Wonky Holes off Cairns

Large mouth Nannygai on Wonky Holes

Every time I find myself wanting to catch some large mouth nannygai, I’m always on the look out for Wonky Holes!

Large mouth nannygai are a beautiful red sportsfish in the Lutjanidae family – a relation of Fingermark and Mangrove Jack.

Large mouth nannygai are great to eat and fight hard! They are typcially found offshore in rubble country and especially in areas trawler guys have dubbed Wonky Holes.

Wonky Holes are one of my favourite locations to catch huge large mouth nannygai! Especially since you don’t have to head all the way to the reef.

Even to the extent that I veer away from my destination, just to travel to some country that looks indicative on the charts. I think this addiction of 25 years really starting to take hold and I just can’t help it.

Over the Christmas break on a trip from Townsville to Cairns in our game boat “Mood Swings”, I found myself feeding the addiction once again in the hunt for large mouth nannygai. I swear one day I will run into something (charter boat, what charter boat?? haha) because I’ve had my eye on the sounder too long.

But this is how you find the good country and fishing spots holding massive large mouth nannygai that have never been touched before. Best part is you can do it in a SMALL BOAT.

We were coming into Fitzroy Island to spend the night and we still had a few hours of daylight left so decided to take a wide turn past some ground that looked interesting on the charts. Sure enough in half an hour I found a couple and some had really good numbers of fish.

You could have fished these areas in a 4 mt tinny as we were no further than 5 mile off the coast. Using an 80 gram twitch lure I had a quick drop on one of them and before my jig reached the bottom I was on. A nice 5 to 6 kg Scarlet seas perch popped up and we moved on and anchored up at Fitzroy for the night.


Wonky Holes off Cairns produced this lovely Scarlet Sea Perch or Large mouth Nannygai

Jigging Wonky Holes off Cairns produced this lovely Scarlet Sea Perch or Large mouth Nannygai on a Twitch Lure



Next morning popping in to the same region I found another 4 and had a quick drop on one before heading into Cairns. Same result again and another great large mouth nannygai to take back for mum and dad. We made a quick video which you can watch below.



Cairns is blessed with most of the main ingredients needed for a brilliant destination to hunt Wonky holes and their resident large mouth nannygai. The major rivers, Inlet and the slope of the ancient valley (pre last ice age) make it amazing country.

The Giant ranges out the back are another contributing factor.

My Wonky Holes online fishing course covers all this and gives you the pathway required to find and fish them consistently. Here are a couple of students having great success in this area...


Wonky Holes online fishing course produces some lovely large mouth nannygai near Cairns

Wonky Holes online fishing course produces some lovely large mouth nannygai near Cairns



Cairns is the start of the region where the ranges get pretty close to the ocean which can pronounce the effects that cause Wonky Holes to form very close to shore. Port Douglas, the Daintree and Cooktown are all blessed with major areas of Wonky Holes.

While Wonky Holes are found right down to Fraser island and there are other areas (e.g. Gulf of Carpentaria) that have some good country, it's Cairns north that's my favourite. You just cannot beat that ease of access in a small boat.

So although you might see me fish them in our 40 footer, much of my large mouth nannygai hunting has been in my 5.6 m barra boat. Yes seriously the inshore angler now has a chance to catch good fish without upgrading his boat!  Obviously though you'll still have to play it safe with the weather regardless and only go when its good.

Many of my students are now suffering the same illness and finding themselves getting addicted to finding these honey holes.


Big fish in small boats fishing Wonky Holes for large mouth nannygai

Big fish in small boats fishing Wonky Holes for large mouth nannygai


Finding Wonky Holes gets addictive if you love catching large mouth nannygai

Finding Wonky Holes gets addictive!



Want to know more about Wonky Holes?

CLICK HERE to watch our FREE Wonky Holes presentation.



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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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  • Thomas Callaghan

    Reply Reply July 21, 2021

    I just moved to Cairns from Down South I have never heard of “wonky holes” before I have a small 18 foot boat and a bit hesitant and travelling to the reef. I will be only here for a short time as my father has has advanced lung cancer in time is limited. as such I am probably asking the Fisherman’s most unanswered request and that is good hi have 3 or 4 GPS marks to take my day out before its to late.

    it is one of the things he would love to do it on his bucket list.
    I must say I enjoyed your videos immensely and hope you can see your way free to help.
    Thomas Callaghan

    • Ryan Moody

      Reply Reply August 7, 2021

      Hi Thomas, I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. My father passed away after a long illness not so long ago and it must be terrible for you. Unfortunately we don’t give out marks to anyone. Because it’s not just about a mark. There are many other factors at play and a fishing spot is just a spot if you don’t go there at the right time using the right tools. I’m sure your Dad would just love to spend the time with you no matter what you do and where you go. Wishing you and your Dad all the best. Cheers Karen – Team Moody

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