Australia’s Untapped Big-Game Fishery (Fraser Island)

Fraser island’s variety makes it a new hotspot for a world-famous sport-fishing destination.

Many parts of Australia are known worldwide for the large numbers of Marlin roaming through the waters. Cairns became one of the most prestigious black marlin fisheries more than 50 years ago with the first grander, and many other spots have risen to prominence in recent years.

Fraser island, in Queensland, is the new high-variety hotspot for the sport-fishing country. Brett Alty, the captain of 50 foot charter boat ‘Mistress’ of Mistress Sportfishing Charters, and his crew have tagged and released 114 marlin – 87 blues, 20 blacks and 7 striped marlin – in 44 days from August through the end of September. That disparity in species inspired Brett’s father, Barry Alty, to report the action from the Australian island. Below is Barry’s account from the trips of Fraser island.

Fraser island, located off the eastern coast of Australia near the Coral Sea, is the largest send island in the world. Around 100 miles long, it has pristine rainforests and inland and lakes of varying hues. It is a paradise accessible by barge from the nearby town of Hervey Bay, which has an airport, hotels and restaurants, and is a four hour drive from Brisbane. It has long been known that there are large numbers of juvenile black marlin at its northern end of the island and just outside the Breaksea Spit, which runs for 40 miles from the islands northern tip.

However the juvenile black marlin grounds our 50 to 60 miles from Hervey Bay, and the continental shelf is another 15 to 20 miles. It’s hard to fish unless you have a big sport-fishing yacht that you can live aboard for multi-day trips.

Capt Brett Alty and his ‘Mistress’ crew first fished the area for a couple of weeks to coincide with a local tournament in 2015. We again entered the tournament in 2016, placing a close second, but we had seen enough to realise the potential of an unexploited, litte-known heavy tackle fishing area. So this year we came to the area earlier in the season and achieved the spectacular results. We also won the tournament with eight blue marlin from nine shots in two and a half days of fishing.

There is a lot of bait and the fish are all fat. the blues have averaged around 400lb, with our biggest to date around 600. The striped marlin have ranged from 240 – 300lbs and they aggressively attack the baits and lures just like the blues. None of this ‘tap tap tap’ nonsense! So far we have caught two slams of the blue, black and striped marlin and we could have caught more if we had tried.

Any fishery where you can catch an average of nearly three marlin a day is world-class. What makes it even more incredible is that there are four billfish species available. Pacific blues and blacks are the most predominant, followed by striped marlin and Pacific sailfish.

Captain Brett says of the fishing off Fraser Island. “I’ve never seen anything like this, so many spaces available and blues and blacks in big numbers by any standard. There will definitely be a Grander Blue here somewhere.”

‘Mistress’ will be available for charters to Fraser Island from August To November in 2018.


This article from Marlin News is reprinted with the gracious permission of editor Sam White.