Just about every second beach, bay or dam seems to have its own fishing classic these days. But one with a real old-skool vibe that should go on your bucket list is definitely, absolutely, no question, the Moreton Island Fishing Classic. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
The attraction is partly the island—a genuinely unspoilt beauty just 90 minutes from Brisbane by the Micat Moreton Island ferry. It’s also the time of year—late August in this part of Queensland traditionally delivers winter westerlies and picture-perfect weather for the duration.
A lot of it’s the people—the camaraderie of the friends you’ll make over beers at sunset, on the beach while you’re casting a line or just kicking back at the campground. And, of course, it’s the fishing too–but the prize pool of around $65,000 makes it worth entering whether you land something impressive or not!
Sssshhh! Don’t tell anyone but…
As an enthusiastic repeat-visitor to the Moreton Island Fishing Classic, I’ve picked up a few tips from some of the rusted-on beach fishermen I’ve shared a yarn with. So, with apologies to good blokes like Chris Lori (a past winner who revealed his tactics in our Campr Moreton Island Fishing Classic video series, I’m sharing some of those tips. Hope these help you make the most of your Moreton Island adventures.
1. Target one species
The waters of the Pacific Ocean are super clear on the Bulwer side of the island, where the comp headquarters are positioned. From the beach, you’ll be looking for flathead, whiting, bream, tailor, dart and mulloway. But Chris Lori’s advice is to choose just one species and go all-out. Channel your energies for better results.
2. Bring the right bait
What the right bait is obviously depends on the species you’re targeting and what time of day you’re fishing. One of the great things about the Moreton Island Fishing Classic is it’s about old-style beach fishing—nothing too fancy—so pillies for tailor are perfect. But for other species, the experts say to ditch the squid and bait up some earthworms, beachworms, pippies or yabbies which are in abundant supply as fresh bait on Moreton. There’s frozen and cured bait available at the Castaways at Bulwer, but you may also want to bring your own from the mainland. Oh, and if you are scouting for yabbies, beware of the Green Zones. There are some on the island.
3. Choose your weapon
Like I said, it’s pretty old-skool here, so Alvey sidecasts and 12 ft beach rods are popular, and those who use them do pretty well. I’ve also seen beautiful tailor pulled in on a 7kg line and a gang hook. Some people use threadline outfits, which are really light. But take care on the beach, because threadline/graphite combos don’t love too much sand or salt.
4. Prepare to stay awake
You’ll need your stamina (and not just for the fishing). The competition kicks off at midnight, right after the opening night BBQ. Depending on the tides, you’ll want to be out late and early—and probably other times in between. And because it’s such a cracker of a place to be, you won’t want to run the risk of missing anything by nipping off for too many naps. The social stuff is half the fun!
5. Get amongst it!
Go to the welcome BBQ, a party I call “First Night Fever”. Head over to the western beach each afternoon for obligatory sunset drinks (where us east-coasters get a thrill out of watching the sun go down over the water for a change). Have lunch at Castaways, or introduce yourself over open fires at the Moreton Island camping spots. This is a competition that draws people back because of the wonderful sense of camaraderie. It’s laid back, down-to-earth, and one hell of a great time.
This year’s ARB Moreton Island Fishing Classic is on from August 27 to 31. There are categories for adults and kids (under 14) and $65,000 worth of prizes to be had.
You can register, book your accommodation and Moreton Island ferry, and find out about vehicle and Moreton Island camping permits on the Moreton Island Adventures website. But don’t forget to see what you’re in for. Check out our video stories from last year’s Moreton Island Fishing Classic.