An introduction to River Heads.
  |  First Published: August 2013

Fraser Island's eastern coast continues to be in recovery mode after months of active erosion, courtesy of the east coast lows and cyclonic conditions of this year's early months.

In Early July, the southern beaches from the barge landing as far north as Eurong were approaching normality but drivers were still advised to travel as close as possible to low tide. Further north, some of the rocks that had been seriously eroded were starting to sand up, but problems continued with exposures at Poyungan, Yidney and Happy Valley. Chard, McLaughlins and Ngkala rocks might also be causing problems this month.

With the island's tailor season approaching, the latest information indicates a slow start, but it is not unusual for the run of large breeding fish to arrive as late as early August. In some seasons, the better tailor are preceded by lots of smaller fish, and it is starting to look like this might be happening this year.

Apart from tailor, other species are keeping anglers happy. There has been some very acceptable dart coming from the larger gutters when water clarity has been good.

Whiting continue to improve in numbers and the quality has remained excellent.

Bream and tarwhine have been plentiful around the many coffee rock exposures, but the quality has left a bit to be desired.

Mulloway have also started to appear with a few 80cm+ fish coming in from Yidney.

In Hervey Bay, light gear anglers have been enjoying the presence of spawning bream in most of their usual haunts. The Urangan pier, the rocks around Point Vernon and Gatakers Bay have been fishing well, but rock ledges around Woody Island and the Picnics have been slow so far. At River Heads, catches of large spawning bream are coming from the shore and also from the many excellent features that can be accessed from here by boat.

River Heads is located at the mouth of the Mary and Susan rivers. Just twenty minutes south of Hervey Bay city, River Heads is becoming a major residential suburb. The narrow promontory that separates bay from river is the base for vehicular and passenger barges. These service Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village, as well as Woongoolbver Creek. As well as the barge ramp, a ramp for small boats is located on the riverside. The two-lane ramp is certainly much better since its refurbishment, but it wouldn't make the finals in a Queensland's best boat ramps competition. Depending on tide, launching into fast running water might be necessary. With the ramp facing southwest, winds out of that direction can make launching uncomfortable. There is a small, narrow ramp facing east, close to the barge ramp, but this has its problems, particularly at low tide. Unfortunately, parking for vehicles and trailers is limited with less than thirty spaces available. The growing population of Hervey Bay, and in particular the suburb of River Heads, has made use of this ramp more and more popular. At busy times like weekends, holidays, good fishing seasons and just great weather, vehicles and trailers can be seen parked on either side of the narrow road that leads down to barge and boat ramps. The re-location of island passenger services from Urangan to River Heads has also added to the problem.

This month should see bream at their best, not only from the rocky shores on either side of the Heads, but also along the rocky outcrops along South Head. Here there are variations from shallow gravel beds to steep ledges and deeper holes.

During September, bream catches will continue, but we will start to see many more pikey bream, as this fish has a later spawning season than that of the yellowfin bream in the river. The pikey bream is well-known further north but the Mary and Susan rivers are the specie's southern outpost, at least for consistent catches.

Of course there are many more fish in the River Heads area than the humble bream. Barramundi, blue and king threadfin salmon, trumpeter (javelin), cod, flathead, mulloway, tailor, mackerel, trevally and whiting are all targeted by specialist anglers at various times throughout the year. Surprisingly, I have seen very few jacks taken from either river, they seem more common in smaller Sandy Straits streams and those draining off Fraser Island.

One species that I have failed to mention so far is the one with the big teeth that is extremely good at evading the range of traps that have been set over the last couple of years. So Mr Crocodile is still at large, presumably still in the lower reaches of the Mary River. With all the fuss and publicity that it has caused, you would think that this was the first croc to call the Mary home. Far from it! There have been many sightings including one that was shot upstream near Tiaro in the early sixties and put on display in the heart of Maryborough. According to experienced fishermen, a second, smaller croc is also in the area. Although there have been many sightings over the years, they can’t become official until it is observed by a marine park ranger. So before you put a toe in the water, remember that Mr Croc or possibly his friend might not be far away. Please take care in the coming months.

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