Can you fish on a Kimberley Cruise?

I love fishing in the Kimberley. I’m not actually a ‘fisherman myself (or is it fisher person nowadays?) but in the Kimberley it is just too tempting. I can often be heard saying “I only fish in the Kimberley” which does sound like I am very full of myself!

But first I must make an important point: we specialise in small ship cruises that explore the Kimberley coast. None of the trips we offer are specialised fishing trips. Even on those vessels that offer fishing as an option; it is always as an add on during an exploration of the Kimberley in general. (And see my point below if fishing is not your thing)

If you want to fish in the Kimberley then you need to be aware that not all vessels offer this as an option. Your vessel will need to have a full Western Australian fishing license and not all of them do. These rules around these licenses are strictly enforced and it is not uncommon for WA fisheries to inspect vessels mid-cruise to ensure compliance.

First time fisherman

Some vessels that do not have these licences, may sometimes offer an impromptu fishing opportunity. This would be a quick excursion in a tender for people to throw a hand line into the water to see what can be  caught. But they must release what they catch and the opportunity will only be there if there are enough people interested. 

If fishing is important to you as regards choosing the right Kimberley cruise then thats something you need to mention straightaway.

What if I don’t want to fish?

As mentioned before, the cruises that we offer are general expedition trips along the beautiful Kimberley coast. If fishing is offered then it is just one of the activities offered as a compliment to seeing all the must see icons of the Kimberley. If you are only after a fishing trip then these departures are not for you. 

And if you are not interested in fishing that’s absolutely fine. I often hear from people who say, ‘my partner likes to fish but I am not interested’. I’ve been lucky enough to be on many Kimberley cruises and there was never a time when every single person on the boat went out for fishing.

Whereas on those vessels that do offer fishing it is constantly available and you’ll find the crew won’t need much persuading to take you out.

There is always another excursion available for those passengers who do not want to fish. 

I do however recommend you go out at least once to do some fishing; it’s so much fun and you end up in these beautiful river systems and places you would not normally venture into. I have been known to go out and fish for a little while and then sit back and “enjoy the serenity” or just read my book. On a few occasions I have quit after I’ve lost about the 4th bait. This is as much to save the sanity of the person who had to keep hooking it for me!

So what can you expect to catch in the Kimberley? 

The Kimberley is the home of Australia’s premier sportfish, Barramundi.which is the fish most people dream of catching when visiting the region. Barramundi is the name given to the fish by the Aboriginal people meaning large scaled fish. Although the Barramundi does not rate high on the menu for Aboriginal people it is often depicted in stories and art throughout the Kimberley region.

In many rivers and estuaries there are some of the best kept fishing secrets and some of the most scenic and most exciting fishing in Australia.  Your cruise may provide many opportunities for quality estuary fishing where Fingermark Bream, Threadfin Salmon, and Mangrove Jack, Mulloway along with the Barramundi abound.

Do not need to bring your own equipment with you on the cruise?

As these cruises are not specialist fishing charters, all the fishing equipment is provided for you. I am however often asked if people can take their own equipment and the answer is ‘yes you can’.  Of course you do need to check with the airline you’re travelling with about their regulations.

Happy passenger with her fresh catch aboard the Eco Abrolhos

You must also keep in mind that some cruises have a light aircraft or helicopter component in the itinerary and  there might not be room enough for the fishing equipment. So if you are taking your own equipment let us know and we will check with the cruise companies for you. 

What about crocodiles?

As I am sure everyone knows the Kimberley is home to both estuarine (saltwater) and freshwater crocodiles. It is the salties that are scary and, as a general guide, if an area has barramundi then it is also likely to have crocodiles. And salties will happily swim to a boat to investigate you.

The crew and expedition team will keep you on your toes on this issue but needless to say don’t paddle, clean fish or prepare food at the water’s edge.


About Jenny

I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here  and I will call you then.

Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements.  If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here.   I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.