Frequently asked questions about recreational fishing

I'm a recreational fisher. Do I need a licence or permit to go fishing in Queensland?

Not if you fish in tidal waters.

However, if you fish in certain dams - those that people have stocked with fish - you will need a Stocked Impoundment Permit . Also, some local councils require a permit to fish in dams under their control.

Check with the local  Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol  office for up-to-date information.

Which dams have been stocked?

There are 33 dams in Queensland that are regularly stocked with native fish. To find out which one is closest to you, see Do I need a permit, which has a list of all the stocked dams in the state. 

Is there a limit to the number of fish I'm allowed to catch?

It depends on the species of fish.

If the experts decide that the fish is abundant, there is no limit.

Other species may be regulated by number, known informally as a bag limit. This limit varies from species to species. The aim is to conserve fish populations and spread the catch more fairly among all fishers. 

The limit means that you are not allowed to catch and keep more than a set number of the particular type of fish at any one time. It doesn't matter when the fish were caught. If, for example, five is the limit, you cannot take five today, put them in your esky or your fridge, and take another one or two tomorrow. You can only catch more when the supply in your fridge falls below the official limit.  

For the current take-and-possession limits see the recreational fishing rules.

Is there a legal limit to the size of fish I can catch?

There is for some species, but not for others. Some types of fish must be returned to the water if they are below a certain size, and some if they are above a certain size. For some fish there is an upper and a lower limit.

For crabs, it is not only about the size of an individual catch. Some are regulated by gender or reproductive capacity, which means all females must be returned; for others, all egg-bearing females must be returned.

The limits take into account the species' reproductive cycle. Generally, the aim is to allow fish to spawn at least once before they are taken.

What fish are regulated?

For details on what fish are regulated, see the recreational fishing rules. Before going fishing, always call into your Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol office or your local tackle store for the latest information.

Where can I fish?

Most tidal areas in Queensland are open to recreational line fishing. However, a few fisheries regulated waters are subject to permanent or seasonal closures. For information on regulated waters, contact the local Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol office or refer to the recreational fishing rules.

There are a number of regulated waters that are permanently closed to spearfishing, so if you're planning to head out, refer to the recreational fishing rules.

It is also wise to check whether Marine Parks have any 'green zones' (i.e. no-take areas) around the area where you are planning to fish. To check, visit the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing.

Are there restrictions on bait collection?

Yes. There are some restrictions on what apparatus you can use to take bait and how much bait you can take. See the recreational fishing rules for current regulations. Contact your local Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol office for specific information on limits and closures.

When collecting fish for aquariums what can I keep?

The right size: You must comply with any legal size limit that applies to the species of fish you are collecting.

The right species: You must not possess, rear, sell or buy noxious fish or non-indigenous fish in Queensland (See the Fisheries Act 1994). This includes keeping them in an aquarium or dam.

There are some exceptions to the rule. You may keep some species of non-indigenous fish in an aquarium or in waters on privately owned land, provided that they cannot escape into any other Queensland waters (e.g. they cannot be kept in a dam if it may overflow into a river, creek etc during a flood). If non-indigenous fish are introduced into other state's waterways, then the implications fall under the relevant state's jurisdiction / regulation. These fish may include many popular aquarium species. A list of these fish species is given in non-indigenous fish - prescribed list.

What fishing apparatus can I use in Queensland?

There are some restrictions on what type of fishing equipment you can use - see the recreational fishing rules.

What fish are safe to eat?

Some fish should not be eaten, among them puffer fish, toad fish, trigger fish, stone fish, red bass, paddle-tail and Chinaman fish. Large reef fish are also known to occasionally have harmful levels of toxic organisms in their flesh. To reduce the possibility of coming into contact with these fish only keep smaller fish to eat. 

If in doubt - throw it back.

What type of fish is this?

It is not always easy to identify a fish you have caught. If you are unsure, photograph the fish and ask someone at your local tackle store if they can identify it for you. 

You could also check out our Species identification page. On this page, the fish are listed by location/habitat, which will help you narrow down your search.

How should I handle fish I want to let go?

  • be gentle and quick
  • always properly support the body weight of the fish
  • never place the fish on a dry, hot surface
  • only handle the fish with wet hands or wet material
  • you may have to 'swim' the fish to move water over its gills and help it recover before release.

For more information check out How to release fish for survival.

What are good areas to fish?

The best source of this information is local knowledge. Check out local newspapers or visit the local tackle shop for the best information.

Where can I get information for assignments or classes?

For additional information please see Recreational fishing rules in Queensland  or contact your local Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol office.

Last updated 26 April 2013