Maroon Dam may not be as large as some of its contemporaries within South East Queensland, but it has a couple of rather special things going for it.
Firstly, there are some very big stocks of bass within the dam’s weed shrouded perimeters that are willing starters on fly tackle, or any other sort of tackle for that matter. In fact, I can’t ever remember fishing this impoundment and finding the fish shut down – now that’s saying something!
Secondly, Maroon Dam has not topped the spillway giving the fish a ride into Reynolds Creek below.
Fish stocks are so high and weed beds so prolific, the fish are inclined to surface feed far more often than fish in other nearby dams, such as Moogerah Dam. There are only minor restrictions regarding entry so it’s easy to be on the water at grey light when fish are sipping from the top.
Overall, it’s a great place for a fly angler, particularly a beginner, to catch their first fish on fly. However, extensive weed beds make shore fishing near impossible so you will need a boat.
Maroon’s bass are not large, a beauty going 38-40cm, so there’s no need for a powerful fly outfit. A 5-6wt rod mated to a similar sized floating fly line is ideal and is perfect for change-of-light surface fishing. Use a spare spool rigged with a similar weight sink tip or full sink fly line once the day brightens and surface activity has ceased. You can then exchange fly lines so the fly can be worked deeper.
A store-bought tapered leader with a 3kg breaking strain tippet is more than adequate. It will turn over the smaller flies with ease yet have enough strength to extract a fish from weed, which are bass’ favourite hiding spot.
Flies for surface fishing are usually Dahlberg Divers, Gartside Gurglers, Muddler Minnows all around size 1 or 2. Most fly shops have these flies if you don’t like to tie your own.
Working the dry fly should be a subtle, even discreet, business. Nothing lands in the drink and makes a bloop or gurgle you can hear from 30m away. Keep fly movement to a very gentle twitch or wriggle, just enough so a fish sees the movement but does not regard it as anything unusual. When he grabs the offering wait until the leader tip is moving before lifting or side twitching the rod gently to set the hook.
The dry fly is best used around gaps in weed beds; points within a 1-2m of a weed bed’s outward extension. Even little ‘lagoons’ within a patch of weed will certainly hold fish. They don’t usually betray their presence but a fly will often be taken surprisingly swiftly after it lands.
An early morning start is essential and if the weed bed can just be seen in the gloom, it’s prime time for surface bass. Evenings are good too, except they don’t seem to be as productive as dawn.
Flies such as the Bass Vampire, Leech pattern, Green Bunny, Clouser Deep Minnow, dark green Woolly Bugger, all work well. Again, size 1 or a little larger is ideal. Colours differ from surface offerings and best flies should have mixes of purple, black, perhaps a little bit of red in the tail area for best effect. The main forage fish in this dam are fire-tailed gudgeons so a hint of red at the rear makes sense when fishing with a sink tip or full sinking line.
The weed beds will again be the main target areas. Make longish casts into a gap or edge, allow the fly to sink for a count down period (do trial drops so the fly does not snag on the bottom) and then strip it back in little twitches. A rather dramatic pull should indicate that a bass liked the look of the artificial offering.
Close scrutiny of the sounder when travelling just off a weed bed may show a school of fish in water from 5-7m in depth. Once located, schooled fish will usually play the game as well and by allowing the fly to sink right down and twitching it back some lunges and pulls should result.
Bass are great fighters and, as they punch well above their weight, are a really great fish for a new chum angler to cut his or her teeth on. And if you like mountain scenery with a bit of mist on the water at daylight, cloud dressing up craggy peaks just on sunrise, then Maroon Dam is the place for you.
Remember to purchase a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP).Reads: 1960