Glenlyon is a place any self-respecting native angler wants to visit or has visited. Sadly I had never been, even though I’d driven within half an hour of it many times going to fish gorge country cod. It was time for that to change.
Like all good excuses for a fishing trip, a reader asked us to do something on Glenlyon at the Tinnie and Tackle Show. Who was I to argue? So we organised a trip with a few of my mates who had fished the waters of Glenlyon a few times and had an idea on what was going on in 2012 at this fantastic fishery.
Glenlyon is well serviced by the Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park, a very convenient place to stay and get all the latest and greatest information.
The park itself has ample camping areas, cabins, a well supplied general store and access to the boat ramps within the park’s boundaries. The park is conveniently located near the dam wall giving visitors the opportunity explore and fish the entire lake.
We stayed in a cabin that was suitable for four with a double bed and 2 bunks. With Wayne Kampe, Greg Livingstone and I on the trip, everyone had their own bed, which was brilliant. You do need to bring your own cutlery and crockery, along with your bedding, however the cabins do contain a fridge, simple cooking pots and pans and, most importantly, a reverse cycle air conditioner. We stayed in a cabin that adjoined another cabin that had two mad keen lure collectors (Rob Dunne and Mike Gilbert) and the talented Gidgee Lures builder Tom Barratt. These three had had some memorable trips to Glenlyon in 2012 and were keen to experience more before the waters cooled right down.
In between our cabins was a small fireplace with seating and this is perhaps the best part of the cabins as you can crank up a fire, sit around having a drink and dissect the day’s fishing. There is just something magical about sitting around a fire talking fishing – especially when one of the guys makes timber lures!
But back to the facilities and there is a large common shower/toilet block, firewood is available on site for free and car parking is plentiful. If camping, you can mostly choose your preferred location and set up whatever size camp you want. There is also room for caravans and motor homes with powered sites strategically placed around the park.
All in all Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park is simply organised in a way that allows visitors to experience their stay how they want, rather than being told what not to do from the time they drive through the front gates. I really enjoyed my time there.
Glenlyon Dam is easy to get to from Brisbane or northern NSW.
From Brisbane it’s roughly 3 1/2 hours travel up the Cunningham Highway to Warwick before turning towards Stanthorpe and then travelling through Pikedale and Pikes Creek. This will take you over the very top of the lake, giving you a bit of an adrenalin pump when you first see the lake. This route has recently been upgraded and is now the preferred way to access the Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park. The other way to get to Glenlyon is to travel through Wallangarra and then into Tenterfield where you turn right onto the Bruxner Highway. After about 50km, turn right onto Mingoola Road and then onto Glenlyon Dam Road.
From Ballina in NSW you travel through Lismore on the Bruxner Highway and follow the directions from Tenterfield as above. From Coffs Harbour, travel north to Grafton, then onto Casino where you join the Buxner Highway and follow the same directions as above once you get to Tenterfield.
Whichever way you choose the driving is easy, however there is abundant wildlife on all the roads so keep a wary eye open, especially at low light periods and throughout the night.
Glenlyon Dam is a moderate sized lake of 1,800ha holding 254,000ML of water and is currently sitting between 90-100% capacity. Stocked with Murray cod and golden perch, Glenlyon also has an abundance of eel-tailed catfish and the occasional silver perch for anglers to chase.
In 2012 anglers flocked to Glenlyon to chase the cod that were performing exceptionally well in the early months of the year. However Glenlyon is historically better known as a first class golden perch fishery and goldens are still in abundance. Cod up to and over 90cm are not uncommon and golden perch ranging up to 7kg are always a possibility at Glenlyon and I have to admit that the chance to tangle with a big, bruising golden had me a little fired up. In fact only two weeks before our trip Fishing Monthly’s youngest sub-editor Tim Ferrier visited with some mates and they landed golden perch up around the 6lb mark and cod to 80cm. I may have been a little excited!
Our trip didn’t provide us with the magical fishing we had hoped for, however in one evening and one day’s fishing we did manage to boat 7 cod and 3 golden perch, all taken trolling lures around the rocky banks that are littered with timber. We caught fish on Gidgee Lures (as you do when the guy next door makes them!), Luhr Jensen Hot Lips and Mitto Lures – a local Tenterfield-built lure. For us, or I should say for Kampe, the Luhr Jensen was the gun lure accounting for the majority of the fish. Sure it was a bit old school, but it was fun to see an old veteran lure get stuck into a fish or five.
The boys in the other cabin worked hard over two days and landed cod to just under 70cm on Gidgee Lures and caught cod on surface lures in the evenings. Yep it was cold, the surface temp was hovering around 20C and still the boys managed to get a few cod to smash some surface lures around The Caves.
It was interesting comparing notes at day’s end: our boat caught more but smaller fish than the other crew who managed a few legal cod and some good goldens.
The fireside talk was all about what to take and what to do and the majority of anglers fishing Glenlyon fish baits amongst the sticks at the tops of the lake. Simple paternoster or running sinker rigs are used with shrimp the preferred bait. The shrimp can be collected at the lake with shrimp traps and getting a bucket load of them is generally fairly easy when water temperatures are up.
The preferred method of bait fishing is to tie up to a tree and bob baits amongst the roots. Fishing from 3-5m is common, however some adventurous anglers take it to the next level and target bigger fish in deeper water by finding trees in 5-8m of water. This is tough fishing but the rewards are there with bigger golden perch and the occasional behemoth Murray cod succumbing to this tactic.
Lure fishers tend to troll at Glenlyon and deep diving, Australian-made lures are the ‘go-to’ lures. Anything that swims with a big action in 3-7m of water is worth having a troll of when fishing Glenlyon. We found cod in 20’ (around 6m) of water and our goldens were all a bit shallower, being taken in about 12’ (4m) of water. All our fish were associated with timber: some timber on the hard, steep rocks and some timber found on the edges of the abundant weed beds. And you may have guessed the goldens came from the weedy timber and the cod from the rocky timber. This is a pretty standard practice for lure fishers at Glenlyon.
If you’re keen on lure casting, the kilometres of weedy edges and steep rocky shorelines make this heaven for lures such as spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Both of these lure styles can be worked deep along the edges of the weed and Tim caught some of his goldens in this manner on spinnerbaits cast along the weeds in 4-5m of water.
I think there is still some serious cool water, big lure work to be done at Glenlyon by switched on anglers. The possibility of these techniques coming across from other lakes in the area is very exciting and already some anglers are casting ultra-large spinnerbaits in very deep water targeting structure and fish located on their sounder. Results are hard to come by, but when they come, they come in a big way. I look forward to seeing how this develops in the coming seasons.
The big question out of this trip is, is it actually worth the drive out to Glenlyon?
I say yes because I love fishing for natives and travelling under 4 hours to get onto good water is not a big stretch. I’m not going to say we smashed big fish and it’s going off because, as a general rule, chasing native fish in lakes and impoundments is hard work. Glenlyon is no different. If you know your stuff, are prepared to adapt to the conditions, willing to talk to other anglers and not take results for granted, Glenlyon will give you some great memories. Add in the ease of hiring a cabin, sitting around a fire and chatting, and basically taking it easy and Glenlyon becomes a great place to get away from it all.
Will I be back? Yes I will and we have already organised another trip this winter to have a crack in the lake with some big lures down deep and also to get our feet wet in the local rivers – another story that is every bit as exciting as the lake itself.
So pack up your lures, grab some hooks and sinkers, get your shrimp pots, buy a Stocked Impoundment Permit and get the Glenlyon. Enjoyable people, enjoyable location and some native fishing to boot. What more could you want from a fishing getaway?
Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park
Glenlyon Dam Road, Glenlyon
02 6737 5266
A Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required to fish here.Reads: 3159