Maroon Dam has received a lot of good press over the years as it’s a scenic venue for bass fishing and the fact that Maroon fish like to bite. Maroon is a small dam and even when full finding fish is nowhere near as hard as it is at Somerset and Wivenhoe dams.
Maroon Dam is accessed via the Boonah-Rathdowney road after the Boonah turn off on the Warrego Highway at Yamanto, towards Amberley. Once in Boonah the idea is to head straight through town where a sign at the southern end advises that Maroon Dam is 23km away. Another handy sign at the dam turn off points you towards the launching ramp.
Like a lot of other southern Queensland dams, Maroon’s dam levels are pretty low. It was around 20% in April but there is still plenty of fishable water and launching is still quite easy via the normal ramp. Even anglers with quite large craft should be able to launch without too much trouble.
One thing I noticed about fishing the lower water level is that larger fish are harder to find. Schooled bass are easy to detect on the sounder but they are usually little 30-35cm tackers. However if you have never taken a bass on fly tackle these fish are great to practice on. They bite readily in 6m of water and once you’ve mastered the technique of counting down the fly line to the right depth and detecting the bite it’s pretty easy to move on to the really big fish in Somerset and Wivenhoe. Sure, the fish in the big dams will be schooling at a much greater depth (10-15m) but the count down technique remains the same.
On a recent Club trip to Maroon Dam we found the fish schooled up right along the edge of the weed bed stretching north east from the launching ramp, over towards the dam wall. Fish can also often be found along most shore areas. The idea is to find the weed and fish just outside of it to land the fish prowling the edges. You don’t need a sounder to do this as the weed grows almost to the surface in 4m of water.
The fish bite very well from daylight until about 8.30am then shut down until around 3pm. During our trip we noticed that once the sun dipped behind the range to the west, the fish simply went to bed. They showed on the sounder but would not play.
Flyfishing demands balanced tackle and your rod, line, and reel must match each other otherwise you won’t be able to cast properly.
For Maroon bass I suggest a 6 weight rod that might also be used for trout or brackish creek work. Trusty trout (floating) line will cast just as well at Maroon but won’t appeal to many fish, except for the odd occasion when a surface bite (involving 16-20cm fish) might kick off in a channel in the weed beds. A small nymph or wet rabbit fur fly will tempt these fish, but they are very small and deserve to be left alone to grow.
To hook bass feeding between the half way mark and the bottom a sinking line, like the SA Striper IV, is essential. These lines sink at around 30cm per second so if the fish are down at 6m all you need to do is cast out and wait for 20 seconds. Then you should start a short-sharp retrieve with quite small strips, around 30cm per time.
Now all this is fine, but the leader will need lead to sink at around the same rate as the fly line or a big belly will develop between fly line and fly. A store bought twisted fluorocarbon leader should be attached to the end of the fly line so the two can sink at the same rate.
If you don’t fancy a store bought twisted leader you can make a 3m leader from different sections of fluorocarbon that taper towards a 3kg tippet. Why use fluorocarbon? It sinks fairly quickly and should go close to sinking at the same rate as the fly line.
Choice of fly comes down to what colour the Vampire pattern is. While Crazy Charlies or Clousers in purple/red or green/black work fine the most consistent fly is the green/black Vampire. Purple/black and purple/red will also work well. If bumps are being felt but hook-ups are not occurring you should try changing to another colour while the fish are active. Last year the Maroon Dam bass seemed to have a thing for rabbit fur leech patterns in either black or green but the fish simply showed little interest when I tried them recently. The Vamp’s the clue.
I have not focused on the reel much as most fish in Maroon don’t go very far. A trout reel will do the job, no question.
Don’t be put off by the sight of some algae in the water, either, as the fish will often be biting their heads off right under the algae bloom.
Maroon is a great bass venue and with the cooler months approaching larger fish will start to show in schools as well. The clue might be to check the sounder for aggregations of fish holding over or on the side of the creek through the middle of the dam. The deeper water might just hold the larger blokes as winter approaches.Reads: 1954