After a very unimpressive start to the year, the action is starting to hot up along Fraser Island’s ocean beach, and over the next three months it’s can only get better.
No doubt we will continue to see some bouts of unfriendly weather but with a normal winter pattern dominated by offshore winds, conditions should be close to ideal.
The annual tailor run has made a modest start but should be well under way this month. There have been huge schools working the baitfish just out of casting range beyond the break. With calming offshore winds, baitfish move into the beach gutters and the tailor follow.
Anglers will need to be satisfied with fishing from the beach during August and September when the annual closure is in force around Indian and Waddy headlands.
During these next months you can expect to find tailor just about anywhere along the beach. North of Happy Valley through to Indian Head, north of Waddy Point through to Ngkala Rocks and Sandy Cape are usually most reliable. Look for gutters and holes with white water washing into them from the outer banks.
There couldn’t be a Fraser Island beach report without a mention of ever reliable dart. Even in the conditions that we have endured so far this year, they have given anglers something to chase. Those anglers targeting tailor often have unkind words about dart as they pounce on just about any bait that is offered. However they provide some great sport for those using lighter tackle.
The next few months should also see plenty of jew (mulloway) taken along the ocean beach. You might recall my mentioning the big run of small jew last year. It was common to see small groups of anglers beaching up to 20 jew on a single evening, but few made the new legal length of 75cm. Fish just making the limit weighed in at between 3-3.5kg. Anglers doing the right thing were seen carefully cradling undersize jew back into water.
It is going to be interesting to see if any of those 55-75cm fish have grown up a little since last year. The increase in legal minimum length from 45-75cm continues to be a topic of some controversy. Most anglers, myself included, feel that an increase was justified but not to that extent. After all, the bag limit of two should be enough to ensure that the take of jew is controlled well enough.
It is interesting to note the change in size and bag limits once one crosses the Tweed River; the NSW legal size is 45cm with a bag limit of five, with only two fish permitted over 70cm.
It should be no surprise that this month’s feature fish family is the mulloway and its relatives or look-alikes.
The mulloway is the most common, and largest, found around most of the Australian coastline. It adapts to living in a great variety of habitats, including offshore reefs, rocky headlands, ocean beaches, estuaries, rivers and extending into brackish waters. It has a wide range that extends through waters of Africa, India, Indonesia, Australia, China and Japan. Mulloway are known to reach 2m in length and weigh in excess of 70kg in South Africa.
The closely related black jewfish largely replaces the mulloway across northern Australia. It rarely visits beaches, and is rarely recorded at Fraser Island. It favours estuaries and river systems with particular liking for structures such as piers, wharves and beacons. Like the mulloway it is regulated by a 75cm length and a bag limit of two fish.
The little jewfish can commonly be mistaken as a juvenile mulloway. It is common in many of the river systems as far south as the Brisbane River. Until the mid ‘50s, the little jewfish, known simply as ‘perch’, was plentiful in the Brisbane River where anglers lined the banks taking bags of this fine little fish.
Closest to Fraser Island, it is common in the Susan and Mary rivers. Some Fraser Island anglers have been known to assume that small mulloway were little jewfish, a tempting assumption considering it is unregulated. A similar jewfish, the jewelfish has a minimum legal length of 45cm.
Also often mistaken for mulloway, the teraglin is well known by anglers visiting reefs off the New South Wales and southern Queensland coasts. Trag, as they are often known, do not venture into surf zone, but are common over reefs not far offshore. They can be readily distinguished from mulloway as the tail has a concave margin where that of the mulloway is convex. Teraglin have length and bag limits of 38cm and five fish.
Last month I reported on the deplorable condition of many of the island’s tracks due to the prolonged wet season. As I write, the main access from Woongoolbver Creek to Eurong has been graded and is now passable. The road from Happy Valley to Moon Point remains closed beyond its junction with the Northern Road.
Some good news has come in regarding Happy Valley Resort. The establishment has been sold and it is reported that there is the intention to have the accommodation units up and running again soon. It is also hoped that leases the shop, bar and restaurant will be taken up soon. I am sure all regular island visitors will be happy to see the “valley” back to its best.Reads: 1928