Timing is the key to Hervey Bay fishing paradise
  |  First Published: November 2015

I don’t think too many commentators would rate this past tailor season as one of the best. Having said that, there certainly have been some brilliant sessions along many sections of Fraser Island’s ocean beach. Just because November is upon us isn’t any reason to write off the tailor just yet. They should still be in good numbers right through to early December, particularly if these ideal weather conditions continue. This is the time of year when most of the smaller fish have moved on, making captures of much better quality tailor more likely.

This month we should experience a dominance of northerlies along the Fraser Coast. Along the island’s east coast, these are off shore breezes that tend to keep the inshore waters reasonably quiet and the fishing comfortable. This is not only ideal for tailor fishing but also great for chasing the other beach species like dart, whiting, flathead and bream. It was encouraging to see some good whiting catches coming in throughout the tailor season and there are multiple reasons to expect this to continue. While tailor and dart prefer the more turbulent parts, whiting are usually best in the shallow blind ends of gutters, where there is a good food source washing off the banks. Bream are also very likely to inhabit these gutters particularly if there is some structure like isolated coffee rocks.

As most Hervey Bay locals know them, those dreaded northerlies can make life very uncomfortable along Fraser’s western beach between Wathumba Creek and Moon Point. I’m not suggesting that anglers avoid these areas just yet as these beaches have been turning on some excellent whiting during the last couple of months. In the quiet breaks between the northerlies, the trip across the island to Woralie Creek could be worthwhile. The other consideration is that at this time of the year the northerlies often disturb offshore weed beds resulting in billows of rotting material washed up on the beach. However at the time of writing, the beaches were clean.

Inside the bay, there aren’t too many places to hide from the northerlies. Of course most protection is offered by rivers and creeks, of which both the Burrum River and Beelbi Creek have been fishing well during recent months. Of course the Mary and Susan systems offer plenty of options out of the wind.

Fortunately there are spells of reasonable conditions between the northerlies and it’s a matter of being ready for them. Open northern waters of the bay are most vulnerable but in the south the roughly north-south orientation of the islands leaves most of the bay exposed. However there is one well-protected area formed by the Moon Point peninsular jutting out towards the west that is worth checking out. The protected waters are mostly very shallow with a number of gutters and high banks. The gutters form the mouths of a number of creeks that can be reached over the higher part of the tide. The island shoreline to the east of Moon Point fishes well for flathead, whiting, and bream, and the holes within the creeks hold jacks and javelin.

Hervey Bay’s shallow reefs should start to fire this month as water temperatures increase. Usually the deeper reefs are more productive than the shallows during November. Moon Ledge, Mickys, Bogimbah Ledge, the Channel Hole and Boges Hole immediately come to mind, but one of the best is often overlooked. Within five minutes of the Urangan harbour mouth ‘The channel’, as it is usually known, is up to 10m in depth and covers a mostly rocky bottom of sandstone ledges and marine growth, ideal feeding ground for most of the inshore rocky reef species. Although many of the regular anglers have their favourite spots, it’s just a matter of sounding the bottom and picking out a prominent ledge that might be holding fish. I think the fish might be fairly evenly distributed over the main rocky area. For what it is worth I fish just a couple of hundred yards due east of the green harbour lateral mark. My preference here has a lot to do with getting a good anchorage. Big tides are difficult to fish except for the brief window over the change. I don’t particularly like the neaps, as the fish never seem to be as active. My absolute ideal is a set of ‘in between’ tides fishing the last of the ebb and the first third of the flood just on dusk or very early morning. At this time of the year we can expect to find plenty of solid grass sweetlip (coral bream) as well as blackall, squire, cod and black spot tuskfish. If you plan to fish here, be aware that the area is busy as vessels, large and transit within the Urangan boat harbour. This particularly applies to night fishing so be well lit and keep your ears and eyes open.

Returning to Fraser Island, last month we made it up the beach to Middle Rock, the popular tourist destination and home to the Champaign Pools. From here we travel off the beach using mostly twin one-way tracks almost as far as Orchid Beach. This bypasses the outcrops of Middle Rocks as well as Waddy Point. Middle Rocks and the beaches in-between are designated green zones so fishing is not permitted here. Before the current roads existed, a goat track negotiating the treacherous hillsides of Middle Rocks and connecting Waddy Point to Indian Head, was in use by those brave or silly enough to use it. Before reaching Orchid Beach, a track leads off to the Waddy Point campground, on the north-western side of the headland. Alternatively at a T-junction a little further along, a track and sand ramp lead to the beach. The latter track to the beach usually leads to good access of Waddy Point but this whole area is subject to continual change brought about by weather and tidal conditions. At Waddy Point there is a track leading across the dunes to the southern face of the headland, but vehicle access along this beach is not permitted. Waddy Point is not part of the green zone and is open to fishing except during the August and September closure. Next month we will venture further north to Ngkala Rocks and beyond to the top of the island.

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