I HAVE just arrived home from the Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo and again the competition was a huge success with anglers and their families. Toyota runs a great comp on Fraser and most of us are looking forward to next year already.
The weather for the week wasn’t that flash, with 15 to 20 knot breezes most days, but that didn’t stop most of the 231 boats in the comp, plus beach fisherman, braving the elements and being rewarded with quality fishing.
Myself and my crew, Jon Eadie and Bruce Grimmer, targeted snapper and red emperor during the comp and the fishing on a couple of days was just sensational – but very frustrating at the same time.
After a reasonable first day’s fishing on the Southern Gardiners, on Day Two I decided to head around 20km south of Waddy Point to a spot we found last year that produced the winning snapper for myself. A few kilometres north of the spot we ran over another bit of ground that looked to be holding a few fish, and once I slowed down and had a good sound around, the Furuno sounder displayed a full screen of arches and we couldn’t wait to get a bait in the water. With the current belting south and the fish sitting on the northern side of the pinnacle, the sea-anchor slowed us enough to get one or two drops a drift and from the time the first bait hit the water, it was just hook-up after hook-up.
For the next three hours it was absolute madness as huge fish smashed our baits in around 45-50m of water, and if we were lucky we’d land one out of every five fish hooked. We boated some nice snapper and scarlet sea perch to 5kg, amberjack, a couple of reasonable cobia and a couple of just-legal red emperor.
If the bigger fish didn’t dust you off on the bottom, a couple of resident sharks were only too happy to grab the larger fish that took a bit longer to get to the boat. On several occasions we had large red emperor and snapper sharked right at the boat, but that’s fishin’!
On getting back to the beach we realised we’d gone through three boxes of hooks and our sinker supply was a little on the short side, but we couldn’t wait to go back and do battle the next day. Bait didn’t seem to be an issue; the fish were hitting everything we had on the boat, including mullet fillets, squid, pillies, tuna and yakkas.
With similar conditions the next day, we arrived to find the fish still hanging in the same spot. From the time the first bait hit the water, it was on again and we boated plenty of quality fish, but that large red or snapper was still eluding us.
We moved to another spot around late morning and we again pulled some nice fish, but not the ones we were looking for, so mid-afternoon we headed back to tempt fate again.
Nothing had changed but we still couldn’t manage to boat that comp-winning fish. With the wind picking up from the north and the drifts getting shorter, we decided to do a couple more drifts and head for home. On the next drift I put the hooks into another nice fish and I managed to boat a nice snapper in the 7-8kg range, but with no scales on board we’d have to wait and see if he was big enough.
The snapper went 7.5kg and went to the top of the leader board, where it stayed for the remainder of the comp, much to our relief. Overall, the boys and myself had a top time at Fraser and are already planning for next year.
I’d just like to say a quick thanks to the boys who stopped and gave me a hand to get going again when I blew a heater hose coming down the beach on Friday night, and to another gentleman named Wolfgang who gave us a two-vehicle snatch to the barge to stop my cruiser getting hot again. The mateship on Fraser never ceases to amaze me.
On the local scene, quality squire around 2-3kg have been all the rage with the 33s north of Nats Rock and the 35s producing good fish. Further south, the Cathedrals off North Straddie have also been fishing well for squire with lightly-weighted pillies doing the goods.
The fishing during July and August should really start to hot up for snapper, squire, pearlies and amberjack. With westerly breezes and less run in the water, this time of year should see some quality reef fish boated. Livebaiting the wider grounds in these cooler months is also a good option when conditions are right.
Just before heading to Fraser I did a couple of charters with some Japanese gentlemen who flew in for a couple of days’ jigging. The conditions for the charters were good, with light winds and fantastic fishing. In the two days we would have boated 40 to 50 yellowtail king and amberjack, with the biggest going 19.5kg. All but a couple of the fish were released to fight another day. The visiting anglers also caught several pearl perch and Maori cod, which was an added bonus on the jigs. It’s an interesting and rewarding style of fishing, but cranking big jigs in up to 50-100m of water is damn hard work!
Until next month, enjoy your fishing. If you’d like to join me on charter (max 4 persons) contact me on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.