Various trevally species are playing the game
  |  First Published: April 2017

Recently, my wife and I spent a very enjoyable week on Norfolk Island. Just about everyone we know had already been over there, so we thought it better be our turn. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t take any fishing gear, the result of a most prudent decision to do just the tourist things. The week turned out to be jam packed with exploring the island’s beauty, catching up with lots of history and socialising with new friends.

This didn’t stop me checking out the fishing scene, even drooling over some of the great looking opportunities around this rocky island. On one of our visits to the Kingston Harbour area, we saw a couple of anglers fishing from the wharf. In the short time there, we saw no action. From what I learned through conversations with locals, fishing from the few accessible beaches and the rocks can be rewarding with tuna, kingfish, reef fish and a range of trevally species.

Most of the island’s rocky coastline is inaccessible. There are stories of keen anglers meeting their deaths at some of the well-known headlands. Had I been able to sneak some fishing gear into my kit I would have loved to have worked some plastics around the rocks from the beach at Cemetery Bay or from the Kingston Wharf. The island’s other wharf at Cascade is currently a busy work site where extensions are being built to improve Norfolk’s accessibility for passengers and freight.

Most of Norfolk’s fishing activity is offshore where local boats work the pinnacles several kilometres from the island. Fortunately I was able to check out the catch of such a boat while fish were filleted on the sea wall. I had heard of trumpeter, a delicacy served up at island fish and chip shops and restaurants. At the harbour, the catch of fish turned out to be our red-throat emperor. No wonder it was treated as a delicacy on the island.

Enough of that tiny piece of Australia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Back at the Fraser Coast, we have been experiencing the hottest and driest couple of months on record. Normally we would have expected to be at the end of our wet season, but it hasn’t even begun. Just how much this affects our fishing is yet to be revealed.

The systems that have served up this weather have also been responsible for strong winds from the north, and also most recently, southeasterlies that at least make it possible to visit the northern parts of the bay. In Platypus Bay and further north, the surface action has been frantic with mac tuna, longtails and spotted mackerel searching out the baitfish schools that are moving in.

According to local offshore anglers, you don’t need to be too fussy about the metal or plastic chosen, as these fish are hitting just about anything that moves. The scattered low reefs of the northern bay are producing some scarlets, many species of trevally and just a few small snapper.

Hervey Bay’s inshore reefs have continued to produce good catches, with the shallows out-performing the deeper ledges and holes. Blackall, grass sweetlip, and black-spot tuskfish continue to be cooperative. Coral trout are also falling to live herrings and trolled hardbodies. There has been quite an influx of small sea perches like Moses perch and stripies. We had a bit of a scare back in December when the unwelcome salmon catfish put in an appearance at the northern end of Woody Island.

Thankfully they appear to have moved on with no catches reported recently. We can now expect to see surface action continuing, depending on the movement of baitfish. The shallow reefs should continue to fish well into early May when water temperatures are expected to start dropping. With their annual spawning season getting closer, bream will now be feeding ravenously. The walls of the Urangan Boat Harbour will be worth checking out.

At River Heads and upstream in the Mary and Susan rivers, barramundi anglers have been out in force since the season opened. Reports coming in have not been record breaking. Possibly the drought and heat conditions have contributed to this. Threadfin salmon are still being taken, particularly by anglers using live baits. Jacks have been quiet in the river while the island and mainland creeks south of River Heads have been turning on a few fish.

On Fraser Island’s beaches, there hasn’t been much to get excited about. Again, the abnormal conditions might be contributing to this. Dart and a few whiting and bream are being taken, particularly during early morning and very late afternoon.

Hopefully this month will see temperatures and conditions easing back to what we might expect. Of course, the first weeks will see an influx of visitors in Hervey Bay and on Fraser Island during the school holidays, and particularly over the Easter period when the island’s beaches experience what is probably their busiest period.

Hopefully we don’t see any hoons trying to draw attention to themselves as they drive the beaches and tracks. You can be sure that there will be no shortage of police on the beaches and on the inland tracks. I have had plenty to say about Fraser Island dingos and I won’t go into that again now, except to encourage visitors to read and observe all the information about them in your permit brochures.

Given the weather that we might expect at this time of the year, the beaches should start producing plenty of dart, whiting, bream, tarwhine and flathead. Although the spawning tailor season is still months away, anglers are still likely to see the odd chopper tailor.

On the island’s western beach, there will be plenty of camps at Woralie, Bowarady and Awinya creeks. The only access is now the Woralie and Awinya tracks, leaving the ocean beach north of the Maheno. The Happy Valley to Moon Point track continues to be closed. With predominantly southeasterly winds at this time of the year, these beaches should produce plenty of whiting, bream and flathead.

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