Queensland has an amazing selection of beautiful spearfishing locations to discover and explore as it is home to the colourful Great Barrier Reef. To make these easier to navigate, the spearfishing sites have been broken up into 3 different sections.
Spearfishing North Queensland
Spearfishing from the shore: Spearfishing from the shore can be okay in Mackay if you get good visibility. Barramundi, Fingermark, Mangrove Jack and Coral Trout are all common targets for spear fishermen off Mackay.
Spearfishing from a boat: Mackay is better diving from a boat. You can explore and spear some great reefs out of Mackay, with many common reef species and pelagic frequenting the warm, reef systems.
Spearfishing from the shore: Spearfishing from the shore off Cairns is limited due to visibility. If you do manage to get out, you may encounter Barramundi, Fingermark, Mangrove Jacks, Bream, and other inshore reef and estuary species. The water is fairly warm all year round, so a 1.5mm or 3.5mm wetsuit will be sufficient. Remember to cover up from head to toe, always wearing hood, socks, booties and a wetsuit, as painful, and sometimes deadly, stingers frequent the more Northern waters. Also be mindful of sharks and crocodiles in the area keep an eye out, and dive with a buddy.
Spearfishing from a boat: Cairns has some spectacular spearfishing if you have access to a boat. The inshore reefs provide great opportunities to spear large species including Mackerel, Parrot Fish, Trout, Mangrove Jacks, Fingermark, Nannygai, Trevally and much more. The outer reefs off Cairns hold large Dogtooth Tuna, Sailfish, Other Tuna and Marlin as well, so if you have an opportunity to get on a charter boat heading out from that area, you won’t be disappointed. The reefs are all very similar, it is just a matter of exploring them and finding which ones suit you best.
Spearfishing Central Queensland
Spearfishing from the shore: Spearfishing from the shore in Bundaberg can be very productive with Crayfish, Mangrove Jack, Barramundi, Fingermark, Coral Trout and Parrot Fish all common targets in the area. Rocky headlands are the best entry points when spearfishing in Bundaberg. The best visibility is typically in winter, when you will need at least a 3.5mm wetsuit. Visibility onshore isn’t always good, and only certain months of the year may be accessible. It is better to try to get out in a boat from Bundaberg to the reef.
Spearfishing from a boat: Spearfishing from a boat out of Bundaberg can be very productive. With the southern Bunker Group of the Great Barrier Reef only a couple of hours away, as well as some nice closer in reefs. Spanish Mackerel, Parrotfish, Coral Trout, Mangrove Jack and other reef species are common targets on the Bundaberg reef systems.
Spearfishing from the shore: Spearfishing from the shore in 1770 can be productive at certain times with Kingfish, Mackerel, Cobia, Trevally, Queenfish, Mangrove Jacks and Cod all being common species. The 1770 headland is well known for pelagic fish, but also for BIG and plentiful sharks so be careful in low visibility, and always dive with a buddy. The clearest times to dive is usually winter, at high tide, or when there hasn't been much rain. A 3.5mm wetsuit is ideal for most times of the year, except summer when a 1.5mm wetsuit may be more suitable. Be careful diving on the headland, or swimming out to the headland, as there is quite a bit of boat traffic, and boats trolling lures along the headland. Springs Beach is also a nice shore dive with big rocky headlands that produce nice whiting, bream, and blubberlip/morwong.
Spearfishing from a boat: 1770 is a popular fishing and spearfishing destination. The Bunker Group reefs such as Lady Musgrave, Lamont and Fitzroy reefs can be nice diving, but some days they can be quiet. You will need a 6m+ boat to safely and comfortably travel to the reefs. If you have a smaller boat or tinny, you may like to travel to Bustard Heads. Keep in mind that Bustard Heads rarely gets visibility better than 8m though, so you should be comfortable with low visibility diving, and sharks. Sharks are plentiful in the 1770 region and on the reef, so always dive with a buddy.
Regulations: you can find a map of the Marine Park Zoning in the Bunker Group off 1770 here: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/28124/Map18-GDA94.pdf
Spearfishing from the shore: At certain times of the year you can find some nice inshore spearfishing, however it is generally rare to find visibility of more than a few metres. If you do happen to have some good visibility, you may find Tuskfish and Jewfish of Gladstone.
Spearfishing from the boat: Spearfishing from Gladstone is best done out of a boat. This way, you can get out to the Northern Bunker Group and experience the beautiful reefs out there. These reefs are popular and visited by many spearos and line fishermen. If you don’t have a really big boat, Rock Cod Shoals can produce good fish if the visibility is workable. The other reefs further out are much the same, with Coral Trout, Mackerel, Parrot Fish, Mangrove Jacks, Cod, Tuskfish, Kingfish and Trevally all common targets. It is just a matter of exploiting the different reefs and finding what you like.
Spearfishing from the shore: There is very limited spearfishing from the shore off Yeppoon due to bad visibility most of the year.
Spearfishing from a boat: There are certain areas off Yeppoon that are separable if you have a boat, but there are also many green, or no-spearing, zones. Some parts of Keppel Island can be speared and will produce nice Trout, Parrots, Tuskfish and Spanish Mackerel. It is often difficult to get good visibility off Yeppoon.
Spearfishing South East Queensland
South East Queensland has a variety of great spearfishing spots, with options to dive from the shore or from a boat. South East Queensland is also home to many new and experienced spearos, and a few spearfishing clubs. This makes it very easy to tee up a dive, whether you are a local or just traveling through.
Spearfishing from the shore: Spearfishing from the shore on the Gold Coast is very popular, but that doesn't mean there aren't good fish left. Some common species encountered include Jewfish, Mangrove Jacks, Bream, Tailor, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Sweetlip, Morwong and Surgeon Fish.
It is important to remember that you are not allowed to spearfish in the seaways or inside of break walls on the Gold Coast (even though you are allowed to fish with a line), but the outside of the break walls/rock walls can be quite productive in good weather. Burleigh Headland can also be quite good with Morwong, Sweetlip, Luderick and Rock Cale popular catches.
One great spot close to the Gold Coast is Kingscliffe. This area is very popular for spearfishing from the shore as there are three good rock bombies that come out of the water from 100m to 500m from the shore. This is a great place to dive for all levels of experience, as there are variable depths and a lot of ground to explore there is even an old shipwreck! Note that you will need a NSW fishing license to dive this spot (see NSW below).
Spearfishing from a boat: There are plenty of good fish to be found around the Gold Coast if you have access to a boat. In fact, the Gold Coast holds some of the best pelagic spearfishing in South East Queensland. Some common pelagic species encountered and speared around the Gold Coast include Cobia, Jew Fish, Wahoo, Spanish Mackerel, Sailfish and even Marlin. In addition to this, there are some nice reef and shallow water species including Job Fish, Parrot Fish, Mangrove Jack, Surgeon Fish, Bream, Sweetlip, and Morwong.
Regulations: It is important to check the spearfishing regulations, including green zones, for the Gold Coast. Seaways and Cook Island are just some of the ‘no spearing’ zones.
Clubs: If you are looking for a club in this area, the Tweed Gold Coast Freedivers are Queensland’s largest spearfishing club. You will be in good hands if you hook up with them, and you will learn a lot about the area and spearfishing in general.
Spearfishing from the shore: While Brisbane spearfishing can be extremely productive; there are not many options for spearfishing from the shore. This is because of the rivers, which create a lot of dirty water and run off into the ocean. Redcliffe does have some shore diving opportunities, but generally only for a couple of weeks of the year in winter when the water is clearest.
Spearfishing from a boat: Spearfishing from a boat in Brisbane can be extremely productive, and one of South East Queensland’s best and most popular spearfishing spots. Common species encountered off Brisbane, at places like Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island, include Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, Wahoo, Job Fish, Parrot Fish, Tusk Fish, Gold Spot Wrasse, Large Eye Sea Bream, Small Eyed Sea Bream, Grassy Emperors, Spangled Emperor, Dolphin Fish, Mangrove Jack, Cod, as well as the occasional Jew Fish, Marlin and Sailfish.
The northern section of Moreton Island is really nice spearfishing, most easily accessible from Redcliffe boat ramp. Depths are mostly 10-15m, but of course there is some really great 25-30m ground for those more experienced spearos as well. The ocean facing side of Moreton Island can also produce some nice fish, with a lot of coffee rock ground there ranging from 10-25m in depth, depending how far from the beach you dive.
In Winter, the water temperature reaches as low as 16’, but typically sits at around 18-21’. A 3.5mm or 5mm wetsuit is best for spearfishing Moreton Island in Winter. In Summer and Spring, the water temperature is 24’-29’ which is very warm. A 1.5mm wetsuit is perfect for that time of year.
The best visibility in this area is in the Winter months, however, Summer can also produce good visibility. Typically, south-easterly winds will push clear water in to the Moreton Island area.
North Stradbroke Island can be great spearfishing as well and is best accessed from Cleveland boat ramp. There is a very dangerous and sometimes tricky bar crossing to get to southern moreton and northern stradbroke island though, so be mindful of the tides, swell and wind when deciding to venture to these spots. Sharks in the area are often plentiful and large, especially in the summer months, but spearfishing is also quite active typically, with the same species encountered at Moreton Island frequenting the area. Sometimes, even if the visibility is bad at Moreton Island, it will be fantastic at Stradbroke Island, so try both spots if you are looking for good visibility.
Spearfishing at both of these spots can be exciting, but there also a fair few sharks including Bull Sharks and Great White Sharks so be careful and always dive with a buddy. If you are worried about sharks, a Shark Shield may be a good investment. A Shark Shield will provide a kind of force field around you with an electric current that only effects Sharks and Rays, not fish. When sharks enter this 6m force field, they will quickly and noticeably turn away, unable to enter it.
Regulations: Here is the latest User Guide full of regulations for spearfishing around the Brisbane area, including the Moreton Bay Marine Park Zoning. http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/moreton-bay/zoning/pdf/marine-park-user-guide.pdf
Some green zones include flat rock, and flinders reef. Steer clear of these green zones to protect the reputation of spearfishing, and avoid fines, equipment confiscation or jail.
Spearfishing from the shore: The Sunshine Coast produces a nice variety of shore diving opportunities for spearos. Spearfishing off the beaches and rocky headlands can produce Mackerel, Mangrove Jacks, Bream, Graphic Tuskfish, Jew Fish, Sweet lip, Morwong, Spangled Emperor and Parrot Fish, as well as the occasional Coral Trout! Caloundra, Kings Beach, Point Arkwright, Point Cartwright (on the outside of the wall), and Coolum have some nice spearfishing areas. Check Google Earth for rocky headlands that may be good for spearfishing.
One of the great things about spearfishing on the Sunshine Coast is the variety of ground, depths and species that are available to hunt. Sometimes, the spearfishing can be very quiet. The guys that do get fish often work very hard to find them. But, when the visibility is good, the diving is typically quite nice.
Remember to always dive with a float and flag off the Sunshine Coast, as boat traffic is quite heavy. Keep your float close to you boaties are often stupid!
Spearfishing from a boat: Spearfishing the Sunshine Coast from a boat can produce good fish but it can also be very hit and miss. Often, the diving is very quiet, and a full day of hard diving may only produce a couple of nice fish. You have to work hard to find good ground that holds fish. Then again, you can always fluke a nice fish like a big Coral Trout, or even a Marlin or Wahoo! However, such spearfishing catches on the Sunshine Coast are not common, and generally only local divers are able to find such fish.
If you are looking for a dive club on the Sunshine Coast, the Sunshine Coast Skindivers are a great group of laid back divers who are always keen for a dive and welcome new members into the group.