The Northern Territory is an underrated treasure for fisherman and lovers of true adventure. From the mangrove-lined estuaries of Darwin to the quiet billabongs of Kadadu, tidal rivers of Katherine and unspoiled, unfished wild coastlines of Arnhem Land, the Top End is a world-class fishing destination.

Mary River barra mission, Wildman Fishing Tours

At the heart of this all-consuming hobby we call fishing, though, is knowing where to go and when. From October every year, the Top End progresses through three distinct fishing seasons, offering an array of fishing opportunities for anglers.

The Build-up: October to December
Warming water temps activate the fish, spurring them to mate and feed. Inland catchments, rivers and billabongs are hot spots.

The Wet: January to mid-March
Monsoonal rains overflow the floodplains, spilling into waterways and connecting the country, revealing plentiful fishing opportunities from the coast to the inland waterways.

The Run-off: mid-March to April
This is the ultimate barramundi season. As the floodwaters recede, predatory fish species like barra, jacks and queenies hunt the smaller creeks, billabongs and river mouths.


Buckingham River, East Arnhem Land, East Arnhem Fishing Adventures

As if the pot needed sweetening, the Territory is running its seventh season of Million Dollar Fish, offering the chance to land a prize-winning barra worth up to a million dollars.

So here’s a quick guide to where and how to retire fishing the Territory!

Darwin barra with Reel Screamin Barra Fishing. Credit Shaana McNaught & Tourism NT

Fishing around Darwin
Darwin is surrounded by an astounding array of fishing options, from mangrove estuaries to open water adventures along the coast.

Best fishing spots:

  • Darwin Harbour, sprinkled with estuaries and mangroves, is a great start point with plenty of fishing spots and facilities, including daily charters, fishing tours, boat hire outlets and tackle shops. Bluewater fishing is exciting year-round with finds including Spanish mackerel, longtail tuna, sailfish and reef fish.
  • Less than two hours drive of Darwin, Bynoe Harbour is a large estuary lined with mangrove creeks, inlets and bays, where barra, threadfin salmon and pikey bream are often caught.
  • A two-hour drive from Darwin, Dundee Beach is a popular local holiday spot thanks to its quiet beaches and unspoiled fishing waters.
  • Adelaide River, which sprawls through Litchfield National Park and flows into Adam Bay, has many creek mouths, ideal for catching barra, mud crabs and jewfish.
  • There’s a chance of catching a tagged barra in the Mary River, where anglers can pick from several tidal and billabong fishing options, including the scenic Corroboree Billabong and Shady Camp.
  • For a weekend getaway, book a permit and take the trip across water to the Tiwi Islands, known for its thriving Aboriginal rock culture, coastal landscapes and exclusive fishing.
The beast, the barra. Pic Wildman Fishing Tours

Must-do premium fishing experiences:

  • Departing from Darwin, enjoy a helifishing adventure with Airborne Solutions, where you’ll be dropped off at some of Top End’s most secluded fishing spots. After a morning of fishing, spend the afternoon exploring the Top End’s best pubs via chopper.
  • The Corroborree Billabong Day Tour offers an incredible wilderness experience through Top End wetlands.
  • The guys from Anglers Choice Fishing Safaris operate mainly out of Dundee Beach and can land you just about any bucket list fish, from barra to marlin and everything between.
  • Spend the weekend at fishing lodge, Tiwi Islands Adventures, and enjoy a remote yet comfortable sportfishing experience.
  • Wildman Fishing Tours offer premium fishing tours and charters across Darwin. On the brand-new Fishing and Foodies tour, anglers will enjoy a day of wild fishing/mud-crabbing and bring their hard-earned catch to the iconic Hanuman Restaurant, where Jimmy Shu’s team will cook up a seafood banquet. For an all-included getaway, opt for the 5-star Fishing Staycation, which includes accommodation and helicopter transfers to some of Top End’s hottest fishing spots.
Yellow Water at dawn – barra heaven

Fishing in Kakadu
The dual World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is a popular spot for beginners and experienced anglers. The park’s Traditional Owners also ask visitors to consider using sustainable fishing practices and being croc-wise at all times, and the use of live bait is not permitted.

My first Territory barra from Yellow Water!

Best fishing spots:

  • Kakadu’s rich floodplains flow onto the East and South Alligator Rivers, making them some of Top End’s most productive barra catchments, especially during the wet and the run-off season. The tidal sections of both rivers are easily accessible by sealed roads and concrete boat ramps.
  • At other times of the year, reef fishing at the mouth of the rivers is recommended, yielding catches like black jewfish and golden snapper.
My second Territory barra from Yellow Water.

Must-do fishing experiences:

  • For travellers looking to explore Yellow Water Billabong, Yellow Water Fishing offers boat tours, accompanied by an experienced fishing guide and fishing gear.
  • During March and April, Wild Bush Fishing Safaris operate from Bamurru Plains as a base. The eco-friendly, safari lodge is a private fishing mecca, with exclusive access to 300 km² of pristine floodplains and wetlands in Kakadu’s Mary River.
Yellow Water’s other main inhabitants, of which there are hundreds.

Fishing around Katherine
A favourite among Territorians, the Katherine region features several tidal rivers, ideal for catching barra.

Best fishing spots:

  • The Daly River provides the perfect snag habitats for barra. Depending on the season, the river rises and falls by up to 16 metres, and tides of up to seven metres are common. Please note the river is reserved for recreational fishing only.
  • The Victoria River is renowned for its big tides and the size of barra caught each year. Fishing is best on neap tides when the water is clear at spots, like the Timber Creek township and freshwater holes near Victoria River bridge.
  • The Roper River, which drains from the Mataranka region to the Gulf of Carpentaria, is abundant with estuary species, like giant trevally, barra and mud crabs. Most barra fishing occurs east of Roper Bar, the crossing separating the saltwater and freshwater sections of the river.
  • Near the Queensland border, the well-serviced town of Borroloola is a great base for fishing on the Mcarthur River. There is also boat access to the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Sir Edward Pellew group of islands, whose reefs and rock outcrops attract an incredible range of reef and game fish.
Crisp, clean saltwater barra from the Buckingham system, East Arnhem Fishing Adventures

Fishing in Arnhem Land
For the fishing experience of a lifetime, secure a permit to one of Australia’s last true wildernesses. With unspoiled waters, complex reef systems and no commercial fishing pressure, Arnhem Land is a world-class sportfishing destination.

Remote mission into Arnhem’s endless rivers and creeks. East Arnhem Fishing Adventures

Best fishing spots:

  • Located inside Garig Garig Barlu national Park, the Cobourg Peninsula is surrounded by bays, inlets, rocky headlands and coral reefs, great for bluewater fishing.
  • 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 in Australia. The estuary systems in Arnhem and Buckingham Bays are excellent for catching barra.
  • Groote Eylandt, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, features world-class fishing grounds. The area is best known for its large populations of marlin and sailfish available in November and March.
GT, Gove. East Arnhem Fishing Adventures

Must-do fishing experiences:

The ultimate remote, unspoiled waters: Groote Eylandt Sport Fishing

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