It was the ANZAC day long weekend and after our previous trip to Monduran had been cancelled due to illness, I was looking forward to finally chasing some big barra.
A couple of mates of mine, Mike and Ian, had been at the dam some three weeks earlier and caught some nice barra to 90cm. The boys told me that I should have spooled my new Daiwa Blue Baker with 50lb braid. Now I’ve caught my share of barra over the years but I couldn’t get my head around the fact we needed 50lb braid!
Lake Monduran is about 10km north of Gin Gin and about 4 1/2 hours drive north of Brisbane, which includes a half hour stop over for coffee and breakfast. Camping grounds are available at the dam and have all the usual amenities as well as a kiosk with the must have supplies for any lost tackle from a day in the battlefield. We chose to stay at the Country Comfort Inn and enjoyed some extra luxuries such as comfy beds, hot showers and a restaurant.
Lake Monduran is quite a sizable body of water with bays covered in dead timber lining both sides of the dam. When you first see the dam it’s so big you won’t know where to start fishing. We found fishing the shallows in depths from 0.9-2m and finding water temperatures around 26 seems to make a difference.
Let’s not forget these are tropical species and these dams can get a bit on the cool side for them; needless to say we found the afternoons fired up better than the mornings.
Don’t be afraid to push your boat in to some of the feeder creeks. They may not look like much, but they hold fish. Another tip is not to try and cast your lure into the next bay, because there is so much timber in the dam it easier to get bricked with a lot of line out, so keep your casts to 10m.
50lb braid is necessary because even though the fish aren’t going to pull miles of line from your reel, the first hit may take up to 5m of line, which can be too much. You get the picture.
Having all this great line is no good unless you’re connected to the fish through a tough, strong leader. We have now started twisting our own braided leaders using 40lb YGK fluorocarbon leader material. This isn’t a hard process, bit it is slow. You start with about a 2m length folded in half, then in the middle you make a tight little loop, and you then proceed to roll or twist the two strands in the same direction. It’s tiring to keep the twists as tight as possible but continue down the rest of your leader, and then tie a half hitch. About 5” back from the half hitch fold the line over and make a loop and repeat the process as above. This now gives you 4 strands of leader at the working end. I fished with this leader and after catching eight barra it was still in good shape. Then simply use Halco 24kg duo lock snaps, which can be fitted after you have made your leaders as the snaps can be opened from both ends.
The natural food supply for these fish is gar, so we need to be using lures of similar profile i.e. long and thin. The best-known lure for this on the market is the Reidy’s B52, an excellent lure with all the right hardware attached. I caught fish on a number of lures that weekend with everything from Halco 120 Laser Pros to Storm Shallow Thunders and no changing of hooks required on either of these two lures. However, the stand out lure for me was the 6” Bomber shallow in the blue holographic colour scheme. But bear in mind these are what worked for us on that weekend, if for some reason your not raising fish, change your lure size, shape or colour. Don’t limit yourself to one type of lure – experiment, that’s what we did.
As far as rods go, you can’t physically fish all day with a 24kg rod in your hand because of all the casts you have to put in (unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger), so we mainly use 10kg class rods. I use a modified Daiwa Flanker or a Gary Howard Samurai baitcaster. I know there is a big push for longer baitcasting rods these days, but they will only get in the road of back casts around trees. Yes, the timber is that thick! Now before you all get on my back about fishing 24kg ling on a 10kg rod, you must remember not to go high sticking it on a strike. That is what will bring your rod to grief. Both of these rods have excellent castability, and being of high-grade graphite you can twitch the lures back extremely well. Don’t be afraid to put a couple of pauses in the retrieve as well, remembering the fish are a bit slower in the winter months.
If you’re fishing with a mate it’s important to get a system worked out early as to who is doing what when someone gets a fish on. We were using my 4.2m Sea Jay Nomad Elite with a 40hp Yamaha on the back and a 55lb Minn Kota with autopilot up the front. Every electric motor should have autopilot; it allows you to focus more on your fishing and less on driving. When someone’s on, the other person should be doing whatever the angler wants: steering the electric motor, getting the landing net out and at the ready, even jumping into the water if necessary. On our final day Mike had a good barra that had his line around a slim tree. Mike was passing the rod around the tree to me and then I passed it back. As we pushed away from the tree, it decided to fall over as the boat headed in the other direction. The last thing I heard from Mike was, “We’re going in!” and that we did. Thankfully the water was only 1.5m deep and we weren’t in Kakadu National Park!
Fortunately the autopilot was turned off on the electric motor. So I swam back to the boat and motored back towards Mike, who was still connected to the fish. He passed me the rod and climbed back in the boat where I gave him his rod back, got the landing net ready, and whooshka! One 88cm barra is boated. Are you getting my point about teamwork?
Together we ended up with 17 barra between us for the three days. Not a bad result given everyone we spoke to at the boat ramp said it was tough and barely raised a fish. Make no mistake about how strong these fish are. We had some of the most heavy-duty trebles available on our lures, mainly Owner, and after each fish we had to bend them back into shape.
A successful fishing trip is either won or lost in its preparation. This was not an expensive fishing trip by any means, but given you are travelling for 4 1/2 hours each way, it is better to make sure that you are well prepared; it can make the difference between landing fish or coming home skunked.
If you have any further questions or want more information on this type of fishing please feel free to drop in and see me or any of the boys at Captain Bligh’s Tacklemart at Tingalpa (07) 3890 5999 or Underwood (07) 3290 0628.Reads: 969