What’s So Special About The Great Barrier Reef?

We all fall victim to the grass is greener syndrome at times, and living in Australia, we can be particularly susceptible to it, but there are plenty of things we have that are just better than anywhere else in the world. I think we often forget about this when we listen to too many politicians and other groups with too much time and too little knowledge at their disposal, complaining about how buggered things are in Australia, but take a look around the world and anyone who enjoys fishing and is not feeling pretty blessed to live here should take a good hard look at themselves. All we ever hear about in the general media is how “under threat” the Barrier Reef is, but for anyone who has actually spent any time out there, it is abundantly clear that it is one of the healthiest and most pristine ecosystems on earth, full of an array of life that is difficult to comprehend until you have laid eyes on it.  I just don’t think enough of us in Australia appreciate what we have on our doorstep.

Of course most anglers, including myself, have a yearning for travel and adventure and far flung places, but after visits to more countries than I care to remember in search of fish, it has become blatantly obvious to me how fortunate we are with the fishing on tap in Australia. This leads me to a question I get asked a lot – “Where is the best fishing you’ve ever had?”

I’ve been extremely fortunate in where I’ve been able to fish, but the answer to this is so clear cut and easy – The Great Barrier Reef is the best fishing. I’ve had other trips that I would rate right up there, but for reasons beyond just their fishing. So if we are simply talking about the best fishing, I keep coming back to the GBR. Now, it is easy to just call something the best, and this all got me thinking about a few things, like why is it the best? Is this just my personal opinion, or is there evidence that would seem to support this theory of the GBR being the best?

I think we need to also define what aspect we’re talking about here, and i guess when i’m saying it has the “best” fishing, I’m talking about the best Coral Reef Sportfishing for things like GTs, black marlin, dogtooth tuna, mackerel, coral trout and other assorted reef species. I’m not really interested in trying to say it’s the best fishing in the world fullstop, because that is a personal thing for each angler, and comparing fishing coral reefs to barramundi, or snakehead or peacock bass in the Amazon is not what this is all about.

I think that in order to call something the “best” there should be some real reason behind it, and for me it comes down to some simple geography about the reef and then looking at a collection of experiences that seem to only occur in this location, and nowhere else on earth, but I digress, more on this down the page.

I feel very lucky when making a mental list of all the countries in which i have so far sportfished, and I’ve had some amazing experiences around the world in some of the best fisheries imaginable, so i feel that i have a reasonable basis for comparison to make this judgement. The fact is that if catching lots of big tropical reef dwelling species is what you want to do, then the GBR is the pinnacle. There are plenty of other cool places I’ve visited, that have been amazing experiences with lots of fish and great adventure, but if catching lots of big fish is the aim then the GBR is the place.

The sheer number of fish regularly encountered in various places on the Great Barrier Reef just continues to amaze me. I’ve been lucky enough to fish the entire length of the GBR over 20 years, and having far from see it all, I reckon I’ve seen maybe 50% of the reefs if that, the amount of fish life along the entire reef is just staggering, and it is this continual abundance of marine life that consistently amazes me. And it’s not just the good days either, it’s the fact that even when things seem a bit shut down, there are still fish biting, and enough activity to keep you interested, and that is the true measure of a healthy abundant system. The truth is that in 15 years guiding i could count on one hand the number of days that we caught no GTs in a day chasing them, and I cannot ever remember a day catching no fish on the GBR, there is always something to do!

There is simply no other reef system in the world that you ever hear about, or that I have experienced, that consistently offers up days of 50 or more GTs per boat between 25-50kg, or where 800-1000lb black marlin are “common” in the right season, or where you can fish wahoo spawning aggregations and be hooked up all day to wahoo approaching 100lbs. This stuff just does not happen anywhere else, and if it does, and it has somehow escaped the attention of modern media, someone please tell me because I’m going there to fish it! Seriously, I want to know!

Now I’m not suggesting that you can’t have great fishing in other areas, and other countries, because you surely can and will, but when it comes to tropical bluewater sportfishing I’ve come to the conclusion that the Great Barrier Reef is impossible to beat for consistency and quantity of fish such as GTs, spanish mackerel, dogtooth tuna, coral trout, red bass and many other tropical sportfish. This opinion is based on my own personal experience, but I think is also supported by a few of the interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef that I came across while doing a bit of research:-

  • The total reef area of the GBR is larger than the combined reef area of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Micronesia, The Cook Islands, The Hawaiian Islands and New Caledonia combined. The coral reef is what supports the fish life, so more reef = more fish.
  • 15% of all fish species known to live on earth can be found in the Great Barrier Reef, yet it covers less that o.01% of the earths ocean surface
  • The GBR is recognised as having the largest biodiversity of coral reef fish species on earth
  • It is the world’s largest Coral Reef system
  • The spawning aggregations of big GTs and 1000lb+ black marlin have not been observed anywhere else on earth
  • It is the most protected and healthiest reef system on earth, with over 30% designated as no fishing at all.
  • It is the only living organism that can be seen from space(relevance? but i found it interesting…)

So what is my point in all this? Hopefully it is clear by now….If you live in Australia and you have not been fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, you are missing out – it is one of life’s true pleasures, and it is an experience you will not find anywhere else on earth. Sure, I’d like you to go on a Nomad Sportfishing trip, but fish with whoever you like and enjoy the world’s best sportfishing while supporting our local economy.

If you are going overseas to fish other reef areas go and enjoy it, enjoy the adventure and the pleasure of travelling to new and exotic places, but don’t kid yourself that you are going there to find better fishing, because it is a myth – the biggest, healthiest, most prolific and abundant Coral Reef system on earth is in our own backyard, so be sure to take some time to enjoy it, either in your own boat, or with a charter operator who does the type of fishing you enjoy.

If you live in another country, then choose a charter operation to take you to experience the best coral reef fishing on earth and don’t miss out on one of life’s greatest fishing pleasures.

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