Last month on our trek up Fraser’s east coast we reached Dundubara campground and ranger station. This has been the busiest time of the year for these beaches, and it will continue to be busy until the end of the school holidays.
From Dundubara the beach continues uninterrupted to the imposing Indian Head. A series of excellent gutters and holes persist right up to the base of the headland. For the final 5-6km the trafficable beach is quite narrow, making progress difficult on the higher stages of the tide. Just before reaching the rock face, a major sand track leads through the dunes, around the western side of the headland to the continuation of the ocean beach.
Indian Head is a very popular tourist destination, particularly for the sightings of whales, sharks, turtles and large fish. The walking track commences at the southern face of the headland, and vehicles need to park on the upper beach here. The track is by no means a walk in the park. At the very least, good footwear is needed for the climb. Some years ago, the main walking track started at the northern face but this has been closed for safety concerns.
The vehicle track around the western side of Indian Head is by far the most popular place to be bogged on Fraser Island. High tyre pressures and inexperience are right up there as probable causes.
Once across this track it is just a short run up the beach to Middle Rock and beyond.
In the August mag we published a photo of a strikingly marked cod, and asked if anyone could help with a positive identification. Many thanks go to Kent Walker for coming to the rescue with some great information. Known locally as trout cod, or Epinephelus maculatus, it’s well known to Kent who regularly fishes waters to the north of Fraser Island. According to world authority Fishbase (fishbase.org), this species is found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region extending down the Australian east coast not much further south than the Fraser Coast. The lunar tail trout (see photo) is another of Kent’s favourite species.
October is often seen as a time when we change from winter to summer fishing seasons. This might be so for some species, but for other species it’s not as simple as that. Still, it might be useful to review what the winter months have turned on at Fraser Island and within Hervey Bay, and what this new month will provide.
Along the eastern beach of Fraser Island, the much-anticipated tailor season started well but has since been spasmodic. The quality hasn’t been outstanding but the latter part of the season, right through until late November, should see more of the larger breeding greenbacks move in along the beach and around the headlands.
I had an interesting report from a group of anglers fishing for tailor earlier in the season. They had been taking fish regularly each evening and then came the earthquakes east of the island. Although all other conditions were unchanged, that was the end of their tailor fishing – at least until the end of their brief holiday on the island. They don’t recall feeling anything on the beach, but buildings close by certainly did. I am happy to report that the tailor’s absence was short lived. Having been closed for the last two months, Waddy Point and Indian Head are now open to anglers, and it will be from these vantage points that some of the best tailor will be taken.
In Hervey Bay, winter is often associated with the annual bream season. Overall this has been a good season although some usually reliable spots didn’t fire at all. Although we do see reasonable catches of late spawning fish in September, the bream gear can now be put away until May next year.
The winter (diver) whiting season wasn’t outstanding, with quality well down in most areas.
Hervey Bay's snapper season usually fires up in May, when spawning fish move into their favourite haunts as far south as the Rufus Artificial Reef. This year a late start didn't produce too much until late June and early July, when some good fish were taken on the 'Arti', at Moon Ledge and to a lesser extent, at Sammys. Further north in the bay, the 8-mile off Arch Cliffs, and reefy patches in Platypus Bay, offshore from Wathumba Creek to Rooney Point, have been fishing quite well. This should continue this month.
Unfortunately the name ‘summer whiting’ has been used to label a group of whiting species. It’s a misleading name because these fish are likely to be in very good numbers throughout the entire year. Three of the misnamed species are the sand whiting, golden-lined whiting, and northern whiting, all of which are well known on the Fraser Coast.
Sand whiting are by far the most plentiful, taken along Fraser Island's beaches and throughout the bay, rivers and creeks. Far from being a summer fish, some of the best quality fish are taken over shallow banks and along beaches over the big winter tides at night. It’s has been a good year for them, and this should continue until we have significantly higher water temperatures.
Traditionally only fished with bait such as yabbies and worms, there is now plenty of interest in targeting sand whiting with artificials in the bay and on island beaches. Depending on the choice of jigheads and lures, it is possible to take a better class of whiting overall when there are many small fish swimming with them. Experimenting with different types of plastics, jighead weights and hook sizes can also boost your catch rates. These are some plastics that have been working well along the beaches and fringing banks on the inside of Fraser Island. Zman 2.5" GrubZ in gold flake, bloodworm and motor oil on lightest possible no 2 jigheads have been catching plenty.
Another ‘sand whiting’, the golden-lined whiting, has no black blotch at the base of its pectoral fin, as well as having fins of a more intense golden colour. In Hervey Bay, golden-lined whiting are often taken in mixed catches with sand whiting, from city foreshores, the Urangan Pier and the sand and mud flats and gutters between Urangan and River Heads, and further south into Turkey Straits. There is little likelihood of catching a golden-lined whiting from the ocean beach of Fraser Island.
The northern whiting is a drab-coloured relative with pale fins and a somewhat flattened snout. It is common in the Mary and Susan rivers.
A combined bag limit of 30 and a minimum size of 23cm apply to all three species.
October is a little early to expect a lot of action on the shallow reefs, although there will still be a few small snapper and blackall to be had. When the inshore waters start to warm up in November, grass sweetlip, sea perches and black-spot tuskfish will move in. In the meantime, the deeper reefs and ledges such as the channel outside the Urangan boat harbour, the Channel Hole, Boges Hole and Bogimbah Ledge should be worth the effort.Reads: 517