Beginners guide to offshore fishing: Fraser Island

Beginners guide to fishing offshore Fraser Island

Well if you are anything like me, the lure of big fish stimulates your senses to a point that you want to plan a trip to a place you haven’t fished before.

For people who live on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Brisbane, the next logical progression is Double Island Point and offshore Fraser Island.

In this article I will try to give you the basics of what you need to know to have a safe and productive trip.

Firstly the close reefs off Double Island Point; you have a couple of options here.

Beach launches for those with the smaller boats or out via the wide bay bar. If taking the beach option you will first need to navigate the rocks at rainbow beach and travel up the beach into the corner of the bay up towards the point, not recommended for people inexperienced in beach launching.

My preferred option is to go via the wide bay bar, it looks worse than it is, if you’re not silly and fish when weather conditions and swell are favourable, you will have no problems.

Most times you will not encounter a breaking wave as the low tide depth at the shallowest spot is around 5 metres, that being said current flow is strong and it can get a bit messy with chop on the bigger tides.

The other option is the fisherman’s gutter which is the short cut from Inskip Point direct to Double Island Point.

I recommend if it’s your first time following the charter boats if taking this option, it’s definitely worth considering on the way home if you have a strong northerly blowing as it tends to be reasonably protected.

There are three marks or waypoints you need to line up for a safe crossing, these points can be obtained from the Tin Can Bay coast guard, and you should always log your trip with them.

So with a safe bar crossing behind us, grab a rod with a bait jig and have a sound around or look for birds in the 20m – 30m area just outside the bar and gather some live bait if it’s available.

This will pay dividends for you when trying to catch trophy fish as you head wider during the day.

The first area most people will try will be the pinnacles only a few kilometres NE of the headland (Pinnacles GPS Mark 25 54 085s 153 12 875e).

This area is home to all the usual reef fish and pelagics and goes well in winter for snapper.

It does get a workout but nothing like the close reefs further south, you can rely on a feed here though.

The guys in the know get great trout around this area and big grass sweetlip.

This area comes up to around 30m and drops off to 45-50m where the flat ground away from the pinnacles is home to some large snapper and some huge nannygai if you can find schools of bait.

Double Island reefs continue north east from the point and finding ground is not a problem.

There are some good starter marks on the Fish and Boat website but it’s what you find in-between them that will see you putting good fish in the esky.

The ground up to about 20km out will find you heaps of ups and downs, patches of wire weed and rubble grounds, you name it it’s there.

Beyond the 20km mark you hit a bit more isolated reef and pinnacles; this is your best chance of finding the prized red emperor.

If I’m planning a day/night fish, I will often start early morning out from Double Island Point and head north east out towards the shelf looking for ground or structure that holds bait, this is where I like to drop my live bait down.

If the bite is not electric I tend to move on.

By the middle of the day we usually find ourselves NE of the Wide Bay bar and continue heading N-Nw staying in the 50m zone looking for any little rise or lump that holds bait.

If you start catching cod and other species like reds, search around these areas a little more as you are fishing areas that are not getting a lot of fishing pressure.

Remember the wider you go, the more likely you are to encounter the strong south bound current which sometimes makes it unfishable.

If you get everything going your way and spend a good 24 hours or more on the water, you can cover a lot of ground and find yourself well up along Fraser Island just short of the Gardner banks.

I tend to find this area fishes well as it’s out of reach for the day-trippers, and the hard-core guys out of Waddy Point are spoilt for choice and have closer spots they would fish.

Although I have only managed a handful of trips up around this area 70 to 100km north of the bar, it has been well worth the trip as we have caught reds in sight of land and huge grass sweetlip over 5kg and green job fish that are plain scary.

Fuel is the biggest concern for most people and knowing your consumption is critical.

I have a 6.3m plate boat with a 175 Suzuki four stroke that consumes about 20L an hour, I have a 320L tank so I have 16 hours of run time and at an average speed of 20 knots that allows me to travel some 320nm or 590 km in a trip.

Not that I do but it’s nice to know you have spare. The trip outlined here according to my GPS was about 170 nm all up counting searching, drifts and bait collecting etc.

If you are fishing this area and intend to go wide, you will notice the lack of other boats so make sure you have all the necessary safety gear including a good radio.

Winter months are the best as the current is less and so is the chance of storms. Another good option for your first time is to do your first trip with one of the local charter guys like Greg Pearce of Double Island Point charters.

The knowledge these guys have about when and where to fish and what weather conditions will cause you problems is invaluable.

Tight lines
Peter Ford