Kayak fishing at Lake Samsonvale
  |  First Published: September 2004

IN PAST articles I have included some valuable contributions from members of the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association on their experiences fishing Lake Samsonvale. These reports have provided insights into the varied ways in which boating access permit holders derive maximum enjoyment from their sorties on the lake, their tips and techniques, and where to find the fish.

This month we have a contribution form PRFMA member Ross Church, who provides some advice for that hardy band of kayaking enthusiasts who put their ‘paddle power’ to good use.


If you are one of the growing number of kayak fishers living in the Brisbane area, and it’s stocked freshwater impoundment fishing that you want, it’s hard to go past Lake Samsonvale. One of the joys of fishing from a kayak is experiencing the fun of being towed around by a good fish in deep water, and Samsonvale is just the place to do it. This impoundment is home to bass of over 50cm and large models of yellowbelly willing to oblige.

Another attraction of Samsonvale is the fact that access is limited to a clearly defined section of the lake for paddle- or electric-powered craft under a public permit system, so there are no worries about powerboat wake-wash or being run over by a jet-skier. This means you can concentrate almost 100% on your fishing.

This pristine fishing area includes about 10km of the North Pine arm of the lake, extending from an open lake section to a flowing river system in the upper reaches with several small creeks running into it. At the upstream end there’s a series of clear rocky pools connected by just a shallow stream of flowing water.

When I paddle upstream, with only a couple of houses visible in the distance and rarely any other craft on this restricted waterway, it’s like stepping back in time. I have seen platypus, turtles and lungfish breaking the surface, with hundreds of waterbirds on the water or wading in the shallows. The natural bush with water dragons and other wildlife on the bank in a preserved environment gives me a glimpse of what the broader Pine Rivers area may have been like before the huge population growth that occurred over the past 40 years.

This riverine area suggests distinct possibilities for flyfishing or using light spinning gear, but I haven’t got around to proving this theory as yet.

For me, in nearly a year of visiting this lake, I have caught all my fish in the open water areas between the launching bay and the southern boundary of the permit area.


My most productive method has been to slowly troll deep diving lures along the old riverbed or through the deeper holes in open areas where schools of baitfish are holding. Trolling a shallow diving lure around the lake edges has also worked.

A sounder of some sort is essential; I didn’t have one when I started out, and I had no success although I tried many times. I now use a portable model that lets me identify the bottom profile as well as locate the schools of baitfish and display arches when larger fish are around.

My preferred trolling method is to find the old riverbed and zigzag back and forth along the edges to pick up the quality Australian bass for which this lake is renowned, with an occasional golden perch thrown in for good measure.

Mind you, don’t expect to come back with a high score. Using a kayak for lake trolling is not as efficient as a small electric-powered craft with several people on board trolling with multi-lines out, enabling several different lures to be tried at once to quickly find the ‘right’ lure for the day. Even so, I’d rather have the fun of landing one or two good fish from a kayak than a lot of fish from a tinny. To be happily paddling along and suddenly have my forward momentum halted by a solid strike, turning the kayak back towards the fish while taking the rod out of the holder, getting dragged towards the fish as I battle to bring it alongside, carefully netting it without capsizing, then trying to measure, photograph, and release the fish without having it land in my lap and lacerate my legs with its sharp gill covers is much more exciting than ‘normal’ fishing!

Being the eternal optimist, I generally use a larger lure than many other anglers use at Lake Samsonvale. Even though the lure’s size might deter smaller fish from striking, I reckon that one day my largish Predatek B80UDs (which I prefer because of their ultra-deep diving ability) will snare me one of the 13,000 Mary River cod that have been stocked here since 1993, but which are rarely captured. There have got to be some dead-set snodgers down there somewhere, and wouldn’t it be great fun to hook onto one from a kayak? I just hope there’s no speed limit enforced on the lake!

If you do try trolling Samsonvale with a kayak, don’t despair if you miss out a few times but still see high catches recorded by other anglers on the same day. The most successful blokes often anchor their boats around snags and structure where they use live shrimp caught in the dam with baited pots. Just persevere for several trips and get a few tips from the other anglers you see on the water until you know what to do to make the trolling method work for you.

Saving money

So if you want regular yet enjoyable exercise, are sick of waiting in boat ramp queues, and begrudge spending mega-bucks on boat maintenance and fuel, kayak fishing might be worth a look. For further information on this exciting new sport, a good starting point is the local website ‘Kayak Fishing in South East Queensland’ at http://members.optusnet.com.au/aus-kayak-fishing. Just go to the ‘Links’ page, and it will direct you to some of the best sites on this topic throughout the world.

If you are currently ‘boat-less’ and lucky enough to live close to Lake Samsonvale, spending up to $2000 for a new kayak and only $110 for an annual permit fee is good value to enjoy first-class freshwater fishing. It certainly works out cheaper than what you could end up paying to regularly travel to similarly productive fisheries requiring a hire boat or fishing guide when you get there.

Lastly, as kayak fishing can sometimes become ‘adventurous’, always consider your safety and wear a PFD.

Boating Access Permits

Boating Access Permits for Lake Samsonvale are allocated by the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association. For more information on the scheme, or to buy a permit, write to PRFMA, PO Box 131, Lawnton, Qld, 4501, or phone 0417 742 023. Money raised from the permit scheme is used to stock the lake with native species, including Australian bass, golden perch, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga.


1) A 50cm+ Australian bass taken in over 30 feet of water.

2) North Pine River at end of navigable section accessible from the lake.

3) The open areas often produce when trolling.

4) A kayak rigged for trolling at the PRFMA launch site.

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