A guide to better fishing
HAVING moved on from fishing that very southern tip of Fraser Island in the last issue of QFM we now round Hook Point and start to fish that southern stretch of beach up to Eurong Resort. This section of beach, particularly that first 30km or so, is one of the most underrated stretches of Fraser’s Beach with regard to the quality and diversity of fish caught.
Many visitors drive straight along here chasing the tide to their camping spot and just admire those gutters and plan to come back and fish another time. That ‘other time’ nearly always eludes them and the fact that there are few areas where you can camp here prevents most people from fishing it.
This section is affected by erosion so the tides often come right up against the dunes with a short section quite hazardous for traffic with fallen trees and logs from half tide up. At high tide you can’t get around this southern end and have to take the old mining track which runs from the barge up to Dilli Village, which is the old National Fitness Camp. There are a few tracks down to the beach and it is the second off ramp that’s most often used.
There’s probably around 10-15km of this stretch that you just can’t travel along a few hours either side of high tide. On the bigger tides you won’t get over a few of those creeks anyway so you’re better off timing the trip so you do have the right tides to travel here.
As a matter of interest, that southern point, which is called North Spit, used to extend well out and it’s only recently that the sand has built up on the point again. In May this year there was a sand bank forming out here and as of November the sand had built up more and joined to the island, so once again North Spit is a substantial piece of sand.
Because the spit changes all the time you never really know how it’s going to fish. I have, however, caught a few very good quality tailor here and in certain conditions I’ve found good flathead lying in the shallow water, sunning themselves. If the waters look good for this don’t blindly wade out or you’ll spook the flathead. Have a few casts first and work the area with a good set of sunglasses and a keen eye to catch any movement in the water. Keep an eye on the breaking waves and past the breakers too – there are often huge areas of baitfish just on the other side of the waves with all manner of larger pelagics chasing them.
I had an exciting session in November 2002 where there was miles of bird and bait activity, and every so often there’d be a patch where the bigger fish would move in close and through the gutter. Most of the fish here are varying species of tuna along with a few kingfish, cobia and mackerel. If you hook even a small tuna on surf gear you’re in for a ton of fun. If you wanted to get real serious with some decent heavy-duty spin gear at the right time you’d have a ball here.
Even if you don’t fancy chasing such fish it doesn’t hurt to hop out of the car and have a look in the gutters. From time to time you’ll find that the larger fish have pushed the baitfish right into the shallows and you can literally scoop up the bait, which is usually sardines or small pillies.
The way the dunes have formed at the southern end of the island (possibly as a result of sand mining) restricts the number of places where you can drive up and camp. Those areas around the few freshwater creeks that run out used to have a few camping spots but National Park closures for regeneration mean you can’t camp around the creeks now either. They are reasonable size creeks with a fair run of water down them. The water is tannin stained and light brown but it’s fresh enough after a bit of rain and is drinkable, though it doesn’t taste the best.
The lack of good drinking water, few camp sites and the restriction of movement up and down the beach due to the tides does hamper fishing efforts and you have to be pretty dedicated to fish the full potential of this area. You will find a few areas where you can camp though that aren’t too far up the beach which enable you to travel the short distance back to the gutters, find somewhere to park the car at the appropriate gutter and have a fish.
The night sessions here especially can be rewarding if you take the time to find the right hole and sit on it and fish. I’ve seen more big tailor and jew caught on this bottom stretch of the island than anywhere else. When you find that gutter, don’t shine headlights down into it because those bigger fish move in with the darkness and feed for a short time before moving on. This is why it’s a patience game as you take a gamble on the right gutter and spend hours waiting for those few fish to maybe move in.
Flesh baits work best here for those tailor and jew, with bonito and tuna baits the preferred choice over pilchards. Pillies will get you a few school size fish but flesh baits are best for the bigger fish.
If you’re a daytime angler you’ll love the long, narrow low tide gutters that form here – they have ‘whiting’ spelt all over them. We usually spend the run-out tide chasing some live surf worms and pipis and then start fishing on the last of the run-out and the first few hours of the run-in.
The long, narrow gutters usually have a dead in with a few melon holes and a nice sand bank at the rear. Once the tide starts coming in over the rear back and filling the gutter the bite warms up. If you’ve checked out the beach and formations beforehand you can spend most of the tide moving along the beach, fishing various gutters between the low and high tide mark as they fill.
The whiting aren’t big – most are up to 30cm with the odd better fish – but the numbers are there and you can take a nice feed.
The swell is usually smaller and the gutters easy to fish, especially on the bottom half of the tide where the gutters are close. Having shallow gutters nice and close are ideal for letting the kids have a fish. If you’re smart you’ll find a gutter close to one of the creeks that run out here so the Missus can stay at the creek and play with the kids and you can sneak away and have a serious fish. Kids love the water and if you throw in a bit of sand and a few toys they’ll play for hours. These creeks follow the dunes north-south for a while before running out which provides plenty of dry sand up away from the beach traffic for the kids to play, which is handy for the family fisho.
When chasing the whiting a south-easterly wind is favourable and I’ve found three periods in the year to be a good time for whiting along here. There’s a run in April/May, a good run in August and September and another reasonable run in late November. This covers a few options in and out of holiday time.
In addition to whiting, a keen eye will locate dart in the waves and suitable gutters to fish for them. Dart are great fun to chase in the surf and if they’re bled, chilled and skinned you’ll enjoy them as a fillet for dinner. You can catch dart all day but the best times are pre-dawn to around 7am and then those last few hours of the day. The pipis found along the beach are good bait for dart but these fish will take just about anything when they’re hungry.
If you’re fishing a gutter for whiting (or any other species) and find that you’re plagued with small dart, my best advice is to shift. When there’s a school of dart about they’ll pounce on any bait thrown in the water.
The beach continues on for many miles but I’ll end this article at Eurong Resort, which is the first major facility along the Island. Here there is a general store, fuel, ice, beach runway, police station, National Parks office and all the accommodation and tourist trips associated with a resort. I’ve stayed here a few times, and while it’s been enjoyable I prefer to camp where I can relax around a campfire, enjoy a few beers or wander down and have a fish.
If you camp you’ll need a camping permit, vehicle permit and to bring your own firewood or pick some up at the Ranger Station. In summer the horseflies are thick and can drive you insane at times around the camp and even while out on the water and fishing. Mossies and sandflies aren’t too bad, with the sandflies worse at dawn and dusk. Dingoes are also about so store food accordingly and keep the kids in sight.
Next issue I’ll discuss fishing and camping from Eurong up to the Maheno wreck.
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