An expert’s guide to fishing in NSW

If you like to throw a line in, there are few better places to do it than in NSW. From tranquil lakes and rivers to sandy beaches, you can find the perfect spot for beginners, experts and everyone in between.

 Jonathon Bleakley

Jonathon Bleakley

May 2024 -
min read

What are your top fishing spots in NSW?

What a tough question! NSW has so many great options when it comes to fishing. If I had to choose, my list would be: 

They often say Coffs Harbour is where the north and south meet, and such a statement does in fact have some truth behind it. You seem to be able to target so many different species in this part of the world. Whether it be the northern species, such as mackerel, mahi mahi or cobia. Or some of our freshwater battlers in the form of the Aussie bass or rainbow trout, there is so much fishing to be done here. 

Man fishing off the jetty in Coffs Harbour

Jetty in Coffs Harbour, North Coast

Being the largest saltwater tidal lake in the Southern Hemisphere, Lake Macquarie just has so many options. I have grown up on the shores of the lake and have been lucky enough to explore every nook and cranny to be found. It is also a great place to learn your trade, whether you're a young lad wanting to get started, or just want to get the kids out on the water. It has sand flats, drop offs, sunken boats and all the cafes and restaurants you want for a great family fishing location. 

Lake St Clair... one word here: beautiful! We are so lucky to have such an abundance of freshwater dams in NSW. St Clair, close to Singleton, is the perfect spot for a weekend away, whether you want to chase an Australian bass or go wakeboarding, it's such a nice place to wind down. 

Friends fishing off the jetty at Raffertys Resort in Lake Macquarie, North Coast

Cams Wharf, Lake Macquarie

The Five Rivers Fishing Trail encompasses the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Wakool, Edward and Murray rivers all within 30 minutes’ drive of Balranald, a former river port. Fish living in these rivers include Murray cod, catfish and European carp.

For that special charter, try deep-sea fishing tours off UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, which allows only 400 visitors at any one time.

Family enjoying a day of fishing Lord Howe Island Wharf, Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island Wharf, Lord Howe Island 


What’s the best destination for a fishing holiday the whole family can enjoy?

Lake Macquarie – easily! Sand banks, cafes, local parks, clear water and so many kilometres to explore. Plus, the fishing is excellent! I would suggest grabbing some fresh worms from the local tackle shop and heading to the flats in search of a whiting or bream, before stopping off at Wangi Wangi Bakery for a coffee and pie. Doesn't get much better in my books.

Friends fishing off the jetty at Raffertys Resort in Lake Macquarie, North Coast

Raffertys Resort in Lake Macquarie

Where should I go for the best fly fishing?

Take a guided fly fishing trip and try your hand at catching trout in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, and Murray cod on the Murray River. The Snowy Mountains also has great fly fishing opportunities and each year hosts the Snowy Mountains Trout Festival. East of the Snowies is Bermagui, a game fishing destination. With the continental shelf only 20km offshore, take a charter from Bermagui Harbour to the pristine waters to hook black marlin and yellowfin tuna.

Tumut Fly Fishing - Kosciuszko National Park

Fly fishing in Kosciuszko National Park

Where should I take someone who’s never been fishing (or says they don’t like fishing!)?

The beach! NSW has hundreds of beaches along the coast that offer some fantastic fishing. The best part about heading to the beach, though, is if the fishing is slow, you can enjoy the surroundings and not be limited to being in a boat or kayak. When I was growing up, I would often become impatient with the fishing and instead kick the footy around or go for a run or swim. If you're going to take someone to your local beach, be sure to choose ones with limited people, so your lines don’t interfere with anyone, and take your rubbish when you leave. 

Cast a line from gorgeous beaches, such as near The Entrance on the Central Coast, or in national parks. Further north in Yamba, you can catch flathead, bream and snapper from one of the beautiful beaches including Whiting Beach, Main Beach and Pippi Beach.

Father and daughter enjoying a morning of fishing at Glasshouse Rocks in Narooma, South Coast

Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma

If I’m an experienced fisher and looking for a challenge, where should I go?

Newcastle. The silver mulloway (or jewfish) is undoubtedly the holy grail when it comes to fishing, and Newcastle Harbour is the home of the 70-pounder. Unfortunately, they can be difficult fish to catch, especially if you're chasing a mega one. If you want a challenge, head to Newcastle Harbour and try your luck soaking a bait along the rock wall. I'll see you there! 

Queens Wharf with views to Nobbys Lighthouse in Newcastle

Queens Wharf, Newcastle

What do you need to do differently when fishing in the ocean as opposed to lakes or rivers?

Plenty! The beauty of fishing in NSW is the variety of places you can fish, but this also means you have to be flexible and adjust your technique. If you're fishing off the beach, use monofilament line as opposed to braid, this will give you higher abrasion resistance along the sand which could be the difference between landing that fish of a lifetime. If you're heading offshore to fish from a boat, you need to up-size your tackle. In the estuaries you can get away with fishing 2-4kg or 3-5kg rods, but outside, where the fish are bigger and you're competing with the food chain (namely sharks), you need to be fishing 4-8kg or 6-10kg size rods. As for safety, if you're fishing offshore there are some requirements to fulfill, such as lifejackets, flares, V-Sheet, radio and water – be sure to read up on what you need before you hit the water. 

Men enjoying a day on the water fishing with Blue Fishing Charters, Port Stephens, North Coast

Blue Fishing Charters, Nelson Bay

What other activities go well with a fishing holiday?

Camping, wakeboarding, hiking, cooking – the beauty of a fishing holiday in NSW is that you can combine so many outdoor activities in the one weekend. Picture this: walk to the fishing spot along a hiking trail, catch a fish off the beach with the family, quick swim as the sun gets up, cook the fish for lunch back at the campsite, then finish the day with an afternoon waterski on the nearby lake. Perfect, right? 

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