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The Top End’s Top 5 Offshore Fishing Spots

It doesn’t get much better than the Northern Territory if you love fishing.

Fishos can wet a line in huge tidal rivers, scenic billabongs and estuaries, and kilometres of spectacular coastline for the ultimate fishing adventure. The Top End’s raw, untouched beauty hosts an array of native and introduced fish species, including giant trevally, Spanish mackerel, and coral trout.

But it’s the NT’s iconic barramundi that currently have fishos talking, with the second season of Tourism Northern Territory’s Million Dollar Fish campaign giving everyone a chance to hook $1 million – just by reeling in a prize-tagged barramundi.

What better excuse could you need to stay, play and fish the Top End? If you’re planning to hit NT waters to try your hand at catching the big one, here are some of the best offshore fishing spots you can visit up north.

Escape from it all at Cobourg Peninsula

arnhemLand3_creditTourismNTTry your luck along the rugged coastlines, white sandy beaches and savannah woodlands in the fishing paradise of the Cobourg Peninsula, part of the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.

Well-known for its bluewater fishing, the Peninsula juts out into the Arafura Sea on the north-west corner of Arnhem Land and is surrounded by bays, inlets, rocky headlands and coral reefs. Arnhem Land is an Aboriginal reserve larger than some European nations, yet with a population of only 20,000 it is virtually uninhabited, making this a great spot for those looking for a quiet getaway.

Book yourself in with an accredited fishing tour operator to head to well-stocked fishing spots including Maningrida, Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt.

Arnhem Land is an Aboriginal reserve larger than some European nations, yet with a population of only 20,000 it is virtually uninhabited, making this a great spot for those looking for a quiet getaway.


A tropical getaway in the Tiwi Islands

tiwiIslandsCredit-tourismNTJust 80km north of Darwin, the pristine wilderness and untouched landscapes of the Tiwi Islands are a 30-minute flight away and home to wonderful estuary fishing for barramundi, salmon, and mangrove jack.

It also offers excellent bluewater fishing around the rocky headlands for exciting finds such as queenfish, giant trevally, golden snapper and black jewfish. Explore miles of twisting mangrove rivers and estuaries and relax in the islands’ warm tropical sunshine while waiting for a bite.

Picking up your fishing permit for this island paradise is easy – the Tiwi Land Council and local traditional landowners have established streamlined access and permit procedures to ensure you spend less time queueing and more time fishing in these unforgettable islands.

Something for everyone at Darwin Harbour

darwinHarbourBlueWaterFishingCredit-tourismNTThe most easily-accessible spot on this list, Darwin Harbour sits on the west of Darwin and features four arms with an array of trickling creeks and rock bars – creating an abundance of space for you to spread out and find your own fishing spot.

Several sunken warships, bombed by the Japanese in air raids on Darwin in 1942, make great artificial reefs, attracting a range of different marine species to the Harbour. The fishing here is considered world-class for a reason, with easily accessible water, high quality bluewater fishing, and great mud-crabbing, as well as being prime barramundi habitat.

Did we mention that six of last year’s $10,000 prize-winning barramundi were caught here during Million Dollar Fish’s first season?

Arguably already one of Darwin’s must-see destinations, Darwin Harbour’s busy shops, modern cafes and restaurants, and water-based attractions are a perfect complement to your fishing escape. Wrap up a hard day’s fishing with a thrilling jet boat ride or an intimate sunset cruise.

Relax and unwind at Daly River of the Territory’s top barramundi fisheries is found 210km southwest of Darwin on the lush and peaceful Daly River, which boasts hot springs, gorges and bush walking.

Plenty of wildlife can be spotted along the river, including cockatoos, water buffalo, turtles, and a healthy population of both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.

This stunning location is ideal for anglers looking for the perfect catch close to tourist-friendly facilities such as picnic areas, tourist parks and even a pub – perfect for bringing the family along.

High adventure at Mary River Wetlands

maryRiverWetlandsAirboatingCredit-tourismNTFor those looking for a touch of adventure, the Mary River Wetlands sit less than two hours’ drive from Darwin and contain the largest concentration of saltwater crocs in the world.

The range of native wildlife and aquatic birdlife here is as good as you’ll experience anywhere in Australia, with 250 species of birds to admire, and fish up to 1.4m in size being landed each year, creating a wildlife observer’s paradise.

Soak up the magical atmosphere while you spend the day fishing and cruising along huge expanses of freshwater and coastal flood plains where barramundi thrive. Relax after you’ve caught the night’s dinner with an outback bush walk or experience the adrenaline rush of an iconic airboat ride.

To find out how you can hook yourself a $1 million barramundi in the NT, head to For more info on all the best ways to do the NT, check out

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Alana Lowes

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