Fraser Island is well known for it’s natural beauty, pristine beaches and fantastic fishing both on the beach and offshore. When it comes to offshore fishing from Fraser Island most people think of two things. Great fishing and a logistical nightmare. Planing a trip to Fraser Island isn’t an easy task especially when staying for extended periods of time. Towing a boat up to Fraser Island can be a real challenge at times but with common sense and a support vehicle the challenge can turn into a straight forward process. Sometime last year there was talk between mates about doing a trip to Fraser Island around sept 2010 and wasn’t long before plans were put in place. One of my usual crew members Macca was in the process of ordering a 6.0m Seafarer Victory powered by a 175 Suzuki 4 stroke which was to sit on a custom made alloy trailer built by Riptide Alloy boats. This would be our fishing platform for our two-week stay and was only fully finished weeks before we left. This trip consisted of 8 blokes and 3 boats sharing a house at orchid beach and we arrived at the house without any problems and settled in well with a few drinks and yarns to start the trip off. The following day was blowing so we went for a drive up to the sandy cape and caught some tailor for bait ready for the next day of offshore fishing.
The first day out we were greeted with reasonably flat seas and showers hugging the coastline. We headed SE of Waddy Point down to an area we had caught some good fish in the past and wasn’t long before Foxy and myself had a solid hook up and two nice estuary cod hit the deck. Next drift Macca hooks up to a good fish and we waited in suspense to see what his first fish in the new boat would be. Well we couldn’t believe it when a solid Large Mouth Nannygai hit the surface and safely in the net making Macca one happy man.
Things quietened down and the wind had picked up so we stayed in close and moved down just past the southern end of the Gardner Banks. We found a few good shows of fish and the next couple hours yielded a great variety of reefies and many unstoppable beasts to keep things interesting. With 15-20 knots of SE wind blowing and a steady stream of rain now falling we moved a little wider where we had pulled some good reds in the past but unfortunately the current was roaring and with time getting on we headed back to the gutter satisfied with our first days fishing on the closer grounds.
A couple days later we headed north of Waddy point with the plans for an overnighter and after a couple hours searching found some new ground that looked promising. After a few drifts it produced some good red throat, parrot and hussar but we expected a little more. On the third drift we came just off the back of the reef when foxy hooked a good fish and seconds later I did as well. We were both confident they were reds and minutes later we both had a couple nice reds flopping around on the floor. Another drift and this time a triple hook up had us all smiling as we battled with some more reds of a similar size to the first two. We knew from the small show on the sounder that it wasn’t a big school of reds and this was confirmed several drifts later when no more reds were hooked.
We had more of look around and fished another spot a few km’s away. The fishing was quiet but Macca and Foxy both pulled some good Blue Maori cod before we continued on looking for some new ground.
With time getting on we decided to come back to the spot we caught the reds on with the plan to anchor on it before sun set. By now it was late afternoon and we opted for a few drifts before anchoring. We just started the drift and as soon as my mullet fillet combined with a pilchard hit the bottom I got slammed. After some powerful runs I gently played the fish knowing that it wasn’t in front or close to any large structure he could bust me off on. I knew it was a good fish and the powerful runs this fish produced to the top had me thinking it was a good red until it hit the surface and rolled on its side to display that it was beautiful big long nose emperor.
That fish alone would have made my trip, as it was one of my target species I was hoping for along with a reef Jack and green job fish. Just before dark we threw the anchor out and caught the odd hussar, moses perch and Spangled Emperor but things were a bit slow and the wind had picked up.
Macca went for lay down but I was keen to go do some serious hunting further north but first stopping off at another spot close by that we had pulled a few fish off during the day. First drop foxy and myself got slammed soon as we hit bottom and I wasn’t gaining much line on the Shimano Tyrnos loaded with 55lb Schneider line and really put the new Wilsons 15-24kg Texallium through it’s paces trying to get the fish out of the bottom. Foxy had a solid fish as well and pulled a beautiful 73cm pearlie in to the boat but I knew I had something much different but just couldn’t pick it. This fish fought all the way to the surface and with it not far from the surface could clearly feel the strong tail beats making me think it was an amberjack. I couldn’t have been any further wrong when a big Mangrove Jack hit the surface and safety into the net. I was stoked to have picked up two of the three species I wanted to catch this trip all in less then a couple hours.
We had a few more drops on this spot but couldn’t loose a bait and decided to head north in search of new ground. I had some caffeine and settled in for a long night of sounding north up along the breaksea spit. Since 7pm that night my eyes had been glued to the sounder and by12.30am in the morning we had covered a pretty large area and I could clearly see the Breaksea light flashing in the distance. Up till that point we had found very little for the effort but soon started coming across massive pinnacles covered in bait with large predatory fish through out them. Taking one look at the sounder all I could think was sharks sharks and more sharks but we had a quick drop and all seemed very quiet until I went to wind my bait in which got smashed about 15m off the bottom. It peeled line off at a great speed and just when I thought I slowed him down it took off and I just couldn’t turn it. Eventually it stopped and it soon began to feel like a dead weight, which indicated this fish had been sharked. It turned out to be a big GT head and going by the bite radius it must have been a bloody big shark.
A quick sound of this area showed lots of large pinnacles up to 15 plus metres high and although this area looked impressive it wasn’t the type of area I was looking for. Areas such as these with massive pinnacles running up along the top of shelf aren’t the best areas for reef fishing and in particular red emperor. These areas are also more commonly found and fished by fishermen and sharks can become a major problem in these large reef areas. I continued sounding around in various areas and close to 3am in the morning found a nice pinnacle about 8m high with a good show of fish and bait. Straight away we started catching hussar, moses perch, spangled emperor, cod and figured this spot may produce some good fish if we persisted. It didn’t take long before some bigger fish moved in and foxy pulled a nice snapper followed by a good Red. I hooked up long after foxy pulled his red and felt that I had a very solid red as well but unlike foxy I had hooked mine in front of the pinnacle and with the wind and current pushing us up over the structure I just couldn’t get him up enough to avoid dragging my line over the structure and seconds later it busted off. We pulled a good range of reefies and by 4am we were both exhausted with the lack of sleep and food. Having a mini crunchie bar each for the whole afternoon and night wasn’t the most filling dinner I have had but hey the fishing made up for it.
We both decided to lay down for half an hour or so and get back up when the sun started to let some light off on the horizon. By now Macca was ready for some fishing as well and we all caught more reefies on dawn but things weren’t super hot so we moved on and started heading back towards waddy point. We didn’t get far when we crossed another 7-8mtr rise with a great show of fish on it and lines were deployed. By now there was a good 20 knots of NE blowing and Macca was doing a great job backing up on the spot trying to keep our baits in the strike zone for as long as possible. Foxy was first to hook up and the solid fish had him working hard to get it off the bottom. It turned out to be a good blue maori cod and the next few drops resulted in some solid Samson fish and a couple of reds close to 13kg. Things quietened down but this spot looked to have some real potential and I felt that we could pull some more quality Reds from this spot if we got the chance.
We headed for back to waddy point happy with our efforts and findings in areas that were mostly new to us. A couple days later the weather turned on some magic conditions and we had a real urge to head back to the spot we had last caught some quality fish off. As thought this spot didn’t disappoint and quickly produced some trophy fish but an unfortunate incident to yours truly saw our day of fishing end short just as it began.
Read part 2 of our Fraser Island 2 week trip to find out all the action.
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