QLD: Townsville Offshore Fishing

Port of Call - Townsville, North QLD Australia

QLD Townsville Offshore Fishing

Located on the northeastern coast of Queensland, sunny Townsville is a ‘dry’ tropical region loaded with natural attractions. But it’s the fishing that draws anglers every year

Where Is Townsville?

A vibrant major centre for the region, Townsville has a wide range of activities and attractions to suit the whole family. Situated about 1400km north of Brisbane (a 90-minute flight away) and 346km south of Cairns, it is a major port, centre for the mining region, and gateway to the outback and the Great Barrier Reef.

From Townsville it’s about 142km to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), while the offshore grounds of Myrmidon Reef sit 130km to the north.

Townsville is also close to major sugar and mango crops. The World Heritage-listed Hinchinbrook Island sits about 160km to the north. It’s a great place to escape the southern winter and spring.

The beautiful and contrasting landscape of Magnetic Island is only a 25-minute cruise from Townsville and has a diverse range of accommodation options and activities to suit for a day or week. With 23 beautiful bays, rugged coastline and Hoop Pine forests, it is a wonderful diversion from life in town.

Townsville has seen its share of wars and was a base for capturing Germany’s Pacific colonies in World War I. It housed up to 90,000 Allied personnel during World War II. Townsville itself is a major military base, and was bombed three times by the Japanese in the battle for the Coral Sea. The Strand area adjacent to the marina has many memorials from this period.

Being in the tropics, Townsville has been hit by cyclones; one of the worst was a category four on Christmas Eve in 1971.

What is Townsville Famous For?

Known for its very ‘dry’ tropical climate, Townsville boasts over 300 sunny days each year. It has distinct wet and dry seasons; the wet season runs from November to March and very little rain falls outside of these months.

Home to some of the country’s best-known gamefishing captains (including Jim Dalling and charter boat captain turned boatbuilder Peter O’Brien), the area draws anglers from all corners. Nearby Cape Bowling Green is known for its light-tackle sailfish and baby black marlin. Then there are the big fish. Australia’s first grander black was taken outside of Cairns in October 2007.

What is the History of Townsville?

Capt Cook named the area Cleveland Bay when he discovered it in 1770. In the 1860s the first dock was built in the bay for Capt Robert Towns, after whom the settlement was named Townsville.

With sugarcane, a gold discovery, meat works and farming in the area’s hinterland, the town boomed. A railway to the inland towns provided the port with easy access to its cargoes.

Target Fishing Species

While Townsville is most famous for its huge concentrations of bait schools and small black marlin from Easter through to September, there are many other things to chase as well. Being a major area for barramundi, there are many excellent guides to take you down to the Houghton River area just south of town.

On the reef there are sails and plenty of big mackerel, while further out are the wide grounds of Myrmidon Reef. Flinders Reef sees incredible jigging, popper fishing and trolling for blue and black marlin.

Getting To Townsville

Fly: Virgin Blue and Qantas operate daily flights to Townsville from all major cities.
From the airport, it’s a short 5km drive to the city. International visitors need to catch
connecting flights from their port of arrival (the closest international airport is located
346km north in Cairns).
Drive: About 1400km from Brisbane, 2800km from Melbourne.
Train: Queensland’s fast tilt-train operates bi-daily between Brisbane and Townsville.
Telephone 1300 131 722 for bookings. 

Species map is pretty much the same as for Cairns issue 57, except black marlin good from April
and excellent from June.

Fishing Charter Boat Operators

Fishing Tournaments and Events

Author: Tim Richardson Photography: Jim Dalling