The Ribbon Reefs were the scene of the iconic and groundbreaking video by Malcolm Florence titled “The Great Reef Exploration”, filmed in the late 1970s. Back in the seventies, this area was considered the ultimate in remote sportfishing locations – these incredibly remote, pristine reefs that could only be accessed by large vessels with significant fuel capacity.

Not much has changed really….And the fishing is just as good as it ever was. It’s still very remote, and rarely fished, so you can be sure it’s teeming with marine life.

This stretch of reef is home to a massive variety of species, with big GTs, yellowfin, coral trout, red bass, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish and many other species calling this place home. So no matter what bluewater species you want to catch, the Ribbon Reefs offer an amazing fishing experience.

  • Excellent GT fishing
  • Light tackle lurecasting the reef flats for groupers, red bass, emperors, and much more
  • Micro jigging and soft plastic fishing the reefs is spectacular
  • Big Spanish mackerel trolling the reef edges
  • Great reef fishing for coral trout, emperor and other reef fish
  • Yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dogtooth are possible on the outside edge of the reef

Location Map

Species Guide

Cast the reef edge for GTs, pull a coral trout from a shallow reef or troll the reef edge for big mackerel, yellowfin and wahoo. So many options, the hardest part is choosing what to do on the second day!

Every day on the Ribbon Reefs brings new possibilities, and with such a variety of fishing styles and species available, this location is perfect for anglers wanting to experience all the possibilities that a remote reef area can offer.

There’s plenty of GTs here, and at certain times of the year they are consistently in the 25-35kg range, with the occasional monster fish thrown in. The soft plastic and light jigging around the reefs is spectacular at times, with a mix of reef and pelagic species. The light tackle casting over the reef flats is also spectacular, and expect to lose lots of lures when fishing the reef flats in 2-4m of water.

And then there’s trolling for mackerel, sailfish, yellowfin and marlin.

We’ll work our way between different anchorages each day, and you’ll fish a large area of reef, meaning plenty of options for different types of fishing along the way.


The Ribbon Reefs is one of the locations visited as part of our Lagoon Explorer trip schedule in February/March and July/August each year.

Getting to Ribbon Reefs & Far Northern Great Barrier Reef

Lagoon Explorer

  • Departs from and returns to Cooktown.
  • Transfer fees include return flights between Cooktown and Cairns, plus transfers from the Cooktown Airport to the Cooktown Wharf.

Next Steps

If you have any questions, you can contact our team anytime by email, or call us on 1800 021 014.

If you’d like to instantly receive the latest dates and prices for all our trips, click here.

If you’d like more information about the breathtaking fishing experiences we offer, get our info pack!

Need Help Choosing the Right Trip? TRY OUR TRIP FINDER

  • Picture perfect reefs, cays, and islands to explore
  • Enormous range of species to choose from
  • Complete range of fishing options

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