Darting About with Dart
  |  First Published: March 2010

Despite extremes of temperatures and weather conditions during the last few months, Fraser Island’s beaches have been turning on some reasonable catches.

A pleasant surprise has been the abundance of sand whiting in the shallow gutters along the southern section of the eastern beach, especially after last year’s disappointments. Given reasonable conditions, bream, tarwhine and flathead have been taken in the gutters but particularly around coffee rock outcrops.


When all else fails you can usually depend upon the dart for some good sport and, of course, some tasty fillets. Juveniles are particularly abundant right along the beach and will come right into the wash looking for food.

Anglers chasing whiting and other beach species have developed some colourful adjectives to describe mini-dart. They can be so prolific that you often have to give up and try another spot. Of course, their abundance points to a guarantee of a future population of adult fish.

Despite their abundance, a suitable set of conditions is required to bring the big fish on the bite. In daylight hours they are likely to be found close to the white water along the deeper gutters or around coffee rocks or headlands. Early mornings and dusk turn on the best sport, and at night dart will move right into the shallow and even calm gutters.

Most dart are taken on the natural baits of pipis and sea worms, which are plentiful right along the eastern beach. For those not wishing to rely on a good patch of pipis or who do not have worm-catching skills, peeled prawns, yabbies and other worm-types will also do the trick. Artificial scented ‘worms’ also work well.

For the purist, a number of plastics and small hardbodied lures, as well as small metals, can provide a challenge and a few fish. I have tried quite a few plastics and by far the most successful has been one of the small lime green grubs on the lightest possible jighead worked through the white water.

Later in the year, even the bigger dart will be branded nuisances when the annual tailor season gets underway. There will be plenty of dart hanging out with the tailor, eager to tear pillies apart before the tailor have a chance.

Just a reminder that dart now have a legal minimum length of 30cm and a bag limit of 30 fish.

Coming Up

What can we expect over the next month? I am reminded of last year’s post-Easter battering delivered to the eastern beach. Although putting fishing right out of the question at the time, it was remarkable how quickly good fishing returned.

Whatever the weather dishes up, when conditions settle we can expect the promising run of sand whiting to continue.

The cooler weather will see more bream and tarwhine in the deeper gutters and around the rocks.

It can be expected that there will also be a few chopper tailor about but don’t expect the run of big greenbacks until July at the earliest.

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