per person
The western most, mostly road accessible fishing location on Maggie is aptly named West Point. This unique location has it all and is a striking place to fish 24/7 although exceptionally low tides reduce the choices to the western most rocks, and a large sandy point. Generally, this area holds good bait and therefore can be a haven to many hungry pelagic species. For the relaxed angler bring a chair and a cold bevy and watch sunset, when the sun creates magical colours, as it sets over the mainland across the bay.
Evening is a fruitful time as big fish feed at last light and an hour or two into the night. Barra roam all night and in season target with live mullet or strip mullet. Mornings can be tops as the nervous bait schools hug close to the shore while the big predators get active looking for a morning feed. Gar, Poddy Mullet, Herring, Yakka’s, small prawns, and a myriad of other fingerlings are all in dense schools across the sands. If you are cast netting or drag netting for livie’s, watch out for little Happy Moments, (Black Rabbitfish) they tend to sting a bit. Juvenile Queenies are also packing plenty of spiny weaponry to give you pain.
West Point probably has one of the greatest great range of species due to its diverse nature and proximity to clear deep blue water, plus its vast shallow mud flats. Fish in this area include Flathead, Whiting, Salmon, Grunter, Barra, Cobia, sharks, Mackerel, Trevally, Queenies, Parrotfish, Mangrove Jack and Tarpon. In fact, nearly all species available around the island can be found in this area.
Westpoint sees regular Tiger Shark visits, plus big Rays, Nurse Sharks and has a large resident Turtle Population.
Lures that work Barra and Jacks love this area. Barra will take a multitude of lures. The best is slow retrieve shallow divers, (Black/ Gold, blue, purple and green are my favourites.) Work the shoals rocks and the beaches. Soft plastics are easy to pop across the top of the structures. Light Jigheads with Chasebaits, Gulp Pearl/ Firetiger/ Blackgold or pink are always winners. As a bonus these also work for Trevally and Flathead. Whiting just love tiny worm plastics on size 6 worm hook. To assist casting add a small sinker up the line. Young Bay Young Bay has rubble patches, old jetty remains and shallow mudflats, calm and protected, with many baitfish and prawns holding in shallow, attracting all species of predators.
Young Bay is generally calm water, being tucked away from the predominant southerlies. It does pay to bring some Bushman’s, those Zebra flies and March flies can make you dance, (not in a fun way) plus the midges can nearly carry you away. The species that mainly inhabit this area are Barra, Salmon, Grunter, Trevally and Queenies. Westpoint and Young Bay when the water is clear a magic sight fishing location. (see the fish and cast the lure- that’s next level fun.) Prawns dig into the sand and on the high tide hide in the Mangroves. As the tide drops, many big predator fish await the exodus of small fish and prawns from the safety of the creeks and mangrove roots. Catching prawns in season can get you all species. Live prawns are the go Grunter just cant resist. Fish with live bait, (Mullet and Gar can often be caught with a cast net near the creeks and points and are top level bait.) Grunter (Javelin)love prawns, as do most fish species. Squid are productive bait, as well as whole poddy mullet, mullet strips and thin strips of fish flesh, Pillie’s do tend to get stripped quickly by crabs and bait fish, so are not ideal bait off the beach. At the southern end of Young Bay is the start of the long run of mangroves, which run through past Bolger Bay, and then all the way back to Cockle Bay. Prawns can be caught in cast nets and drag nets.
HORSESHOE BAY (J), (K), (L)
Horseshoe Bay is our one of our busiest, but paradoxically also one of our most relaxed. Protected from all but northerly winds, it is fishable nearly all year round and is host an incredible variety of species. It has a double boat ramp but you must be aware of commercial operators in the mornings and afternoons. This ramp is exposed to the ocean and can be tricky in rolling swells. This bay also contains many restaurants, a pub, and from the beach affords spectacular sunsets.
Because of its size and diverse structure, the bay is visited by many Pelagic Species. Spanish Mackerel, Spotty Mackerel and Grey Mackerel Schools visit seasonally. Queenfish hang around the structures and bait schools. The deeper water near the points gets regular visits from schools of Mack Tuna and Longtail Tuna who love the clearer deeper water in these areas. Bottom bouncing is not only relatively easy in the flat waters but provides endless varieties of reef fish. Take care as dozens of Green Turtles inhabit the weed beds and are not easy to dehook and release. The caves around the side of the bays afford shelter to many species including Big Barra, Painted Sweetlip and Mangrove Jack. The Barra do regular morning and afternoon feeding runs along the bay. They follow the stinger net line where the mullet and Gar take refuge and sweep past the boat ramp.
Barra are a spectacular sporting fish caught all around Maggie and for those who travel to Hinchinbrook and NT to chase Barra, we reckon our salties taste better. One of the most sought-after sport fish is Golden Trevally and Horseshoe Bay is one of the most prolific habitats for these sporting gems, second only to Cockle Bay. They particularly love the Jelly Prawns when they are in the bay but tend to become focused on these to the exclusion of most lures. Smaller is better and can get the biggest fish. GT’S abound all through the bay, most being the 35-50 cm Juveniles, top sport on light rigs, but mixed in are some Stonkers.
Southern Horseshoe Bay Extremely shallow sandy waters, and well protected, the southern end of Horseshoe Bay is a Flathead haven. At the creek head Whiting, Flathead, smaller Trevally and on dusk Grunter congregate to feed on the bait that schools protectively in the warm waters. Whiting fishing is popular, particularly with southern anglers, and fresh bait is key. Pumping/ collecting bait is the best option but failing that sandworms and small peeled prawns on size 2 hooks with super light gear gives the most fun. For the lure angler Gulp sandworms on size 4 Jigs provide great sport with this aggressive species. For general HB fishing 8-10 lb line, 10-15lb lb leader and a 6-7’ /2000 combo proved maximum entertainment.
Flathead will take small divers, any slow jigged soft plastic, (Scented Gulps work brilliantly.) Trevally will have a go at any bait being presented to Whiting. I like the sunup sundown, and hour each side of the high tide.
Sunset luring gives the most spectacular photo opportunities as the sky colours are usually stunning.
To the left of the creek head Barra and Queenies cruise through the shallows, (Barra just after dark) Live mullet caught from the creek are by far the best fresh bait. Failing that frozen Mullet and Gar. Zerek divers work exceptionally well with the rattle being detected on the fish’s lateral lines. Retrieve these lures super slow, Barra are lazy feeders. Boat Ramp section The boat ramp area of Horseshoe Bay, both north and south side is at most times a productive and fun fishing spot. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are best, as the water sports and jet skis operate in the area during the day. It is an area that works equally well for lures and bait, and for the cast net champions livie’s are generally available. A fishing spot that is popular for locals as well as visiting anglers, it can produce many species of fish. Fingermark, Grunter, Barra, Tarpon, Queenies, Trevally, all are regularly caught here.
Many species of shark and rays also visit looking for a lazy food offering. Shark species include Black Reef, Shovelnose and Hammerhead. (Tip Live Gar and Mullet are an excellent choice on medium to heavy rigs if you are chasing big fish. Big Mullet =Big Barra.) Fast retrieve lures including small spoons, and metal flashers work on top feeding species. Jigged soft plastics including Chase baits work along the rock edges, as do big and small shallow divers, slow retrieved. My favourite all time lure in this area is small Pink or white Zman paddlers, great for many species including Barra. At night the glow paddlers keep on catching.
Also close to restaurants, cafés and cold beverages, this area has chairs and BBQ areas with plenty of shade. Cook your catch on the spot. North of the last house for a distance of 400m is weedbeds, which hold not only Turtles but Queenies, Wolf Herring, Long Tom, Trevally and when the Jelly Prawns are running Grunter, Dart, Flathead, and many more. This small section is one of my top 4 “Gold lure locations”. Look for scared bait, and often you will see fins of bigger fish moving through the water. Rising tides and just on dusk work best.
Northern Horseshoe Bay. Lagoon Country. There are 3 points of access to this area. The longest walk is along the beach, but you can toss a lure all the way, as there are pockets of bait and predator fish along the beach. In a hurry? The end of Swenson Street has a track on the left, then walk 200 m in and find the walkway to the top of the dunes. This trail heads past the lagoon and onto mid north Horseshoe. For the far north rocks end access, drive your vehicle from Pollard Street, (off Apjohn St,) then a short hike over a sand dune. With rocks to your left and a sandy beach, incorporating steep drop-offs, this is a top area to lure for all sorts of reef species from Coral Trout, Cod, Parrot fish, and one of the best eating and fighting fish, the Stripey Sea Perch. The area is quiet and secluded, and a great evening picnic spot. Plant the rods in the sand and play some ball sports with the kids while waiting for a hungry fish peel the line off your rod, (sometimes causing you to dive across the beach and save your fishing rig.)
The best baits are strip, or whole gar, half pillie, well presented squid USA blue box squid and large endeavour peeled prawn. Use sand sinkers or size 4 and this has the strongest current For the keen angler there is a clamber across the rocks to get to some exciting fish locations. Lures and floated baits midway along the rocks can get some of the biggest fish you can imagine, meter Queenies, 4kg Coral Trout, 6-10 kg Cod, Spanish and Grey Mackerel all wait for the angler with the time for a bit of a clamber and a few knee scrapes. These are all reported fish from this area, several locals have rods hidden in the rocks ready for their weekly fishing clamber across the rocks. The Best lures around this area are white red or blue divers, deeper floating divers in blues and gold, 10-30 gm metal vibes, as well as Mack spoons and big Halco Twisties. Float Pillies across the Bommies and Rocks to attract the hiding
HELPFUL APPS AND WEBSITES
Google Fishing Maggie and go to Magnetic Outdoor Adventure website for the latest pics and fishing blogs. This site shows where the action is each week, as do the Facebook and the Magnetic Island Fishing Facebook pages.
The Magnetic Island App is on Google Play and the App store. It contains masses of information for visitors to Maggie.
Download QLD fishing the FREE official Fisheries app that has all your legal fishing info with search function, ID and legal sizes plus no take information.
Drop instore to collect your free Zone map so you only fish in legal areas. Don’t risk the big fines.
FISHING / SNORKELING TRIPS
Audacity Fishing Charters- 0405 911 353
Picking up from Magnetic Island. This reef fishing trip on a comfy 3700 Kevlar cat is a must do. Big Reds, Coral Trout and Pelagics fill the esky. Fantastic times offshore. Facebook Audacity Townsville
Get Around Island Boat tours 07 4778 5909 or 0448 434 292
Based right here on Magnetic Island. If you have a boat licence and wish to explore our magical island by sea yourself, then Local icon Cliff has 8-person large comfortable boats for hire at great prices. If you would like one of the best most relaxed guides to go with you then for a few dollars more you get Cliff, who will take you on an adventure like no other, stories, fishing, and adventure, all on water. Explore the bays, feed fish, have a fish, snorkel, feed the Kites, and Eagles, and have lunch on a secluded beach, you decide your adventure. Leaves from Nelly Bay daily weather permitting.
Aquascene Charters 07 47785911, 0427900028, 0439785216
Based out of Magnetic Island This is a terrific way to see the Island by sea. Feed fish, and our majestic Eagles and Kites, snorkel with colourful reef fish, stop in special fishing spots and have a relaxing fish. Adam is a professional fisherman, as well as a wonderful tour guide, and makes every trip a special and unique one. This trip is a great family day out. Up to 24 people and a great price. Tailor made trips are a specialty. The tour leaves near Peppers Blue on Blue at Nelly Bay Daily, Bookings essential.
Northern Conquest 0428 745388
These are big boat esky filling longer reef fishing trips. 24–48-hour trip. Goes to the great reefs and provides all meals and bunking in a large 64-foot ex cray boat. Pick up from Magnetic Island available for groups.
Good local knowledge and great prices. Fishing is varied from creek, river and reef.
Island Time Cruises 0499996653
Contact Drue to get on island time and fish, snorkel, and cruise around Magnetic island at a leisurely pace. Based out of Horseshoe Bay.
Andrew Mead – Aussie Barra Charters 0428 988 229
Fishing the Cape, around Magnetic Island, up the creeks and all the way out to the shoals Andrew is great fun. Using a stable Obrien Longboat, Andrew can take up to 5 anglers, and uses live bait and lures. Andrew may pick up from the island depending on numbers.
Fair Dinkum Fishing 0411864055
As it says, Aussie fishing offer based out of Townsville. Fishing on a purpose-built punt that takes up to 8.