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ALL DAMS FIRING (THE GOOD NEWS)
  |  First Published: December 2005



With the onset of the hot, humid weather, the fish have really stirred up in all 3 dams and good fish are being taken at each location.

Lure fishing is proving the most popular and surface poppers, rattlin’ spots, the Tango Dancer and plastic shads around 75-100mm are scoring plenty of fish. Best times look like being in the lead up to full moon while many anglers catch plenty right on and just after the moon.

Here’s a run down on what’s going at the moment:

EUNGELLA DAM

Sooties are literally biting their heads off with plenty of fish and in good sizes too. Russell Bilney recently had a couple of days there and tells me he had plenty of sooty action on small surface poppers. The sooties were all over the place but he found the largest numbers and best fish just inside the tree line heading east from the campsite.

Russels's best fish was a 49er, and thank heavens I didn't have to listen to yet another tale of another bloody 50cm sooty caught by one of my mates! Best sessions were the early morning ones and Russel managed to land a beautifully conditioned 890mm barra on a small popper. He surprised another couple of barra but only landed the one. Knowing the timber area where he was fishing, I reckon landing an 890 barra there was good work.

Tony Martin, who is a sometime fly fisherman, also had a couple of nights at the dam and caught a few sooties. Tony managed a few near the quarry wall but was comprehensively beaten by his son who was using pieces of sausage (yep, maybe its the secret ingredient) and got a large sooty estimated at around mid-40s right to the boat before the light handline broke. Top effort on a handline!

Over the Christmas break I expect there will be quite a few camping at Eungella and the sooties should continue on the chew. Because of the speed restrictions on the dam at the moment there are no waterskiers so anglers have the place to themselves. Of course, if there is a significant rise in the water level between now and Christmas this could change, so I suggest checking either the Sunwater website, the Mackay Sunwater office, or the ranger at the dam if you need any more info. Don't forget there is a fee for camping at Eungella and this can be paid at the ground.

KINCHANT DAM

Absolutely going off since mid-October with reports of several fish over a metre in a session. The barra are cruising in very shallow water and effort should be concentrated on these areas. Try directly across from the ramp and look for islands of weeds and fish the channels between them and around the islands themselves.

A couple of guys from Newcastle spent about a week at the dam and landed 9 barra over a metre in 4 evening sessions. Not bad fishing in any language, and the best went 1070mm. All the big fish were taken on surface lures with the Tango Dancer scoring most fish. Apparently the guys missed heaps more barra and got to the stage where 900mm fish didn't count or even rate a photo!

The word soon got around and there have been plenty of big fish captures in the last couple of weeks. Don Jeffrey and I had a late afternoon session with surface lures and managed to miss 4 good fish just after dark. I was talking to Jeff Eales and Bruce Wicks at the ramp; Bruce managed one fish of 930mm and missed a couple of others. The week before Russel Bilney had scored 2 barra over a metre.

The sooties are scarce in the dam at the moment, although this is probably just a case of everyone chasing the barra in the shallows with fairly large lures. The dam is at around 58% and launching boats is no hassle, and with some sort of a wet season we can hopefully see the dam full again. There hasn’t been much demand on the dam for irrigation as we have been getting scattered storms and showers; hopefully this will continue.

If you are chasing barra at Kinchant, use Tango Dancers, cup faced poppers, fizzers and soft plastics. I have no doubt gold bombers and similar will be successful too but at the moment the surface lures seem to be pushing the barras start buttons.

TEEMBURRA DAM

It had to happen eventually - the normally super reliable Teemburra has been a bit quiet. Mind you this is a matter of definition as regular catches of 900mm barra are still there, anglers just have to work a bit harder than usual and simply dragging a lure around in the open areas is unlikely to score a fish. Good results for anyone prepared to put in the hours though.

The water level has come up marginally and by this issue’s publication, we may have had substantial storms in the catchment area. At the moment the best results are still coming form the open bays and around semi floating weed ‘islands’. These are dotted around all the bays and should be thoroughly worked over before moving on. My spies tell me that the barra appear to be favouring slightly smaller lures than usual with ones in the 75mm range giving the best results. Whether this is a cyclical thing or just that the bony bream have spawned and there is a lot of bait around this size, is open to conjecture.

Whatever the reason, make sure you have some smaller lures in your kit as these will also cover the sooties in the dam. Sooties have been fairly reliable right up in the timber and amongst any logs around the dam margins. The odd sooty is being caught working the same weed islands as the barra. Best time for sooties is just before daylight and for an hour or two after.

The main barra bite seems to be in the afternoon and on into the evening although there are still some good fish being taken early in the morning working surface lures in and around the weeds and lillies.

SIP PERMITS

Don't forget all 3 dams are on the SIP scheme and a permit is needed to fish them. Remember the permit must be carried on your person while fishing the dam and the Patrol officers regularly check the dams so make sure you have a current permit. The money you pay for a permit has a direct return to the dams via the distribution of funds collected and buying a permit means you are contributing to the continued stocking of the dams.

THE BAD NEWS

Mackay is rife with rumours of illegal netting in one or more of our stocked dams. Some years ago, I received some information by a commercial fisherman about netting in Eungella Dam and this info was passed onto the Boating and Fisheries Patrol. Unfortunately the info came to me 12 months after the netting supposedly took place and nothing could be proven at that time although there were deep suspicions about approx. 1800kg of barra product.

If the local rumours are correct there has been a similar incident recently. The Patrol has been investigating but, once again, the info was received a little too late. The rumour this time around is about 1000-1500kg of barra being involved. The fish were described as being very dark in colouration suggesting they came from freshwater. We haven’t had enough rain to flush the creeks and rivers to the extent that large numbers of barra in the freshwater would have been washed down to the saltwater. As in the past nothing can be proven but given the numbers involved this alleged illegal activity is a real setback for the hard work of MAFSA members and supporters in getting these great fisheries established and thriving.

There have been other illegal actions taking place in our dams too. In Teemburra I found part of a crossline with droppers and hooks still attached and a couple of years ago Mick Rethus foul hooked a complete cross line set between a number of trees in the Teemburra Creek section. This cross line had heaps of droppers, some smashed off and had quality stainless steel hooks attached to the droppers.

So if you are fishing any of our dams, keep your eyes open and if you see anything suspicious, particularly of a night, get boat details or car/trailer numbers and report this activity to the Boating and Fisheries Patrol STRAIGHT AWAY on their Fishwatch freecall number 1800 017 116. Don't leave it until the next week or whenever as the quicker the Patrol has info the better they are able to act on it.

Anyway have a happy and safe Christmas. Hopefully 2006 will be filled with great times and fishing.

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