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The closest town on the Queensland coast to the Great Barrier Reef, Cooktown offers fast, easy access to some of the reef's best fishing (and dive) sites. Boats bristling with game-fishing gear depart from the marina daily, bound for famed fishing grounds on the Outer Reef, and at Egret and Boulder, 10 mi offshore. The likely catch: Spanish mackerel, sailfish, coral trout, red and spangled emperor, and black marlin.
Cooktown Fishing Adventures. Bottom-fish with handlines, troll for giant black marlin, or pop lures over the reef with Cooktown Fishing Adventures, an established local operator with a 56-foot, 900hp boat and energetic, safety-conscious crew. The company runs guided game-fishing excursions to local sites and specializes in multiday, live-aboard trips to renowned fishing areas off Lizard Island, Cod Hole, and Princess Charlotte Bay, with fishing equipment and tackle, snorkeling gear, galley-cooked meals and more supplied. You can also fish the estuaries or go crabbing on the mangrove flats. 07/4069–5500 or 0409/696–775. www.cooktownfishingcharters.com. Prices vary according to charter. Daily, pre-booking essential.
Gone Fishing. Specializing in fishing charters on the Endevour River as well as in the estuaries and islands offshore, Gone Fishing also offers small-group, two-hour interpretive river tours (maximum four people) and crocodile-spotting expeditions in their small fishing boats. 07/4069–5980. www.fishingcooktown.com.
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