Take a walk on the mild side
  |  First Published: February 2005

Fraser Island is well known as a surf fishing Mecca and is a legendary tailor fishery. Thuis pristine national park stretches for 123km and is set in some of the finest fishing waters in the world.

Thoughts of Fraser bring to mind images of white beaches, rolling surf, endless gutters, 4WDs and wide-eyed backpackers. More relevant are images of rows of anglers lined up with 13-foot surf poles bowing to the surf, or standing flagpole-straight waiting for that next big tailor bite, or the moon rising on a couple of patient anglers waiting on a big greenback as the tide rises.

But as you awake to your first morning on Fraser, the reality may not be as wonderful as you had imagined. A night’s dreaming of big fish means an early start. Wiping the sleep from your eyes, you eagerly climb to the top of the dune to survey the rolling surf to pick your first fishing spot, your first pot of gold.

When you look down on the beach, however, you find something different. The northerlies have been doing their dirty work and the beach is cloaked in weed. The horrible stuff has turned the surf a brownish-green, and if you were to paint it you would call it ‘Sunrise on Stagnant Bog’.

So there you are, pillies packed and prepped, Alveys loaded, gangs ganged and nowhere to fish. What do you do?

It’s time to take a walk on the mild side.

While Fraser gets much of its reputation from its surf fishing, there’s an amazing range of options when fishing the inland side. Whether you’re land-based or have a boat, the western side offers some amazing opportunities to catch everything from bread-and-butter fish to golden trevally.

On a recent trip to Fraser we made the wise choice to spend our first day out with local guide Paul Dolan. With fly and spinsticks in hand Paul put us onto four trevally species, plenty of longtoms and some great flathead. But the best part was that he put us on to some techniques that ended up helping us through the rest of the week. Getting local knowledge early is a great way to start a trip. Paul also helped me achieve a golden dream of my own – my first golden trevally on fly.

Walking, canoeing or boating on the inland side can produce some great results. The trick is to pick your tides and weather, and fish appropriately.

The flats provide some amazing sport if you’re willing to work for it and wait for it. Twitch and jig a soft plastic near any change in depth, tree or bit of structure and you’re in with a chance of landing a good flattie. If you are lucky you might even see golden or giant trevally working the shallows, and then true angling skill comes into its own. You may even strike a rogue broad-barred mackerel as it patrols the baitfish-rich waters.

For the more sedate anglers out there, pick a sandy creek or a bit of a drop-off next to a yabby bank and toss out a yabby, worm, or pipi. The bream and whiting will make you glad you came.

The jetty at Kingfisher Bay provides access to a great mixed bag of fish, and if you catch the right tide at dawn or dusk in season you can get some amazing action on trevally.

The mangroves provide good sport on bream, and they just smell like jack lives there – although I haven’t seen one yet.

From the boat, fishing changes of depth and current speed provides the best opportunities. As Paul kept reminding us, “food, and comfort” are what the fish are looking for. Fish like a good current to bring food past them in a spot where they don’t have to work too hard.

When you’re standing up to your thighs in the beautiful, tranquil waters of Fraser’s mild side, trying to decide whether to search the crystal sandflats for flathead lies or work the edge of the azure drop-off for a trevally, you can’t help but stop and smile at the sheer beauty and fishiness of the place.

So the next time you head to Fraser, do yourself a favour and take a walk on the mild side.



Insect repellent - The sandflies and mozzies will carry you off if you aren’t prepared.

Wading boots - There are many rays and other hazards on the flats.

Sunscreen - It isn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing.

Snatch strap and other 4x4 essentials - there are always some hapless backpackers to help out as part of your adventure.

Camera - The scenery and the fish are too good to enjoy only once. Take a snap, release the big ones and enjoy them again later.



Flathead - 4-5” Pink and chartreuse Snapbacks and Berkley Gulps worked with a vertical jig in deeper water and a more horizontal, twitchy jig in the shallows.

Trevally - 5” pearl-blue Snapbacks used with a fast jerking retrieve. Make sure you keep in contact with the lure at all times.

Pearl/white DNA-profile flies (tied by Martin ‘Harry’ Potter of Toowoomba) stripped fast and erratic.



Paul Dolan

Fraser Coast Sportfishing and Ecoadventures

Hervey Bay

Ph. 0407 674 350


1) Flathead are a reliable ‘mild side’ target for flyfishers.

2) There are plenty of juvenile golden trevally to entertain anglers of all persuasions.

3) A canoe makes it easy to access the smaller creeks on the western side of Fraser Island.

4) Action stations! One of Hervey Bay’s hard-pulling sportfish makes a run for it.

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