In this article I thought I would write about fishing over night off Double Island Point/Fraser Island. For some this sounds like a daunting process while for others it’s just second nature and a perfect way to target quality fish. The area off Double Island Point/Fraser Island is home to an array of species with a good percentage being of the tropical kind. Generally speaking the dusk and dawn periods are when these and other fish tend to feed best so it only makes sense to take full advantage of this and stay out over night. Many aspects come in to play when doing over nighters such as the boat, crew and skipper knowledge. Some skippers get very disorientated while driving around offshore at night especially when they try to position the boat to anchor or drift a mark. Some crew get sea sick when they no longer have a horizon line to keep there eyes on so if you can get past those steps then its just a matter of planning where and what to fish for as the sun disappears.
Working out where to anchor for the night can be a tough decision and you won’t always make the right one either. Everyone has an idea what species they wish to chase so you must adapt your decision making to suit the species and weather conditions also. There are two main fish species off DI/Fraser that require different tactics to target them successfully and these are Red Emperor and Snapper. Most other species will fall around these two fish so I either target one or the other. When I’m chasing Reds I will generally head fairly wide (at least 40km from the bar) but unfortunately what comes with fishing these wider grounds is strong currents. During the day light hours you can easily drift fish with these currents not knowing just how strong the current is but come late afternoon when you need to anchor on some structure you will often find the current is strong and at times un fishable. This can be frustrating and instead of fishing the afternoon bite period you will be more than likely traveling in a hurry for closer grounds, which is the last thing you want to be doing so make plans well in advance.
The type of ground I like to anchor on at night for reds comprises of a few features. Ideally what I’m looking for is a nice pinnacle or rubble patch holding good amounts of bait. If I have caught legal or even undersized reds on the spot before during the day then this is also good sign not to be ignored. Generally when your further then 40km east of the bar or sometimes less when further north off Fraser you well tend to find the Hussar in greater numbers and these fish seem to hang in similar areas that Red Emperor do.
Now for Snapper I will fish in a lot closer to Double Island Point or Fraser and look for large pinnacles and reefs. I fish for them as far as 35km out with some large shoals close to the shelf also producing some great snapper. I do much prefer fishing for snapper around the 15km area off DI and up along Fraser. Once again I like there to be good amounts of bait holding on the spot before anchoring on it and believe this to be extremely important. As the sun comes close to setting the fish begin to move and become active. This is where it’s important to find good structure/bait and anchor as close as possible to it. Doing this gives you the best chance to catch quality fish right on the dusk bite period as all the fish in the area begin to gather around the reef structure and start feeding. It is also a time when shy fish that have seen your baits drowning in front of them will find it to hard to resist any longer and will also begin to feed. Often the bite period will slow down about an hour or so after the Sun has disappeared depending on location/ species or if a large school of fish has moved in.
Between the bite periods of dusk and dawn can be many hours of boredom and what might seem like a deserted piece of reef beneath you can lurk some prized fish. These prized fish are generally big for a reason and some would say their feeding habits differ from other fish as they tend to feed during all hours of the night when most other fish have shut down and fishermen have hit the sack. You may have fished the same piece of reef for years with very little success at night but a change in normal practice and fishing these slow night periods may very well produce quality fish. Patience and a very keen attitude is what is required in these situations and standing there holding onto a rod during all hours of the night/morning might have you saying this is crazy but it can pay off.
If your super keen then pull the anchor after the dusk bite period has ended and go searching for fish. This can work very well and most times you will find the quality fish roaming the reefs and not the rubbish little pickers. It’s also a time when you often stumble across good schools of Red Emperor feeding and the effort can well worth it but be prepared for long hours and lots of patience.
With the next bite period being dawn once again you need to prepare for this and basically it’s a reverse of the dusk period. If you have been anchored up all night then there might be a good chance that you have moved off the spot due to a dragging anchor, wind direction or current change. If this has happened then reposition the boat well before run rise or move to another spot so you can anchor and wait for the fish to start feeding again. Common sense and some basic planning can see your catch rate improve and hopefully some trophy fish being caught during your over night trips.