Over the years, I was fortunate to have spent a lot of time at Fraser Island or, as we now know it, K’gari.
The memories I have of my time on the island seem endless and often involve fish.
From an 18kg longtail tuna hooked at the boat, to a solo session bag out on red emperor to 13kgs.
A 54cm mangrove jack caught on a beachworm with a 10’ surf rod and Alvey reel at Wathumba.
Countless tailor sessions, great reef fishing and brilliant days with the family in the sun, K’gari truly is paradise and a place that will always be close to my heart.
Our most recent trip to the island was over the summer school holidays, where we were joined by several close friends and their children.
My good friend Michael – who now resides with his family in Florida – was on the trip, fresh off a week at Moreton Island.
Mick has long been visiting Moreton and this was his first K’gari experience.
With nine kids under six staying at our Orchid Beach home, we certainly had our hands full, however the weather was brilliant and our days were spent at the beach, with kids swimming in the lagoons on the inside of Waddy Point for hours on end.
Between visits to Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and Indian Head, we ate, drank and generally enjoyed the long brilliant days in the sun that K’gari can provide.
Dingo sightings were common, with three residents of the Waddy Point dunes cruising up and down the beach among the large number of holiday makers.
One perfect afternoon was spent climbing the largest sand dune in sight – no mean feat for so many small children – of course, some of the fathers had to carry 2 and 3-year olds on their shoulders!
Overall, a magic few days, though as heads hit pillows on our last night on the island, some unfinished business remained – a fish or two!
Having spent a week or so on the island prior to our friends arriving, I knew that finding a couple of fish in the surf for the kids was going to be tough work.
A persistent southeast wind meant there was a fair bit of swell pummelling the beach and washing out a lot of the surf gutters at the top end of the island.
As always, my wife Kate managed to pull a stack of beachworms despite the tricky conditions.
Over multiple days, I walked hundreds of metres launching cast after cast into some very promising looking gutters and came up empty handed.
Hardly a whiting, dart or bream from any of them – a rare scenario for a part of the world renowned for its land-based surf fishing.
The exception to the quiet fishing came on my single trip to the western side of the island where a stack of nice whiting were accounted for in the shallows of Wathumba Creek.
However, that wasn’t an option with our large crew, given we were on our final day and needed to depart at 2pm in order to chase the low tide down the eastern beach.
Kate once again nailed her role, getting up at sunrise to chase a few worms and, by the time we had settled in for some breakfast, she had returned with a bucket full.
Part of me had hoped the kids may have forgotten my ‘promise’ to chase a few fish, but that was never going to happen.
By about 8am, we were down the beach battling a very high tide and large swell with 5’ Ugly Stik Tackleratz Kids spin combos… oh dear!
The swell and white water caused us all sorts of problems, especially given the kids insisted on using their rods rather than the longer surf rods that would get our bait a little further out past the white wash.
After an hour or so, we made multiple moves closer towards Waddy Point and finally found some calmer and deeper water, though with no obvious gutter formation.
I had hoped the kids would have lost patience, but to their credit, they were in for the long haul.
I’d basically written us off, as hardly a fish had been caught from the beach all week.
I just kept baiting hooks, casting out and passing rods to the kids to wind in before they’d even given a fish a chance to bite.
Michael’s son Luca – the oldest child on the trip – had fished a little at home in Florida and, as I was getting my daughter’s rod ready for another cast, he started yelling.
I looked over to see what the fuss was about to see his rod buckled over and line streaming off the little spin reel.
I adjusted the drag as he was on to something reasonably big.
It became clear that Luca had hooked a very nice dart, and it was giving him a great battle.
All the kids were jumping around in excitement as he dragged his dart up the beach.
I needed to go into overdrive!
I rebaited, cast out and within a few minutes my daughter Rosie was on, then her friend Oscar, then my little son William – all connected to some decent K’gari dart.
It’s not the first time a few dart have saved a quiet surf session on the island, let me tell you!
Over the next half hour, all the kids had their moment in the K’gari sun – landing and releasing some cracker dart.
The smiles on their faces and their excitement as the rods buckled over will live long in the memory bank.
Another to add to the K’gari file – paradise indeed!