Happy catches for Fraser
  |  First Published: November 2013

It seems that most Fraser Coast anglers have been happy with their catches during the latter part of winter and spring. On the outside of Fraser Island, as well as the dominant tailor, there has been no shortage of big dart, bream and tarwhine.

This year's tailor season probably won't go down in the books as a record breaker but there is still time this month for some good catches. In fact I am aware of a number of serious tailor anglers who delay their annual trip until November as they see it as the best time to catch the top quality fish.  

At the risk of repeating myself I must express my delight in seeing sand whiting catches on their way back to what we expected ten years ago. Not really there yet, but it is promising.

On a negative note, sharks have been making life difficult for anglers chasing mulloway during the early evenings. It has been common to see large sharks cruising the shoreline and entering some of the smallest gutters. I am often asked by prospective guests if it is ok to swim along the ocean beach. The answer is always easy – no. Not only on the basis of sharks, but also because there are no patrolled beaches along a beach riddled with dangerous rips and, quite often, plagues of blue bottles.

Along the western beaches of Fraser Island, whiting have been in fair supply with flathead and bream around the creek mouths and coffee rocks. So far, these beaches are still clear of weed, but as the seasonal northerly winds build up this month we can expect to see winter weed growths breaking away and being washed into the beaches.

In my column last month I wrote the first of what will become a number of segments looking at shore-based opportunities in the Hervey Bay Area, extending from Toogoom to River Heads.

In the first segment I looked at Beelbi Creek at Toogoom. Between here and Point Vernon, the shoreline is fringed by a wide area of sand and mud flats, which would suggest a very boring and uninteresting place to fish. However, these wide intertidal areas are very productive resulting in rich food sources for fish that move in when they cover. Although there is no permanent pattern to the gutters that are woven through the banks, most are set parallel to the beach, with a couple of often deeper feeder drains at right angles to them. At one point, near the end of Anson Street, there is usually a prominent gutter close to the beach.

The most popular way to fish the flats is to work the flooding tide, as fish are keen to move in to feed on the bounty that the shallows produce. Whiting are undoubtedly the most common capture with smaller numbers of bream, flathead and gar. Working each gutter as it fills, then moving to the next is the way to go, provided the way back is not going to be made difficult by a fast flooding tide filling gutters closer to the beach. Contrary to some common belief, the ebbing tide can be worked as effectively as the flood. Some species, flathead in particular, are not often the first to invade the shallows on the flood tide. Rather they will move in once the tide is well in, but be the last to leave as the tide ebbs.  

There are two significant creeks whose mouths cut across the flats. The small O'Regans Creek and its associated wetlands separate the localities of Toogoom and Craignish. Its mouth fishes well for flathead and there is always a chance of a jack from one of the deeper holes. It can be reached by taking Ries Road or Petersen's Road to the beach then a short walk east or west to the mouth.

The mouth of Eli Creek is easily accessed either from the Esplanade at Gatakers Bay or following Martin Street from the Point Vernon Esplanade to the site of the old dump at the creek mouth. Although the creek is mostly very shallow there are a few deeper sections that fish well for flathead, particularly where water spills off the flats on an ebb tide. Just inside the creek mouth near the old dump, there is a rock wall along a deeper stretch do the creek. On a flooding spring tide, this spot can turn on some good bream during the cooler months.

In conclusion I need to say that this stretch of Hervey Bay's coastline can be subject to invasions of washed in seaweed in much the same way as can the western beaches of Fraser Island. Washed ashore, the rotting weed not only brings fishing to a standstill but makes life on the beach very unpleasant. For most of the year however, the land-based angler can expect to have some rewarding fishing.

In a later column I will look at The Gatakers Bay, Point Vernon and Pialba rocky shore opportunities.

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