Indian Head to Waddy Point
WHEN you’re looking at the largest sand island in the world, three rocky headlands are prominent features. From the sea they’re quite a spectacle, especially Indian Head with its steep front rock face. These rocky headlands spell structure and where there’s significant structure there tends to be a higher congregation of fish and species diversity.
The first of these headlands, Indian Head, gives you the best deepwater access and is best approached from its northern side. Here you can leave your car at the base of the headland and walk around the large boulders along its base before doing a little climbing and around onto the front face of Indian Head.
Like any rock fishing, it can be dangerous and many anglers have been washed off the rocks here (thankfully fatalities have been few). In most seas the fishing here is comfortable and you don’t need to take risks to bring any fish up. It’s only when the swell is up and those waves come crashing up that we start to see a few slips and spills.
The rocks hold predominantly dart, bream and tarwhine, and in winter and spring the tailor come through (see fact box for closed season dates). Tailor fishing attracts the most attention and when the fish are on it’s shoulder to shoulder in the limited space. Even if you don’t fish it can be interesting just to sit and watch the antics of jostling anglers as they try to catch a few fish.
The more specialised anglers pick their time and their mark with Spanish mackerel, tuna and jew the target. Having fished a few times off the headland in a boat I can assure you there’s usually plenty of bait holding just off the headland. It’s mostly garfish, small sardines and sometimes slimy mackerel. I haven’t actually caught a Spanish mackerel off this headland but I’ve caught plenty of tuna here. Not so much straight out in front but to the north and south of the headland, just out past the breakers.
The other species that hangs out here just beyond the breakers is tailor, and some good sized ones at that. It’s not the big ones that we’re after in this case – it’s the smaller choppers, which must be of legal size (30cm) to use as livebaits. Live tailor are the preferred bait in the region for Spanish mackerel and it’s the bait the pro fisherman use who are based at Waddy. When you see their results you can’t argue that live tailor and trolled tailor do work well on the mackerel. You do get other pelagics that cruise through here as well, such as kingfish and some big golden trevally, so there are a few options open to you.
When it comes to tracking down a few jew, night fishing is the best time. With very few anglers on the rocks at night you also have more room to fish. The Southern side of Indian Head offers the better spots for jewies. It’s a bit more of a climb, more exposed to the prevailing south-east conditions and smaller spots, so I guess it’s your typical rock fishing.
Livebaits are the preferred bait for jew. Tailor aren’t always about so the next best thing is live bream or flesh baits. You shouldn’t have too much trouble catching a few bream or tarwhine around the rocks.
You don’t hear of too many big jew caught at Fraser anymore, although in the early days they were certainly about. The biggest I’ve caught weighed only 7kg. Most caught seem to be around 5-10kg, with very few over that. I dare say that they are about, you just don’t see them caught. Plenty of anglers have thought that they’ve been hooked onto that beauty only to end up with a big shovelnose shark – and there are plenty of these around.
When the surge of the sea is up and it’s too dangerous around the front of Indian Head, the big pebbles along the northern side are a good alternative. The big seas do sweep around the corner here and fish like dart and tailor like that long swell with white water atop, and they ride it in. The headland does protect you here, so as long as you don’t do anything silly you’ll be pretty right.
Just like the gutters along the beach change, so too do the conditions here. The sand can build right up, as it is at present, or you can have a really good gutter run right down along the rocks and onto the beach.
As far as camping around here goes, at present you can still camp in an area behind Indian Head. You can’t see the beach here but it’s generally well protected from most winds. I wouldn’t like to camp here myself though because it’s popular with backpackers and a bit of pigsty. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this area closed off for this very reason and to allow the trees to regenerate.
There’s a phone box below the units here but no other facilities. The track that takes you from the main beach across the back of Indian Head is very soft and powdery, especially over holiday times when there’s a lot of traffic and there’s been no rain. On the approach from the beach it’s a good idea to have someone hop out of the car and stand at the dunes as plenty of tourists still think they’re driving on the other side of the road.
The little beach between Indian Head and Middle Rock doesn’t see a lot of fishing. You’ll find a few dart, bream and whiting here from time to time, but generally the fishing is pretty ordinary. When the tailor come and there are some reasonable gutters formed here these fish can be thick, though generally the concentrations of tailor here are during the closed season (hence the closure).
Middle Rock or the Champagne Pools is a very pretty spot to stop at for a swim, a look and a fish. It’s a major tourist spot so expect crowds in the carpark and down in the big rock pools.
At the parking area, which lies along the boarded track that takes you around the back from Middle Rock to Waddy Point, you’ll find toilets and fresh water. The walk down to the rocks is a reasonable hike with all your fishing gear, and many fishos (myself included) don’t like to leave the car too far out of sight, especially if you have a few rods still on it and gear on the roof rack.
The long flat shelf in front of the rock pools is a top fishing platform and there have been plenty of tailor caught off these rocks over the years, along with bream and dart.
Middle Rock isn’t as exposed as Indian Head because Indian Head protects this little bay, and the rock fishing is generally quite safe. The quality of the fishing here depends on how much sand has built up in front of the rocks. On those perfect clear days not much happens because it’s just too calm and too clear. It’s better when there’s a bit of an outer bank that the waves partially break over, giving some whitewater for the fish to hide under.
One of the better fishing spots is the group rocks north of here, and since the recent closure to all traffic of South Waddy Beach you have no choice but to walk to this crop of rocks. It’s actually still classed as Middle Rock but I’d rather walk down from the track at the back of Waddy Point than walk from the Middle Rock carpark.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, you can see where your car is and it will probably be only other anglers who will be parked around there. Once you leave the car it’s about 1.5km south to the rocks. You walk past some good gutters here and a keen eye will soon pick up any fish out in the waves.
Once you get to the rocks there’s a reasonable area to fish from and there tends to be a bit more whitewater out in front and some good weed growth on the rocks. Those anglers who enjoy chasing a few jew can sit here at night with baits out and catch the odd smaller school jew.
The track from Middle Rock around to Waddy Point will take you about half an hour, with most of the major trouble spots boarded to make life a bit easier. As you get to the end of the track you can either turn off and come down past the Waddy Point Ranger Station or go a little further and come down on the beach just south of Orchid Beach. The track also continues past the back of the old resort and to the Orchid Beach trading centre and airfield. The Orchid Beach Trading Post has fuel, gas, ice, phone, supplies and a basic workshop.
Because camping is restricted around Indian Head and none at Middle Rock, the next place to camp is at Waddy Point, either along the front of the beach or in the designated camping grounds near the Ranger Station. The camping grounds on the beach are undergoing a few changes and I believe there will only be 40 sites available which must be booked. There’s ample room over the back with toilets, showers and BBQ facilities, but you can’t see the beach.
There’s plenty of firewood at the back of the Ranger Station because you can’t cut down or collect local timber. A reader pointed out my slip-up in the first part of this series when I said you have to bring your own firewood if you camp right down the southern end near the old mining jetty site. You actually can’t bring in foreign timber to a National Park and because there’s no collecting of timber you’ll have to take a drive up to Eurong to get some firewood. If you’re lucky the previous campers might have left some to save you a drive up the beach.
There are plenty of fishing options once you set up camp at Waddy Point. As far as rock fishing goes, in most conditions it’s pretty safe and relatively good fishing. This can change in a short time though, and if you have a look at a couple of the pics on this page you’ll see how the same location can turn from a very safe spot to a rather wild clump of rock with waves crashing over the entire area.
When the south-easterly winds are howling down the beach Waddy Point offers very good protection, and the beach for a few kilometres north can be relatively calm. There are often a few long, narrow gutters up against the rocks that are ideal for the kids to fish. Being a dead end, the traffic slows so it’s not as big a problem for kids and traffic, and the surf is minimal so it’s easy fishing. You’ll find plenty of whiting in these narrow gutters.
If you want to get a bit more series about catching some whiting here, fish from the northern face of the rocks into the little drain that runs down next to the rocks on the falling tide. You’ll need to cast onto the far edge of this where there’s a little bit of whitewater. It’s not far to cast and when the kids become bored with fishing they love playing in the rock pools or in the calm shallow water here. That’s against the rocks, not around the front!
As you move out to the front of the headland this same platform is the place to be when looking for a few dart. Like the area at Indian head, the dart like to ride that sweep in around the corner. You’ll need to be able to cast a bit further to reach the whitewater here and when the dart are hungry you’ll need to be quick and switched-on as your bait will be gone before you know it.
The front face of the rocks has a few more options for more serious anglers and we’ll have a look at these in the April issue as we fish from Waddy Point to Nagkala Rocks. In the May issue there’ll be a special feature on boat fishing from Waddy Point – the home of the big red emperor.
• Basic supplies including fuel and gas can be obtained from Cathedral Beach Resort, which also has camping and toilet facilities.
• Camping grounds at Dundubara have toilets, coin-operated hot showers and a stock pile of hardwood for fires.
• High tide beach travelling is restricted over Eli Creek and sometimes Little Eli Creek, along with the dunes prior to Indian Head.
• There is a closed zone to all fishing from September 1 to October 31 in an area 400m South of Indian Head to 400m North of Waddy Point and 400m to sea of this area.
|SPECIES||SIZE LIMIT||BAG LIMIT|
|Dusky flathead||40cm min to 70cm max||5|
|Tailor||30cm||20 fish / 30 fish over 72 hours|
|Worms||None||30 or parts thereof|
1) The rocks at the Northern end of Middle Rock are quite good for fishing and see fewer people and anglers now that it’s quite a walk to get there.
2) There’s often an early morning dart bite in the first few gutters on South Waddy Beach.
3a & 3b) The Northern side of Waddy Point can be a lovely spot to fish or it can be very dangerous. These two pictures are at the same spot on very different days.
4) You don’t normally associate rocks with whiting but the little gutters that run along the rocks at Waddy Point produce plenty of these tasty fish.
5) When the southerlies blow up the beach the headlands and dunes give good protection for a few kilometres north of the Headland.