Hervey Bay is situated only 300km north of Brisbane, with Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Straits Marine Park right on it's doorstep. Hervey Bay is a very unique angling destination as it boasts a huge overlap of both southern and northern species. The options are endless for both bait and lure fishermen alike, with something to cater for all anglers.
Located between the Fraser Coast’s mainland and Fraser Island lies the Great Sandy Straits, approximately 70km of crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, a network of shallow lying flats and a maze of creeks - not to mention the charismatic fishing towns of Tin Can Bay, Poona, Boonooroo, Rainbow Beach, Tuan and Tinnanbar there certainly is a lot to explore. A major draw card for larger vessels is the well-marked main channel with navigational aids to make the voyage a safe and enjoyable experience, with a multitude of possible anchorages throughout the Straits such as Gary’s Anchorage, Ungowa cliffs and Kingfisher resort to name a few.
The wildlife and fish rich waters in this area offers an array of options to anglers and photographers alike, drawn by the huge diversity and appeal of species on offer.
The Mary and Susan River are two of the largest estuary systems on the Fraser Coast and is one of the most exceptional barramundi fisheries south of the Fitzroy River containing larger than average size barra than other more renowned northern river systems. With what feels like an endless amount of territory to explore there are also endless areas to fish with some form of structure to be found around every corner such as fallen trees, rock bars, drains, flats and Islands. These large systems are heavily influenced by tide and as the environment changes so do the relevant species on offer.
Mud crabs are a year round option in these rivers although better during the warmer and wetter months. Each wet season spawns a significant banana prawn fishery that usually extends into mid-winter producing exceptional quality prawns. (This great prawn fishery also extends throughout the Great Sandy Straits and other local rivers)
The iconic Urangan pier was built between 1913 and 1917 as a cargo-handling facility originally to facilitate the export of sugar, timber and coal. The original length of the pier was a total of 1107 meters, however it was closed in 1985 and 239 meters of it was demolished. Due to public outcry 868 meters of the pier was left and has since been fully restored.
For land-based anglers the Urangan pier is the ultimate fishing platform boasting a diverse fishery from bread and butter species in the shallower waters of the first channel, to the larger pelagic species that patrol the deeper waters of the outer channel. These larger predatory species are drawn in by the huge schools of herring, hardihead and pike that aggregate around the pylons of the pier seeking protection. Squid are another popular species on offer, especially during the warmer months when large congregations of pencil squid move into the bay and through the winter months southern calamari or ‘local squid’ can be encountered.
The Hervey Bay flats are world famous amongst fly fishers and sport fishers alike with a huge variety of species on offer. The vast estuarine flats system south of Moon Point covers an enormous area of water that extends throughout the Great Sandy Straits. These flats are greatly influenced by the adjacent creeks on the western side of Fraser Island creating quite a unique fishery that includes large predatory species such as Hervey Bay’s prolific golden trevally to the everyday bread and butter staples.
North of Moon Point lies approximately 50 kilometres of pristine white sandy beaches which also creates a unique world class flats fishery. The major draw card to this fishery and specifically Roonies Point over recent years has been our annual run of juvenile black marlin. This one species of fish has lured budding anglers from throughout the country and around the globe to tick it off their bucket list and to our knowledge this is the only place worldwide that you can sight cast to a free swimming bill fish in a meter of water. The list of pelagic species that can be encountered on any one day on these flats is honestly mind blowing.
This area is quite mesmerising with gin clear waters coupled with the picturesque backdrop of Fraser Island, not to mention the possibility to get up close and personal with marine life such as dolphins, dugongs and turtles. Spotting dingo’s walking the beach in search of food is also a regular experience.
Platypus Bay is responsible for putting Hervey Bay’s pelagic fishing scene on the map, making it the ‘go to’ destination for all line burning, reel screaming addicted enthusiasts. With the crystal clear, bait rich, sheltered waters of the bay it is an international draw card for lure and fly anglers as the area boasts such a diverse fishery that can offer half a dozen or more different species on any given day. From sight casting to masses of ferociously feeding predatory fish such as Hervey Bay’s iconic longtail tuna to bouncing lures over the artificial wrecks and rubble patches for the prized golden trevally, Platypus Bay is the place for any avid sport fisherman.
Aside from the incredible sport fishing options, Platypus Bay can offer some of the most breath taking experiences with sea turtles, dugong’s and dolphins making regular appearances. The biggest draw card however are the humpback whales that make Platypus Bay home from July through to late October, putting on spectacular shows for locals and tourists to enjoy.
The Fraser Coast is blessed with an excellent inshore reef fishery comprising of many inshore Islands (Round, Big Woody, Little Woody & the Picnic’s), shallow natural reef flats, deeper natural and artificial reefs and ledges of coffee rock. The man mad artificial reefs consist of sunken barges, boats, car bodies and pipes creating a diverse ecosystem for all types of species. With an endless list of species to target and places to explore in the bay, the relatively protected waters offer fantastic bait and lure fishing year round, with the species on offer governed by the seasons. During the warmer months of December through to May the inshore reef fishing scene really comes to life for a host of different species and can be very rewarding for those chasing a feed.
The wider reefs and offshore fishing is becoming increasingly more popular on the Fraser Coast, with advancements in technology allowing smaller vessels the opportunity to reach these once relatively untapped areas. There are numerous options within the more sheltered water of Platypus Bay that offers artificial reefs, coffee rock, rubble patches and natural sink holes. The wider reef systems such as the 25 Fathom Hole, Gutters system (16 mile, 18 mile, Southern, Northern & African) to Breaksea Spit and beyond creates endless opportunities and the species on offer is limitless. Whether bait or lure fishing in less than 20 meters of water to deep dropping with electric reels in depths exceeding 400 meters, there is something for every angler with a variety of options to explore.
The Eastern side of Fraser Island or Break Sea as it is commonly referred to is a game fisherman’s haven. This place has the potential to produce some of the best game fishing you will experience Australia wide. The light tackle billfish fishery has gone viral with incredible numbers of fish migrating through our waters each season. Trolling the shallower grounds merely a casting distance off the bar for juvenile black marlin, sailfish and the potential list of pelagic bi-catch is quite unique. In recent years the heavy tackle fishery can only be described as ‘Mental Fishing’ with the potential to cross paths with three species of marlin (striped, blue and black) in large quantities on the one day. With such great numbers of fish being caught it is drawing anglers with experienced crews both nationally and internationally to try their luck at a giant.
Aside from trolling there are opportunities for the top water enthusiasts to try their luck casting large stick baits and poppers over shallow reef systems in search of the gangsters of the ocean, the mighty GT. Some enormous fish haunt these waters and have destroyed gear and tested some of the most experience anglers. The deep water jigging options are endless with numerous reefs and sunken wrecks scattered throughout the shallower country to the continental shelf, a mere 13km’s from the 2mile crossing. If you are a sucker for pain then knife jigging the shelf is for you.
For the sweet water angler the Fraser Coast is fortunate enough to have a number of freshwater dams and numerous rivers and creeks within close range. Lake Lenthalls, one of the smaller dams on the bass to barra trail, is nestled in amongst the pine forestry and with a corrugated dirt road once off the highway the only entry in, you feel quite secluded once out on the water. The tannin stained waters of the lake boasts some of the most picturesque landscape with vast standing timber, flourishing weed beds and banks lined with lilly pads making for some exciting fishing. For day use of the lake visiting hours are between 6am to 8pm and outside of those hours the ranger locks the gates, however there is a small campground backing onto the dam itself with all the facilities. A SIP permit is required to fish on the lake and there are a few restrictions, a speed limit of 6 knots is enforced and four stroke outboards only with a maximum of 60 hp allowed on the lake.
For the avid river anglers the Mary River covers over 291 kilometres of landscape flowing through the towns of Kenilworth, Gympie, Tiaro and Maryborough before emptying into the Great Sandy Straits. Petrie park (Tiaro) an hours drive from Hervey Bay is the closest location accessible by a boat with a small single lane boat ramp. With what feels like an endless length of river to explore there is some incredible fishing and wildlife viewing to be had with lung fish and platypus a regular site.