So I started Fishing Fraser Island back in the late 90's, when I was around 20 years of age, reading mags like Fishing World and Flylife where Dean Butler had written about the amazing flats fishery sight casting Golden Trevally.
That article had me inspired, so I packed the tinny and the girlfriend (now wife!) and headed north, although the trade-off for me fishing a week was for her to stay at Kingfisher Resort. In fact, we got married there some years later. Anyway, I had little idea of the area so it was a matter of looking at flats that may hold fish, no google earth back in those days.
Eventually I sussed it out and managed a couple of goldens. I continued to fish the flats every year up until about 2004, I noticed the fish were not as frequent in mumbers so other adventures took hold.
Back in 2014 I hatched a plan to target the small Black Marlin that frequent the top end of Fraser Island from about October to November. I had always fish for Marlin living in Port Stephens so the attraction of targeting them conventionally at Fraser wasn't as appealing as targeting them on fly gear.
Super happy to scratch that itch once again
That first year had me hooked, seeing those juvenile Black Marlin in three metres of gin clear water cruising over the sand is something special and to my knowledge doesn't happen anywhere else except Fraser Island. We managed to switch a couple that year, lost a few but had great fun. Every year since I have now made the journey north, some years good some years only seeing one fish for the whole trip and making some good friends along the way including local guide Andrew "Chozza" Chorley from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
I’ve been really lucky to get to know Chozza, a simple text to ask if "they" have shown up and he usually replies with "Love" or "No Love"! With Covid this year things were looking average with simply crossing the border but we got lucky. Chozza sent me a message and they had arrived, we just had to wait for the border to open, it was like Christmas this year all hinged on a border crossing.
When it comes to chasing the juvenile Blacks on fly we always switch bait. Although we do see them on the flats cruising and yes you can free cast at them. We find that teaser fishing is the most productive and the fish are not always cruising the shallows (sometimes two metres of water) our method is simple; two teaser rods with two simple teasers. Usually a small soft head pusher lure of around 6-7 inches and a soft squid imitation of around the same size. The crucial part is running a tuna belly flap stitched inside both teasers.
The first Black Marlin on the Primal Mega 9010
Hervey Bay has an abundance of Mac Tuna which feed on the frog mouth pilchards, so before we start teaser fishing we always have cast with the 9wts with smaller surf candies. They are good fun in their own right and it’s good to lose backing off the fly reel just be conscious of the sharks, they love Mac Tuna.
So once we have the teasers ready it’s a matter of simply running a teaser short and one longer but not too long that the fish may not follow the teaser back to the boat. It’s really a team effort once the fish is on the teaser, these little marlin are really aggressive and when they get a taste of the belly flap they rarely let go. This is when its crucial to keep the fish excited to the boat and get the switch. The key is for both the person on the teaser rod and the angler casting the fly to work in together and read the fish. Like I said, once they get hold of that belly flap they really don't let go so it’s imperative that you get it back out of the fishes mouth without ripping it so the fish keeps following the teaser back to the boat.
The workhorse teaser
The switch; this is when the guy on the teaser and the angler casting need to be in sync. On the cast we get the boat out of gear and at the same time ripping the teaser out of the water. When the tease is right then the cast is simply one motion less then 20 ft. The crucial point of the cast is to make sure the fly lands behind where the teaser has left the water. We try to get the fish to bite the fly as it’s going away as we find the hook set is much better. Remember no trout strikes it’s imperative to strip strike. Once the fish is on enjoy the fight! We find the best part of the whole thing is the switch and bite!
So fly choice is simple a flashy profile tube fly of 6-8 inches. We choose to run IGFA tippets with a leader of around 50lb fluorocarbon. I simply snell 2 Eagle Claw Trokar Octopus 5/0's inside the fly. These hooks are extremely sharp and I find they penetrate really well. I was stoked to potentially get the first Black Marlin on a Primal Mega 9010/4. This rod is killer for the price and a welcome inclusion into my quiver. Also running the Airflo Flats Master FI through it was key to get the fly down quickly to ensure a solid take.
One of our delicious Billfish flies