One thing on my autumn calendar that never misses the tick of approval is a trip to Maroon Dam just south of Boonah for a crack at the feisty bass residents.
These are willing fish, for bass, that dwell within its weed beds and along the edges of the dam’s fabulous lily covered bays. They are not as large as in Somerset Dam or the adjoining Moogerah Dam, but Maroon Dam’s fish are inclined to surface feed a lot more frequently than their cousins elsewhere, which makes them ideal fly rod fodder.
Autumn, with cooling days and slightly chilly nights won’t shut the fish down; more likely to kick start them as they can and will feed on things like midges, bees, or any insects that hit the drink.
Maroon bass are whoppers at around 42cm and a good fish is around 40cm, so there is no real need for the big strong fly rod you’d use in Somerset or Moogerah dams. I rely on my 6wt trout outfit for all fishing on this dam and merely exchange the floating line for a fast sink line as circumstances require.
My leader length is the same as that of the rod, and breaking strain of the final tippet is 5kg finest fluorocarbon line. In the hands of an experienced angler a 5wt outfit would be fine, and a lot of fun.
I have a lot of fun with surface work at Maroon Dam. At daylight and towards dusk, I use floating lines and flies until the light becomes quite strong and the fish retreat to deeper water. The lack of surface activity, which can be remarkably busy at first light, is the cue to move out and change the rig.
Later of an autumn morning these fish will most likely school up quite obligingly and that’s the time to exchange the floating line for a sinking one. Work the fly in small strips through schools of fish located with the sounder or around gaps or hollows within the edges of visible weed beds, but remember to hold off somewhat. Don’t sit the boat right on top of the fish and terrorise them with the pinging sounder and muffled noises through the hull. It’s far better to keep out and simply cast the fly along the edge of the weed, or through an identified gap and wait for the hard pluck as the fly comes back.
Just because a fly has touched the weed bed doesn’t mean that the fish will ignore it, either. A smart, quick, strip after touching weed will often dislodge anything wrapped on the hook and at the same time kick start a fish that might have been taking a look at the offering and making his mind up about giving it a nip.
When fishing with the sinking gear allow time for the fly and line to get down to the depth that the fish are holding at and then make all strips very small, quite jerky, and keep all slack out of the process. Slack line equates to lost fish!
Bass seem to be very evenly distributed throughout Maroon Dam and it’s possible to find fish in any bay, point or wide flats on the southern side of the dam to the left of the main entry area of Reynolds Creek. There are some spots that are more reliable than others.
Next time you arrive at the Maroon Dam boat ramp, which tends to be very busy of weekends when the bass are on the job, keep the bank on your right hand after launching and turn into the first small bay you come to. Keep out in the deeper water – at least 6m depth – and watch the sounder screen for schooling fish, or the rise forms of fish working around the lilies if you have launched right on daylight.
Another really hot spot is right in front of where people launch their boats below Pointro Manor on the southeastern side of the dam. It’s easy to identify as there are usually cars and trailers there of a weekend but in the absence of cars just note the road coming down the hill from above to get the right perspective.
Extensive weed beds adorn this area and the fish will usually be schooling right off the edge of the beds after around 8.30am.
Best wet flies are red and black Clousers, Chartreuse Crazy Charlies, Green Bunny fly, and of course the Bass Vampire styles of flies with red in lieu of the usual purple over wing. These flies need to be smaller than usual and a fly on a size 2 hook is ideal as the main food items, gudgeons, are small fish.
Best dry flies are Dahlberg Divers and the fabulous Gartside Gurgler. Again, tie on smaller 1 or 2 size hooks and with colours differing from all brown, rusty red, dark green or dark red. A Gartside Gurgler with an all brown or black body and purple tail section is a handy fly to use at first light in the morning. Remember to move your dry flies very slowly to attract a hit rather than a looker.
So that’s the low down on Maroon Dam for May – a great place to take a bass on fly tackle!Reads: 3299