Last month I mentioned that Fraser Island’s tailor season does not wind up at the end of September. In fact the next two months regularly produce some of the biggest fish of the year.
And this does not necessarily mean that these outsized greenbacks are not around for the earlier part of the season. Rather, the most likely explanation is that they are seriously outnumbered by smaller fish and so don’t occupy a significant proportion of an angler’s catch.
I also know from my own experience and watching a group of anglers at work on average fish, that one can become complacent and not expectant of the occasion that the big fish decides to hit. Some spectacular bust-offs occur, usually punctuated by the appropriate colourful vocabulary.
There are many anglers who regularly target large tailor, not just by the gear they use, but when they choose to fish, and by their choice of bait. Many of Fraser Island big tailor are taken in the middle of the night on cut baits of yellowtail and horse mackerel.
I spend quite a bit of time helping potential visitors with accommodation on the ocean beach. One of the first things we discuss is the type of vehicle they plan to come in. Of course, a 4WD is mandatory, but it needs to have high clearance and genuine off-road capability to take full advantage of all that the island has to offer. There are many excellent drives to rainforests, and lakes and the western beach, but many of the tracks are, to say the least, in pretty poor state. Their conditions are exacerbated in prolonged dry periods as sand dries out and becomes powdery.
While on the subject of driving on Fraser Island, official speed limits are now in force. On the island tracks and within townships it is 80km/h but on the beach it is 30km/h. There are also reduced speed limits on the beach in the vicinity of townships and tourist attractions, like the Maheno Wreck. The 80km/h limit is fair enough but only for an experienced driver.
Apart from the official rules, there are a few courtesies that are worth observing on the ocean beach. These have been around for years but in recent times have not been practised to the same extent. We need to remember that the ocean beach is an official main road, but one without a centre line. Although it is expected that vehicles will pass each other on the correct side of the road, it is a good idea to indicate intention, particularly where there might be some confusion. In a typical situation where an oncoming vehicle might veer off the beach, indicating by both vehicles could avert a serious situation. Stopping on the beach in the direction of travel is both inconsiderate and dangerous. Pipi gatherers are frequently the main offenders. The unwritten rule is that when stopping to fish or gather bait, the vehicle should be parked off the trafficked beach at right angles to the direction of travel.
Time to get off the soapbox and get back to fishing.
Another winter has passed and once again we have seen plenty of mulloway taken along the ocean beach. Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, the majority have been under the legal limit of 75cm. I took particular note of one that I caught at Poyungan Rocks as it was 1cm under the limit and was cradled back into the water. I estimated its weight to be a little more than 2kg. Other anglers have supported the view that a just legal mulloway would weigh 2-2.5kg. I am a great supporter of sensible size and bag limits, but when a size limit goes from 45cm to 75cm in one hit, it makes one wonder what science determines the decision making.
Fishing in a gutter just on dusk recently, I saw at least a dozen obviously undersize jew find their way into fishing bags while others were carefully returned to the water. At least there are still plenty of big fish patrolling the gutters of the ocean beach of Fraser Island but when thinking about other popular spots in south Queensland, well known for school jew, one would wonder how many under-size fish are turning ordinary anglers into law-breakers.
Finally, apart from those big tailor, what else can we expect this month? Sand whiting will start to turn up in good numbers along the ocean beach, and continue to fish well on the western beach provided weed has not become a problem.
One of the top whiting spots at this time of the year is right at the southern end of the island just downstream of the barge landings and also around Hook Point. Fishing the early to mid ebb tide near the landings and the late ebb and early flood at Hook Point are the best options.
With the headlands again open to general fishing, the gorges at Waddy Point and on the southern side of Indian Head are likely to produce plenty of bream and tarwhine, with the possibility of a sweetlip or drummer. The gutters in the lee of Waddy Point are always good for a few flathead at this time of the year.
A Fraser Island fishing report would not be complete without mention of the ever-reliable dart. They will still be there in the gutters ready to save the day if all else fails!Reads: 5769