Over the last two articles we have covered the area from Poverty Point to Kauri Creek, in this issue we will be looking at the area from Kauri to the jetty at Kingfisher Bay resort on Fraser Island.
Opposite the entrance to Kauri Creek is the Bluff, an area of sand situated on the western side of Fraser Island. Eroded over time this sand blow is a guide to Bluff reef. There is scattered reef right through this area and it’s just a matter of sounding to locate the best reef positions.
I have been informed by one of the local charter operators that a quick reference point is to run a line from the Bluff and line it up with the second red marker in Kauri Creek, using a sounder you should locate some of this reef.
This is big fish country with sharks, cod, sweetlip, slatey bream, mackerel and tuna frequenting the area. Spanish Mackerel to 1.6m have been caught at the Bluff during the run earlier in the year. A great many fish were lost too so make sure your tackle is up to the pressures that these speedsters can generate.
Travelling up the Straits along the Fraser shoreline there are several areas of interest. First is Browns Gutter, a popular anchorage during southeasterly winds, which can produce surprising catches of whiting and flathead. Entry to Browns is via the north end via port and starboard navigation markers; the entrance is shallow so take it easy.
North of Browns is Snout Point that boasts a mixture of mangroves, small creeks and sand and mudflats. This is a good area to drift or walk the banks looking for flathead, with hardbodied lures, soft plastics and nippers are all worth a go.
Just past Snout Point is the main channel, the start of which is marked by a set of leads. Along the eastern side of this channel on the Fraser shoreline there is a coffee rock ledge called Fig Tree Ledge. To the western side of the channel there are extensive sand flats that extend intermittently right across to the mainland. These flats are traversed by several smaller channels and gutters and are an excellent area to drift for whiting and flathead. The water depth here varies from less than 1m up to 8m.
This western side of the Straits can also be accessed via Tinnanbar, Boonooroo and Maaroom, all of which are accessible via Maryborough Tuan Forest Road.
Up the main channel past Fig Tree, this high tidal flow area is worth trolling some hardbodied lures or metal slugs as the chance of picking up a pelagic is always on the cards. Try trolling close to the ledge or along the western drop-off.
At the end of this stretch of water the channel splits near red navigational marker S36. The right arm of the channel enters Garrys Anchorage, while the main channel continues up the Straits.
Garrys is another popular anchorage as it is well sheltered by Fraser Island and is always worth a try on those days when everything else is blown out. Along the Fraser shore the only real structure here is remnants of a disused log dump, which produces jacks and barra. Live baits of herring and mullet are the best bets to tempt a jack or barra; lures are also worth a try.
Garrys is one of two places on Fraser where you can go ashore and enjoy some of Fraser’s walks. But always be dingo wise when ashore, particularly if you have young kids with you. Give the dogs the respect they deserve and do not approach them or feed them under any circumstances.
Garrys arks around in a half circle and re-enters the main channel near navigational marker S32. This area is probably one of the best the Straits have to offer. On the western side is the Moonbeam Islands and on the eastern side Boonlye Point, behind which there is an extensive area of mangroves dissected with several creeks. This is prime jack and crab country and while it’s heavily fished, it can still produce good catches. Salmon, flathead and the elusive barra also inhabit these areas.
Once past Boonlye Point the channel sweeps to the east. To the left of the channel are Tooth and Slain islands, which again have extensive mangroves and numerous creeks. These creeks and mangrove areas hold salmon, barra, jacks, flathead and whiting with mackerel, tuna, and golden trevally in the channels.
Continuing up the Straits the channel heads east right up to the Fraser shoreline, this area is called South White Cliffs. A coffee rock wall that extends a couple of kilometres provides excellent structure here. Complete with deep water and resident bait schools, this is a prime fishing area, with squire, sweetlip, cod, jew and mackerel just a few species on offer in this area.
Part the way along this wall is Buff Creek, which is worth a look on a high tide as the remains of an old barge can be found lying dormant amongst the mangroves. This is a good spot to try for a jack and possibly a crab or two; nippers are also available at the mouth of this creek.
The next creek you come across is Deep Creek, which is also worth investigating on a high tide. North of Deep Creek is the Ceratodus, which is an old derelict logging barge – a magnet to both fish and fishers. It’s hard to cruise past this old wreck without dropping a lure in amongst the twisted remains.
The next structure along the channel is the old jetty at Ungowa, part of which has collapsed into the water. At the front of the jetty the water is about 10m deep and generally holds good schools of bait. This area produces some big fish, and live baits and tackle don’t last long. It’s a high tidal flow area so the tops and bottoms of the tide are the best times to fish.
On the opposite side to the jetty across the Straits are Turkey, Walsh and Bookar islands. Turkey Island and Walsh Island are both green zones, however the water around them is not. The sand bank from Bookar Island north to about Panama Creek and extending west to Walsh Island is also a green zone, which is easily noticeable at low tide by the extensive sea grass beds.
North of Ungowa there are two other creeks: Alligator and Rocky creeks. Both of these creeks are muddy and look similar to creeks in northern Australia. Deep holes, steep banks and an abundance of bait are good indicators these creeks are productive and can provide salmon, jacks and barra along with bream and lizards.
From here we turn the corner, so to speak, and are now out in the open and heading for Kingfisher. The first creek along this way is Wanggoolba, which is one of the barge access points for Fraser Island. It’s not a large creek but Wanggoolba is well worth investigating.
From here is the Fraser shoreline, fringed by big sand flats. These flats are generally sheltered from southeasterly winds which makes them perfect for drifting lures and casting plastics for flathead.
Further along is the North White Cliffs where the ruins of McKenzies jetty can be found. Apart from some rotted timber bearers and poles, not much is visible on the shoreline, but out the front in the water there is still good structure. Lures and soft plastics can work here but live bait is the prime option. Like South White Cliffs it’s impossible to know what might be lurking around the sunken logs so make sure your tackle is up to it.
Just a short run in the tinnie from here is the Kingfisher Bay jetty. The jetty is a magnet for bait and big fish alike, and is very popular with land-based fishos from Hervey Bay and guests of the resort; the jetty has it all. Big schools of herring are usually the norm, which in turn attracts the fish, as well as squid, creating a mix that is irresistible to anglers.
It’s common to see big mackerel and goldens doing circuits of the jetty cutting a swath through the baitfish. When this happens, there are lots of young anglers running up and down the jetty with rods fitted up with a herring trying to time the next run. Flathead in the XOS range can also be found lurking around the jetty and lying in the lea of the barge landing.
Spotted mackerel, cod, barra, bream, whiting, sharks, can all be caught at the jetty. Walk the jetty at night with a good torch and you will be amazed what you see.
Throughout the Straits area bait in the form of nippers is easily found on most of the sand flats, with herring, hardiheads and mullet generally easy to find in the upper reaches of the creeks.
The Straits is an area that’s well worth visiting; it’s an enormous area that can’t be seen in one day or even just one week. The best way to see and fish the Great Sandy Straits is by houseboat, which will convey an unparalleled insight into this unique area. Houseboats are available from both ends of the Straits at either Luxury Afloat in Tin Can Bay or Fraser Escape in Hervey bay. (For more information about fishing the Straits on a houseboats see the QFM November 2008 article: “Have a crack at Yanky Jack”.)
Now if you’re lucky and manage to catch that XOS flathead or barramundi handle them carefully, take a photo and release them as soon as possible; these big fish are better off in the system then on the plate.
I hope the last few issues have given you an insight into the Straits and what is available. So plan your trip, grab a copy of the Great Sandy Marine Park map, and if possible a Beacon to Beacon book and get out and enjoy the Straits and all it has to offer.Reads: 8609