Head to the shallow reefs for some great fun
  |  First Published: March 2016

Officially it’s autumn, but with plenty of warm weather yet to come, we can look forward to at least another month of active warm water species. In Hervey Bay the shallow reefs have fired this season and should do so at least until early May. It’s a little early to predict how the pelagics will perform as this is determined by the movement of baitfish. The trip up to Platypus Bay has been worthwhile.

The annual run of spawning bream is still at least two months away, but mature bream will begin to think about building up their reproductive tissues. In this pre-season time, bream are very widely distributed, from sweet brackish upstream waters to the turbulent white water around our headlands. Although not always in prolific numbers, these will be hungry fish.

The walls, jetty and marina pylons at the Urangan Boat harbour are great spots to check out during the next few months as bream feed ravenously prior to spawning. I like to berley lightly with past-their-prime pilchards and sand, then float an unweighted hardihead into the mix.

With Easter holidays coming up at the end of the month, (dependent on good weather), we can expect to see the trailer parking area at Urangan Boat Harbour packed to capacity with overflow spilling into neighbouring streets. There are two four-lane ramps here, that are all wide enough for the less-experienced to safely launch. These ramps are well maintained with ribbed surfaces. There are also suitable rigging and de-rigging lanes. The only facility not provided, if it could be, is a good measure of patience between boaties, as well as consideration for everyone else at the ramp.

During the Christmas-New Year period, I checked out the ramps during busy periods. The most blatant abuse of acceptable procedures was caused by boaties who waited until the trailer was at the edge of the water before carrying out all those essential tasks prior to launching. I need to point out however, that the winch cable and safety chain must remain locked until this point. These sorts of problems can occur when boats return to the ramp. Car and trailer parking spaces may become strained but once out in the bay, great places to fish are in abundance.

Fraser island

On Fraser Island’s eastern beaches, the wind conditions have made fishing difficult. However, during small windows of opportunity there have been plenty of dart in the deeper gutters with mixed reports of whiting in the shallow gutters and a few bream, tarwhine and flathead from the edges of the coffee rocks. The headlands have produced a few bream and tarwhine, and wide casts catch excellent dart. Just as Hervey Bay’s boat ramps will be busy over the Easter holidays, the beaches of Fraser Island are going to experience their busiest period of the year. This claim is rivalled only by the September school holidays and tailor season. Camping areas will be in great demand and bookings for accommodation are already extremely limited. The main access to the island at Inskip Point will see queues of vehicles waiting their turn on the barge. The other access point, from River Heads requires prior bookings. Expect prime-time departures to become difficult to obtain. All in all, get organised and book early!

With so much traffic on the beach, the best times to fish will be at night, very early in the morning or late afternoon. Another good option is to fish around coffee rocks or headlands, away from the traffic. The western beaches of the island will also be very popular over Easter. Since the closure of Moon Point Road, the only access from the ocean beach is the Woralie track that leaves the eastern beach north of the Maheno. This single lane road with limited passing opportunities is going to see a lot more traffic than it usually does. Once on the western beach just north of Woralie Creek, 4WD vehicles can travel as far north as Towoi Creek. This drive is not without its possible hazards and it is good to see that most vehicles travel in a convoy of at least two. Two major creeks, Bowarady and Awinya need to be crossed and outcrops of coffee rock can also cause inconvenience.

After seasonal weed infestation of the beach, wind-blown sand can cover the decomposing weed, which creates a bog, a trap for the unwary. To the south, Woralie Creek needs to be crossed before the long stretch of beach leading to Coongul Creek. This is the most difficult creek on the west coast and attempting the crossing is not recommended. For the avoidance of these various hazards and inconveniences, travel close to low tide.

While most visitors reach the western beach via the Woralie track, others come by boat from Hervey Bay. Many come for the day to fish on the beach or to picnic beside one of the creeks. Others come to stay for days, if not weeks. On the western beach, only at Moon, Coongul, Wathumba creeks, can boats be taken inside and away from indifferent weather that might make mooring difficult on the open beach. Small boats can also use Awinya Creek over the high tide. There is always the option to allow a small boat to go high and dry at the top of the beach.

Obtaining freshwater is not a problem on the western beach. Upstream of any campsites at either Woralie or Bowarady creeks, are the most convenient places to top up.

At this time of the year there is plenty of variety in fish species. The creek mouths and any associated gutters and spits not only look inviting, they usually hold fish, particularly flathead and bream. Whiting can be caught just about anywhere along the beach and fishing around the coffee rocks is usually good for flathead, bream, parrot and Moses perch. Dart are usually found off the ocean beach but they often turn up in numbers in the quiet waters along the western beach. Golden trevally and other predators can often be seen working the shallows close to the beach. This can cause a lot of excitement as anglers rush to get suitable artificials ahead of their paths, occasionally with success.

While lures will score you some great fish, particularly flathead, it is always good to have fresh bait on hand. Small baitfish, mostly hardiheads are easily captured using cast or haul nets, as dense schools frequently come close to the beach. Yabbies can be pumped in the Moon, Coongul and Wathumba estuaries. Sea worms are also plentiful along most of the beaches north of Moon Point. They occupy a fairly narrow band within the tidal range and this is not close to low water as we might expect on the ocean beach. On spring tides, either flooding or ebbing, there might be a small window of opportunity. Once the water passes that band, worms are difficult to find. Worming can be difficult if there is smaller wave action and wash of water is more limited, and more frequent.

Anglers who visit the western beach cannot expect to find pipis in the beach. This is just not their habitat. Those brought from the ocean beach can achieve some success but they are not part of the natural food supply for western beach fish.

Looking forward to some good Easter fishing stories.


What to expect this month

Fraser Island ocean beachdart and whiting
Fraser Island western beachflathead
Platypus Bayspotted mackerel
Hervey Bay reefsblackall and blue parrot
Mary River blue salmon
Harbour wallsbream

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