Waddy Point to Ngkala Rocks
OF THE three headlands on Fraser Island my favourite to fish from is Waddy Point. There’s a variety of fishing to be had there and there’s no shortage of spots to fish out of the wind.
In the last issue we had a look at fishing from the northern side of the headland, which is the most popular due to the protection from our predominant south-easterly winds, and the easiest locations to get to. The fishing is generally pretty good and a feed of fish can be caught without too much fuss.
As you move further around the front of the headland it becomes a little more hazardous, there are smaller areas to fish and they’re perhaps more suited to more specialised forms of fishing.
The difference is the small gorges in the headland and the little bommies out in front. Like the rest of the beach these spots are susceptible to build-up and removal of sand. At times there are nice holes with good weed growth on them and at other times the holes are full of sand and pretty well a waste of time.
What you will find around these areas are ocean drummer, especially when there’s some good weed growth. I’ve never targeted them alone but have caught a few over the years as a bycatch while fishing for bream and tarwhine on cunjevoi baits that we’ve cut off the rocks.
When the water is deep you can successfully fish along these edges and find some nice fish. You’ll need to fish in close to the rocks at your feet as this is where these particular fish are moving about and feeding.
On those calm days where the water is nice and clear and it’s easy to fish, don’t expect to catch a lot of fish because they just don’t bite all that well. A bit of wind and white water does help and there are still a couple of spots you’ll see as you walk around the rocks that are not overly dangerous.
If you’re a reasonable caster, a good cast out from the second rocky outcrop on the front face will put you around the bommie here. You never know what you’ll pick up. The common species will be there, along with silver trevally, fingermark and morwong, and I’ve even seen a few good mangrove jack pulled in here.
While I’m one for staying out of the water, those who don’t mind swimming with the bities slip on the mask and flippers in calm seas and pull in some good crayfish. I weighed one at the Toyota Fishing Comp that pulled the scales down to 2.5kg. You should have seen the look on the guy’s face when I told him everything weighed became the property of the officials! Just joking, of course.
To fish the Southern side of the headland, drive around the back track that takes you to the now closed South Waddy Beach. There’s still a hundred metres or so of beach that you can drive and park on in order to fish this area.
On the rocks the walk is pretty easy, though now facing to the south it is more exposed. From the first point it’s dart, bream, tarwhine and few tailor that you’ll catch. Just a little further around is a good spot for a few drummer, and at times there’s also a bit of a hole that forms here that sees the odd jewfish caught.
Back down onto the beach and those first few gutters I’ve found to be very good for good quality dart and some hot sessions. The key to catching a few fish here though is be here before dawn – it’s a dawn bite with the fish going off not long after sunrise.
Unlike the beach from Indian Head south, pipis are a little harder to come by along the northern end of the Island. The further towards the Cape you travel the less likely you are to find a few pipis for bait. There are, however, plenty of surf worms right along the beach.
Last issue we touched on the camping around Waddy Point. Around the point itself you really have only two choices – to camp along the front of the dunes where you’ll find toilets and fresh water or camp over the back of dunes near the ranger’s station. Here there are larger toilet blocks, coin-operated hot showers, a dingo-fenced barbecue and picnic area, telephone, ranger’s station/information centre and firewood supply.
If you’re looking for supplies the Orchid Trading Post located next to the airstrip has fuel, gas, ice, a shop with basic supplies, a phone and a basic workshop. If you have a mobile phone they’ll sometimes work at the top of the hill where all the houses are behind the shop.
The next camping after here is about 5km along the beach past the old Orchid Beach site. The camping along this stretch is more your traditional beach camps along the dunes and under the trees. There are no creeks that give clean drinking water here.
Before we get to this stretch though, let’s have a look at a couple of good little fishing spots for the family.
The first is a spot known as Connor’s Corner. As you come down onto the beach and drive south back towards Waddy Point you’ll notice that the beach narrows quite a bit and the soft coffee rock protrudes out from the high sand cliffs. Depending on beach conditions the rocks here can be very exposed and you can’t get around them except around low tide. For most of the time they can be traversed without too much fuss.
It’s this point that is Connor’s Corner and here you’ll find some nice whiting in the couple of gutters that form here. They do change shape from long and narrow to short and deep. I can’t think of a time when we haven’t caught whiting here and, as you still get a reasonable amount of protection from the headland, there is minimal swell and good protection from the south-easterly winds. Because it doesn’t get too rough and the gutter is close to shore it’s easy fishing.
When the rocks are out, there are often rocks in the gutter too which provides a night time alternative to chasing a few bream and tarwhine.
A little further down the beach is another good spot for whiting – the couple of long gutters that form straight out in front of the old Orchid Beach Resort. Like Connor’s, there’s good protection here and it’s easy fishing.
The run-in tide is best as the waves start to move over that outer bank and fill the gutter. The best bait is surf worms or, if you can’t catch these, small pieces of pipi.
As you move along the beach towards Ngkala Rocks you still have reasonable water to fish, and when those big southerly blows come through this is one of the few areas that offers protection and fishes well. It’s only when you start getting around to Ngkala Rocks that you start copping that southerly wind.
Last Easter the wind howled from the south yet along here we did very well with a nice mixed bag of whiting, dart, bream and tarwhine. A lot of other families enjoyed fishing the same spot and caught enough to put a few feeds of fish on the table.
To give you a bit of an idea of how calm it can be, the picture with Riley holding the tarwhine was taken here. If you look in the background (low tide) it’s hard to believe that it was just too windy to throw in a line, yet here the kids could cast out and find fish almost at their feet. It’s not always like this but it’s a thought worth keeping in mind if you happen to be camped along the main beach and blown out.
I haven’t mentioned tailor too much along here as they are a more seasonal fish from July to October, and are one species that can move in anywhere along the beach. This stretch is no exception, and some good tailor fishing can be had during the season.
Dart are a year-round fish and you’ll find them in the gutters all along here. There are plenty of good whiting gutters along here too but for some reason a few of the better catches are taken up closer to Ngkala Rocks. The water has plenty of that low lying, shallow coffee rock and they just seem to hang about in the sand patches between the rocks.
On the top of the tide, when there’s a bit more water around these same patches of rocks, you’ll catch some nice bream and tarwhine with a few flathead about as well. Being a reefy type area with some bigger patches of reef just the other side of the breakers, you do catch a few more reef fish like morwong, perch and trevally around this area.
The reef just off Ngkala Rocks is a popular spot for Spanish mackerel, and in good weather you don’t need a big boat to get out there and catch fish as big as the boat (well almost)! We’ll have a closer look at that next issue when we look at a few of the options for boat fishing from Waddy Point.
As far as sightseeing goes you don’t have all the rainforest and lake options that you’ll find down the southern half of the Island, but there are a few good places to visit.
The first option is to take the short drive into Ocean Lake, and while it doesn’t have the brilliant white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters it’s still worth a visit and a swim. It’s only a short dive in and just shows the diversity of lakes on the island.
The other trip worth doing is a day trip across to Wathumba Creek on the western side of the Island. It’s a mangrove creek with a large basin at its mouth, which boasts some good catches of flathead, bream and whiting as well as mud crabs. The track across is from the back of Orchid Beach and you can do the trip comfortably in under an hour. At the other end there’s a camping ground with toilets, drinking water and cold showers, as well as fireplaces. Be warned though – the mossies and sandflies can be particularly bad, especially at dawn and dusk.
Try to get there before high tide as Wathumba at low tide is a mass of flats with just a little shallow creek running through it. The fishing is best on the run-out tide and you’ll need to walk out and fish the deeper water around the sunken timber for your flathead and bream. Don’t try to drive on the beach or across the creek.
Wathumba Creek is one of the spots that we’ll look at down the track as we fish our way down the western side of Fraser Island. The next issue though will feature a boat fishing special based from Waddy Point, followed in June by fishing from Ngkala Rocks to Sandy Cape.
• 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 and 2) The southern side of Waddy Point provides a few nice holes and narrow gorges to fish.
3) The water around the rocks is always a good spot to try for tailor, especially in winter and spring.
4) Riley Howard enjoying some calm water surf fishing along the beach just North of Orchid Beach.
5) A day trip across to Wathumba Creek is worth the drive, with some nice flathead around the fallen timber.
6) A catch for unsuspecting drivers. Here, Orange Creek, just South of Ngkala Rocks, breaks through after heavy overnight rain. The creek doesn’t normally flow down to the beach.
7) A nice feed of whiting caught in the long gutter in front of Orchid Beach.