The best NFZ headland fishing trail
  |  First Published: June 2017

The Cairns Net Free Zone is blessed with many naturally occurring fish aggregation formations like the rocky headlands between Yorkies Knob and Taylors Point. These areas are the perfect places to begin your NFZ fishing adventures.

The three main headland locations within the NFZ are at the northern end of Yorkies Knob Beach and the start and end of Trinity Beach. All three locations are suited to both land-based fishers and boaties. Land-based access is easy and all three headlands have ample parking nearby, toilet facilities and are only a short walking distance from the ever-popular Yorkeys Knob and Trinity tourist beaches and the marina.

You also don’t need to be a mountain goat to fish them, as they are moderately sloped and easy to walk and fish from. Access for boaties is best from either the Half Moon Creek Boat Ramp or Yorkies Knob Boat Ramp and the distance between all headlands is less than a 5km run. When launching a boat to fish these locations it’s important to understand they are exposed to the wind and swell so wind strengths below 15 knots are recommended for smaller boats.

Whether you’re fishing the headlands land-based or by boat, the same principles apply. These areas always fish best over the larger tides, especially on the lead up to the full and new moon. The bigger tides over 2.7m bring more depth to the rocky headlands.

All three headlands are fed by nearby creeks and on these bigger tides baitfish are often flushed out of creek mouths. This bait tends to take up residence around the headlands, which in turn attracts fish such as barramundi and mangrove jack. Lure fishing is best with shallow running hardbody minnows, vibes and paddle-tail plastics for barramundi.

Topwater options such as poppers are better suited for those pelagics such as trevally or queenfish. Live baits are your best bet and the larger the better. Mullet around 20cm in size suspended by floats make the perfect rig, especially if you’re chasing big barramundi.

When beginning this fishing trail it’s best to start at the more southern end at the Yorkeys Knob headland during the last two hours of the run-in tide. The Yorkeys Knob headland comprises of a natural rocky groyne before sweeping into a large rounded headland. The rocky groyne is your best place to start your fishing trail. Fishing north towards Trinity Beach is ideal.

The sweeping tide moving down the beach creates an eddy of water behind the rocky groyne that captures bait and also schools of barramundi, salmon and jacks. Fishing live baits or lures into these swirling areas is a good idea. Don’t be in a rush to get your lure in and wind right to your feet, as this is where most barra strikes occur. They often hunt close to the rocks or follow your lure right in.

It’s best to give this spot a good hour and a half before pulling stumps and moving north to the next headland and the second part of your headland fishing trail – the Half Moon Bay Marina rock wall.

At the northern end of Yorkeys Knob you will find the Yorkeys Knob Boat Club, which is bordered by a natural rounded rocky headland and artificial rock marina rock wall. The rock wall faces out to sea and is the perfect place for boaties to anchor and fish or for land-based anglers to fish from the rocks.

The rock wall extends for around 50m. Closer to the northern end is always better. This area fishes really well over the top of the tide when the water level is the highest, so fish this over the main part of the high tide before moving onto the third part of your headland fishing trail – the headlands of Trinity Beach.

Bordering north and south of Trinity Beach are two large rocky headlands protruding out to sea. Both are big barramundi and salmon magnets with lots of broken submerged rocks and wash-ridden caves. The northern end fishes better and is the very northern border of the NFZ known by locals as Taylors Point.

This spot fishes the best on the first of the run out tide. It’s the perfect place to end your headland fishing trail. Like the other headlands, big live baits, shallow running hardbody minnows, vibes and paddle-tail plastics are ideal cast in and around the submerged and semi-submerged rocky structure.

This fishing trail is a terrific option and allows you to fish multiple locations using the same techniques and rigs over a single tide, both land-based and from a boat. Don’t forget, if you catch a fish in the Cairns NFZ and post it online, add #lovemyNFZ and #thisisqueensland.

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