The best fishing spots in and around Canberra

Canberra anglers are blessed with access to a variety of environments, target species and fishing opportunities. When assessing the best fishing spots around Canberra, the most important consideration is the species you want to target and the technique you want to employ. There are some spots in which you can target multiple species, but generally, the species you want to target and how you want to target them will dictate where to go. Whether to fish with bait or lures will also dictate your choice of locations; lure fishing is generally more active and physical, whereas bait fishing can be a nice way to relax by the water for a few hours.

There are some great fish in Lake Burley Griffin
There are some great fish in Lake Burley Griffin

The main species in Canberra are carp, trout, Murray cod, golden perch and redfin. Each of these species lives in slightly different environments (or places within those environments), and different techniques are required to catch them. If you’re simply after putting a bend in the rod, then some corn or bread on a small hook, cast unweighted or lightly weighted into one of the urban lakes, will be the undoing of many fine carp. For those looking for a serious challenge, a small fly on a 5-6 weight flyrod will also provide hours of entertainment on the local carp populations. The best locations for carp are lakes Burley Griffin, Ginninderra and Tuggeranong, and many of the local rivers are also filthy with fish. The Murrumbidgee, Molongolo, Sullivan’s Creek and Queanbeyan River all hold good numbers of ‘mud marlin’.

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Trout are found in all directions, but you will need to travel slightly further. The closest trout stream is the Cotter, which, despite considerable angling pressure, turns up some fine trout fishing. Most of the fish are small, with a ‘big’ one around 30cm. The river holds rainbows and browns, which can be readily caught on small celtas, hardbodies, soft plastics and flies. The Cotter also holds Macquarie perch, two-spined blackfish and trout cod.

Other trout streams in the area include the Goodradigbee, Naas, Paddy’s and Gudgenby Rivers. A few of these only hold small numbers of fish. I’ve written a bit more about them here.

The Goodradigbee is a pretty spot, but to the best of my knowledge hasn't recovered as a trout fishery since the floods in 2013
The Goodradigbee is a pretty spot, but to the best of my knowledge hasn’t recovered as a trout fishery since the floods in 2013
A typical Goodradigbee trout!
A typical Goodradigbee trout!

It seems a pity that these first two species are the mud marlin and river rabbits, but there is some excellent natives fishing on offer in and around Canberra. Murray cod are the apex predator in our local area, and there are some world-class angling experiences on offer when targeting these revered fish. All of the local lakes and larger rivers hold cod, in varying numbers and sizes. Lake Burley Griffin is renowned for producing the odd monster, with stories of 150cm long fish emerging from time to time. Some of the smaller urban lakes, including Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin, have been stocked with cod and produce good numbers of fish at certain times of the year. In terms of rivers, the Murrumbidgee and Molongolo also produce decent numbers of cod, with the hot spots on the ‘bidgee being Casuarina Sands, Uriarra Crossing and upstream from Kambah Pools (Don’t, I repeat, don’t: go downstream).

A cracking cod taken from the upper 'bidgee
A cracking cod taken from the upper ‘bidgee

The other go-to spot for cod is Googong Dam, just over the border in NSW. Expect to make a lot of casts between fish, but when you hook one, it could be a monster.

A Googong monster
A Googong monster

Yellowbelly are basically caught in all of the same places as cod, but are perhaps less common in the rivers than the lakes. Burley Griffin, Ginninderra and Googong all hold good numbers.

A typical LBG yellowbelly...but there are some much bigger ones
A typical LBG yellowbelly…but there are some much bigger ones
Graz with a beautifully coloured little yellowbelly taken from the Murrumbidgee
Graz with a beautifully coloured little yellowbelly taken from the Murrumbidgee

Redfin are basically in every waterway, but are most often caught in numbers in the same places as yellowbelly.

In terms of specific locations on each of the water bodies I’ve mentioned, there is no ‘one size fits all’. On any given day, and any given time of day, the fish will be in a particular mood in the location that suits them best, in terms of water temperature, clarity, depth and the presence of habitat, predators and prey. If you put a bit of thought into these variables, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find where they are on that day.

I prefer lure and flyfishing, but a couple or worms or a yabby on a hook is a lovely way to spend a few hours, and will be the undoing of many a fine fish around  the Canberra region. We’re lucky to have so much fishing on our doorstep, so get out there and get into it!

Lee

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

10 thoughts on “The best fishing spots in and around Canberra

  • May 27, 2015 at 9:56 am
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    Hmmmm, I really can’t agree with the naming of specific locations on “the river”. The less said the better, I reckon.

    Otherwise, great article. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 27, 2015 at 7:40 pm
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      Thanks Simon, glad you enjoyed the article. For me, I’d rather mention a few hot locations so that someone with little knowledge can go out there and experience what an amazing fish cod are, and in doing so I hope that this raises the awareness of the importance of conservation and improvement for the future. Added to this, if I mention a few locations, it might mean there are less anglers on the hundred or so other spots around town 🙂
      Lee

      Reply
  • July 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm
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    What side or place in lake burly griffin where we can do fishing?

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 11:52 am
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      Pretty much all of it. The best spots vary with the season and the species you are catching. Around Yarralumbla is a good place to start, with plenty of carp, redfin and natives caught in the area. But really, you can catch fish in all parts of the lake.

      Good luck

      Cheers
      Hamish

      Reply
    • July 30, 2015 at 7:37 pm
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      Hi Fred, as Hamish said, it depends on what you’re targeting. The natives can generally be found near steep rock walls, weedbeds near deeper water or snags. Redfin will move all over the place…in spring and autumn they are all over the place, but in the depths of winter and the height of summer they will generally be down deep. Carp move all over the place, but are probably easiest to catch in a metre to three metres of water. Good luck! Lee

      Reply
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  • August 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm
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    Dare I ask why you have specified to DEFINITELY not go downstream from Kambah Pool?

    Reply
    • August 2, 2016 at 11:17 am
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      Haha! Its a bit of a Canberra joke, downstream of Kambah pools is a designated nude bathing area. A lot of tackle on display if you venture that way on a warm summer afternoon

      Cheers
      Hamish

      Reply
  • August 4, 2016 at 11:43 am
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    OH well that’ll do it hahaha
    Is the fishing/access good downstream if you’re willing to go with the blinkers on?? lol

    Reply
    • August 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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      Yeah, access is fine and fishing can be pretty good. Generally, as long as its not summer you are pretty safe 🙂

      Cheers
      Hamish

      Reply

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