Fishing Fraser with friendly dingoes
  |  First Published: April 2010

I’m not quite bold enough to predict May will certainly be a month of easy fishing conditions and an abundance of the usual beach species.

But we can expect those cool, clear days with light southeasters. Even so, a lot will depend on how much the beach has, or has not been sculptured by the combination of wind, sea and tide.

Already the huge monsoonal low and associated east coast low of March have been responsible for plenty of fresh water coming onto the beach via Sunshine Coast rivers and the Sandy Straits.

A few weeks later, cyclone Ului generated strong winds and big seas further altering the beachscape.

Dart continue to be ‘the fish that saved the day’. Sand whiting (also called summer whiting) are usually at their best at this time of the year. Look for them in the smaller low tide gutters on the last of the ebb and early flood, and around the edges of coffee rocks in sheltered waters.

We can expect quite an influx of both bream and tarwhine now the weather is cooling down. Both species will be taken from the deeper gutters and also from the coffee rocks and hard rock headlands of Indian Head and Waddy Point.

From March 1 the legal minimum size of both bream and tarwhine has risen to 25cm with a combined bag limit of 30 fish. I think the combined limit is not a bad idea as many anglers find it difficult to distinguish between these two quite distantly related species.

On the same date the legal minimum length of tailor also rose to 35cm with a bag limit of 20 fish, and these new restrictions are inclusive to Fraser Island waters.

It is too early to expect anything exciting as far as tailor are concerned. However there are usually a few choppers hanging out around the rocks and deeper gutters. The first of Fraser’s famous greenbacks will start arriving during July or late June at the earliest.

On a less optimistic note if the beaches are being hammered by strong winds and big seas there are still some options.

I found myself in this situation in April last year. Fishing seemed out of the question but out of sheer desperation we managed to get a heavily weighted rig into a reasonable gutter close to the top of the tide.

Quite amazingly, it was full of good dart specimens. At least that kept the cooks happy but it was not the kind of fishing that I’m a fan of.

There are other alternatives worth considering such as deserting Fraser’s ocean beach and heading for the west coast of the island.

Fishing with Dingoes

For anglers fishing individually or in small groups along the beach, dingoes very rarely pose a problem.

The only time they are likely to be seen is either early morning or late afternoon as they do regular patrols of their beachfronts.

Occasionally, one might stop, sit on the beach and check you out for a while before moving on. Undoubtedly in doing this they much just be looking for an easy feed, but I’m inclined to think curiosity, and even company, might also play a part in their thinking.

But anglers need to be aware of the regulations, and consequences, as far as dingoes are concerned.

These are clearly stated in the EPA information that comes with vehicle permits. Many of these rules involve intentional or unintentional feeding of the animals.

For the fisherman on the beach, here are some of the things that could cost you dearly:-

leaving fish or bait in open containers, even inside open vehicles

dropping mangled bait on the beach

allowing undersize fish to wash up on the beach

discarding fish offal or bait on or above the beach

not burying offal sufficiently deep in the sand between high and low water mark (minimum 50cm)

These regulations support the current official thinking that it is not good to feed dingoes, so as responsible anglers we need to fall into line.

The media has recently been reporting people being nipped by dingoes. My understanding is these events took place in popular beach camping zones where the dogs were being fed, teased or approached too closely.

In the last few months camping zones, near One Tree Rocks, Cornwells Break and more recently north of Happy Valley, were closed temporarily by rangers.

Sadly a number of dingoes have been euthanised after they were identified as problem animals. Meanwhile the debate regarding the management of dingoes continues to rage locally.

It has not been my intention to arouse fear of these beautiful animals that are part of the whole Fraser Island experience. By far the majority of dingo encounters are, and should be, pleasant ones.

But if groups of dingoes are seen coming along the beach, then they should be avoided, perhaps by returning to the 4WD.

April and May are right in the dingoes’ mating season and chances are individuals in the pack will be more concerned about sorting out their own differences rather than your presence.

Fraser Island is a fabulous place to go fishing. Enjoy the surf, the fish, the beach, even our beautiful canine friends, and look after the kids. Let them enjoy their fishing too – in your company.

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