Yakking about impoundments
  |  First Published: January 2016

The east coast of Australia is dotted with impoundments. Lakes and dams of various sizes that often allow access to anglers, including kayak anglers, and many of which are stocked with popular freshwater sportfish, including Australian bass, golden perch, silver perch, Murray cod, saratoga, barramundi and more.

Impoundments can offer excellent fishing for kayak anglers, often providing sheltered waters, multiple launch points, less boat traffic and an environment that is a little more gear friendly than the salt.

There are, however, some important considerations when investigating your local impoundments to plan an adventure.

Ensure that fishing is permitted and check out any regulations regarding no fishing zones, closed seasons and whether any permits or licenses are required. It’s also worth investigating if there are open and closing times for being on the water, or accessing the impoundment through locked gates. Remember that some of these bodies of water are quite large and can become choppy and even dangerous in windy conditions, so check the weather forecast and wind direction as this may influence your plans, launch site or the area you fish.

I have fished many impoundments over the years and the kayak is perfect for stealthily exploring the weed beds, lilies, pockets in the weed, timber and other structure, with minimal noise, a low profile and with little shadow and water displacement. This allows you to get surprisingly close to fish and fish holding structure and the next fish that showers me with water as it eats the lure beside the kayak will definitely not be the last.

Before visiting your local impoundment there are a couple of great online resources that can give you a head start. Google Maps allows you to explore the area surrounding the impoundment to find access points close to fishy looking structure and sheltered water, while also giving you a basic lay of the land in terms of steep drop offs, shallow drains and basic vegetation. It is important to note though that these maps can be dated, so use them as a basic guide as their accuracy may vary due to the changing water level.

Another great tool for anglers is Lowrance’s Insight Genesis Social Map, which is viewable from their website – www.lowrance.com. These charts are created by anglers, boaters, sailors and others who are out on the water, running their Lowrance or Simrad electronics, who then choose to upload the information to the social mapping. These charts show water depth contours and can be a great resource for locating the old river bed, humps that rise from the bottom, steep drop offs and other structure that may hold fish. Not all coastal or inland waterways will be mapped, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that much of a local impoundment that I plan to explore has been mapped, allowing me to make note of structure that will definitely be worth a few casts.

The stocking of these impoundments is often funded by permits, licences and the efforts of local stocking groups that oversee the fishery, raise and manage the funds, and co-ordinate the release of fingerlings. Recently my wife Sheri and I caught up with the PRFMA (Pine Rivers Fish Management Association), a group that I am a former member of and hope to be involved with again soon, at a co-ordinated fish release at Lake Kurwongbah in South East Queensland. It was great to see so many volunteers turn up on the day to assist with the release, as buckets of fingerlings were acclimatised before being released into the safety of the weed and lilies. It was also fantastic to see so many kids taking part as these young anglers are the future of our sport.

I caught up with Steve Wighton, the PRFMA president, and we chatted about their recent tilapia bash aimed at reducing numbers of this noxious species, along with the fishing events that they have run for the kids and the shared access that is now in place on Lake Kurwongbah that allows kayak anglers to fish this picturesque waterway. Steve and his fellow stocking group members are passionate about fishing and the future of the sport, evident in the smiles on their faces as they stood knee deep in the water, slowly releasing 20,000 Australian bass and 10,000 golden perch into their new home.

If you’re a passionate freshwater angler looking to be more involved in your local fishery, touch base with your local stocking group. Alternatively, make sure you buy a raffle ticket, donate, or even fish one of their events to assist them with their efforts. I kayak fished the salt for many years before sliding the yak into the sweetwater and for the saltwater anglers out there, I can highly recommend a freshwater adventure. The environment and wildlife is so different, the freshwater is gear friendly, you can camp right on the water at many locations and freshwater species can be challenging, rewarding and great fun.

I am looking forward to my maiden voyage on this local impoundment, especially after witnessing the addition of these new fingerlings, and the team from the stocking group freely offered a few tips for fishing this lake. A bit of research among friends that have fished the lake also gave me a good starting point for my upcoming adventure and you will see a few of their successes among the accompanying photos. Spinnerbaits, tail-spinners and blades are among the go-to lures for fishing this impoundment and worth including in your freshwater kit.

Stay tuned for next month’s article where I slide my kayak into an impoundment that I have never fished before and report back with a breakdown of the structure I encountered and techniques that I employed to catch a few… hopefully Murphy doesn’t throw a spanner in the works and put the mocker on me.

Take the time to Google the local impoundments in your area and plan a freshwater adventure. You may discover a gem of a fishery, be blown away by the tranquillity of the surroundings and even get to tangle with a new drag peeling, hard-fighting and iconic fish species.

See you on the water.

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