The fish stopped dead in it's wildly zig zagging track. Its golden tail gently popped out of the water vertically swaying gently like a circus acrobat recovering from brief over rotation from flip to hand stand. With the sandy sediment clouding the water around the business end of the fish it was impossible to see what the big blubbery lips attached to the protrusible jaws were pumping out from the bottom of the flats, however, we knew the safe answer was yabbies or nippers. Yabbies or nippers are the local name for small burrowing Ghost shrimp that live on the sand and mud flats of Hervey Bay. These soft bodied crustaceans are a staple food of the Golden Trevally on the flats around Fraser Island although they also eat small baitfish and many other shrimp and crabs. Fooling these fish with an artificial when they are focused on pumping the burrows of yabbies is extremely difficult which confirms (1) that Yabbies must taste really good and (2) your casting has to be in the zone. Not just "on the money" accuracy, you better be in Olympic casting form to have a chance to get this gold in hand. My guide Paul said "wait"... The fishes tail slashed in excitement and then dropped beneath the water before continuing on a search and devour swim pattern. The first fish was followed closely by a second and they seemed to be working together in a patterned swim down the flat. Maybe one was picking off bait fish disoriented by the sediments being puffed up in the current or they were just snarfing critters that one or the other missed. A fisherman always likes to see two fish in competition for food as there is at least 50% more chance one will make a greedy mistake. Chances improve even further when there are more fish in the flats raiding party. Paul quipped "quick, lead him by a few feet" I cast the fly trying my best not to make too much movement at such close range. "Leave it, sit, hold on, now strip it slowly, stop..." Paul said. He followed quickly with "He's got it!! Strip tight!". Now all I had to do was land it. That is never a given with Goldens as often you may have just grabbed a little bit of the fleshy lips and not a deep hold with your hookset. The hard running, thudding fight of a Golden will soon sort out any weakness in the connection from hook to backing. All lines were fairly tied and after a huge initial power run, some solid head bumps and a little surface thrashing, the fish was brought to glove - covered hand.
The waters of Fraser Island where this scene unfolded surround the largest sand Island on the planet. It is a World Heritage listed location as are a few of Australia's other "must do" fishing spots. The Great Barrier Reef, Shark Bay in Western Australia, Lord Howe and Fraser Island all fall in the World Heritage sites category and, as such, use the concept that UNESCO adopted stating they belong to all the peoples of the world. By the count of international visitors that come to see these locations rightly so, UNESCO selected well. Anglers generally seem to fish in the most beautiful and interesting locations around the globe. Fraser Island is a 125 kilometer long island that I consider to be in the top 5 spots of all time. Fraser Island is serviced by the slow paced but steadily growing town of Hervey Bay which is the hub of tourism for this location. As many attractions as the island has on offer ( including ancient rain forests, pure water lakes both perched and dune, crystal clears creeks, sand blows and colored sands of which there are 72 different shades, wildlife such as dingoes , snakes, birds, dugongs, turtles and whales) the fishing available around the Fraser Coast area is just as varied and wide spread. The angler in this area can fish freshwater or salt, lake, estuary, beach, surf, inshore, offshore, reef, game, sport or fly. If that is not enough to make you want to come here immediately, the species count is high and ranges from local species such as bream, whiting and flathead through to the high end more worldwide known predators such as marlin and sharks. Fraser Island is the southernmost point of the Great Barrier Reef. At the island's north end it marks a roundabout end of range for some species such as the Barramundi. This is a result of the temperature range here which for humans is idillic but for some of the nasties of the tropical north, like the deadly box jellyfish or Australia's famous saltwater crocodiles, it is too cool. This makes for a very watersport friendly environment, especially for fisherman. As such this area does receive some recreational fishing pressure and still has a local pro fleet, some of which continue to net. All in all however, the fishing still provides anglers ample opportunity to catch lots of fish. If I was going to rate this Fraser in golfing terms I would say it can be a tough course but the greens and fairways are outstanding and it is always a pleasure to play. Much could be improved here by the removal of netters similar to what was done in the Florida Keys. Both Bonefish and Permit have been and are caught in these waters. They would flourish if left alone. Lets not forget the local highly sought after Barramundi, a kissing cousin of the Snook. Recall how much the Snook highlighted the benefits of the net removal in Florida demonstrating a major increase to the resource, the same could be easily done here.