Michaelmas Cay and Wonky Hole Nannygai

Michaelmas Cay is a lovely little bird sanctuary 21 nautical miles north east of Cairns.

It is one of the most important bird nesting colonies on the Great Barrier Reef.

Mainly because it has a large grassy area permanently above water and is high enough to withstand cyclones.

Terns and Frigate birds that spend their lives at sea, need a stable nesting area that they can return to year after year.

Over 20 species of birds can be spotted on Michaelmas Cay.

It is also a green zone for fishing, so the fish life is abundant and friendly.

Especially if you have some pilchards to spare.

Large GT’s cruise around the boat and can be enticed very close to snorkelers.

On the way to Michaelmas Cay, before you enter the green zone, is some great fishing, especially if you can find a Wonky Hole or two.

We travelled to the Cay with Daphe from Poland who has never snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef before.

And her partner Stephen – who is now our videographer!

This trip was a half day trial for him and he did admirably well for a first attempt at a fishing blog.

Check it out.




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Our most popular course has students from over 50 countries and covers the fundamentals of using your Fish Finder.

When you only get small weather windows for fishing, it makes sense to make the most of it by investing in knowledge.

It's called our Sounder Skills 1 course.

And it's only $20 Australian at the moment and well worth a look.

If you don't learn anything let me know and I'll give you your money back.

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Don't disturb the birds!

There are a couple of suggestions when visiting Michaelmas Cay.

Please do not disturb the birds by keeping to the roped off areas.

Each time they take flight they use valuable reserves and also leave the chicks/eggs unguarded.

Birds on Michaelmas Cay

Michaelmas Cay is a bird sanctuary so try not to disturb them by walking outside the roped off areas.

GT taking pilchard in fish sanctuary

GT's are used to being fed and can be enticed very close to the boat and swimmers. It's a great experience to swim among these gangsters of the ocean.

GT near boat

Begging for a feed near Michaelmas Cay

Michaelmas Cay coral

The coral around Michaelmas Cay is spectacular including this species which we have not seen before. We called it "rock coral". Can't imagine why?

Shark and remora

Right before we lost our fish to sharks we foul hooked a remora. It was an indication of things to come. We call remora "sandshoe cobia" as they look like they've been stood on by a sandshoe.

shark about to eat fish

Oh no!

Nannygai on Wonky Holes

On our way to Michaelmas Cay we stopped on a Wonky Hole and scored dinner. This fish had bad barotrauma (note bulging eyes) and could not be released.


Happy people on boat

Daphne recounting her first snorkel on the Great barrier Reef at Michaelmas Cay.

Gear and tackle used.

While fishing on the way to Michaelmas Cay, we used the following gear.


GARMIN 8412 and GT51 transducer. (find out why >>here)


Rod: Anthem SW Spin 692MH 30-50lb

Reel: Quantum Cabo 40

Lures: Various - click the links to purchase the Levitator

Line: 30lb braid with 60lb Ande mono leader.

Hooks: Eagle Claw Kahle 7/0

Knots used.

Wind on leader system

Perfection loop to attach lures.

For more of our favourite gear, get the cheat sheet...


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I hope you enjoyed our video on Michaelmas Cay and fishing on the way there.

If you've missed our trip to Princess Charlotte Bay you can watch the whole adventure >> here.

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