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Don’t let the crowds stop you
  |  First Published: April 2004



IF YOU are heading to Fraser Island or Hervey Bay over the Easter holidays, one thing is certain: you’ll have plenty of company. So at this beautiful time of the year when you might be excused for thinking there really are more fishermen than fish, how do you go about connecting up with a few? Here are a few suggestions.

Each day will see a lot of traffic on Fraser Island’s beaches so you need to fish early in the morning, late in the afternoon or during the night. During the Easter long weekend, low tide will be very late in the afternoon or early morning. Fish for whiting in the blind ends of low water gutters on the last of the ebb and first of the flood tide. Don’t neglect the ‘melon holes’ formed by water rushing across loose sand as these often hold a particularly good class of fish.

Another great option in reasonably quiet conditions is to find a broad low water gutter and return to it after dark on the flood tide. This is when top quality whiting and dart move right into the shallows to feed. Pipis and sea worms are hard to beat for all beach species.

Fishing from the rocks at Waddy Point and Indian Head should also be worthwhile. Popular vantage points could be crowded during the day. The ‘Wall’ at Waddy Point is one of the most reliable spots for dart and for tailor in season. If you don’t mind fishing in lots of company, go for it.

Alternatively, there are other access points at Waddy Point that, with care, can be worked safely. The Gorge has plenty of access, and at this time of the year bream and tarwhine are plentiful in the white water of the wash around the rocks. For bream, I like to use almost unweighted half-pilchards allowed to wash backwards and forwards in the white water. Tarwhine prefer worms and pipis and these baits are also likely to attract a sombre sweetlip. The southern side of Waddy Point can be reached by track that cuts through dunes behind the headland. Vehicles are able to park on the very northern end of South Waddy Beach but driving on the rest of the beach is not permitted. The rocks at the South Waddy are always worth checking out for bream, tarwhine, dart and school jew at this time of the year. A walk along South Waddy Beach to Middle Rocks can also be worthwhile as there is plenty of good water to choose from.

The outcrops of coffee rock along the island’s east coast can also be worth a shot. In recent years many of these have been unseen, being almost totally covered with sand, while others like Chard and McLaughlin Rocks appear and disappear according to weather and tidal conditions. Poyungan, Yidney and Ngkala almost always have good coffee rock features. Tarwhine, bream, sombre sweetlip and netted sweetlip move in over the rocks to feed, particularly early or late in the day or when there is a good cover of white water. Whiting and flathead are often found along the junctions of sand and rock.

HERVEY BAY

In Hervey Bay there’ll be plenty of viable options but I’ll restrict myself to just a few – ones I am almost certain to take on myself. On the Easter weekend tides are quite small with lows very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. A good plan would be to fish one of the deep ledges on the last of the ebb and first of the flood in the evening, then move onto the shallows for the remainder of the flood tide. Moon Ledge, Mickys, Bogimbah Ledge, the Channel Hole and Boges Hole should all be worth fishing for coral bream (grass sweetlip), blackall, blue parrot, cod and squire. Shallow reefs such as the Graves, the beacons and off the southern end of Little Woody Island can all be expected to turn on coral bream, blackall, stripeys, moses perch and sand bass.

There is a possibility that diver whiting will have arrived, and if they have, tight clusters of small boats will be seen off Gatakers Bay and Dundowran. Early season fish are usually of good quality and feed ravenously.

The Gatakers Bay – Eli Creek system offers land-based anglers some real possibilities. At its mouth the creek follows a fairly well defined channel across the flats into Gatakers Bay. The deeper parts of this channel hold flathead and these are well worth targeting on the last hour of the ebb and the early flood. The flats at the mouth of the creek are worth wading on the flood tide for sand whiting and golden-lined whiting. Just inside the creek along the rock wall, bream and javelin have been taken in acceptable numbers.

The mouth of Eli Creek is a major bait producing area for Hervey Bay anglers. Yabbies are plentiful on the flats just beyond the mangroves at the creek mouth while herrings, hardiheads and prawns can be taken in amateur bait nets. Further upstream, Eli Creek both feeds and drains the limited tidal exchange lake system associated with the Eli Waters residential development. Fishing is allowed on those sides of the lakes that don’t have private frontages, and is best when water is rushing through the inlet on big flood tides. Already there are encouraging reports of many species including barramundi, blue salmon, pikey bream and whiting being caught. There’s also a healthy population of mullet.

Other spots that I recommend for land-based anglers are the Urangan Pier and the rock walls of the Urangan Boat Harbour. Try for bream around the jetty pylons of the pier over high water using unweighted baits of small or cut herrings and hardiheads. There is every chance you’ll score a good flathead as well. Bream should also be available along the walls of the harbour, particularly the inside of the north wall and the last hundred metres of the south wall. Closer to the beach, the south wall will be worth trying for whiting and flathead, particularly in northerly winds.

I trust that in some small way I’ve been able to help some visitors to our region find a few good fish. Next month, a change in seasons. Catch you then.

1) A mixed bag from coffee rocks at Fraser Island – dart, bream, sombre sweetlip, silver drummer and tarwhine.
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