Borumba’s saratoga: Great on Fly
  |  First Published: May 2008

Borumba Dam, near Imbil south of Gympie, has been known for its good bass fishing of late, however the original attraction of this dam was its unique great saratoga fishing. And despite the considerable attention of past years, the fish are still there, still catchable, and still as strong as ever on the business end of a fly line.

Saratoga are an ancient fish but are still very attractive, and a big one can sure pull hard. They have their eyes set well up on top of their heads, which means they look to the surface for tucker. This makes them ideal for a surface fly at daylight or dusk.

As with all fishing, you will need the right tackle.

Eight weight outfit ideal

Most of the saratoga being taken are around the 60-80cm mark, so an 8wt fly rod is ideal. There are much larger toga available, but they are very hard to get to.

I rely on two fly lines for my Borumba fishing – floating and intermediate line. The floating line is used to get the fly into the shallows, against standing timber, or in under overhanging vegetation. It is ideal with a floating fly such as the Garside Gurgler or Dahlberg Diver, on the end of a 5kg tippet at daylight.

Once the sun is up the fish will go deeper, so it is best to use a slow sink or intermediate line. Cast to the same places as previously and allow the fly to sink a little before commencing the retrieve.

The tippet material for these fish should be hard and not easily scuffed, as toga have some interesting dental equipment. Fluorocarbon tippet material is ideal, and I love Sunline Siglon in 10lb, as the stuff is very smooth, supple, and knots beautifully. I like to put the fly on a loop so it can swim as it's being retrieved.

The take of a saratoga is a dead hard pull, usually accompanied by a fair amount of jumping. Sometimes the jumping will be straight into a snag, and I think we’ve all had that done a few times.

Do not allow the saratoga to run far, as there is usually ample cover for them to break off. Any reel that will hold an 8wt line plus backing is fine. A reel with a spare spool would be ideal as it allows a quick change from floating to intermediate line when desired.

It is also not wise to hold a toga up for a photo the way we normally do with bass (the old thumb in the mouth), as a lacerated thumb will be only seconds away.

Finding Fish

Saratoga are distributed far more widely within Borumba Dam, especially when full, than is realised. Most anglers whiz straight up to the highest reaches and the shallowest water to start their fly fishing, but there are a lot of toga holding around the old Eagles Nest area of the dam, which is where Kingham and Yabba creeks meet in a wide area of standing timber.

Try and get away from the main area where boats might travel and fish around the edges of the numerous small bays. There are also fish to be found in several of the bays on the southern side of the dam, before the Borumba Creek entry and, of course, in Borumba Creek itself.

The latter area is great for those days when strong southeasterlies are ripping through the hills and rippling the water. The southern arm is within quite a sheltered section of the dam, so you can use the electric motor (another very important bit of kit for catching toga) to sneak along nicely without the breeze taking control of the boat.

Some techniques

I like to be on the water as early as possible, as the fish like to roll around standing timber or bow waving in the shallows in the morning. Most times, a fish that's just moved won't go far at all so it's worth making repeated casts to an area.

I like to use flies that have a 'bug' look about them. The Dahlberg Diver is a classic example of this and these flies can be fished either totally floating or on the sink tip later in the day – both with equal chance of success. Another fly I like is the giant Muddler Minnow, tied on a size 2 hook. Black bead chain eyes are the go with this dark brown offering. Remember, nothing that these fish eat moves very quickly so a slow, jerky sort of retrieve is the way to go.

Late afternoon, fish the shaded locations and again work the fly slowly around likely fish holding features. A fish that follows or swirls is worth another throw; next time he might well hook up.

Last May long weekend we fished Borumba for some really good toga action, so hopefully it will happen again this year!

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