Beach perfection for anglers
  |  First Published: May 2014

Over 80km of open ocean beaches, and not a net in sight! Could this be a reason why Fraser Island boasts some of the best tailor and light gear beach fishing in the country? Certainly one very significant reason along with other factors that might make Fraser's beach fishing out on its own.

Now this is not a boast that we want to guard jealously. In fact we would love to see our beautiful neighbouring beaches given the same opportunities that we have been fortunate enough to have received.

It was the declaration of the Great Sandy Marine Park that effectively closed most of the island's ocean beach to net fishing. I understand that there are some loopholes that can be activated but I am yet to see any netting in the declared yellow zone. Commercial netting is permitted in the blue zones at the southern end of the island, also north of Ngkala Rocks to Sandy Cape, Rooney Point and south along the western side of the island to Moon Point. We should remember, however, that the beaches and headlands between Indian Head and Waddy Point are closed to all fishing during August and September. Also the small beaches and headlands at Middle Rocks are zoned green and closed to fishing throughout the year.

I am not suggesting that the absence of commercial netting stands on its own here. Rather there are influences that we might not completely understand, that contribute to the great fishing that we enjoy in the area. These might include the abundant nutrient supply contributed by streams flowing into Sands Straits, or the distribution of offshore coffee rock ledges. Of course beach fishing at Fraser Island has always been outstanding, but so too have been the beaches south of Double Island Point. With fishing demands, particularly in the recreational sphere, increasing, the yellow zoning has resulted in a more equitable share of the resource on Fraser Island.

Just about everyone that visits Fraser Island knows the Maheno, or what's left of it, after going aground in cyclonic conditions in July 1935 while being towed to Japan for scrap. I would venture to say that it would have to be the most photographed mass of rusting steel. For reasons that I do not fully understand, it has had a magnetic effect on anglers since it came ashore.

Fishing from the structure of the Maheno is totally banned today, and for very good reasons that don't require elaborating. In earlier years when it was relatively safe, it was the most popular venue right along the beach. Depending on the beach, weather and current conditions, deep holes would be gouged out at both bow and stern and along the seaward decks. Today holes continue to develop, particularly around the stern, but not to the same extent as they did when the ship was much larger. One of my challenges on the island these days is to attempt to extract fish from the tangled rusting remains when a hole develops at the stern. An amazing array of species has been taken here including snapper, rock blackfish, sweep, even juvenile potato cod. Of course this hole can only be fished from the beach.

Apart from the limited fishing opportunities around the structure itself, gutters close to the wreck often fish particularly well. Of course these and other beach structures are continually on the move but it is usual to find a distinct well formed gutter just to the north, while to the south, a long gutter usually extends down towards the mouth of Eli Creek. During the last two tailor seasons, this gutter supported up to a 100 anglers, all enjoying the action.

The last few months haven't seen too much angling activity thanks to the seemingly never ending south easterlies. In the few spells of light conditions it has been easy to find whiting in the low water gutters with bream and tarwhine around the coffee rocks and in the deeper gutters. This month should see much the same with a lot more big dart in calmer conditions. This should also be a good time to fish the northern faces of Indian Head and Waddy Point for bream, tarwhine and reef fish.

On the western beaches, conditions should be excellent particularly in southeasterly conditions. The Moon Point track from Happy Valley is open again but it continues to be quite difficult particularly close to the western beach. Much the same could be said for the Woralie track but much of the beach is difficult due to exposed coffee rocks. Just a reminder that the inside beach is open only as far north a Towoi Creek, so preventing access to Wathumba Creek from the south.

In Hervey Bay, it has been a matter of waiting for the calm spells between the successive northerlies and south easterlies. The shallow reefs have been fishing particularly well, as have been the deeper ledges. The Artificial Reef has been disappointing but that should change soon with the arrival of spawning snapper this month.

With water temperatures dropping, grass sweetlip and blue parrot will be a little harder to find but there should still be plenty of blackall. This month should also see bream starting to congregate in spawning areas around the northern and southern ends of the bay islands, and at River Heads. Last year's bream season almost didn't happen, probably due to succession of floodwaters coming out of the Mary River. With no floods so far this year, a normal bream season just might eventuate.

In Platypus Bay, northern blues (longtails) have been running amuck, filling the bellies with the small baitfish often known as rainfish or eyes. Ben Lineburg, testing out some new equipment and working lightly weighted 5” pearl Z-Man jerk ShadZ, enjoyed a frantic session on the longtails off Rooney Point. Good numbers of tuna have also been finding their way south into the inner bay with mostly longtails working the current lines between Woody and Little Woody Islands.

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