Two Great Black Marlin Fishing Options

Giant Black Marlin & Juvenile Black Marlin

Queensland’s North Queensland coast is famous for its black marlin fishery – and offers anglers two very different fishing options and black marlin fishing seasons.

Firstly, the Giant Black Marlin Season off Cairns, which is recognized world-wide as THE number one place to catch a 1000lb black marlin, with the season running annually from late September to early December. And for the juvenile black marlin (baby black marlin) – light tackle fun annually off both Cairns and Townsville (Cape Bowling Green) from July through September.

The Black Marlin


The black marlin (Makaira Indica) is the least common of all marlin species. They are usually found in tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific and east Pacific oceans such as Cairns on the north east coast of Australia where the black marlin fishing is considered the best in the world!


The black marlin is one of the fastest fish on earth and is highly sought after among big game fisherman around the world. The biggest of the females can measure more than 13 feet long and up to and over 454kg (1000lbs) in weight.


If you are an experienced marlin fisherman (or woman!), or a complete novice, Giant Black Marlin Fishing Cairns should be the number 1 option and destination on your list of your next big game fishing adventure!

Kekoa black marlin
Giant Black Marlin on KEKOA

Giant Black Marlin Fishing: Cairns

The Cairns giant black marlin season was established in the 1970’s after the first 1000lb black marlin was weighed by angler Richard Obach fishing with Captain George Bransford in 1966. Since then, more black marlin have been caught (and released) in the waters off Cairns than anywhere else in the world!


Every year in September, these beautiful giant fish return to the warm waters off Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. And with the large female fish come a bevy of smaller males to about 170kg (350lbs).  The peak season for giant black marlin fishing in Cairns is between September and December each year. This is your best opportunity to experience the very best in Australian marlin fishing.


KEKOA recommends live-aboard fishing charters between 3 and 10 days in duration. We can comfortably cater for groups of up to four anglers onboard and mother ships are available upon request.


Aside from marlin fishing, there are great opportunities for light tackle sportfishing for mackerel, wahoo and dolphin fish and bottom fishing for coral trout and popper fishing for giant trevally (GT).

Light Tackle Black Marlin Fishing in Townsville

North Queensland also offers some fantastic fishing to light tackle anglers particularly in the colder months from July to September in Townsville. Cape Bowling Green off Townsville has many times been classed as one of the premier light tackle marlin fishing destinations in the world because of the juvenile black marlin and sailfish that congregate here.


The fish are drawn to the area by the huge schools of bait who come in turn because of the nutrients that feed out of the Burdekin River. And they come in numbers with the best days recorded being 32 and 36 tags!


The Cape provides a good anchorage close to the fishing and so extended charters are a great way to experience the fishing. Day trips out of Townsville for up to 7 anglers are also an option.

Light Tackle Black Marlin Fishing off Cairns

In September before the giant black marlin show up, the fishing grounds off Cairns offer a variety of light tackle billfishing options for juvenile black marlin and sailfish, as well as spectacular fishing for pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel.


In the past few years the light tackle marlin fishing off Cairns has been particularly good late season (mid to late September) in close off Fitzroy Island with one of our better days fishing wide of Fitzroy producing 7 black marlin in a half day of fishing!


The Cairns Bluewater Game Fishing Club also host their annual billfish tournament from the island in late August each year.

North Queensland: Home of the Light & Heavy Tackle Black Marlin


KEKOA was custom built for black marlin fishing in these water by well-known local Townsville boat builder Peter O’Brien of O’Brien Boats. And Peter O’Brien and his team have once again delivered a vessel that provides a world class fishing experience, as well as integrating a comfortably accommodating luxurious personal charters that can easily cater to more far reaching destinations.


This brand new vessel, a 56 foot O’Brien was launched in March 2010 and features state of the art electronics and luxurious furnishings including two ensuited guest cabins as well as separate cabins for the captain and crew. Fully air-conditioned throughout the added beam of the 56 foot vessel allows for a very spacious saloon and entertaining area — as well as a second entertaining area on the flybridge.


Read the KEKOA boat test or find out more about KEKOA on the “About our vessel page”.

Captain Luke Fallon

Captain Luke Fallon has been black marlin fishing in Cairns and Townsville for 28 years. He started as a 16 year-old decky and soon rose through the ranks to become on of the youngest skippers on the reef at the age of 21. Luke has also worked with some of the best Captains in the business including Capt. Laurie Wright, Capt. Jim Dalling, Capt. Greg Edwards and Capt. Terry Parker.


His best day to date marlin fishing off Cairns was catching 9 giant black marlin in a single day heavy tackle fishing. In his career he has landed many fish close to and well over 1000lbs. The biggest black marlin he has weighed was a staggering 1298lbs!


Luke has relished his time at the helm of KEKOA. His many years of experience were molded into the design of the boat and he worked hands-on during the build to produce the ultimate fishing weapon. Luke loves all things fishing and is an expert angler in his own right. When he’s not at the helm of KEKOA, you’ll most likely find him with the business end of a rod in hand!