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The Backstage Pass

Australia Baker's Dozen: The Best Species to Target with a Fly Rod

May 10, 23

Australia is home to over 4,000 marine species, many of them large, aggressive, and just downright fun to catch on a fly rod. With many of these species native to Australia, or “OZ” as Aussie’s call their home country, Australia is a year-round destination for anglers seeking a range of salt- and fresh-water angling opportunities and desiring a wide range of amenities and experiences.

Yellow Dog Flyfishing has refined the original Dreamtime Dozen created by Australian Tourism’s Great Fishing Adventures because we feel the mighty mackerel deserves a spot.

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Here’s our Baker’s Dozen for Australian fly-fishing trips and adventures.

1. Barramundi
This iconic Aussie fish is technically a giant perch living in both fresh and saltwater. Tropical sportfish which can grow to weights of over 80 pounds and lengths of over a three-feet. This exciting fish offers explosive takes, gill rattling jumps, and powerful runs.

2. Saratoga
Known as the Australian arowana, the Saratoga is an ancient-looking fish that lives in the tropical sweetwater impoundments and “billabongs” of Australia. Partial to a fly, with their gorgeous colors these fish are a sight to see in-hand and make this fish sacred in many parts of Asia.

3. Billfish, including Black, Blue, Sailfish and Striped Marlin
From Exmouth to Hervey Bay, large numbers of billfish follow baitfish schools through the warmer months. This migration provides an exceptional level of near-shore blue water action and the opportunity cast to a free-swimming billfish with a fly is a unique experience.

4. Tuna
Australian waters have many species of tuna including yellowfin, longtail, albacore, dogtooth and big eye. Many of these are accessible inshore and casting a fly to a cruising tuna and hoping for a strike, then hanging on for the most blistering runs, will be a highlight of any fishing trip.

5. Yellowtail Kingfish
Casting under the Sydney Harbor Bridge to one of the brawniest species of fish in Australia may be the penultimate Aussie experience. The Kingfish is known for its power and stamina and any angler who is lucky enough to hook into, and eventually land one of these fish will feel a sense of accomplishment.

6. Giant Trevally
GTs are the bully boys of the flats and reefs of Australia. As apex predators, these large jacks love to smash poppers and can put the hurt on the best fly-fishing equipment. Bring your spare line and plenty of flies tied on the strongest hooks. Giant trevally, or “Geets” as called by many locals, will test everything you have—gear and personal resolve. This is the time for an 11-weight and a very durable reel.

7. Permit
With Indo Pacific permit prowling the flats of tropical Australia – here is the place to potentially break your permit drought, or if you’re fortunate and skilled enough, add to your tally. Sometimes just as tough to catch as their Atlantic cousins – often referred to as “pumpkin heads” because of their orange hue across their heads, the opportunity to cast to this rarely fished species is celebrated. To target these elusive fish, anglers should consider Exmouth and our Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures liveaboard options.

8. Bonefish
Generally big and caught in deeper water – fish over 10lbs are not uncommon. Although Australia is not known for high numbers of bonefish, it is known for large bonefish. Plus, our Australian outfitter in the area pioneered Australian bonefishing. Join them to see just what “down under” bonefishing is all about.

9. Golden Trevally
With their large lips and feeding while tailing, these Trevally grown big, strong, and fast. They eat a variety of well-presented shrimp flies and baitfish patterns. Catching a large golden on the flats is an Australian rite of passage—but you don’t have to be an Aussie to catch one, just in the right place at the right time with a good cast and good strip-set.

10. Murray Cod, aka Goodoo
One of the four largest freshwater fish on earth, Murray Cod, has been recorded to lengths of over six feet and weights to 200 pounds. Looking like a freshwater grouper, Goodoo is the indigenous name for Murray Cod and must be on any angler’s list if planning an Australian fly fishing trip.

11. Trout
Brown, rainbow, and brook trout occur in good numbers throughout certain parts of Australia. The best opportunities occur in Tasmania and the higher altitude areas of the southern states. Fishing in the remote highlands and UNESCO wilderness areas is an experience unique to Australia. Tailing trout—fish cruising the shallows or near the surface—feeding on prolific hatches. Tasmania is home to a surprisingly high number of fly-fishing guides who be considered experts on any trout water world-wide.

12. Blue Bastards
A species of grunt – the Blue Bastard will make you grunt as you fight it. It is unique to Australia and as Aussie as it gets. Its true scientific name plectorhinchus caeruleonothus means “blue bastard.” Targeted on the tropical flats, persistent anglers will find Blue Bastards will eat a fly, but then be sure you are ready to hang on for a fight.

13. Reef Snappers
Fishing on one of Yellow Dog’s liveaboard trips or with some of our day charter captains can yield the opportunity to cast overabundant coral reefs. Reef snappers is the group of hard pulling fish of the reefs that will test your gear. Because many reef snappers are abundant, it is common a few go into the cooler to be enjoyed later.

There they are: 13 species of four thousand that anglers headed to fly fish in Australia can target.

Australia is a land of diversity and opportunity for fly fishing enthusiasts. Aussies are friendly and English speaking and Yellow Dog features destinations well-suited for non-anglers and many with incredible cuisine and activities.

With Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures’ in-depth experience, a successful and varied fly-fishing trip to the Land Down Under is a lot closer than you may think.