East coast beach fishing’s Holy Grail.
If doing battle with an endless array of toothy marine predators with both feet planted in coarse white terra firma gets your gears going, then Fraser Island is where dreams come true.
The world’s largest sand island has been on the map for 4WDers since day dot. Even longer for fishos. The fabled Fraser Island Tailor Run is the stuff of angling mythos.
In less enlightened times, scores of mainlanders would make the pilgrimage to Fraser’s sunny shores each winter to plunder the seemingly endless shoals of chrome pelagics.
Blokes would stand shoulder to shoulder along the most productive stretches of sandy real estate when the bite was hot. It wasn’t unheard of for lone fishos to pluck triple digit scores of the feisty predators from the massive migration.
Sadly, not a lot went back in the ocean. Tubs, iceboxes and freezers were filled. While fresh tailor is not bad on the plate, it certainly doesn’t freeze well.
Happily, common sense has prevailed and today’s generation has figured out that we’re dealing with a finite resource and has done away the outdated famine mentality.
Fraser Island is for sure a fishy paradise, and it’s not all about the tailor run either. Depending how you time your visit, just about anything’s an option in these here waters.
BREAD AND BUTTER
Stretching 123km tip to tip and with a width over 20km, there’s a glut of fishable coastline to get lost in.
Virtually any shallow gutter or rip around the island’s sandy shores can produce impressive hauls of table fish, so it’s certainly not necessary to put in huge drives in order to secure a few tasty fillets for the pan.
The standard beach fishing approach works best. Scout out a likely looking patch of slightly deeper water for a session, but be prepared to move around to find the fish.
Surveying the beach at low tide will help you identify rips and channels that will fill up with water as the tide marches in.
Whiting, dart, bream, tarwhine and trevally will flood into these shallow intertidal gutters searching for beach worms, pippis, tiny crabs and any other invertebrates they can rustle up for a feed.
The best gutters are north from the Maheno wreck to Indian head and around Waddy Point. If you’re looking for a solid starting point, you wont go wrong in either area.
Spend the time to time to source a bucket of prime beach worm and pippi baits from the shoreline immediately prior to your session and success on the sandy suckers should be a sure thing.
THE TAILOR RUN
Anyone who can’t bag a haul of fat tailor from the sand up here in winter must be the type to struggle to pull off a mutually satisfactory interaction at a gentlemen’s establishment.
If you time your visit between about July and October you shouldn’t have any dramas tracking them down. 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side of the island is the place to be.
The frisky critters spawn in the shallows right along this stretch of beach and when they’re really riled up and feeding, you can spot the schools from a distance due to the splashing and dive bombing sea birds picking up scraps.
Tailor will happily wolf down most fresh or frozen fish flesh baits, but the most tried and true method is to lob out a gang-hooked pilchard.
Make sure you bring over a good supply of individually frozen West Oz pillies from the mainland, as island bought supplies can be substandard and overpriced.
You can rig your gang-hooked pillie up in front of a standard running sinker and swivel or a paternoster rig, and it can be a good idea to rig a short wire trace directly above your hooks to prevent bite-offs.
If you find a school of feeding fish within casting range, a more fun and active method of scoring a hook up is to cast metal slice lures out the back and rip them back through the midst of the frenzy.
The speed and flash should be enough to trigger plenty of bites, and lure-hooked fish seem to fight that bit harder. Bonus, you’ll never run out of bait.
Anyone who’s spent a bit of time on-island knows there’s no shortage of Noahs and men in grey suits in these waters. There’s big ones, small ones, huge ones, grey ones, brown ones, white and stripy ones.
Tourists are warned about swimming in Fraser’s coastal waters, and for good reason. While humans aren’t on the standard menu for the island’s marine taxman brigade, who wants to tempt fate when the Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and Lake Mackenzie beckon?
If you love the sound of a screaming drag and like to torture test your fishing gear and your back, Fraser Island’s resident shark population are only too happy to go mano a mano.
While little school sharks and smaller bronze whalers will occasionally snap up pillie baits meant for tailor, those specifically targeting sharks will generally use much heavier gear to lob out larger baits.
Fresh whole or butterflied tailor, tuna or mullet are all effective sharky tempters, as are slab baits from the same species.
Live tailor baits are especially popular as they can be readily caught on site and are a hit with all the big hard running predatory species.
Whether you daydream about beach fishing at the office all year, are a casual or complete first-timer, Fraser’s the spot to earn your surf casting stripes.
No matter the time of year or the conditions, make your way over to these hallowed white shores and you should have zero problems catching dinner while adding a handful of new species to your PB list.
If fishing’s on the agenda during your next Fraser mission, you’ll want to stock up on plenty of the essentials from the mainland prior to boarding the barge.
WHITING RIG: Size 1 or 2 long shank hooks rigged on a light 8-12lb fluorocarbon or mono leader. You’ll need a packet of small swivels and some little pea-sized ball or bean sinkers.
TAILOR RIG: Size 4/0 or 5/0 gang hooks are perfect for rigging up pilchard baits. Bring a good supply of premade wire traces, large ball sinkers, star or grapnel sinkers and larger swivels.
SHARK RIG: You’ll want to be running multi-hook rigs with a couple of 8/0, 10/0 or larger livebait style hooks in order to secure the hookup. Big star or grapnel sinkers will pin your bait to the bottom and you’ll need to be running 50lb+ braid on a large capacity setup, with 80lb+ mono shock leader plus heavy wire trace directly to the hooks.
Our quick guide to the gear you need to tackle Fraser Island’s epic coastline.
|Alvey Stealth C65S Combo||Alvey Charter Sport C82GVCN2 Combo||Alvey Gary Howard
GFX 6’6″ (2m) x SR100 Combo