The Queensland Coast offers great adventure beyond the Great Barrier Reef. From one such location, Airlie Beach, you can access some of the most beautiful, plentiful coral reefs and beaches in the world. These spots are great for fishing as well as just taking in the postcard-worthy views.
Located all along the coast, Queensland's world-famous fishing charters depart from every port from Brisbane to Trinity Beach. But no area encapsulates the beauty, wildlife and fishing like the reefs of the Coral Sea. Located on the immensely popular Airlie Beach, just a few miles from the Great Barrier Reef, is FishDive Charters, a full-service fishing charter service specializing in Shark, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Grouper, and Snapper.
Airlie Beach is surrounded by some of the most beautiful coral reefs and miniature islands in the world. While most tourists never make it beyond the Great Barrier Reef, FishDive Charters take groups around to the many points of interest in this part of the world. A tight layer of reefs combine to make the largest part of the Great Barrier Reef, including the Heart Reef (so named for its heart-shape), the Hook Reef and the Whitsunday Islands.
The Whitsunday Islands are a game fisherman's paradise, with postcard-worthy views of silica-white beaches, crystal-clear water and enough fish for everyone. Off the coast of Whitsunday Island to the north lies Hayman Island. Just 31 km (20 nautical miles) from Airlie Beach, Hayman Island provides access to some of the best reef fishing in Australia.
From the brush-covered beaches of the northwestern tip where boats drop anchor just off shore to the wide open beaches surrounding Hayman Island Harbor, fishermen will find plenty of Coral Trout, Cod and Tuna to satisfy even the hungriest fish-hunter. Fisherman flock to Hayman September through November in search of Black Marlin.
The view from the Harbor side of Hayman Island contains nearby reef formations Black Island and Langford Reef Island, just 3km off the coast. These sandpits offer respite from the resort travelers on Hayman that may be scaring the fish away. A quick trip to these reefs can also provide some great fishing.
The Lihou Reef is one of the most famous in the Coral Sea for its beautiful cays and coral formations. The area around the northeast tip of Lihou Reef, known as Observatory Cay, offers an abundance of sea life—from Sharks and Tuna to Crab and Conch. Lihou is also known as a great spot for divers as researchers have found some of the most rare forms of coral in the world here. Long whip corals and Gorgonian fans have been spotted by divers off the coast of this outlying sanctuary.
For the truly adventurous fisherman, the outlying Coral Sea Islands provide even more opportunities for fishing fun. Mellish Reef lies 765 km (413 nautical miles) northeast of the coast of Queensland, leaving you truly in the wild, open ocean. Blocked off from civilization—with the nearest town, Horseshoe Bay, approximately 969 km away—this distant reef is home to many species of deep sea fish and has become a stop on charter tours, mostly piloted by more experienced fishermen angling for new catches.
The first thing many visitors will notice about Mellish Reef location are the birds. The majestic bird life at Mellish Reef is world-famous, and has been a favorite location for nature photographers the world over. Watching these birds hunt for their prey can also give you the hints as to where tuna and other big game fish can be found. The reef's magnifying glass shape allows you to walk along the area of the island and angle rods and nets either on the open ocean side or into the middle of the circular top portion—the lens of the magnifying glass—of Mellish Reef, allowing you access to a more captive group of fish.
Mellish Reef is famous for fish ranging from dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, sailfish or even marlin. While marlin and other trophy fish can require heavier equipment, traditional anglers will also find a wide selection of coral trout, spanish mackerel, longtail tuna and a whole range of other sportfish that you can snare with a rod-and-reel.
For divers, there are nearby areas of interest, most notably the Mellish Rise, a seldom-visited rock formation that sits upon a former volcano. These sedimentary rock formations form uneven terrain, plateaus and cliffs, all visible underwater. Scuba divers and snorkelers will be able to explore this formation to the northeast of the Mellish Reef. It is an unforgettable experience to see this underground network of crags and cliffs formed by early tectonic shifts before the modern earth was formed.