A beginner’s guide to hooking Fraser Island’s own TayTay
A trip to the world’s largest sand island can (like Taylor Swift aka TayTay) fulfill your wildest dreams with natural beauty coming out the wazoo. But, did you know there’s another reason to get hooked on Fraser Island?
Beach fishing is a year-round activity, but from August to October, the famous Tailor Run sees fishing enthusiasts come from far and wide to experience the battle between man (or in my case, woman) and [tailor] fish. They travel in packs up and down the coast, toying with your emotions as they chomp at your line.
Keen to have a go? Whether you’re a first timer (like me) or are looking for ways to shake up your next Fraser Island adventure, you won’t be a fish out of water after following this beginner’s guide to tailor fishing.
Having a surf rod is as essential as a 4WD on Fraser. Tailor (let’s call them TayTay) can certainly play hard to get so you need a rod that can handle the nibbles, bites and hard pulls!
This is only half the battle though. Once you have your rod, you need appropriate rigging. Opt for a classic;
- 15 lbs fishing line
- 1 x snap trace (includes a swivel) – 40 lbs
- 1 x #7 ball sinker
- 4 x gang hooks secured with a ‘blood knot’
- Alvey side cast reel (this type of reel is optional, however, is less likely to fill with sand, unlike the spinning reels)
- Fishing knife
TIP: Make sure your hands are free from lotions and repellents when rigging your line, as this can deter the fish.
Once your line is rigged, push a plastic (or PVC) tube into the sand to hold your rod upright for baiting and taking your catch off the line safely. #safetyfirst
If my dad has taught me anything, you can’t go wrong with an IFWAP when it comes to catching tailor (also known as an individually-frozen Western Australia pilchard).
It’s best to try and purchase these prior to coming onto the island, however, bait is available from local shops in Eurong and Happy Valley, too.
TIP: Bait them face up to the line to ensure they look like they’re swimming through the water – TayTay ain’t no fool.
FASHION & BEAUTY ESSENTIALS
So that TayTay takes you seriously, there are a few essential fashion items that are our tailor season must-haves:
- Wide-brimmed hat with a drawstring (it can get windy)
- Sunscreen lotion
- Long-sleeve shirt (be sun safe!)
- Anything you don’t mind getting wet. However, if it’s a bit cold, you can’t go wrong with a set of *waders.
*Waders: sensible and very fashion-forward (waterproof) overalls that are often paired with rubber boots to complete your look.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
There are a few things to look out for when you’re hunting TayTay.
Finding any sandy gutters, birds hovering and current movement is a great place to start. Rule of thumb on the beach is fish the incoming tide, and outgoing for the mouth of creeks and rivers.
~Az from Back to Basics Adventures (really good fisherman)
Foaming white water + gutter + dusk + fresh water run-off + optimism = fish
Also, keep an eye out for other fishermen as the more bait in the water the better. TayTay are a little shallow so they’ll move on in packs if there’s no food around.
TIP: If the water appears brown, this is likely ‘snot weed’. It doesn’t make for ideal fishing conditions and gets all tangled in your line, so hit some of the freshwater lakes for a dip instead if this is the case!
ONCE YOU HOOK TAYTAY
While fishing at dusk and watching the sunset can be a therapeutic experience, getting a tailor on your line is so much fun! The nibble can often be mistaken for the waves coming in and out, however there’s no doubt TayTay have a notorious ‘yank’ when they’re hooked. Like any new relationship, the thrill of the chase is almost as exciting as the reward at the end.
TayTay will definitely try to shake it off when you reel her in so it’s always best to have someone else to help un-hook. Watch out as they have some pretty sharp teeth so this is where the pliers come in handy.
TIP: Tailor need to be bled ASAP to ensure there isn’t any bad blood, otherwise they’re not enjoyable to eat. Then, pop your catch into a bucket of water when you’re ready to fillet. Be sure to do a quick Google on how to bleed your fish before your trip if you need to!
If you’re new to a bit of TayTay, here are some tasty serving suggestions that will have you craving more.
- Breakfast: Fillet dusted with flour, salt and pepper and grilled, accompanied with a poached egg and a slice of toast.
- Lunch: Can’t go wrong with a fish taco – soft tortillas only!
- Dinner: Fish and chips with a wedge of lemon. Classic.
TIP: Tailor are not the best once frozen. Best to eat them fresh.
SOME SERIOUS STUFF
- For rules to be aware of around tailor fishing, click here.
- For tips on how to be dingo-safe, click here.
Feeling competitive? Check out the Annual Fraser Island Tailor Season Weigh-In so you can make that fish famous!