Best Fishing Spots In Sydney For Reeling In The Perfect Catch

The latest figures reported (albeit from the early 2000s) by the Australian Department of Agriculture suggest there are over 3.5 million recreational fishers in Australia, which generate nearly $2 billion worth towards the national economy (although, expect this to be more right now). It’s certainly big business then. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since Sydney alone is home to its fair share of waterways – not to mention Sydney Harbour – teeming with various species of fish just waiting to latch onto a bait.

However, before you even think about picking up a rod, there are some rules you need to be aware of before you cast your line, and a fee to pay for a licence.

How Much Is A Sydney Fishing License?

New South Wales has a set pricing structure for a fishing license that covers you for fishing in Sydney. You can purchase a license online, by phone, from standard and gold fishing agents or from a Service NSW Centre. The fees are:

  • $7 for three days
  • $14 for one month
  • $35 for one year
  • $85 for three years

You must carry the receipt of your payment with at all times when fishing, so you can present it if asked. If you buy a one year or three year license, you will receive a plastic copy of your receipt in the post. Alternatively, you can carry a digital copy of your receipt within the My Service NSW app.

For license fee-free fishing, you’ll want to head to Queensland and check out Brisbane’s best fishing spots. 

Sydney & NSW Fishing Rules & Regulations

We won’t go into full details with regards to the rules and regulations you need to abide by when fishing in Sydney (there are way too many to list for a start), but let it be known that when fishing in freshwater you are restricted to a certain number of lines and lures, and the bait you use is also susceptible to its own set of rules.

If you’re fishing in saltwater, you’re allowed to fish with more lines – 4 – but are restricted when it comes to using traps or nets.

You are also limited to the number of each fish species you are allowed to have in your possession at any one time.  A full list of permitted and prohibited fishing methods for freshwater and saltwater can be found on the NSW Government website.

So, with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, it’s time to fill you in on the very best fishing spots Sydney has to offer, encompassing both freshwater and saltwater.

Gunnamatta Bay – Port Hacking


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Port Hacking in South Sydney is home to some top-notch fishing spots and chief among them is Gunnamatta Bay. Gunnamatta is a popular spot because it offers up a long jetty, providing ample space to set up some chairs and settle in for a morning’s fishing. Several moored boats host plentiful food for fish, such as small bream and snapper, so your chances of catching something will be high.

Fishing Type: Jetty Fishing
Type of Fish: bream, snapper, flathead
Best Time to Go: Early morning before the ferries start running to Bundeena

Lilli Pilli – Port Hacking


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Lilli Pilli is another spot known for its fishing qualities – along with some gorgeous views while you do so – but is perhaps best-suited for those more experienced in handling a rod and reel. There are a few spots in the area from which you can fish, including a jetty nearer the Lilli Pilli baths. It can get pretty crowded in the mornings, however, so you may want to set your alarm a little earlier to guarantee yourself a spot. Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with some great catches.

Fishing Type: Jetty Fishing; Off-Shore
Type of Fish: Large bream, John Dory and flathead, and some anglers have even been able to catch themselves squid.
Best Time to Go: Early to mid-morning

Gladesville Wharf – Parramatta River


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Situated on the Parramatta River, Gladesville Wharf offers a great spot for some freshwater fishing and is known to be the best place in Sydney to catch a jewfish. It’s recommended you find a spot after the last ferry leaves (around 8pm) as the wash and interference it causes can prove to make catching anything near-on impossible. Also, as a friendly reminder, you’ll want to release anything you do catch, as signs indicate pollution levels in the river, so having something for dinner won’t go down too well.

Fishing Type: Bank/freshwater
Type of Fish: Bream, yellowtail, leather jacket, flathead, jewfish
Best Time to Go: Late evening, after 8pm

Gordon’s Bay – Clovelly


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Gordon’s Bay and the several spots nearby are teeming with fish and marine life just waiting to be caught on a line – Gordon’s Bay even has its own fishing club. You can jump in a boat and head out to sea, or cast a line from the Southern rock. Remember, if you do fish in the area, you’re required by law to wear a life jacket and there are several rules you need to follow to prevent overfishing.

However, so long as you do, you’ll have an enjoyable fishing experience and you’re highly likely to catch a wide range of species.

Fishing Type: Rock fishing
Type of Fish: Parrot Fish, Trevally, Bream
Best Time to Go: Early morning, low tide

Cooks River – Brighton-Le-Sands


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Cooks River provides a great spot – or rather, several spots – for fishing for beginners. One of the best spots for amateurs is by the mouth of the river, casting into Botany Bay (it’s also a perfect spot for plane spotting, being right next to the airport). If you fancy a slight change of scenery, feel free to make your way down the beach towards Ramsgate and cast into the ocean.

Fishing Type: Beach/bank fishing
Type of Fish: Yellowtail, Dusky Flathead, Surf bream
Best Time to Go: Early evening

Farm Cove – Sydney Harbour


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Situated within the Royal Botanic Gardens, Farm Cove offers a perfect view over to North Sydney, or the Opera House and the CBD if you move your way around the wall. With it being in the Harbour, however, you’ll want to head here early morning or late evening to avoid the constant influx of ferries, disturbing the fish below.

Fishing Type: Wharf fishing
Type of Fish: Leather jacket, bream, snapper
Best Time to Go: Early morning, late evening

Clarke’s Point Reserve – Parramatta River


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Clarke’s Point is nestled perfectly between both Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers on the Woolwich Peninsula, meaning you have access to a real abundance of fish. It’s also a prime BBQ and picnic location (and you’re allowed to keep what you catch), so is worth making a full day of it with the family. The change in tides will mean you’ll need to change the point from where you cast for the best possible chances of catching something.

Fishing Type: Bank fishing
Type of Fish: Leather jacket, bream, snapper
Best Time to Go: The best time, ultimately, is the evening to avoid the wash of boats. But you’ll have a good time if you set up during the day, too.

Manly Dam – Manly


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Head north of the Harbour Bridge to Manly and you’ll come across one of the better freshwater fishing sites in Sydney for amateurs. You’re restricted to timings here with gates only being open at certain times during the day, and they shut early evening, around 8.30 pm. Regardless, find yourself a spot, cast a line and you should be able to catch some Australian bass, silver perch, carp (there’s said to be huge numbers in the waters) and redfin.

Type of Fishing: Freshwater
Type of Fish: Australian bass, silver perch, carp, redfin
Best Time to Go: Sunset, before the gates shut

Sydney Fishing Spots FAQ

Where can I catch flathead fish in Sydney?

If it's flathead you're after, you'll want to head south of the city to Cronulla. Port Hacking, specifically, is usually well-stocked with flathead, and with several spots to cast off from, you're in with a high chance of catching some.

Can you fish in Sydney Harbour?

Yes, you can fish in Sydney Harbour. However, it's recommended you release anything you catch because the pollution levels of the water in the Harbour makes much of the fish inedible.

Do I need a fishing license in NSW?

Yes, for recreational fishing you do need a license in order to fish. You can buy a license online or over the phone and have a digital version saved within the My Service NSW smartphone app. People under the age of 18 and those assisting people under 18 do not need a license.

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