Borumba saratoga on Fly
  |  First Published: April 2012

Fishing diaries are fascinating. Consulting my ever-reliable fishing diary prior to a presentation on chasing toga on fly at Borumba Dam, I made an interesting discovery: of my several trips each year, the trip that seemed to offer the most consistent results was the one in April.

Early spring was a reasonable chance (after all any flyfishing in early spring is great flyfishing) but given the spring breeding habits of these mouth-breeding fish – they will hardly be spitting out fry to take a swipe at a fly – it’s obvious that many fish guarding young will not be on the playing field.

Summer results were better in the El Nino years but with La Nina seasons now seeing the dam at 100% level, or spilling, for months on end discoloured water was always a likely scenario.

So autumn has been the star simply because water input has usually settled and become more fly friendly through increased clarity. With the shortening days the fish also tend to become more active at peak evening and early morning times.

Getting there

Borumba Dam not far south of Gympie and there is a signed turn off on the northbound side of the Bruce Highway close to Pomona to the east. From the motorway, follow the signs to Borumba, which is just over a couple of hills. The town of Imbil is a handy pit stop on the way.

Campers can enjoy a stay at either the spacious Deer Park camp grounds a couple of kilometres before the dam or the main Borumba Dam camp grounds set in a tree skirted section of land just above adjacent Yabba Creek. The dam wall is visible from the latter camping area.

Basic requirements

The first thing you need to fish Borumba is a Stocked Impoundment Permit. This water is stocked with saratoga and bass, which makes the latter a likely by-catch on toga orientated flies.

The other major item will be a kayak, canoe or boat. With their love for brushy cover, saratoga won’t be taken from the boat ramp or nearby rocky surrounds and it’s necessary to head upstream somewhat for success. Do remember though that while saratoga are scattered throughout the impoundment randomly they can be caught anywhere, as long as the fly is cast close to cover.

Arriving late one afternoon but keen to cast a fly I once took a fat fish in the first bay on the northwest side of the dam, straight across from the wall, just as darkness was falling.

There are also many hectares of standing timber lining the old Borumba, Yabba and Kingham creek beds, plus other areas along points or long drowned flats. In fact timbered areas are the norm, with clear areas harder to find, and so long as there’s cover there are great fly fishing opportunities.

The best time to fish is around the change of light on any given day, but late fishing into a morning if there’s some cloud or scuds of rain about can also be quite productive.

Stealth when fishing is more than just important: it’s vital. Borumba’s saratoga have seen every man made offering since monofilament was invented and are pretty clued up. Yet flies still bring them undone so long as the fish are not spooked by a boat’s presence which is exactly why I fly fish: I like that challenge.

Leave the six weight tackle at home

Saratoga will grow to 90cm and 6kg in this impoundment so upsizing fly tackle to #8 or #9 makes sense. At the business end of the long rod Borumba’s toga are dour, dogged and determined fighters that go for cover first and jump when all else fails.

Their saving grace is that they are fairly predictable to locate: with eyes set well on top of the head they obviously search the upper lake strata for tucker so flies cast close to cover are likely to succeed.

For best success both floating and intermediate sink rate – or alternatively sink tip – fly lines are ideal. The key is to employ surface offerings like Gartside Gurglers or Dahlberg Divers, in size 2 or 1/0 on the floating line at a hint of daylight and then change over to sinking tackle to get the fly a little deeper as the day brightens.

In the late afternoon fish wet flies first, then change to floating flies later. Interestingly, those same dry flies I’ve suggested will work well as wet flies because of their bug-like appearance. For strictly wet fly work, the Toad is a great fly to have on the 6kg leader tippet.

Other suitable flies can also include Large Muddler Minnow and Clouser Deep Minnow style flies with colours best left similar to likely food items available. There are small fish, shrimps, mud eyes (dragon fly larvae) and various water beetles around the weed beds and timber so wet flies tied in shades of brown, light chartreuse, maybe a hint of black can all attract fish.

Remember saratoga have rock hard mouths so flies must be equipped with sharp hooks. I tie mine on Gamakatsu SL12S patterns wherever possible.

If you’ve not fished Lake Borumba for saratoa don’t miss the opportunity to have a go this autumn. Find a small bay tucked out of the way and use the electric to move from one batch of cover to the next. Remember to keep that rod tip on the water as you retrieve to avoid slack line spoiling the hook up!

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