Kayak Fishing at Lake Wivenhoe
  |  First Published: December 2005

Since the temporary suspension of the Lake Samsonvale boating access scheme (due to safety issues caused by the decreasing water level) I have regularly been making the early morning trip to Lake Wivenhoe. This pleasant, 95km drive from my home at Petrie, through Samford, and across Mount Glorious takes an hour and a quarter to reach Hay Road which leads to “Logan Inlet” launch site.

This huge freshwater impoundment is a great location to enjoy fishing from a kayak because recreational craft are not permitted to use internal combustion engines on the lake. This means that you can fish with “zero harassment” from water-skiers, jet-skiers, and bow waves caused by large fishing boats.

Launching a kayak is also extremely easy because there is a gentle sloping grassy bank beside the boat ramp which has recently been extended to cater for the small number of electric powered fishing boats and sailing boats that launch from this well maintained picnic area.

Good variety of fish species

There is an excellent variety of fish stocked by the local fish stocking group, mainly bass, golden perch, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga, plus several other species that breed profusely in the lake that include fork-tailed catfish and snub-nosed gar.

For those kayak anglers who prefer to use lure only, the most commonly taken species at Wivenhoe are Australian bass, golden perch, and fork-tailed catfish.

Australian bass

Lake Wivenhoe is famous for its extra large bass and captures of fish measuring 50cm-plus fork length are relatively common during the colder months of the year. When a fish of this size is taken by kayak the experience is significantly enhanced by the fun of getting towed around and then having to secure the fish in your landing net beside the kayak when you are almost at the same level as it.

When you are fishing alone in a single person kayak, there is the added challenge of holding the prize and photographing it at the same time before release (that’s why very few good photographs of kayak fishers actually holding their own fish are ever published).

Most bass are caught by trolling bibbed lures that can get down to around five to eight metres and that can be slowly manoeuvred through fish schools or along ledges where shallow water meets deep water. However, the only way to properly do this is by using a sounder; the chances of consistently catching fish without a sounder that at least shows the bottom features would be minimal. Having a sounder in use while trolling also saves many dollars worth of lures that would otherwise be sacrificed to the ‘Snag Gods’ in shallow water.

Jigging is another enjoyable way to hook bass at Wivenhoe. Both large soft plastics and bibless lures have worked for me when jigged through a school picked up on the sounder.

Golden perch

When the water warms up and the bass quieten down, yellowbelly are often taken when trolling along drop-offs within Logan Inlet as well as between the entrance and sandbank that appears off the point in low water conditions.

Some of these yellas grow very large and will tow a kayak around for some distance before they can be brought to the net.

If you do give Wivenhoe a try during summer then make sure you always have a waterproof camera on board in case you ever need to prove you caught one of these big fellas. (I think kayak fishers tend to take more photos than most anglers because we often fish alone, mostly do “catch and release”, and therefore need decent images to share our achievements when we get home).

Fork-tailed catfish

Fishing at Wivenhoe cannot be discussed without mentioning the forkies that breed so profusely in this lake. Love them or hate them, they are an abundant native species that grow quite large (60cm or more), and it seems they will always be there. That being the case, I treat them as a legitimate resource that I may as well enjoy and I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I like catching the bigger versions as they put up an excellent fight on light gear.

Forkies can be captured using the same trolling, jigging, casting, or deepwater flyfishing techniques used for bass and, in summer, can outnumber the bass taken by as many as twenty to one. Even in winter, Wivenhoe’s prime bass season, I’ve always caught more forkies than bass.

The single biggest challenge in fishing Lake Wivenhoe is to get a lure in front of a bass or golden perch before a forky snaffles it.

In fact, the best thing I like about Wivenhoe is that, because of the forkies, I have never gone home without catching a fish.

Equipment suggestions

At Wivenhoe, I prefer to troll or jig for bass, yellowbelly and forkies. I haven’t tried fly yet, although I am told it’s an effective method to use sinking lures to get at schooled up bass in Logan Inlet.

I, therefore, normally troll two rods located in flush-mounted rod-holders behind the cockpit with one lure working at about five metres and another at about eight metres deep. This lets me work deep water at two depths and approach the ledges on the side of the shallower running lure. Of course, I often need to wind in the deeper lure at times and use the shallower running line in parts of Logan Inlet. I prefer to use 7kg Fireline for the larger deep diving lures and have just enough line out to get down to the required depth. This usually means that, with the lure working well, the line enters the water about six to eight metres behind my kayak.

For jigging I prefer to use a very short rod measuring just over a metre in length because, apart from being able to jig close enough to the hull to see the lure in the sounder cone, it can also be stored in a flush-mounted rod holder in front of the cockpit without getting in the way when using the longer trolling rods.

I fit this rod with 2kg Fireline and, when I connect with a big fish (usually a forky), it is not uncommon to experience a number of runs in deep water before I get the fish to the side of the kayak. On a clear and calm day, jigging fish on light gear at Lake Wivenhoe is one of the most enjoyable ways of fishing that I know.

Weather and permits

A Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) to fish Lake Wivenhoe (and 29 other dams in SEQ) can be obtained from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries as well as from selected tackle shops or on-line at www.smartservice.qld.gov.au/AQ/selectItem?formID=3.

As a choice is given as to how you want your fee distributed, I usually purchase an annual one and nominate Lake Wivenhoe, as I know the money will assist the efforts of the local fish stocking association.

Because Lake Wivenhoe is a large, wide, and very open lake, even moderate winds can quickly build rough waves and strong headwinds can make returning to shore difficult in a fishing kayak, so, make sure you watch the weather reports before deciding to head out and wear a life jacket at all times.

Ask Booth

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