The waterways in and around Canberra are where my love for fishing began. Locations like Lake Burley Griffin, Googong Dam and the Murrumbidgee River hold many fond memories for me both in life experiences, fish caught but they also provided plenty of stories for around the campfire.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Burrinjuck Waters State Park. As the name suggests, it is situated right on Burrinjuck Dam about 6km from the dam wall proper. This was the first time I had been to the park and one of the first things I thought was, ‘this is something I missed out on’. As first impressions go this is a beautiful place and the views as you drove in only wet the appetite. I wasn’t expecting to find what I did at the end of Burrinjuck Road.
Burrinjuck State park occupies 75 hectares of land directly on the water 6km from the dam wall and not far from Carrolls Creek. To get there, you turn off the Hume highway (well sign posted) onto Burrinjuck Road and follow it for 24km. Beware, the last 6km is very windy and narrow, so please take care and have a bit of patience to ensure no accidents happen.
There is a plethora of accommodation options available in the park from unpowered campsites to cabins and cottages. This means that no matter what your budget is, the park has an option for you. Please note that you will need to bring your own linen and towels.
There are 16 cottages on the property that sleep from 6-12 people. All are air-conditioned, have their own bathrooms, TVs and cooking facilities. They are spread out through the park with some right on the water and others with great views of the dam.
Slightly smaller and sleeping up to five people, there are 12 En suite cabins available. They are, again, fully self-contained and have their own bathrooms and air conditioning. Situated at the dam wall end of the property (two are centrally located) they are set back from the water and have ample boat parking and nice views.
There are five cabins that do not have a bathroom. They are situated in the middle of the park and are set back from the water. They are still self-contained as far as cooking facilities go and have air-conditioning. There is also plenty of boat and vehicle parking.
There are 35 powered sites centrally located in the park. They are close to the children’s playground, volleyball court and general store. Well-maintained amenities blocks are also close by as well as a camp kitchen.
There are seven location options for unpowered camping, four are centrally located and three are at the Carrolls Creek end of the property. During my visit, the Carrolls Creek sites impressed me, with its large flat spaces to set up, fire pits with seating and well-maintained toilet blocks can only ensure a trouble free camping experience. The views weren’t bad either.
Something that makes a park or accommodation provider stand out from the crowd is the facilities they provide and the maintenance of them. There are seven amenities blocks (four that have laundry facilities) with coin-operated showers (20 cents per five minutes). There are numerous electric and wood BBQs throughout the park as well as three camp kitchens with hot water, fridges, electricity and covered seating. I had a look at many of them while I visited and they were immaculately maintained.
There are also tennis courts, volleyball court, children’s playground, playing fields and picnic areas for visitors to use.
Other facilities include a picnic shelter that seats 60 people and a 50 person conference centre. There are numerous fishing clubs that take advantage of these areas.
I stopped in and had a quick chat to Steve Sellars who runs the Burrinjuck general store. The general store provides all the necessities you may need as well as a few of those luxuries we all partake in at times.
Fuel, ice and basic foodstuffs are the necessities. The bonuses are it also has a coffee bar, bottle shop, hot food and catering for the park. Steve showed me a menu he offers for delivery around the park. It was good value for money and would be a treat to get out of cooking for a night.
As soon as you walk into the office you realise that a major draw card for Burrinjuck Waters and the dam is fishing. It is recognised as a premier Australian native fishery and if the pictures on the wall of the office are anything to go by, that is justified.
Dean Brind, one of the managers of the park, is a keen angler and has an intimate knowledge of what’s biting and where. He is a fantastic source of information for any visiting angler.
Species you can catch are Murray cod, golden perch (yellowbelly), redfin and trout. Trout are less prominent since the drought event of the early 2000s, however fisheries have begun a stocking program of rainbow trout to enhance this to try and return this aspect of the fishery.
One thing that did surprise while I was doing the research for this article was the absence of information of catching silver perch in the lake. Some of my fondest memories about fishing Burrinjuck Dam was the excellent fishing for silver perch. I am not sure if it still exists, I will have to do a bit more investigating.
I have to admit my knowledge on the area is limited. So I spoke to Josh Buckingham from Jackpot Spinnerbaits, who regularly fishes the area with mates and his family, for some tips and tricks to catch a few fish.
The foreshore along the front of the park is a great area to do a bit of bait fishing. Scrub worms, yabbies or garden worms are all great baits for golden perch and redfin. The key is to look for an area with a bit of deep water nearby or a bit of structure in the water in the form of a sunken tree or large boulders and cast near them.
The unfortunate thing about bait fishing is that the dam also has European carp in it. These pests tend to find your baits and knock them off before your target species has a chance to get anywhere near them. The bonus of the presence of carp in the system is that they provide great sport for anglers and a great target species when fishing with the kids. They pull hard, and because the water in Burrinjuck is so clean they tend not to be like the dirty, smelly fish found in most other places. Just remember, they cannot be returned to the water, so dispatch them humanely and dispose of them correctly.
The foreshore and surrounding banks also provide options for the lure casters amongst us. Along the shallower shorelines, small-bibbed minnows or spinnerbaits will catch their fair share of fish. There are a number of banks that drop steeply into the water and this is where soft vibe lures come into their own. Cast into the depths, letting them drop to the bottom and slowly working them up the contours of the bank is a deadly technique on golden perch, but don’t be surprised if a cod falls to this method as well. Josh swears by his Jackpot Soft Vibes for this, but other lures like a Zerek Fish Trap or Samaki Vibelicious would also be suitable.
Having a boat or kayak to explore the dam opens up a lot more fishing options. Using your sounder to find schooled fish or fish around structure can improve catch rates. These fish can be targeted with either lures or baits.
Trolling is a highly effective way of catching fish and searching the waterway. Bibbed lures are the traditional lure used to get to the depths along steep banks or drop offs off points and islands. Ensure your lure dives deep enough to get where the fish are and hang on.
Trolling spinnerbaits is a less frequently used method, but is highly effective as it allows you to troll very slowly and still have the blades of the lure ticking over attracting the fish to your lure.
Casting spinnerbaits and lures at the abundant structure along the shoreline is another effective way to catch yourself a fish. Our native fish love a roof over their heads and there is plenty of structure on offer all over the dam. Keep your retrieve as slow as possible and don’t be afraid to cast at likely structure multiple times.
As Josh is a local, his spinnerbaits have been designed for waters like Burrinjuck Dam and they are popular with local anglers. Bassman and TT Spinnerbaits are also good options. Gobsmacked Lures are another popular local product that have caught more than there fair share of fish in the dam.
Burrinjuck Waters State Park is the ideal base to explore everything that Burrinjuck Dam has to offer. I know the next time I am in the area, I will be putting aside some time to explore it better.
For more information on the park you can go to www.inlandwaters.com.au/park/info/burrunjuck-waters or can contact the office on (02) 6227 8114.
Photo Courtesy of Josh Buckingham.
Photo Courtesy of Josh Buckingham.
Photo courtesy of Josh Buckingham.Reads: 1064