April is my favourite Fraser Island month. Not because fish are plentiful or because the March flies have headed back into the rainforests, but because it’s a month for a real challenge.
April is the interface between summer and winter, so just about all beach species will be available; not necessarily in big numbers, but that’s part of the challenge. It is the perfect time to target a particular specie, and have a reasonable chance of success. It can mean long walks along a beach, or around a headland, checking out likely spots but it is the time to experiment with different methods, baits or lures.
You don’t get to learn much when the fish are in a feeding frenzy, hitting just about anything that moves. So the times when fishing is a bit slow should be valued as times when real learning can take place.
Fraser Island’s ocean beach is famous for its annual run of tailor from July through to November. The hardest part is finding a group of anglers working a gutter full of frenzied tailor, but there is hardly any skill involved from there. Sure, you need to be able to use your equipment to get the bait or lure into the right water, but that’s about it.
April is months away from the tailor season, but there are tailor, albeit more chopper size, working the beach throughout the year outside the season. Worthwhile approaches include checking out the headlands where white water spills into deeper gutters or over the coffee rocks between Eli Creek and Eurong. Late afternoon and very early morning are the best times for looking for a few choppers. Try out a range of metals and variations in the ways they are worked.
It’s been a long time since I have seen whiting in a feeding frenzy along Fraser’s ocean beach, so lately, all my whiting sessions have been very much experimental. In a good year, April can turn on some impressive whiting fishing and there have been some promising reports that they are making a comeback. I am not going to get too excited just yet, but I might even be in for a bag limit sometime soon! Regardless, I’ll still have fun experimenting.
There is a common misconception that whiting are easy to catch. Perhaps sometimes, but more often than not they are very fussy, not only about what they will eat but how it is presented. The first trick is to locate them. They usually prefer the quiet waters of low tide gutters and drains.
The long and narrow double-ended gutters that are common between Cathedral Beach and Dundubara are very popular (refer to Fig.1). As the tide recedes, and again when it floods, water washes over the outer sand bank into the outer edge of the gutter. All sorts of animal life including small worms, crustaceans and shellfish are washed off the banks towards the waiting whiting.
Another type of gutter that produces decent whiting is usually larger, but with a blind end (refer to Fig.2). The water rushes off the neighbouring bank into this blind end where whiting will be waiting.
On Fraser’s ocean beach, sea worms and pipis are the natural baits and therefore the angler’s choice. Which bait is going to work best is just another avenue of experimentation. I would put pipis marginally ahead, particularly for better quality whiting.
How the bait is worked is also open to variation. There are times that whiting insist on a quiet presentation with just the natural movement of waves and tide. At other times, they love to chase a bait that is being retrieved at a pace. In much the same way, other species like bream, tarwhine, dart and flathead, provide opportunities for searching and experimentation.
The western beach has not seen much fishing activity since the Christmas holidays, but it could be well worth a visit over the Easter school holidays, particularly if strong southeasterlies make things uncomfortable on the ocean beach.
Moon, Woralie and Awinya tracks remain open with caution. The mouths of Woralie and Awinya creeks can be crossed carefully at low tide, but in its present condition, the Coungul Creek mouth is not recommended. The creek mouths and small coffee rock outcrops will be worth investigating this month.
Long and narrow double-ended gutter.
Blind end gutter.Reads: 1972