The Queanbeyan River is the most frustrating fishery that I have encountered for a long time. There are plenty of big fish in the river and it is a really pretty spot to paddle, but the fish are so fickle and I am yet to work out their feeding patterns. That said, here is everything I know about this river. Despite being very annoying, it’s a really interesting river to fish.
The Queanbeyan River flows right through the centre of Queanbeyan, a large town in NSW that sits just outside Canberra. The town has everything you’ll need including a great tackle shop along with a supermarket, petrol station and cafes. You can even have a coffee at the launch spot right under the main bridge.
Despite the closeness to town, bring a life jacket and beacon. Depending on how far you paddle, you may find yourself isolated, especially if you kayak up towards Googong Dam.
The Queanbeyan River is jam-packed full of big redfin, solid golden perch, brown trout and Murray cod. It’s a real mixed bag and this makes it exciting, but also very challenging. Large cod won’t hesitate in striking at a small Rapala meant for a trout. Likewise, the bigger redfin will happily take surface lures designed for greenfish.
If you’re fishing surface for cod, I recommend a smaller surface lure slow rolled right over one of the many half submerged logs jutting out of the river. Inserting lots of pauses into the retrieve seems to bring the cod on, and they also prefer these paddler type lures over snakes and wakebaits. Spinnerbaits also work well, especially when fished parallel to a set of reeds or overhanging branches.
The yellas can be targeted using blades, vibes and plastics, but vibes are by far the most effective. These fish seem to favour darker colours. I let my lure sink and then lift my rod tip quickly so that the lure swims up the column fast, then I let it sink back down. The fish usually hit on the drop.
To connect with a big reddie, try a large surface lure. This is one of the few areas I have visited where the redfin can be caught consistently using surface lures with snake-like imitations being the pick of the bunch. The redfin boof like cod so be prepared for some big hits and some solid fish. A 50cm specimen isn’t out of the question, especially if you fish in winter. Vibes and blades also work well for these fish.
On my latest trip I used my Native Slayer Propel 13 and it performed well. Large stretches of the river are wide and deep, making a pedal kayak a great choice. If you want to get up into some of the better areas, you will need to travel a long way. Make sure your kayak has plenty of storage for food and water. You don’t need a sounder to fish Queanbeyan, as there are fish on most snags and all my fish have come from structure, never in the middle of the river.
Start by fishing right under the bridge in the centre of town. Yabbies cling to the pylons and small fish hover near the shade, which means predators are never far away. Up from the bridge and past the leagues club you’ll find plenty of reedy banks. These areas hold cod and reddies, which can both be targeted with surface lures.
However, if chasing yellowbelly, you will have to push up towards Wickerslack Lane where the river narrows. There are large sunken boulders here where golden perch set up ambush points. You may have to get out of your yak around these areas and push, but always have a cast from the bank before getting back in. There are decent fish holding in the shallows.
For yellas and reddies, I use a Daiwa Gen Black series 2 Pinster 1-3kg rod matched with a Gen Black 2000 sized reel. I use 8lb braid and 8lb leader and I find this handles even the larger reddies with ease. It is also capable of dealing with solid cod. I caught a 76cm specimen using this combo earlier in the year.
For cod, I use a Daiwa Tatula 100h baitcaster reel and a Daiwa Air Edge baitcaster 5-10kg rod. I run 20lb braid and 20lb leader and this is more than enough to deal with good-sized fish from a yak, even in snaggy areas.
The Queanbeyan River is very frustrating because there is no right time to fish it. Sometimes the fish will hit everything and sometimes, despite the barometric pressure being perfect, the water temperature sits around 18°C and the clouds roll in. Then the fish will be completely shut down. Although you can catch fish all year round, even in the depths of winter, you can also potentially waste a trip.
The best indication that the river is firing is if you see young fishos lining the bank of an evening. The river has an almost cult-like following among the younger generation, with groups of teenagers often lining the bank during a hot bite and pulling in amazing numbers of fish. It actually reminds me a lot of the South Coast in that way, and it is wonderful to see so many young anglers practising catch and release in this urban waterway.
The Queanbeyan River is one of those places that I will return to again and again because it is a bit of a puzzle. The surface action can be superb and the size of redfin has to be seen to be believed, along with their penchant to hit topwater and boof like a cod.
It’s a complete mystery why the fish don’t have a bite pattern, meaning Queanbeyan is a frustrating place to wet a line. The amount of contradictions in one scenario makes it truly addictive kayak fishing.Reads: 1934