Giant Trevally Port Douglas Reef Fishing
Topwater - Reef Flats


The eternal problem for those wishing to fish shallow reef flats and inner lagoon systems on the outer Barrier Reef is one of accessibility. It also relates to draft and the ability to manoeuvre in super-skinny water. Vast tracts of shallows interspersed with lagoons and hard top-reefs make up an endless chain of outer reefs in the far north. FNSF-NOMAD provide a unique opportunity to fish these inaccessible locations from relatively small, fully customised dories. 

Our charters provide some of the only opportunities to fish lonely reef lagoons and flats full of hungry fish. A huge biomass of colourful fish live on top of the reef flats, from tiny baitfish to huge Maori Wrasse. Fishermen are only limited by their own imagination when considering the diversity of coral reef species to target. A range of Emperors, Coral Trout, Maori Sea Perch, Cod, Chinaman fish and Red Bass are just a few waiting to steal lures.

Besides your full range of pelagic fish hanging off the edges, other silver speedsters such as the Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Cobia, Barracuda, Queenfish, Needle-nosed Gar, Rainbow Runners and others get up on top. Many predators transition on and off the reef flats, so working tides and local knowledge of when fish will be actively feeding is essential.

Becoming ever-more popular is drifting or using an electric motor to glide over off the shallow reef casting at edges, rocks, bommies, gutters and current lines. A hugely rewarding and visual form of fishing, anglers cast surface lures and suspending stick-baits, dancing and blooping them back across shallow reef. It is anticipation overload as you see the fish looming up and giving chase to your lure. Battles are swift and brutal and you certainly lose gear at times. But the rewards are massive.

Maori Wrasse - Ultimate Fishing Coral Trout Ultimate Fishing


Species to expect on the reef flats include Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Maori Wrasse, Coral Trout, Bluefin Trevally, Chinaman fish, Red Bass, Flowery Cod, Maori Sea Perch, Green Jobfish, Yellow-Lipped and Long-Nosed Emperor to name just a few.


There are numerous opportunities and locations to fish reef flats on all the FNSF-Nomad blue water trips. Some locations include:

  • Bligh, Lagoon & Long Sandy Reef
  • Princess Charlotte Bay outer reefs
  • Ribbon Reefs
  • Jewel & Waining Reefs
  • Claremont Isles & Forbes Island


FNSF-NOMAD use top of the line Shimano rods, reels and terminal tackle. We provide the following setup for fishing on the reef flats:

  • Reel: Shimano Saragosa SW10000 
  • Rod: Shimano Terez Spin 69 Med/Heavy 6'9 
  • Line: 65lb braid, 80-120lb leader

Tips & Tricks

  • Anticipation plays a huge role in this very active cast and retrieval game. The first hour is usually the best due to this factor. You never know when the flats will really light up, so be prepared for maximum energy input when it goes off.
  • Alertness and a relaxed sense of purpose will see some anglers rewarded more than others. Accurate casting is not required, but anglers whose eyes follow their lure on the retrieve will do far better.
  • A good pair of polarised sunnies is a must and being elevated helps sight-cast at both moving and stationary fish. 
  • Better to use heavier leader and heavier tackle in anticipation of running into a true giant. Plenty of battles are lost to slow reflexes on light gear and coral reef is unforgiving on light leaders.

Nomad Tackle is our go-to choice for lures. Our guides are experienced in using a wide variety of lures daily and recommend the following when it comes to fishing the flats:

  • Nomad Chug Norris 150mm
  • Nomad Riptide 105mm/155mm
  • Madscad 115mm
  • Dartwing 130mm

These lures are available to purchase as part of our discounted pre-purchase lure packs in your own personal lure wrap, and can also be puchased on board.

Shimano Saragosa Reel