Offshore Fraser Island 2006 “Where to search”

What was originally going to be a week away with the family soon become two weeks after I was offered the use of the campsite and boat of the boys I drove the boat for during one of the Fraser Island fishing competitions. I headed up one week earlier then planed to fish offshore with my Father and my mate Foxy before returning home and collecting the family and heading back up for the second week to take it easy and enjoy our holiday. Chris the owner of the boat and a couple of his mates were to set up the campsite at Waddy Point before we got there to get a good spot. They would then head home just after our arrival before returning a few weeks later for their holiday.

We arrived to a great campsite and the boat fuelled up ready to go with a weather prediction of reasonable weather for the first few days. For most getting to Fraser Island is hard enough and an exercise that most will only do a limited amount of times during their life so it would only make sense to prepare yourself best as possible and make the most of this great place in what could be a very short window of fishing time depending on weather conditions.

The northern area of Fraser Island is an area I had spent very limited time near so preparation would be the key in helping me find decent fish in the shortest period of time. My preparation begins with working out GPS co-ordinates on areas of interest from a sunmap, which clearly shows differences of depth readings and major reef areas throughout the map. These are great starting points and with a little bit of sounding around should find you some decent reef but keep in mind that many people have been doing this for years and that these areas will more then likely have been fished pretty hard. Using these areas as starting marks is the best idea and it’s a matter of putting the time in by sounding around working your way around and away from these areas of interest in hope of finding a productive spot.

Targeting particular species also needs some planning and it’s important you choose the area of interest to the relevant species of fish you target. Fishing areas such as the North and South Gardner Banks which are large reef areas situated in reasonably shallow water is home to an abundance of fish and ideally suited to fish such as Parrot, Red Throat Emperor and Coronation Trout. While these areas can just about produce any type of fish they are not always ideally suited to certain species and finding reefs in deeper water away from these shallower reefs can produce species such as Red Emperor, Pearl Perch and Snapper, which are better suited to isolated reefs in deeper water.

For the majority of people who fish Fraser Island the prize fish to catch is the mighty Red Emperor and this would be no different for us so for the first day we would head to areas SE of Indian Head where the reefs are a lot more isolated and the depth is around 45-65m which is ideal Red country. This was an area we fished during the last trip so we had a few marks to try but we were really after new ground among these areas that would hopefully produce the goods.

The first area we fished was a spot that produced some nice reds and Large Mouth Nannygai last trip and after the first few drifts we could only manage one regular sized Large Mouth before the cobia gave us hell so we thought we would head wider towards the shelf and target some reds. I sounded over a nice 8 metre ledge which had a good show of fish holding hard up against the SE corner but we found the current ragging and this made the fishing almost impossible and after some patience and persistence managed some Reds and Red Throat Emperor before heading back in close away from the current.

Now knowing the current was running so hard the decision was made to fish the closer grounds SE of Indian Head where it is less affected from the stronger currents. We fished our way south about 25km only to find the fishing slow and very little shows on any structure we found so we thought we would slowly sneak wider and look for some new country even though the current would make fishing very difficult. The usual reefies were caught on various spots along the way and we found ourselves about 10km from the shelf where it looked like good Red ground and Dave hooks up on the first drop and pulls a Snapper to add to the mix along with some Hussar on the following drifts. 


The fishing was slow and the life on the sounder was not real exciting so we thought we would battle the current and work our way north back towards areas east of Indian head out near the shelf. We caught a good mixed bag working the reefs in the 55m area before heading off the shelf and fishing areas in the 95-120m that produced good numbers of Pearl Perch which was hard work in the strong current so we called it quits and headed back to Waddy Point to refuel and restock on bait for the following day.  

It was evident that the fish weren’t feeding well so it was time to go hunting for some new ground and this time we would head N-NE of Waddy point which was an area I had never fished before and had some interest in. Once again I punched marks into the GPS of areas I had worked out off the Sunmap and I started about 20km NE of Waddy and sounded my way north looking for good structure. Along the way we found some fantastic looking Pinnacles/reefs with some spots over 10-15m high which produced good Coronation Trout, Parrot, Red Throat, Hussar and some ripper Blue Maori Cod.

As we continued our way north even further we found some massive rises and ledges which produced the odd reefie and Sharks but from just the small amount of time I had spent in this area I thought this was not ideal Red Emperor country as the reef was just to rough and there was just to much of it which better suited the species we had caught along the way and also Shark’s.

With the conditions pretty good we just kept sounding our way north until we were about 50km North of Waddy Point up among the Sandy Cape Shoals. I headed in away from the shelf in hope of finding some more isolated smaller reefs and soon found a nice fish show on a 5m rise. The next hour produced an Amberjack and what seemed to be endless amounts of Hussar and Maori Cod before an unexpected 15-20knot SE picked up and made for a hard slog back to Waddy Point.

The third day looked to be our last with a prediction of 25knots of easterly wind predicted to come through some time that night so we headed about 15km SE of Indian Head and fished our way 40km in the same direction where we found plenty of ground and caught the usual reefies and also a small Black Marlin which nailed a floating pillie close to the boat. It put on a small aerial show and after some happy snaps and hook removal it was returned to fight another day.


 After a decent amount of sounding around we come across a show on a small piece of reef about 4m high and which produced some Reds and nice Pearlies as well. By now it was about midday and the current had seemed to have dropped off so we headed NE back towards an area which looked to be great looking Red ground South of the South Gardner Banks.

We arrived to find the current had certainly dropped off so this was our small window to have a decent go for some Reds. After having a good look around there were three spots which looked promising although there wasn’t much showing on them we were confident that our patience and persistence would pay off. The first spot was a nice ledge and we worked it pretty hard which did result in the odd Red but it was tough going so we moved inside it were there was a small isolated reef only a couple metres high. With some of the spots so small in size you need to be precise with your drift pattern and although the current had dropped, anchoring was still not an option and I had to hold the boat in reverse at all times to keep the baits in the strike soon that little bit longer. It didn’t take long and the boys were hooked up on solid fish and Dad pulls a nice little red and Dave pulls a corker onto the deck moments later as well.

A few more drifts results in Dad pulling another solid Red and myself pulling red as well but with a 8-10 foot Tiger Shark up its butt which for once didn’t get eaten. It soon went quiet on that spot as well so we moved to the next rock close by which also produced a few more Reds but with time getting on we headed for Waddy Point stopping at one last spot on the inside of the South Gardner Banks which produced another nice Red and Parrot before getting in just before dark.

As predicted the weather turned nasty for the following week and a half but this gave me a chance to fish the beach and catch endless amounts of Tailor with the best going 68cm and 3.08kg, which was fun and good change.  It was once again a great experience to fish the Reefs out from Fraser Island and fish an area, which offers such a massive array of species that can be targeted by planning your trip and fishing the correct areas to best suit individual species.

We covered just under 600km on the water in 3 days and we spent more time traveling then fishing but the rewards make it all that worthwhile and prepares you better for future fishing trips.