Story and Photography by Paul B Kidd
Queensland's Fraser Island is one of the best fishing - and family fun - spots in the country
There are a couple of ways that we
can fish and 4WD Fraser Island, but whichever way we do it, it will be an
adventure you will never forget and I guarantee that it will keep you
going back to time and again.
From there we can catch the ferry
over to Fraser and set up in one of the recognised camping areas, either
private or public, and cook our own fish meals, drink cold beers from the
Esky, wash under a bush shower, squat on a bush dunny and sleep behind
insect-proof mesh while we go back to nature for a week or two. Or,
if grandad’s just chipped into the bunker and left an Arnott’s biscuit
tin full of old 20 pound notes and a couple of 1930 pennies, we can do it
in style: Fly to Hervey Bay, rent the 4WD of our choice at a reasonable
rate, freight it over to Fraser on the ferry and toff it up at the
five-star Kingfisher Resort. From there we could do our fishing and
exploring with a packed picnic lunch and a couple of chilled bottles of
sauvignon blanc and come home to a lime daiquiri and hors d’oeuvres,
served up on the balcony as we watch the sun set in the west.
And then again we could go back to
nature with all the mod cons and stay in the heart of Fraser at the Fraser
Retreat or the Aeorong Resort and fish the nearby beaches from there after
a tropical breakfast of fruit and juices and a good night’s sleep among
the noises of the bush animals and birds.
But whichever way we do Fraser,
we’re in for a treat. Not only is the beach and estuary fishing
sensational, but offshore on the eastern seaboard there’s just about
every bottom and surface species that you could wish for.
There are coral trout, red emperor,
snapper, parrot fish, cod and nannygai on the reefs, and tuna, wahoo,
Spanish mackerel, mahi-mahi, sailfish and small marlin (depending on the
time of year) are there for the taking for the bluewater angler.
Onshore there are bumper bream,
whiting and flathead in the Wathumba Creek and at the mouths of the Moon,
Coongul and Awinyah creeks and many of the 250 or so filler creeks that
run into the ocean.
Bait’s never a problem on Fraser,
just pump some of Australia’s biggest and juiciest yabbies on the spot
or drag a dead fish along the beach and pluck out as many beach worms as
The Inside Beach is sensational
most of the year round for pan-sized whiting and the locals will tell you
the best spots to fish and what tide to fish them on. Casting a small lure
or a bait into the crystal clear waters on the beach at dawn or dusk on
the western side of Fraser and catching a feed is one of the pure
pleasures of fishing in Australia.
But, even with all of this on offer
from the offshore reefs and current lines and the sheltered inshore river
mouths, estuaries and western facing beaches, it is the eastern ocean
beach fishing that makes Fraser one of the fishing wonders of Australia.
Fraser’s beaches resemble perfect
snow-white highways and driving along them, especially at low tide, is a
dream and high speeds, though not recommended, can be attained with the
maximum of safety. But be warned. You can get booked for speeding and
drunk driving on Fraser’s beaches just as you would be on a public
The gutters and backwashes along
the beaches provide fantastic fishing for the family angler and, on high
tide especially, whiting, dart, bream, tailor, flathead and trevally can
be taken by even the smallest and oldest members of the clan.
But the beach fishing at Fraser is really famous for four things: the annual tailor run in August, the giant queenfish caught from the beach at Sandy Cape on the northernmost tip of the island, the Spanish mackerel that are taken from the rocks at Indian Head and Waddy Point in summer and autumn, and the three-metre, man-eating whaler sharks that patrol the beaches just behind the first line of breakers.
When the tailor are on it is one of
the most amazing sights in fishing to see hundreds of anglers standing in
the surf elbow-to-elbow with their huge surf rods and sidecast Alvey reels
casting whole garfish or pilchard baits to the tailor as they boil just
behind the breakers.
To allow the tailor to spawn, no
fishing is allowed from Waddy Point to Indian Head during the month of
The queenfish is one of the
toughest fighters in the ocean that jumps well clear of the water when
hooked and is usually found only in estuaries and river mouths. So
catching them up to 10kg in the surf at Fraser in the months of May and
June makes for exciting and unusual fishing.
The queenies take chrome lures cast
to the back of the breakers and retrieved at a rapid pace, thus resembling
the baitfish that they can be seen pursuing down the face of the waves as
they break on to the shore. It is spectacular fishing both visually and
Late summer sees a run of the
exceptional fighter, the Spanish mackerel, and anglers catch them from the
rocks by setting live baits beneath balloon floats and letting them drift
out into the currents that sweep by the protruding headlands of Indian
Head and Waddy Point. It is a rare feat to catch such bluewater gamefish
from a land-based position and Fraser Island is one of the few spots in
Australia where it can be done regularly.
And those brown shadows you’ll
see lurking behind the breakers at Fraser aren’t patches of drifting
weed. They are the notorious resident bronze whalers sharks, one of our
most deadly man-eaters, and they have become so cheeky over the years that
on numerous occasions they have been known brazenly to snatch fish from
angler’s hands as they clean them in the surf. Fortunately, nobody has
been taken lately. But the day ain’t over yet.
Yes, the fishing at Fraser
justifies its position as one of Australia’s wonders of fishing. But the
surfing? Well, that’s an entirely different proposition altogether. Oh,
that’s what I forgot to mention. Don’t bother packing the surf boards.
||Fraser Island Facts|
Point, Rainbow Beach at bottom of Fraser Island; $60 per vehicle, $2 per
passenger. Hervey Bay to western side of Fraser Island; $70 per vehicle.
For times on either service ring_(07) 4124 8741.
permit for vehicles $30. Camping permits $3.50 per person per night or $14
per family. Permits available at Marina Kiosk and general store Hervey
Bay, and Parks and Wildlife Office Rainbow Beach. Maximum stay 28 days
OUT OF BOUNDS:
from Wathumba to Rooney Point on the eastern beach is permanently closed
to 4WD vehicles. The area above Waddy Point to Sandy Cape at the top end
of Fraser is zoned “Hazardous”.
BEST TIMES OF THE YEAR:
March and November and August when the tailor run is on. Avoid Easter and
Christmas – it’s packed!
RESORTS ON FRASER:
from $120 per night, (07) 4120 3333. Fraser Retreat from $90 per night,
(07) 4127 9144. Aeorong Resort from $90 per night, (07) 4127 9122.
4WD HIRE AT HERVEY BAY:
Trax (07) 4124 4433; Safari 4x4 Hire (07) 4124 4244; Bay 4X4 Hire (07)
PRIVATE CAMPING AREAS:
Beach (07) 4127 9177; Dilli Village (07) 4127 9130.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Hervey Bay/Fraser Island Tourist Information Centre (07) 4124 8741. Also talk to the Fraser Coast South Burnett Regional Tourism Board (07) 4122 3444.