The 25th Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo was once again a huge success and although the weather was pretty ordinary to say the least most enjoyed their stay. It was a huge effort to finish off the new boat well enough to take to Fraser and we were still working on it the afternoon before we left. We headed up on the Wednesday before the comp with a crew of five, which included Dad, Andy, Dave “Foxy” and Rob “Macca”. We took three 4×4’s which included foxys new V8 turbo diesel Landcruiser Ute which had the towing duties of the boat and it did an excellent job with plenty of power to burn when required. After a few hurdles at Hook Point and some rock hopping further up the Island we arrived at Indian Head to find the off beach track the best I had ever seen making the crossing a breeze.
After going through so much effort to get a nice paint job on the boat it was a bit of worry pulling it through the tracks and it wasn’t until we got to the famous up hill left hand bend a couple of km’s past the Champagne Pools that we had troubles. The custom made alloy trailer under the new boat has a very lengthy draw bar and combine that with 7mtrs of boat and you soon find that there is a considerable distance between the trailer wheels and 4×4 so turning corners is not easy especially when you are on a sand/bush track with vertical banks beside them. Knowing that others had also run into trouble taking this corner in the past we took the corner as wide as possible but this was not an easy task and the hassles began. We ended up snatching up to one of our support vehicles and after some great driving and manoeuvring from Macca and Foxy we managed to pull the boat around the corner with the vertical bank containing stumps/sticks etc only an inch or so off making the paint job look very second hand. Upon arriving we soon found out that lots of other boats had come unstuck on the same corner and these people weren’t so lucky sustaining considerable damage to paint jobs making their start to the comp less then ideal. We went back to the tracks the next day to help some friends out with big Riptide boats and had some major hassles getting “Bella” through the troubled corner that lots had issues getting around.
Unfortunately the wind blew for the first couple of days but by the Saturday it was all systems go with an ease in wind. The gutter this year was the best you could ask for and made for an easy launch and retrieve, which was one less thing you had to worry about. With the weather less then desirable containing rain and 15-20 knots of SE wind it was a good test for the new boat and it lapped up the conditions comfortably with the large hardtop and cab space offering good protection from the elements. We headed SE of Waddy Point to fish lots of spots I had found in the past and a notable difference compared to previous years was that there was next to no current. With 15-20 knots of SE wind blowing and no current to slow the drift down I found myself backing up on spots trying to keep the boys in the strike zoon for as long as possible and although this only allowed me to fish for about 15 minutes out of the whole 4 days fishing it was well worth it and we soon started catching Reds, Coronation Trout, Maori Cod, Red Throat, Parrot and an Amberjack that tested out Andy’s new Shimano electric reel.
Andy had his arm torn off in a horrific work accident a few years back and whilst his arm was reattached it has limited movement making fishing difficult with a conventional style rod and reel and although he can fish with conventional gear it is not an easy task and inflames his injury so purchasing an electric reel was a great choice and really made for good viewing when the digital display showed the depth that the fish was at and to see the depth reading go back and forth on the display during the fight was pretty amusing. Although the day produced some nice fish it was some what slow so I knew I had to go find new ground on the next day to better our results.
On our second day fishing which was the first day of the comp we headed north and fished a few isolated patches east of the sandy cape in 40mtrs of water and this accounted for a couple of nice Reds, Pearlies, Maori cod, Amberjack and a fine Morwong that Foxy caught and seems to do from year to year but this time it was on camera much to his disgust. After the spectacular Morwong catch we continued our way north fishing any lumps and bumps we found but it was slow so I told the boys I would go on a good hunt a fair way north while they all had a rest (soft blokes they are).
After hours of sounding I found a nice show which was a reasonably large reef about 8 mtrs high covered in fish and bait and looked like pure shark country. Baits such as dead yakkas, slimies and mullet fillets were deployed on both paternoster and floating style rigs and straight away the rods buckled over and all the hard work soon had become forgotten about as a horse Coronation Trout, Red Throat Sweetlip and Red Emperor came over the side. We continued to do several more drifts and the the quality of all the fish was excellent with more thumping Coronation Trout, Red Emperor, Pearlies, Red throat, Spangled emperor and Maori Cod all hitting the deck very quickly and unbelievably not one shark to give us grief. With very little current we threw the anchor out and caught some more fish before we drifted just a fraction off the mark and with time getting on we thought we better start making our way back in to weigh some fish in but we had one last drop on an old mark closer in which produced another nice Red to finish the day off nicely.
At the weigh in we had a nice Red Throat of 4.34 kg that saw Foxy hit the leader board earning him a daily prize but got knocked off by some beautiful fish as the comp progressed. The next day I had similar ideas to the day before but this time I would head south of Waddy and try our luck in some new areas down there. After pushing our way through 15-20 knots of sloppy conditions I arrived in the area I wanted to be and after fishing some nice shows and good looking ground with poor results I moved away from that area and started searching in an area that seemed to hold very little life and no longer then 2 seconds after I said to the lads this is were we need to find some ground, bang a good show appears on the sounder. Seeing a 5mtr rise with a good show of fish in the middle of know where sure gets the blood pumping and the first drop resulted in a cracker Blue Maori Cod and a nice Red followed by another Red and Coronation Trout on the following drop.
I couldn’t resist dropping a line myself on the next drift but the boys were all pulling fish up and just as I got to the bottom the words of “get me the net” had me running around the boat netting everyone’s fish (Reds, Hussar) whilst my rod was bent over backwards in the rod holder with a nice fish on it. Soon enough I managed to get to my rod and begin pulling the fish to the surface, which turned out to be a nice Red and once again another fish goes to the rod holder. Another drop and this time all four of the crew hooked up on nice fish and we soon had four nice Reds flopping around on the deck at the same time which is a fantastic site.
The fishing slowed up very quickly with a Coronation Trout, Hussar and Maori Cod finishing off the session and I didn’t see the point of hanging around waiting for the fish to come back on the chew so we moved on. I headed out towards the shelf and worked north dropping on any shows we found along the way and this accounted for a mix bag of reef fish including some nice sized Red Throat Sweetlip.
Day 3 of the comp saw us head for some old ground that we had pulled some big Red Throat to 5.2kg and a 16.4kg red in the past. The area has an abundance of large pinnacles/ledges and seems to produce some very nice fish but the fishing can be very slow so we expected it to be a boring day with the hope of finding a trophy fish. We persisted and persisted with only the odd reefie coming over the side during the morning and our targeted fish being the Red Throat Sweetlip was caught but unfortunately not the size to match the leaders on the board. Just after midday the wind started to pick up making conditions very ordinary so we slowly fished our way back towards Waddy making this our last day out fishing for the comp.
The wind increased as the week progressed and by Thursday the weather was cyclonic with winds reaching 50 knots and heavy rain to match. Staying in a house was real blessing for us but for those who were camping meant they really copped a flogging in the terrible conditions and some had no choice but to leave before the comp finished. With people leaving the island on the Friday night and reports of bad beach conditions we were a little worried the trip home may contain some unwanted excitement but heading down the beach Saturday morning was a breeze and we couldn’t have asked for a better run. It was good to get home without any dramas during the trip and the only damage we sustained was a couple of torn decals on the side of boat thanks to a cranky albatross wanting to eat bait destined for a Red. Once again another great year and thanks to those who make Fraser Island such an enjoyable event.
Riptide Alloy Boats sitting pretty on the beach at Waddy Point
Fraser is very harsh on your equipment. This trailer had the front axle & mud gaurds destroyed getting through the tracks.
The house we stayed in and all the lads having dinner.
Massive Japanese Sea Bream which is different to an iodine bream
When the weather turned nasty
On the barge coming home. The operator made the other boat park very close to mine and after explaining he will be paying for any damages caused to my newly painted boat he stood there holding them apart while the barge rocked it’s way back to the mainland.