More than one way to fish at Norfolk Island

The most common style of fishing at Norfolk Island would have to be deep sea fishing. This is the tried and tested method of driving out to a patch of reef, dropping down a heavy sinker and baited hooks and waiting (never very long!) for the fishes inquisitive hunger to lead them to their tasty demise. This method is great for catching a feed and is generally quite beginner friendly, however if you want to try something new or boats aren't for you, there's a few different ways to land a fish from Norfolk Island.

The immediate waters surrounding Norfolk Island lay within a Special Purpose Zone, this restricts commercial activity and makes for a very productive fishery - so basically anywhere you go you'll see fish. This doesn't always mean these are the fish you want to catch (that would be too easy), but it is the sign of a healthy marine ecosystem.

Safety first.

When it comes to any kind of fishing, safety is paramount. Fishing off the rocks, from a kayak, and most certainly spearfishing can be extremely dangerous activities if you’re unfamiliar with the hazards. Please be extra cautious and never take unnecessary risks - get in touch with a local guide to show you around. 

Palu up.

'Palu' is the Norfolk word for burley, traditionally a mix of bread and rock crabs smashed up with a stone. If you're fishing landbased then any kind of burley is going to be your best chance of catching good fish. By using burley you're bringing the fish to you and when you're restricted to fishing a small area such as a pier or rock ledge, this is very effective. Once a steady stream of burley is floating along with the current, fresh baits can be drifted down through the burley trail to the fish waiting below. Common baits include fresh fish like bonito or skipjack tuna, frozen pilchards and squid. These baits can be unweighted or a small sinker can be used to get a little deeper if required. Often if you burley long enough the fish will swim right up to the surface in anticipation of a free feed which makes for very exciting fishing! Locals can often be seen using this method with traditional bamboo fishing poles to great effect.

Lure fishing.

When pelagics such as kingfish, tuna species and even wahoo are roaming close to shore it's a good idea to have a rod rigged with a heavy metal, surface popper or stickbait ready to cast at any bait work ups or diving birds. These fish are active hunters and usually prefer first or last light, but they can show up anywhere at random times so it always pays to be ready...just in case! This method works well wherever there is deeper water and a fair amount of current movement.

Flyfishing. Saltwater flyfishing is at times very challenging but the rewards can be worth the effort when you land that fish of a lifetime on fly. For the dedicated few who pick up the fly rod first there is plenty of opportunity around Norfolk. Often pelagics can be so fixated on the tiny sprat bait schools which swarm the island in the warmer months that only a lure resembling a sprat will get a bite and this is where flyfishing comes into its element. A small bait can be cast into feeding schools and hookups are almost instant. This can be especially productive when pelagics are pushing bait into a rock ledge or shallow bay, or even onto a shallow coral platform.

Kayak fishing. Rule number one of kayak fishing - you will get wet! Jumping in a kayak and paddling around sheltered bays and shallow reefs is an excellent way to fish inshore waters without the need for a boat. At times the conditions offshore are too rough to even launch boats, but there may still be a protected bay just waiting to be explored with a kayak for those adventurous and willing. Many kinds of fishing can be done from a kayak and it's a truly great experience to land a fish in between your legs!

Spearfishing.

Sustainable, selective and often very productive, this form of fishing has more akin with hunting than fishing. Immersing yourself in the underwater world, swimming alongside masses of fish and stalking potential prey is both raw and exhilarating. Spearfishing can be done from the shore or boat and the water depth varies depending on the type of fish you want to target. There's only a select few who regularly go spearing in Norfolk waters and they seem to have a knack at always finding the best fish!

Where to fish.

Kingston and Cascade piers are the best place to start, they provide a stable and generally safe platform - just keep an eye out for fishing crane movements. Piers are best for burley and bait fishing with the occasional pelagic showing up now and then - throwing lures at sunrise or sunset can do well.

Places such as Ball Bay and Bumboras provide access to a large area of walkable shoreline which is great for lure fishing or launching a kayak from the shore.

Cemetery Bay has great access to a small beach and shallow coral pools for flyfishing or light spinning for reef species and kahawai or trevally species. Please take extra care not to walk on the coral here as it looks similar to rock but will crumble if stepped on.

There are a few other places if you're up for a hike but it's best to engage a guide, make friends with a local, or talk to the Visitors Information staff for more info on these spots.

These are only a few places to get you started, we recommend getting in touch with a local guide to show you the best spots for the conditions and effective ways to fish those areas. A lot of fishing spots are on, or accessed through private land so please make sure you get permission if you intend to fish these areas.

Take care to look after unwanted fish and release in a healthy condition so they can continue to provide for the next person. Take all your rubbish and fishing scraps with you (line, hooks, sinkers etc) and help keep Norfolk Island as beautiful as it can possibly be.

Tight lines!

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