Fraser Island beaches have produced some excellent fishing over the last six weeks, despite some fairly unfriendly weather out of the southeast.
The only disappointment has been that whiting have been hard to find in any numbers despite the promise shown in earlier months. However, the quality has been excellent with some of the better catches coming from gutters near Cornwells Break and north of the Maheno.
Bream and tarwhine continue to turn up in beach anglers’ catches, taken in the deeper gutters and around coffee rock outcrops at Poyungan Rocks, Yidney and Ngkala. The coffee rocks have also been producing a few sweetlip and small jew, most of which have been under the new legal 75cm limit. It would come as no surprise to learn that dart are still in plague proportions.
This month we could see the first of the annual run of tailor along the ocean beach. The chopper tailor that have been taken lately are not considered as the start of the season.
Fraser Island’s ocean beach is likely to cop a hiding from the southeast at just about any time of the year. The winds can be strong enough to make fishing the beach impossible or very uncomfortable. One of the options is to head west across to the sheltered waters of Sandy Straits, Hervey Bay or Platypus Bay.
One good alternative destination is the western beach’s Woralie Creek. The Woralie track leaves the ocean beach just north of the Maheno shipwreck. It takes about an hour to cross the island, but be aware that sand road conditions can vary from fair to terrible.
Prolonged dry periods make the island tracks extremely soft, particularly on the western side of the divide where the roads are more open with reduced canopy. There are also a few steep grades that can become quite rough as the result of vehicles being bogged. If you are going to take this track, or any inland one for that matter, you need to consider the capability of vehicle and driver, also suitable tyre pressure. As a guide, I drive a Patrol and use tyre pressures of around 20psi on the tracks, but being prepared to drop another 5psi if required. I would also advise against using a low clearance vehicle on any of these tracks. Speed limit on island tracks is a generous 30km/h.
A short detour from the Woralie track leads to the beautiful Lake Allom, a great lunch and swim spot. But watch out for the goannas! The track then comes out onto the beach just north of the mouth of Woralie Creek. It is always something of a delightful relief reaching this sheltered and idyllic beach after leaving the big seas and howling wind on the ocean side.
At this time of the year, this beach is almost certainly free of weed, a problem that it can have in the latter part of the year. Whiting can be taken anywhere along the sandy beach and are often less than a cast out. The creek itself wanders south before emptying into the bay and, like the creeks on the ocean side of the island, the position of the mouth changes often.
The mouth is associated with an attractive feature such as a gutter or a spit and is always worth working for flathead, bream and dart. On the flood tide, baitfish find their way into the brackish water of the creek, then as they spill out of the creek, flathead lie waiting for the right opportunities.
South from Woralie Creek, a wide sandy beach extends to the mouth of Coungul Creek. To the north, the beach is a mix of sand and coffee rock. You can travel further north along the beach but do so with care, I would recommend going with a second vehicle. Excellent features along the beach also produce flathead along with bream and small reef species.
In last month’s column I had quite a bit to say about the dingo. The controversy continues as to their best management. During the last months they have been particularly abundant along the ocean beach and I would have to say that the animals I have seen look particularly healthy.
Let’s hope this month’s weather is good enough to keep everyone happy on the ocean beach, but the Woralie Creek option is worth keeping in mind for the inevitable times of heavy ocean conditions.Reads: 1868