Barra fever draws southerners
  |  First Published: November 2004

It seems plenty of southerners have caught barra fever and a 14-hour drive puts you in some of the most easily accessible and adrenalin-rushing barra country in Australia.

Lake Proserpine, or Peter Faust Dam, is an unassuming piece of water when you first see it from the ramp a closer inspection reveals a mind-blowing fishery with a sunken forest that hold lots of mega barra keen to claim your lures for their collections.

Faust holds fish in the ‘uh-oh’ category – the first phrase that goes though the mind as you see a fish the size of a merino monster your lure.

If you are to have any chance to land one of these fish in the sticks, heavy gear and leaders are a necessity. Many fish are caught around the weed beds and shallows, usually trolling water barren of structure, and if you just want to land a big barra that’s the way to go.

Then again, if you just want to experience an incredibly powerful adversary and a fish that shows complete contempt for even the best fighting techniques, head for the timber.

Faust is often rightfully referred to as The Dam of a Thousand Casts. Don’t go up there expecting to get constant action or land everything you hook as the rate of capture is around one landed to every five hooked.

I used the new Penn International 955 baitcaster with stainless gearing – it was the only thing I knew of that could handle the punishment spooled with 50 lb Bionic Braid and a 40kg leader. I also used a No 6 Halco Cross Lock and wouldn’t even consider using another type of speed clip.

During my stay I saw straightened clips, snapped lures and rods and well-reputed reels totally wrecked, plus lots of anglers with bulging eyes and broken hearts. I had a dream run in comparison to many and the luck gods smiled on me daily as the tally of metre-plus fish grew.

If you do take something along that isn’t up to the task, don’t worry you’ll soon know about it. I believe that if a southern bass angler employs the same fish-finding tactics on Faust as on southern bass waters, they will have as good a chance as any at finding fish. About the only exception to this is the deepwater schools so common in Bass water.

Similarities include surface action, working diving lures around shallow points and focusing on drowned creek beds and weed. The tackle and lures change a bit but similar tactics are employed in lure placement.

Every fish I landed or hooked in Faust was taken on 125mm Halco Scorpions, mostly in metallic colours. Take some spare trebles in 6X, No 2 size, and inspect your lure after every strike, even if you think the fish missed the hooks. I had several strikes that I thought never connected but on closer inspection revealed a straightened hook or hooks.

Spooky, isn’t it, that you can get smoked and not bend the rod – they’re seriously powerful and fast strikes to do that.

The new generation of Penn Pinpoint rods, around $90 to $100, have soft tips and ballsy butts. My first three metre-plus fish from Faust came on this 8kg rod but I suggest the 10kg for extra insurance.

It’s important to choose a highly visible line to be aware of line direction in the wind and among the branches.

I saw one guided operation which produced fish consistently – Lindsay from Proserpine Bait and Tackle, along with offsider Jason.

Queensland is by far the most proactive stocking state in Australia and anglers are spending dollars on travelling north for obvious reasons. The stocking groups deserve congratulations on their efforts.

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