Late season tailor
  |  First Published: November 2004

Fraser Island’s tailor season finally became serious early in September, just when many anglers were starting to wonder whether it was ever going to happen. Even when the Indian Head to Waddy Point closure (designed to protect spawning tailor) was in place in August, tailor were conspicuous by their absence. Recent weeks weeks, however, have seen the tailor re-establish itself as the island’s premier surf fish.

The quality of this year’s fish has been on par with previous seasons, but I have seen very few in the 3-5kg class. This might well change in November as late season fish usually include many in the monster class. The very late start to the season may also result in a late finish, so this could be a great tailor month at Fraser.

For the last three years I have tried to be optimistic about the weed problem on Fraser Island’s ocean beach, suggesting that it should soon go away. Such optimism was based on experiences over the last 40 years of weed blooms, which came for a time and then completely disappeared. In these last years the problem has never completely disappeared, either being in the surf zone or holding further out beyond the break. Offshore, light or even southeasterly winds tend to keep the weed offshore, but winds from the northeast quadrant send it into the beach. I have been asking a lot of questions of people who could know the answers, but all I have been hearing are theories that range from global warming to pollution emanating from beachside camps.

So with northeasterlies now established, the dreaded weed hasn’t made life too comfortable for tailor anglers. Some stretches of beach are affected more than others. For example, as I write, there is enough weed between Eurong and Yidney to make fishing extremely frustrating while further north, between Cathedral Beach and Dundubara, conditions are somewhat better. Not surprisingly, some of the best tailor gutters have been along this section of beach. The best catches have been made over the top of the tide, from half flood to half ebb, particularly with late afternoon or mid-morning highs. Anglers have been in ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ mode along the top gutters, with most anglers displaying consideration for others. Dart and a few good whiting have also been taken in the tailor gutters.

Good catches of whiting have been reported from Fraser Island’s western beaches, particularly Moon Point and Woralie Creek. Flathead have been taken around the creek mouths and also around the coffee rocks. At the Moon Point barge hole, school mackerel and small tailor have been falling for small metals.


Rising inshore water temperatures will see the return of many popular species to the inshore reefs. This month, those in water deeper than 8m are likely to be most productive until the end of the month, when there is a significant movement over the shallows. Grass sweetlip will become well established in the channel outside the boat harbour and over the reef slopes adjacent to Boges Hole. The Channel Hole, and Rufus Artificial Reef are also likely to fish well. Some of the inner bay’s best coral bream come from the channel hole but rainbows and paddys (lancers) can be a major problem. Blackall, Moses perch, stripeys, reef barramundi, cod, coral trout and blue parrot can also be expected on the shallow reefs for the next six months.

Sand and golden lined whiting have been providing good sport on light tackle throughout the bay. Shelly Beach and the Urangan Pier have attracted a lot of attention on the morning high tides. The small gutters draining the Booral flats and Mangrove Island banks have also been good for whiting, predominantly the golden lined variety. Excellent reports are also coming in from the banks just inside Mary River Heads and from Shell Gutter. This month we can expect more of the same although the pier fishing may have reached its peak.


Small species of mackerel should keep offshore anglers busy, provided seasonal northerly winds let up long enough to provide windows of opportunity. School mackerel are most likely off Toogum, Gatakers Bay and in the shipping channel between the fairway and Urangan. They will also be available in the vicinity of the low reefs off Wathumba Creek. Spotted mackerel will arrive in big schools off Fraser Island’s west coast, particularly off Wathumba Creek as far south as Arch Cliff and Coongul Creek. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between spotties and schoolies, as schoolies have a minimum size of 50cm and an in-possession limit of 30, while spotties have a size limit of 60cm and an in-possession limit of 5. Schoolies have large, sometimes indistinct spots and very high second dorsal spines. The spotty has many small distinct spots with dorsal spines that are much more even in height.

Understanding new regulations

In QFM earlier this year I presented a report on the regulations associated with the Fisheries (Coral Reef Fin Fish) Management Plan 2003, where I attempted to clarify some of the new rules. Something else you may find helpful is the DPI&F’s new Reef Fish Field Guide. This contains principles of identification along with colour photographs of most regulated fish. If you need to obtain a copy, see your local Fisheries office. The Urangan Office is open from 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

While on the subject of books, Maritime Safety and DPI&F have produced their Guide to Recreational Boating and Fishing in Queensland. This is crammed full of regulations and information on all aspects of boating and fishing, including all the current size and bag limits. It should be mandatory reference material for all boaties and anglers. It can also be obtained from your local Fisheries office.

In my report I noted that all Queensland east coast waters north of 25 degrees south latitude would be closed for the taking of regulated coral reef fin fish for three nine-day periods over the new moon in the latter months of the year. The remaining dates this year are November 6-14 and December 6-14.

A recent change to these regulations sees the line moved north to 24 degrees 50 min. In the publication Guide to Recreational Boating and Fishing in Queensland, this line is incorrectly stated as 24 degrees 45 minutes. The change will be of particular interest to anglers visiting the northern parts of Hervey Bay and offshore Fraser Island.


1) Dwane Frohloff scored this tailor 10km south of Indian Head at the end of August.

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