Fishing the rivers and ocean waters around Ballina is a calm, relaxing vacation activity. The waters here are rich in many different species of fish and there are great fishing spots all over the place, many of them quiet and not highly fished.
The Richmond River
There are 12 square kilometres of recreational fishing along the Richmond River, from Burns Point to the tips of the sea walls. North Creek and Emigrant Creek are part of this total area, which includes over 90% of the remaining sea grass beds in the estuary—it houses a lot of different fish. A wide range of bream, whiting, flathead, jewfish, trevally, blackfish, mangrove jack and tailor swim this river and its offshoots. The Richmond River is very clean and it’s friendly to folks without boats—there are lots of ramps, some with facilities nearby.
Fishing spots around Ballina CBD
There are quite a few spots that locals like, including behind the CBD from the swimming pool to the mouth of Fishery Creek. These rocky banks are quiet and usually uncrowded. Father upstream of the swimming pool is the Bream Hole, which descends down 9 metres with a vertical rock shelf on its southern edge. The best fishing here is from April to September.
Another spot that offers fine catches is the Lance Ferris Wharf in Fawcett Park. This is a good choice for families with young children—it’s pretty safe for supervised children.
In Riverview Park, west of the RSL, you’ll find a boat ramp that’s good for fishing, plus sheltered tables, toilets and barbecues. This is known as the RSL Club jetty, and it’s a lovely spot to spend an afternoon.
Another good fishing ramp sits on the west edge of the CBD, also on Fishery Creek. This is the largest and most sheltered ramp on the river, with the trawler harbour at the mouth—lots of fish come through here.
Here’s a list of all the boat ramps in the Ballina area:
- Burns Point Ferry Road, West Ballina
- Riverside Drive, West Ballina
- Boatharbour Road, West Ballina (includes fish cleaning table and tap)
- River Street & Emigrant Creek Lane, West Ballina (includes fish cleaning table and tap)
- Brunswick Street, Ballina
- Cawarra Street, Ballina (includes fish cleaning table)
- The Spit, Kingsford Smith Drive, Ballina (includes fish cleaning tables and tap)
- Seven Mile Beach (southern end) boat ramp (there’s no parking on the beach, there is a fish cleaning table)
Rocks and beaches
There are various rocky headlands and beaches that extend from Ballina north to Cape Bryon—walking the area is the best way to find them. South of Ballina towards Evans Head, there’s a wide area for fishing jewfish, tailor, bream, dart, whiting, trevally and tuna. Vehicles are allowed on the beach from about a kilometre south of South Ballina down to Airforce Beach at Evans Head. The beach fishing at South Ballina is a favourite spot thanks to its well-formed gutters and holes—there’s year-round tailor fishing here. And there are large whiting in spring and early summer. Beach worms and pipis are abundant for fresh bait.
Vehicles are also allowed at Seven Mile Beach from Lennox Head north to Broken Head—access the beach just past the Sport and Recreation Camp. You do need a permit to drive on this stretch of beach; permits are sold at an automatic kiosk located opposite the Lennox Head Surf Club approaching Camp Drewe Road (pay via Visa, Mastercard or debit card).
For fishing the sea, try the North and South walls. This is the same sort of breakwall fishing that’s found all along the NSW coast: there’s bream, tailor, blackfish and jewfish, and the occasional snapper after heavy seas. When the tropical current touches the shore, there’s mackerel and tuna fishing.
The North Wall access is easy—you can even take the bicycle path from town, or drive and park. You can reach the South Wall is by taking the Burns Point vehicle ferry. Parking is adequate at both spots (except when the surf’s up and the fish are jumping).
There are deep and fast running narrows at Wardell, under the highway bridge. This is a popular spot for school jewfish, especially on low summer night tides. Live herring, poddy mullet and hard minnows also congregate here.
Fishing Licence, Supplies, and Disposal
Fishing in fresh and saltwater in NSW requires a NSW fishing licence. The same goes for spear fishing, hand lining, hand gathering, trapping and bait collection and prawn netting. NSW Fisheries offers a lot of good information on both freshwater and saltwater fishing including bag and size limits, restrictions, rock fishing safety, diving and spear fishing, protected species etc.
You can buy a recreational fishing licence for three days ($6), one month ($12), a year ($30) or three years ($75). Several outlets in Ballina sell licences: the Ballina Visitor Information Centre (6 River Street, Ballina); K-Mart (Kerr Street, Ballina); and Dolphin Bay (South Ballina Beach Resort).
There are a few bait and tackle stores in Ballina (which also sell licenses): Bait and Tackle (West Ballina Shopping Centre); Dave’s Bait Shop (271 River Street, next to the Shell service station, Ph 02 6686 4289); and Johno’s One Stop Bait & Tackle (337 River Street Ballina Ph 02 6686 3968). You can safely dispose of fishing lines at the Ballina Harbour on Regatta Avenue. The disposal spot is on eastern side of the harbour alongside the Richmond River.
If you’re looking to hire a boat, there are a couple of local options. Ballina Boat Hire—BBQ Boats and Tinnies with Canopies—is located at 268 River Street, Ballina. Ph: 0402 028 767. For beach fishing excursions, try Paul’s Fishing, Ph: 0407 416 575. And for deep sea fishing tours, there’s Evans Head Deep Sea Fishing Charters, Ph: 0428 828 835.
Want to experience a luxury beach holiday?
Ocean Blue holiday rental is only a 5-minute walk from the beach and has gorgeous river and coastal views. Located just a short drive from Ballina Airport and 30 minutes from Byron Bay, this is the perfect location for your next beach holiday. Visit our contact page to make an inquiry or booking.