Kinchant is one of the three dams stocked by MAFSA and is one that I predicted years ago would eventually hold some huge barra, mainly because of the extensive weedbeds and the abundance of bony bream in the dam. These same ‘bonies’ gave rise to great growth rates for sooty grunter previously stocked in the dam.
But even though Kinchant Dam is a great barra fishery, it is not as popular with anglers as the other two Mackay dams – Teemburra and Eungella. This is primarily due to the jetskis and ski boats that frequent Kinchant on weekends and during the holidays.
But if you time your trips right, this dam is well worth the journey – even though over the last two years the dam levels have been up and down (and got to almost disastrous low levels last year). Low water levels, while not desirable, do give anglers an opportunity to hone their skills because the fish are ‘concentrated’ in a small amount of water.
This same low water level was the catalyst for the local SunWater staff to engage DPI Fisheries Officers to do some survey work to check on the health of the fish. I went along on an electrofishing survey of the dam and it was certainly an eye opener, with sleepy cod and sooties to around 500mm and barra over the magic metre! The results were published locally and in QFM and this galvanised some intense interest in the dam, to the point where inflatables and canoes were being used to access the fishing. (Imagine hooking a metre plus barra in a canoe!)
One thing that was particularly noticeable with the electrofishing work was that the barra were always found with heaps of bony bream around 75-100mm long. Bonies of this size are clearly the favourite food of Kinchant barra, which probably accounts for the huge success of soft plastic shad style lures in this size range. These are one of the most popular lures used on barra in our dams, and all the local tackle shops sell heaps of them. Soft plastic shads are relatively cheap too, which is a bonus.
Once we started to get some rain earlier in the year and SunWater was able to harvest water from the river into the dam, the place really started to go off in a big way. This also coincided with the fact that boats could again be launched from the ramp, giving anglers better access to all areas of the dam.
I have discussed the barra fishing at Kinchant with Mick Rethus of Pioneer Valley Fishing Tours (ph. 07 4959 1514) and a couple of other successful anglers, and they all reckon the best fish are to be had roaming the open spaces of the dam. So, based on the fact they have several metre-plus barra to their credit, I suggest you follow their lead and score yourself a big barra or two. Around 105,000 barra have been stocked so far, so there are plenty there for everyone.
The best places to fish for impoundment barra are around the weedbeds or isolated clumps of weed out from the main beds. Cruising slowly around the dam edges will soon show up these places and if there is a sloping bottom, so much the better. Don’t ignore even a small clump of weed with clear water around it because barra will happily hole up around these small sections, just as they do on small isolated regrowth suckers in Teemburra and elsewhere. There are spots just like this in Kinchant but access to them depends on the water level, both for barra and for anglers.
One other hotspot that came up while electrofishing was along the old channel that runs through the dam. When looking across the dam from the boat ramp, the channel runs from left to right over towards the main wall and to the north of the tower. Using a sounder it will show up easily and there is a drop of about 2m into the channel. Every pass with the electrofisher found big barra in this area, so I suggest it is worth a try also.
Now that we have identified the best type of country to locate the barra in the dam, lets look at some proven techniques and lures.
Soft plastic shads are very ‘bony-like’ in appearance and are easy to use. Barra have even been caught on trolled shads, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a first-up technique.
My personal preference in these lures is the Tsunami range of 100mm shads. These are cheap, have good solid hardware and the barra like them. The Storm range is also very popular here, although there are plenty of other anglers who reckon Squidgies are the way to go. All these brands have good built-in shad tail actions and can be worked really slowly, which I think is a key to success. I have also scored quite a few barra on the Tsunami curly tail range. All up, it’s a good idea to have a variety of plastics on hand.
When it comes to colour, just remember the barra’s favourite food – bony bream – and try to imitate it. Muted colours such as the gold, dark backs over lighter bellies, silver, and just plain black all work.
With the built-in hook models, just run with the hardware supplied. I have seen a few anglers adding a small treble that they hook back near the ‘wrist’ of the lure via a short piece of wire, but I can’t see the need for this. The extra treble can kill some of the low-speed action of the lure, and it also makes releasing a fish much harder. Hook-ups on plastics are generally very solid, with the lure often fully inhaled by the barra, so a single hook rig is fine.
Mick Rethus, whose results at Kinchant and other dams speak for themselves, often fishes large Squidgies on a single Gamakatsu hook with no jighead at all. This is really effective around and over weeds. The weight of the plastic is enough to cast even off the fairly solid baitcasters used, and the lure can be worked as the Yanks do with soft stickbaits. There is also the added attraction of the working tail.
Plastics aren’t the only success story on Kinchant – hard-bodies take their share as well, and one hard-body that has accounted for plenty of barra in this dam is the Owner Tango Dancer. What a great lure! It has very sharp, solid trebles, good weight, and plenty of action when worked with the rod rather than just a straight retrieve. I have had barra climbing all over these lures in Teemburra. Rodney Collings, and another MAFSA member, report the same reception from Kinchant barra.
Rodney tells me that the Tango Dancer is the hot lure for Kinchant, and he maintains it keep pace with plastics as far as results go. The Dancer is not worked like an ordinary popper. Rather, you sweep it along with the rod and then leave it to float for anything up to the count of 30 before giving it a nudge and sweep. Counting to 30 is hard on the nerves when you are expecting a hit from a good barra!
The Dancers can also be fished using another American bass anglers technique, called walking the dog. With this technique you simply keep the lure moving along, ‘swimming’ from side to side. I recommend that you give each technique a go or use a combination of both.
Shad-style hard-bodied lures should also work well on the Kinchant barra. These lures are imitations of bony bream and herring, matching the barra’s favourite food source. Shad Raps, 70mm Fat Raps and similar shaped lures should do the trick here, just as they do in Teemburra and Eungella.
So just what size barra can you expect in this dam? I spoke to some experienced Kinchant fishers to find out.
Mick tells me the best he has seen from this dam is a 1050mm barra on a soft plastic just beside a weed bed. This fish was caught in close proximity to several others that were just under the metre mark.
Rodney Collings, who has caught metre-plus barra in all three of our dams, has a best from Kinchant of 1030mm, again on a soft plastic. His mate Dave Plowman has a 1010mm fish to his credit, caught on a Tango Dancer about three casts after catching a 440mm barra from the same spot!
From these results it’s apparent that you are just as likely to strike a 500mm barra as a metre-plus model. This indicates that the stocking approach of MAFSA, with annual releases to provide anglers with various year class fish, is so far successful. I recommend you use the best gear you can afford to give yourself the best chance of landing a metre or better of mighty Kinchant barra.
Kinchant Dam is an easy 30-minute drive from Mackay and is ideal for an early morning or late afternoon/evening session. Accommodation is available at Kinchant Waters Resort, and guided fishing can be arranged with Mick Rethus on (07) 4959 1514.
So give Kinchant a go this summer – I’m sure that with a little effort you won’t be disappointed. See you there!Reads: 4582