The article below was first published summer 2009 in “Destination Fish Magazine” in the USA. It contains interesting information about Fraser Island and its fishing. Some edits have occurred to keep it updated.
Casting For Gold by Randall BryettThe fish stopped dead in it’s wildly zig zagging track. Its golden tail gently popped out of the water vertically swaying gently like a circus acrobat recovering from brief over rotation from flip to hand stand. With the sandy sediment clouding the water around the business end of the fish it was impossible to see what the big blubbery lips attached to the protrusible jaws were pumping out from the bottom of the flats, however, we knew the safe answer was yabbies or nippers. Yabbies or nippers are the local name for small burrowing Ghost shrimp that live on the sand and mud flats of Hervey Bay. These soft bodied crustaceans are a staple food of the Golden Trevally on the flats around Fraser Island although they also eat small baitfish and many other shrimp and crabs. Fooling these fish with an artificial when they are focused on pumping the burrows of yabbies is extremely difficult which confirms (1) that Yabbies must taste really good and (2) your casting has to be in the zone. Not just “on the money” accuracy, you better be in casting form to have a chance to get this gold in hand. My guide Paul said “wait”… The fishes tail slashed in excitement and then dropped beneath the water before continuing on a search and devour swim pattern. The first fish was followed closely by a second and they seemed to be working together in a patterned swim down the flat. Maybe one was picking off bait fish disoriented by the sediments being puffed up in the current or they were just snarfing critters that one or the other missed. A fisherman always likes to see two fish in competition for food as there is at least 50% more chance one will make a greedy mistake. Chances improve even further when there are more fish in the flats raiding party. Paul quipped “quick, lead him by a few feet” I cast the fly trying my best not to make too much movement at such close range. “Leave it, sit, hold on, now strip it slowly, stop…” Paul said. He followed quickly with “He’s got it!! Strip tight!”. Now all I had to do was land it. That is never a given with Goldens as often you may have just grabbed a little bit of the fleshy lips and not a deep hold with your hookset. The hard running, thudding fight of a Golden will soon sort out any weakness in the connection from hook to backing. All lines were fairly tied and after a huge initial power run, some solid head bumps and a little surface thrashing, the fish was brought to hand.
If that is not enough to get the juices flowing for most anglers a developing but not so reliable fishery for juvenile Black Marlin on the flats with fly gear, yes you just read that!, has been quietly having it’s secrets recently unlocked. Two free swimmers have been sight cast caught on the flats proper to my knowledge and a lot more teased to the boat. The shallow clear flats Marlin visit hold bait and seem to also play some key part in their life cycle and migration. These flats may be just as important as other land masses and reef systems Black Marlin visit for spawning purposes. The protected western side of Fraser Island, in particular Platypus Bay at the Northern end, is also a known nursery for Humpback whales between July and October. The small Black marlin visit in December which seems to mesh with a visiting spawning period of the Giants from September through December on the GBR and the push of the East Coast Current south. The Golden Trevally are active from October through May.
This trip was dedicated to Goldens on fly and although our back-up plan was a nearby lake in Paul’s freshwater vessel for Barramundi, we would only take this very appealing option if the North easterly winds got too strong. The amount of fish on the flats was too big a draw card to not play our dealt hand. With several good Golden trevally hooked over a three day period, this the last portion of a month’s fishing felt like I was peaking for medal contention! We were tested to the fullest at times by fish that refused to be enticed away from tailing on the nippers. At other times fish came very easy exemplified one early morning when a fish gobbled a deceiver dropped beside him in full sand pumping mode. The warm up fishing provided by a trip to Queensland’s famous Cape York for Permit followed by fishing the Great Barrier reef for Giant trevally helped my casting accuracy, distance and timing. All that practice certainly helped me hook up with some gorgeous Gold at Fraser Island.
Paul Dolan can help arrange accommodations that will suit any budget. He does practice catch and release but if you wish to keep a food fish you can. Golden Trevally are all released. Paul uses artificial lures or flies either by use of spinning tackle, bait caster or fly rod. Handling of fish is done with extreme care as he knows that the fish are too valuable to be caught only once! You can find out more about fishing this area at Paul’s website http://www.frasercoastsportfishing.com
Bring Your Camera!
flying foxes, snakes, goannas, wallabies , possums, dingoes and
freshwater turtles. The headlands and sand dunes offer some of the most
magnificent panoramic views over the ocean and surf. Whales and other
marine creatures such as Dugongs grazing on sea grasses often are close
to shore and in clear waters. Giant Kauri and Hoop Pines tower over the
rainforest of strangler figs, vines and orchids and crystal clear
creeks flow as they have for thousands of years.
Fraser Island has developed over a period of approximately 700,000 years by a series of overlapping dune systems.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world stretching 125 km long and covering an area of 166,038ha.
40 freshwater dune lakes occur on the island and is home to half of the known ‘perched’ lakes in the world.
The dingo’s (native dogs) on Fraser are regarded as the purest strain of dingo remaining in Australia.
Fraser Island was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770.
Fraser Island was World Heritage Listed in December 1992.
The Island was named after Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked there in 1836.
Eli Creek on the eastern side of Fraser pours about 120 million litres of fresh water a day into the ocean.
Lake McKenzie’s beach is considered amongst the world’s top ten beaches.
The water is so pure and nutrient free in the freshwater lakes that they
only support a few species of plants and have two or three fish species