Fishing in Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land waters are a fishing paradise and understandably why the locals want to keep this a secret.
Home to some of the best world-class fishing in Australia. There’s no crowds here to catch the big one (or two!). Take a fishing charter, hire your own boat or BYO Boat.
Arnhem Land is one of Australia’s last true wilderness reserves, larger than some European nations, and is home to one of the world’s oldest living cultures. Less than 20,000 people live in this remarkably unspoiled region, which is best known for its strong aboriginal culture and majestic landscapes. The coast and inland river systems are regarded as a barramundi and bluewater sport fishing haven.
From the Gulf of Carpentaria in the east to the Arafura sea in the north, the Arnhem Land coast is intersected by dozens of remote, tropical tidal rivers that are only accessible to visitors who are carrying appropriate entry permits.
As a visitor to Arnhem Land, the only way to legally visit and fish much of the area is through accredited fishing tour operations. Options include lodge and safari tent accommodation, both with guided fishing. Travel is either by four-wheel drive, regular scheduled flights to remote aboriginal communities or private charter flights.
The Cobourg Peninsula lies along the Arafura Sea on the north-west corner of Arnhem Land and is surrounded by bays, inlets, rocky headlands and coral reefs. Barramundi are found in the tidal creeks and estuaries, but the area is better known for its bluewater fishing. Anglers have many reef outcrops and creeks to choose from, both inside Port Essington and offshore.
Cobourg Peninsula is within the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, jointly managed by the traditional aboriginal landowners and NT parks and wildlife. Visitors who wish to camp at the park are limited to the months between May and October and must obtain permits from NT Parks and Wildlife.
Accommodation options are a resort, lodge and beach huts, and all offer guided fishing and/or boat hire. There are also air strips for private charter flights.
The pristine waters around the Gove Peninsula and the remote coast and islands of North-East Arnhem Land have some of the best tropical sportfishing available anywhere in Australia. The estuary systems in Arnhem and Buckingham Bays also provide excellent barra fishing.
The region is serviced by the small, tropical township of Nhulunbuy, located on the Peninsula. Visiting anglers will find a wide range of services available in Nhulunbuy, including hotel and motel accommodation, clubs, a range of sporting facilities, shops and plenty of tours to book, but there are no camping grounds or caravan parks.
Getting your own trailer-boat to Nhulunbuy can be difficult, but some anglers ship their vessels via the regular barge service from Darwin. Charter vessels and guided fishing are available to fish around Gove or to travel further out to the different island chains.
Anglers from around the world visit the fishing grounds south of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, known for large numbers of marlin and sailfish, mainly between the months of November and March. Groote Eylandt Sports Fishing operate professional fishing expeditions from Groote Eylandt Lodge, with local guides who know the waters. Groote Eylandt Lodge provides facilities for visitors to the island, including beachfront accommodation and a dedicated fishing village, a modern bar and restaurant, and a resort-style pool.
Groote Eylandt game and sport fishing club hosts major game fishing competitions each year. Live-aboard charters are also available.