Despite my social media feeds being filled with European summer holiday images from friends and family, I’ll stay true to my opinion that, in the middle of the year, there’s no better place to be than right here in southeast Queensland. K’gari
Crisp sunny days and a cool westerly breeze are as good as it gets and there is no better place than K’gari when these conditions favour us.
Much debate has surrounded the renaming of Fraser Island to K’gari – in my opinion, most of it was unwarranted and some of it, blatantly disrespectful.
One thing we can all agree on is that the translation of K’gari to ‘paradise’ is spot on,
The island means so much to many different people, each in their own way, so let’s all enjoy it for the wonderful place it is.
Winter is almost my favourite time to visit K’gari.
The weather is normally beautiful and, as a rule, it’s usually a little less inhabited than the busy periods of Easter, the September school holidays and Christmas.
With the family on board and the boat in tow, we made our way to Orchid Beach.
Early in the trip, the weather forecast looked good for a couple of days offshore in the boat, and that’s exactly how it played out.
A westerly wind made for perfect beach launching conditions and the offshore fishing certainly didn’t disappoint, even if larger fish were tough to come by.
My plan for day one was to put some live yakka and slimy mackerel in the tank and chase some bigger reef fish.
Though despite quickly catching all the livies I needed – apart from a few nice pearl perch – I didn’t have much to show for my strategy as the clock approached noon.
The morning was a typical Fraser offshore experience – plenty of good shows, a number of ‘unstoppables’ ending in bust-offs and a fair few decent fish lost to sharks.
At about 11.30am, I headed to a mark that I’d caught nice fish from years ago and was pleased with what the sounder showed.
Fifteen minutes of live baiting was unfruitful though, only smaller fish picking their way through my lovely live yakka.
As a last resort, I decided to downgrade my outfit, picking up my lighter overhead combo with 35lb mono and 40lb leader.
I snelled a couple of BKK 5/0 circle hooks and rigged a light float line using squid and fillets of fresh yakka and slimy mackerel for bait.
For the next half hour, it was a fish a drop, with a nice mixed bag of wrasse, redthroat emperor and spangled emperor nailing the dead bait and doing it aggressively.
It was a total contrast to the morning I’d had fishing live bait, which had me wondering whether I should have employed the change in tactics much earlier at the other spots I’d fished.
A couple of trevally fooled me into thinking I’d hooked a nice reef fish, until another solid run resulted in a nice spangled emperor in the 5kg range hitting the deck.
Next drop, another nice fish – and my first venus tuskfish of the day – but, as often happens off K’gari, the sharks had moved in to see what all the action was about, and my tasty tuskie was mauled at the boat.
It was pretty much game over after that, as the bite slowed in the presence of some fairly large grey-suited taxers.
Day two offshore and I was keen to look for red emperor, the holy grail in these parts.
We were greeted by quite a strong southwesterly wind, which made for a rather cold and wet trip south in the 5.5m Galeforce centre console!
Once we reached our zone and thawed out, we were left disappointed – the areas that had held good fish in the past were largely devoid of decent shows.
With no fish marking, we searched for better ground and new rocks but again came up empty-handed.
We changed our plan and commenced fishing in shallower water, chasing venus tuskies and redthroat emperor.
Luckily for us, both species were on the chew and by lunch time, we had salvaged a reasonable feed from what initially looked to be a tough morning.
It goes to show how lucky we are to have such dynamic and diverse offshore fishing so close to home.
When one particular species doesn’t fire, there are many different water depths and techniques you can incorporate to turn your day around.
Apart from the offshore fishing, our trips to K’gari are very much about family and we regularly spend time catching worms, pipis and fishing from the beach with the kids.
Unfortunately, as for the past few winters, the beach fishing between Waddy Point and Ngkala Rocks was very slow, despite a number of beautiful gutters.
We found whiting and dart hard to come by and were about a month or so too early for the annual run of tailor, for which the island is famous.
Despite the lean pickings from the beach, the kids had a ball – spending time outside in the wide-open spaces among the wildlife that makes K’gari unique.
Call it what you want, but one thing we can agree on is that K’gari is a very special place, one we all need to look after.