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Kinchant Dam disaster
  |  First Published: December 2004



Disastrously low water levels have resulted in the dam being closed to all powered craft, and soon it may be closed to any on-water activity. There is around 50 hectares of surface water in the dam and most of this water is only a metre or so deep.

Despite this low level, large barra are being caught from the bank and fish up to a metre are being caught on poppers and shallow divers. The best approach is at night and leading up to the full moon.

It is unreal to be standing on the bank and hearing barra boofing bait all over the 50 hectares. It’s possible at times with a powerful spotlight to see the fish in the water, and it’s quite a sight. Unfortunately current plans by Sunwater are to likely drain the entire dam. It seems they have no consideration for over 10 years of volunteer work in stocking the dam. The water quality in Kinchant is pretty lousy, and matches the taste in my mouth when I think of all that wasted effort.

Sunwater seem to be ‘hoping’ for some rain, but if this happens in a major storm event and lots of run-in, the scenario is there for a major fish kill.

Pretty depressing situation all round.

TITLE: Teemburra tantalises

Some good news, with the dam really firing on all 12 cylinders. Plenty of barra at sizes up to the magic metre mark are being caught in the dam.

Water levels are low here, too, but over the last couple of weeks we’ve had widespread rain that has reduced the demand for irrigation water. There has been no run-in of any consequence so the scenario I described in last month’s QFM has not yet eventuated. When it does, be ready as the hot bite lasts only about 48 hours before the fish disperse back out into the dam.

At the moment I recommend staying out of the timber or only fishing the edge of the treeline. There are plenty of barra in the more open water of the dam and your chances of landing a large barra are far better there than in the timber.

Because the dam levels are dropping it’s getting harder to find substantial weedbeds, but this is one of the keys to success in the dam. Find bankside weedbeds and a couple of metres of water just off them and there’ll be barra. It’s even better if there is some old drowned regrowth suckers in the area, or fallen logs. Don't move too quickly away from a spot, but work it for anything up to 30 minutes. If there are two or more anglers, vary the lures or flies from surface, shallow to deep divers to see what works best on the day or night.

Plastics are accounting for more and more barra in the dam and are proving one of the most consistent lures. My preference is for the Tsunami range in lime green with a single tail, but I have also scored on pinks, whites and mixtures of colours. My best results have come from plastics 75mm to 100mm long, although I have also caught barra on some very large lures left behind last year by the USA visitors.

The fish are still in relatively shallow water most of the time, but keep an eye on your sounder in the 3m plus stuff as you will often locate fish and can then target them with deep divers, jigs or spot type lures. Barra will often come up out of quite deep water to investigate an electric motor trolling overhead, so keep your eyes peeled.

Recent captures include young Nicholas Eales’ (10 years) first ever barra, a 600mm fish followed by an 800mm fish. Great stuff, and he sure showed up his Uncle Jeffrey on the day. Brisbane visitors Andrew and Kath Roberts had a ball on the dam for a week, catching up to 18 barra a day up to 900mm long. Their vote: fantastic fishing!

Until we get substantial rain I expect most barra to be caught in the open areas as described earlier. Remember you SIP permit and the 6-knot limit now imposed.

TITLE: Sooty success at Eungella

The odd barra is being caught now that the warm weather is truly with us, and most of these are still being taken on the points in the open waters of the dam. Trolling with deeper lures has been the most successful strategy.

Water levels are very low here, too, and like Teemburra there is a 6-knot limit imposed. Those who have only ever seen the dam near full will be amazed at the distance from the camp area to the water. Seek advice from the resident Sunwater ranger before launching, and remember a camping permit and SIP permit is needed.

Sooties are the mainstay of this fishery and they are there in large numbers and mega sizes. Despite all my efforts I can't score a 50cm sooty, but other anglers find them commonplace in Eungella. In fact, unless a sooty is up around the 55cm mark it is not a bragging fish (I weep thinking about them). The sooties are still in their favourite haunts out among the big timbers in the middle of the dam.

Like always, it’s a must to get you lure tight into or beside cover. The best lures here are spinnerbaits, Gold Spots and Fat Raps. Soft plastics – which are cheaper than other lures – are great to drop down beside heavy trunks and jig back towards the boat with plenty of freefall action. Being bitten on the drop is scary when the fish are large, aggro and right beside cover.

It’s impossible to predict how well the dam will fish through December and the new year, because much depends on how much rain we get. But here would be a great place to spend a few days over the Chrissy period tangling with sooties.

For more information on the Mackay region lakes, check out the Mackay Area Fish Stocking Association’s website at www.mafsa.com. It holds a wealth of useful information for those intending to fish in the area.

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