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Cooler weather brings rewards
  |  First Published: April 2014



Spaniards, permit, bonefish, GTs and mulloway – all have been recorded from Fraser's ocean beach and headlands during the last 12 months. You can add in tailing goldies and queenfish from the western beach to make the list even more impressive.

Of course, a number of these species are targeted successfully by specialist sportfishers but most angling activity on the island centres around the annual tailor run in late winter and spring, and the bread and butter species of dart, bream, tarwhine, whiting and flathead.

With cooler weather on the way, tarwhine should become more regular catches along the ocean beach. Most will be taken around the coffee rocks at Poyungan, Yidney, Chard Rocks and Ngkala but the larger gutters will also hold them. The northern faces of both Indian Head and Waddy Point can also be productive. Tarwhine are often associated with bream to which they have some resemblance. For legalities they are grouped with bream, even though they are not closely related, in having a common legal length of 25cm and a combined bag limit of 30. That means it’s fine to keep, say, 16 tarwhine and 14 bream, but not 30 of each.

Bream also favour rocky country and deep gutters and to some extent they also compete with tarwhine for food. Although both will take the usual beach baits of pipis and worms, bream often show a preference for flesh baits like half WA pilchards or whole small blue or white pilchards. Tarwhine rarely take pilchards readily.

The latest reports from the ocean beach are encouraging with plenty of dart and whiting being taken. Water clarity has been excellent despite a succession of strong winds that might suggest otherwise. Inshore water clarity seems to have a significant influence on Fraser Island's beach fishing. It seems to me that most species are reluctant to move right in when there is a great degree of turbidity. I must confess I don’t fully understand what causes this turbidity or why. Hopefully the clear conditions will persist and we can look forward to some great beach fishing throughout the coming months leading up to the start of the tailor season in July.

Following up on last month's report on the apparent use of the North Wathumba track, I have nothing more to add except that officially the road is closed. Other cross-island roads remain open but the pronged dry weather will not improve their condition.

In the last few months we have been looking at land-based fishing opportunities around Hervey Bay's city foreshores. To complete the journey, we head south to River Heads, at the mouth of the Susan and Mary rivers. Most of these foreshores are lined with mangroves and shallow mud and sand banks with some low rocky areas. They are not the most hospitable foreshores for an easy fishing outing, but there are still some potentially worthwhile opportunities to be had. The road from Urangan to River Heads follows Elizabeth Street, Booral Road and River Heads Road. Just before reaching the airport, Beck Road and Island View Road, branch off Booral Road to the left and lead directly to points where the foreshore can be accessed. From here there are two options. If the tide is low walk out to the rocky gutters and follow them as the tide moves. I should emphasize that good footwear is essential. Whiting, bream and flathead are all likely captures. The other option is to fish over the top of the tide, in particular working around the mangroves as fish move in to feed.

Between here and River Heads, there are few other worthwhile spots to try. In my column in the September edition I had something to say about fishing at River Heads, mostly from the boater's perspective. Land-based fishing here is really restricted to the rocky foreshores in the vicinity of the ramps and parking areas and, to some extent, a little further upstream from the inside ramp. All of these areas are rocky and often very slippery so you need to be suitably prepared. Bream are plentiful during the winter spawning season. The ledges between the barge ramp and the green beacon fish well particularly well at night. Catches of chopper tailor and school mackerel are also made during winter days. Upstream from the inner ramp, rock ledges produce some opportunities for flathead fishing.

One more little thing to remember: River Heads is sometimes known as Sandfly City, so be prepared. That's about it for our land based tour. I hope it brought some results for you.

Hervey Bay’s shallow reefs fished well this summer, on the quite rare days when it hasn’t been blowing at least 20 knots from the north. Frequent southerlies of a similar strength don’t make things much easier but at least it is possible to find a fairly sheltered reef.

Coral bream (grass sweetlip) have been of a much better quality than we have seen for years while big blackall have been down in numbers. Anglers using rock crab bait have been having some excitement with blueys (black-spot tuskfish). Small snapper (squire) can be a pest in the shallows with few making the 35cm limit, but this season it has been common to keep the bag limit of 4 legal fish.

Moses perch have always been expected in a mixed catch on the reef, but this year they have been not only abundant but of a respectable quality as well. They have been prolific, particularly just before and just after dusk. So prolific, in fact, that coral bream rarely have a chance of finding a bait. Like their close relative the mangrove jack, moses perch will attack just about any artificial that is presented. They are exceptional as table fare, and the minimum legal length is 25cm with a bag limit of 5.

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