DRIVE TO FISHING TRIP: Some call it Angling Utopia

Kaydo contributor Dane Radosevic offers this enthralling introduction to Queensland’s Hervey Bay, one of the most beautiful and diverse fisheries on the east coast of Australia.

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Author Dane Radosevic with a good sized trevally that was unfortunately ‘sharked’ while fishing on Queensland’s Hervey Bay.

An easy 3 ½ hour drive north of Brisbane, or only 45 minutes by air, is one of Queensland’s great natural holiday destinations. It is located right on the door step of the largest sand island in the world, the beautiful, heritage listed Fraser Island. If the location is not apparent to you by this stage you are missing out on something special. I am referring to the gem itself, ‘Hervey Bay’. The region’s safe sheltered waters make Hervey Bay an aquatic paradise perfect for year-round fishing opportunities and a myriad of other activities such as diving, snorkelling, sailing, jet skiing and of course the incredible whale watching tours experienced by many locals and tourists each year. Well known as the sport fishing capital of South East Queensland, Hervey Bay plays host to both northern and southern species making it one of the most diverse fisheries in Australia. This is due to its rare overlap of subtropical climates which provides a distinct separation between the migration periods of summer and winter species. Consequently, this creates the ultimate fishery that can be appreciated by all anglers using a variety of methods, from bait to the ever-growing trend of artificial lures and flies.

On your bike mate

Before the age of 16 and not being eligible for my car or boat licence, my push bike was my best friend. It was my main source of travel, as I didn’t necessarily want to wake mum or dad up at 4am on one of their days off. It allowed me to go fishing whenever I wanted, within my parents boundaries, giving me a little freedom with my movements to explore the multitude of land based options around the Bay. These options include many spectacular beaches, man made rock walls and natural rocky headlands, creeks, manmade ponds, small jetties and the iconic Urangan pier. The vast list of species that can be expected from these areas include, but are not limited to, whiting, bream, garfish, flathead, grunter, cod, tailor, blue and threadfin salmon, mangrove jack, barramundi, jewfish, queenfish, grassy sweetlip and many mackerel, tuna and trevally species. 14-year-old land monster GT from end of pier Built between 1913 and 1917, the historical Urangan pier, which stretches out over 868 meters of mostly shallow water, deserves special mention. It is a popular fishing haunt for thousands of locals and tourists alike. The pier is a comfortable and safe fishing platform and possesses the opportunity for land based anglers to catch that fish of a lifetime, which I have been fortunate to experience, when at the age of 14 I landed my personal best Giant Trevally from the end of the wooden structure. It was a fight I will never forget, lasting a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes and provided me with some very anxious moments around the barnacle encrusted pylons.

Many species on offer

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It may come as a surprise to some that you don’t have to travel too far north to catch quality barramundi. It’s a closely guarded local secret, but big barra can be caught in the creeks and rivers around the Fraser Coast.

Aside from the ‘Gangsters’ that terrorise the end of the pier, fishing the two channels that pass beneath it will have you encountering a mix of piscatorial species. The usual bread and butter species such as whiting, bream, flathead and garfish tend to inhabit the first channel closest to the beach and pelagic species such as mackerel, tuna, golden trevally and queenfish, to name a few, can be found in the second (deeper) channel further out. Upon turning 16 I immediately obtained my boat licence which opened up the opportunity to explore the many inshore islands, reefs, flats, rivers and creeks from my little 3.85 Quintrex Explorer that I’d saved up to buy just for the occasion. Land based fishing slid off the radar a little as I now had access to a much bigger playground. With a small boat, anglers have access to many shallow reef areas close to shore which are ideal for targeting coral trout, cod, parrot, squire and sweetlip on plastics. These are great sport on light tackle and might I add make a delicious feed, which always keeps mum happy. The most popular and accessible locations to explore these shallow reefs are around Gatakers Bay and the top of Big Woody Island. The numerous rivers, creeks and flats that can be found throughout the Great Sandy Straits will keep anglers entertained for hours and is an ideal area for targeting whiting, bream, flathead, grunter, barramundi, mangrove jack, threadfin salmon, diamond trevally and more. The Straits is a very special place and one of my favourite areas as it holds an abundance of wildlife and incredible fishing opportunities, with species such as small to medium sized GT’s, queenfish and tarpon putting on a show with their spectacular acrobatics and hard runs. This area along with the Mary River also holds big numbers of XOS sized barramundi and is often overlooked by travelling anglers for the more popular northern destinations. With a 5 to 6 meter boat enthusiastic fisho’s can explore further afield towards the Northern end of Fraser Island, targeting a growing list of species and experimenting with different fishing techniques. This is where my desire for salt water sport fishing and my ambition to take it further really grew. It was a part of the playground that I did not have access to from my little tinnie, so a 5m Bonito centre console was acquired, which allowed me to access these areas safely and with more comfort.
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Bigger than average sized golden trevally are caught in Hervey Bay, particularly in the warmer summer months

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Fast moving bay tuna, one of the absolute highlights of the region.

Platypus Bay is an expansion of water covering the area from Coongul Point to Roonies Point on the Western side of Fraser Island and is a sport fisherman’s dream. It is famously renowned for it’s bigger than average golden trevally and longtail tuna and draws in anglers from across the globe. Over the past few years I, along with some great mates, have spent a lot of time fishing the waters north in the vicinity of Platypus Bay, using soft plastics and jigs on the small rubble patches, isolated wrecks and holes for the likes of golden trevally, queenfish, kingfish, cobia, scarlet sea perch and snapper to name a few. However you can never be sure of what might be encountered next in this part of the ocean and we have on occasions been surprised by the bycatch. A variety of tuna and mackerel species are often seen harassing large schools of baitfish in Platypus Bay and it is spectacular to watch them leaping into the air as they bust through the tight balls of helpless baitfish that they have driven to the surface. These same baitfish are also attacked from above by birds in search of an easy feed as well, the surface literally boils with skittish baitfish and then erupts into a feeding frenzy.

Tips for fast-moving bay tuna

This is the ideal situation to entice a feeding tuna with either a metal spinner, soft plastic or fly and experience the explosive runs and incredible adrenaline rush these muscle bound brutes can provide. A lot of hype and publicity has gained momentum over the past few years regarding the large numbers of small black marlin that can be found in the Bay. Hervey Bay is one of the few places around the world where you can sight cast to one of these little blacks up on the flats and catch one. I have had a ball chasing these awesome sport fish virtually in my back yard, but that’s for another story.
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Dane Radosevic with a hard-fighting yellowtail kingfish, one of the trophy species that turn up in Hervey Bay and the waters adjacent to Fraser Island.

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The fish on everyone’s list … Black marlin, one of the highlights of Hervey Bay particularly between November and February.

Something for all in Hervey Bay

This is a very broad outlook of my experience so far and the multitude of fishing opportunities that Hervey Bay has to offer. There is literally something to satisfy every angler’s style of fishing and an enormous variety of species to keep it interesting, whether land based or out of a boat. In future editions I will delve deeper into various locations around the Fraser Coast, the species that inhabit those areas and more specifically the techniques used that have proven to be successful. Hopefully I leave you thinking and planning your next fishing trip to Hervey Bay where everyone has a good chance to land the fish of a lifetime.
Dane Radosevic

About Dane Radosevic

My name is Dane Radosevic and I am 18 years of age, born on the Fraser Coast and raised in Hervey Bay, QLD. I enjoy participating in all forms of angling from bait fishing to my preferred methods of lure and fly.

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2 Comments

  1. Peter Sharp
    February 03, 13:10 Reply
    Good story Dane. I'm an old bloke just moved to Hervey Bay and not having much luck with the fish. Haven't been as far as Platypus Bay yet but will with a better boat. Hervey Bay is a great place and we will be here for a long time. Cant wait to catch fish like you have. Peter Sharp
  2. Dane Radosevic
    February 06, 20:30 Reply
    Hi Peter, Hervey Bay has great potential and I'm sure with a little local knowledge you'll start to get into a few. Pop in and have a chat with myself or one of the other lads at Fisherman's corner, We'd be more then happy to help you out mate. Cheers.

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