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A beginner’s guide to tailor fishing on Fraser Island

The world’s largest sand island brings more than its fair share of thrills that will change you.

Explore wild landscapes, plunge into natural rockpools and experience an off-the-grid adventure where peak hour means hitting top speed in your 4WD along 75 Mile Beach.

But there’s another reason to get hooked on Fraser Island.

Beach fishing is a year-round activity here. But from August to October, the famous Tailor Run sees fishing enthusiasts come from far and wide to experience the battle between man and tailor fish.

Keen to have a go? Whether you’re a first timer or are looking for ways to shake up your next adventure, this beginner’s guide to tailor fishing on Fraser Island will set you up for the perfect first cast.

Gear Essentials

Having a surf rod is as essential as a 4WD on Fraser. Tailor 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;

  • 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
  • Pliers
  • Wide-brimmed hat with a drawstring (it can get windy)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Long-sleeve shirt for sun safety
  • Anything you don’t mind getting wet. However, if it’s a bit cold, you can’t go wrong with a set of waders.

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.

Bait

Fraser Island Tailor Fishing Bait

You can’t go wrong with an IFWAP when it comes to catching tailor (that is, 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 to better attract the tailor.

Where To Throw Your Line In

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What to look for when you’re tailor fishing on Fraser Island?

Az from Back to Basics Adventures says 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.

And while you might be keen to find your own secluded patch of beach, keep an eye out for other fishermen as the more bait in the water the better. Tailor 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 ‘Em

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Photo by @kingston_hervey_bay

While watching the sunset over the horizon on a fishing trip will leave you recharged, nothing beats the thrill of hooking a tailor.

The nibble can often be mistaken for the waves coming in and out, but tailors have a notorious ‘yank’ when they’re hooked.

This is where a buddy system can really help: tailor give it a good shake when being reeled in so you may need a little help. 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, otherwise they’re not enjoyable to eat. Then, pop your catch into a bucket of water when you’re ready to fillet.

Be Led By Professionals

Short on gear, time or experience?

Let the experts show you the ropes of tailor fishing on Fraser.

You can even make it a day trip thanks to Go Fish’s Fraser Island Heli Fishing tour. Jump in the chopper in Brisbane and it’ll drop you off at the island’s best fishing spots.

Safety First

  • For rules to be aware of around tailor fishing, click here.
  • For tips on how to be dingo-safe, click here.

Feeling competitive? Visit during the Annual Fraser Island Tailor Season Weigh-In to throw your line in with the best.