It’s almost that time of year again: when big schools of mature tailor move up the ocean beach heading for their spawning grounds.
These big fish start arriving any time around early July with the season in full swing by August.
Good tailor fishing is to be had right along the ocean beach through to November but in recent seasons the best catches have come from north of Cathedral Beach to Indian Head and from Orchid Beach to Sandy Cape, including Ngkala Rocks.
The seemingly random movement of the major schools dictate which stretches of beach will fire. But the general movement of fish from south to north sees the southern beaches fish well early in the season.
With the tailor come the devotees armed with 4m poles and 650 Alvey reefs. Most of the tailor devotees come with groups of mates or their families to camp along the regulated zones between the Maheno and Indian Head.
When the zones of Wahba, Eugarie, Yurru, Guruman and Wyuna are open, they often become tent cities behind some of the best gutters on the island.
But before you come to Fraser it’s a good idea to check with the Department of the Environment on 131304 regarding camping zones, permits and bookings.
In times gone by recreational and commercial fishers made massive hauls of tailor along this beach when the species was not regulated. Fortunately a new breed of angler prevails: those happy to practice catch and release, keeping only fish that wouldn’t survive and that are within the prescribed limits.
On Fraser tailor are regulated by both size and bag limits, as well as closures. Last season anglers were permitted to have in possession 30 tailor of at least 30cm, provided they stayed at least three days.
Earlier this year the new size limit of 35cm and the bag limit of 20 fish (regardless of your length of stay) came into force.
There is also a complete closure from 400m south of Indian Head to 400m north of Waddy Point and 400m seaward during the months of August and September.
While this two month closure is intended for the protection of tailor stocks, this closure applies for all species, unlike barramundi closures, where anglers are still able to target other species.
The Fraser Island closures mean that for two months, at least two protected areas, as well as some great rock fishing spots, are off limits to anglers looking for tailor and other species like whiting, bream, flathead, dart, trevally and a variety of reef fish.
Also keep in mind that Middle Rocks, between Indian Head and Waddy Point, is a green zone and is therefore totally closed to all fishing throughout the year.
Newcomers to Fraser Island during the tailor season could be excused for feeling somewhat daunted by the forest of rods pointing skywards along a popular gutter.
A closer approach usually reveals a mostly orderly line of anglers enjoying some great fishing. Admittedly there might be a few anxious moments when proximity becomes an issue, or when an angler displays a distinct problem with directional casting ability.
For the most part, these large group experiences can be good ones. Behind the gutter, the beach becomes a 4WD parking lot with lots of good socialising happening.
If fishing with lots of company is not your scene, this is not the only way to enjoy great tailor fishing. In fact it can be much more satisfying to locate your own fish rather than to depend on the already established assemblies.
All you need is a little thought as to the kind of beach conditions that produce food and cover. The key to finding this sort of territory is white water with adjacent deep water.
This certainly applies to the long popular gutters where white water forming on the outer bank spills over into the deeper gutter. But it can also include spits, holes, outer banks or any feature where this white water and deep water relationship can be found. Once a good-looking structure is found, if it is not proven within a short time, then it could be time to keep searching.
Just about all the tailor fishing on Fraser Island employs the tried and tested use of long rods, Alvey reels, ganged hooks and WA pilchards.
However there are many anglers enjoying success using metal lures including Raiders and a variety of home made flattened lead spoons. As for plastics, by virtue of the way they attack, tailor can cause total destruction without even taking the jig-head. Even near indestructible Snapbacks come in for their share of abuse.
Apart from tailor, July should see the usual beach species being taken. Whiting have been somewhat disappointing but bream and tarwhine should continue to turn up in the deeper gutters and around the rocks.
If anything, dart will become more prolific and of better quality, so much so that they will become unpopular with anglers targeting tailor.
Just a final note on camping along the ocean beach of Fraser Island: rangers have been temporally closing some camping zones due to the presence of problem dingoes. For the latest on camping zones and other information go to www.derm.qld.gov.au then search for Fraser Island Conditions.Reads: 29199