Dawson River fishing
  |  First Published: May 2012

The Dawson River is located in the small but close knit town of Theodore in Central Queensland.

It is 565km northwest of Brisbane and 222km south of Rockhampton with a population of approximately 460 residents. Its winding and bending waterway starts from Mulberry Tree Island and heads down towards the Theodore Weir.

This marvellous river system will reveal islands, inner branches and holes, undiscovered by even the locals. During the 2010 floods the river system changed for, what I think, the better in regards to fishing. Its variety of different fish, such as the prized fighting saratoga and acrobatic barramundi, seem to of flourished in the aftermath.


Casting lures from Baby Bullies to poppers of white, silver, yellow or light blue, work a treat on the saratoga when the water is clear on top. You can see them swimming up and down guarding and waiting for any pray to land in their territory. They can be located anywhere up the river even right up close to a bank. With a quick flick of the lure, the saratoga can sense a struggle and attacks it immediately and the fight begins. Once hooked firmly in his mouth he starts his dance to defuse the lure.

Toga can also be caught the ‘lazy way’ by simply throwing out a cork or float with either a yabby or a chunk of meat and waiting for the fish to strike. But if the river is running over or is really dirty due to rain, it makes it hard to catch this species.


Another species targeted in Dawson River is the yellowbelly or golden perch. Whether the river is flowing or not, and no matter what time of the year, there’s always a guarantee of catching a bag limit of these beautiful-eating fish. They can be caught on baits by simply bobbing with a yabby; after a quick strike and a bit of a fight they are effortlessly captured. Likewise, they are just as easily taken on lures by using spinnerbaits throughout the weeds and old snags, letting it drop, then reeling over the snags.

Sleepy cod

One of the easiest fish to catch, and another great fish for the table, is the sleepy cod. I have never seen a more docile fish. Simply spot them ‘sleeping’ beside logs or other structures within the water and simply dangle the bait in front of them. With the water clear on top, you can actually put it straight into their mouths and with a quick jerk of the line, he’s yours. They are sensational tasting, with most of the meat being around the top of his neck.

And of course, another prevalent species in Dawson River is the fork-tailed catfish, which can grow up to 1m in length. They are plentiful in the river and whatever you are targeting you will eventually end up with one on your line.

Coyote Fishing Club

The Theodore fishing club started around the 1980s and called themselves Coyote Fishing Club with around 50 members in its hay day. The club used to run raffles every Friday night at the pub and with the profits they bought fingerlings of yellowbelly and sleepy cod to release into the Dawson River.

At least 100,000 yellowbelly and 15,000 sleepy cod fingerlings were released over a period of 3-4 years into the Dawson River. The club was fully incorporated, but after about five years it tapered off and eventually they disbanded and all of the money was donated to various organisations around Theodore.


There are plenty of places to camp in Theodore.

Junction Park hosts a lot of campers coming from New South Wales and Victoria escaping the winter and has facilities such as toilets, BBQs, hot showers, boat ramp just down the end of the junction and also the bowls club right next door. All that is required is a gold coin donation to camp at the Junction which goes to help out the local Lions Club.

There are also plenty of other spots around, but check with the owners of the places before entering. Access to the other weirs around Theodore also requires permission, except for Glebe Weir and Cracow Beach. To enter Orange Weir you must also gain permission.

Checkout Dawson River Fishing on facebook and like our page, which was created by Ray Johnston and Drew Hedington of Theodore. It will show you where we are located, plenty of photos of what has been caught and also general information about the Dawson River. – Ray Johnston


In November 2011 the Dawson River held host to the Inaugural Corporate Saratoga Fishing Classic in Theodore. The Classic drew anglers from all over Queensland.

The overall winning team from the three-day event was the Green Team from Mundubbera with a total of 877cm, and the individual winner was Greg Green. Second team with 400cm was Evolution Kirk, third placed went to Elders with 399.5cm. Overall 2,584.5cm of saratoga were caught.

This year’s event in November will hopefully draw a bigger crowd as last year’s was a great success all thanks to the sponsors of the competition.

The event not only raised money but also got Theodore more recognised for its spectacular saratoga fishing. Proceeds from the event went towards building a new boat ramp and fixing up the beautiful river walk that starts at the junction and winds its way through bushland running along Castle Creek.

So if you want a really great corporate weekend come up to Theodore and participate. All information on this event can be seen at www.hookedontheodore.com.au

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