A lot of anglers chase their barra dreams at Lake Monduran. Some come away fulfilled, others still have to hold onto their dream for the next trip.
Monduran can be an exceptionally difficult place to fish for barra and the lake has earned its not so polite moniker of Lake Misery hundreds of times over. For starters the lake is so vast. Even at current levels (around 35-40%) Monduran is massive. There are arms, bays, points, rocky ledges, vast flats and more that all hold barra at some stage and you need to have an idea of where to start. And the problem is where you caught them last time probably won’t be where you’ll catch them this time! Frustrating.
So how do you give yourself the best chance of connecting to a Monduran monster? We’ve been lucky enough to spend a few days at Monduran recently with the help of Rob Howell from Lake Monduran Holiday Park and Guidelines Fishing Charters and here is our formula for success. Mind you, this formula does not mean you won’t have to work hard and have plenty of persistence – they are considered mandatory pieces of equipment when visiting Monduran.
Everyone seems to be rushed these days and fishing trips just don’t happen too often on the spur of the moment. Most of us have to plan when, where and how we are next going to fish. For our most recent trip we had started planning about five months before the trip date by making sure we could have the houseboat for three nights, given that all the cabins at the camping ground were already fully booked for the dates we had free.
Rob booked us in and we also booked Rob for the first morning as a guide to show us around and give us a bit of a head start on where to go and what to do.
So with the planning done we started to prepare tackle and dreams not knowing whether the lake would be fishing good or bad or even if the weather was going to be with us or against us.
We’d booked the houseboat mid-week in late November guaranteeing ourselves that the water temperature would not be cold. We had 6 anglers in 3 boats and planned to meet Rob Howell at the Kiosk at Lake Monduran Holiday Park just after 11am, so we could get organised with the houseboat and get settled in before we fished the last few hours of the first day.
On reflection the stop in at the Kiosk formed a very important part of our trip’s success. As Rob is permanently at the Park or on the water he really does have his nose to the ground when it comes to up-to-date information.
His words were like music to my ears saying that the last two weeks had been pretty slow but the fish had started biting again up in Bay B on Slick Rigs the day before and a few had been coming from Bird Bay. He then pointed us in the right direction on the map, said look to the points and we went about launching the boat and getting all our gear to the houseboat.
The trip to the houseboat was simple and we unpacked in record time, had a quick feed and hit Bird Bay full of energy.
Needless to say we got nothing for the two hours we fished Bird so we headed back to the houseboat to meet the other guys and reassess.
The houseboat was ideal for six guys with plenty of room for all our combined gear and a bed each. Two anglers drew straws for the doubles and everyone else bedded down in the four bunks. The houseboat can sleep 10 anglers, but I would max out any group I went with at 6 for comfort.
At about 3pm we hit the water again after an hour off and Ainsy and I headed up to Bay B with the map provided by Rob at the Kiosk. We started at the first point and worked our way around the southern arm of the bay. Luckily I got a tap that started the ball rolling. I didn’t get a hook up, just a little tap that shredded the leader – a sure sign that a barra had engulfed the lure and I was too slow to set the hook.
We filed that spot away and kept working points as Rob had told us. After two hours and with an hour and a bit of daylight left we went back to the strike point and anchored up. A lot of the tournament pros do this so they can pepper a spot fully. And this is what we did.
That evening we landed three barra, missed six strikes and dropped another fish boat side. It was great to get a fish or two under the belt, but none of the fish made it over the metre mark with a 92, 95 and 98cm fish measured and released. We went back to the houseboat confident that Rob had led us onto fish and looked forward to checking out what the other anglers had achieved.
We arrived to find the steaks and eggs cooking on the BBQ at the front of the boat and Livo looking a little pleased with himself. We found out later his boat had also landed two fish from points – one at 90cm and the other a massive 116cm to Livo.
Needless to say we went to bed confident about the next day’s events with Rob coming out to guide us for half a day.
The next morning Rob met us at 4:30am – yep 4:30am – and we headed up to Bay B. Rob took Pete and his mate Aaron in his boat, while our other two boats followed Rob.
Rob sat us down and explained what he was going to do and we sat off his tail waiting and watching. He provided Pete and Aaron a few chances to break their duck, but barra jumped and hooks fell out. What we did learn though was that the points were where all the action was and the barra were chewing on quickly retrieved Slick Rigs. So we left Pete, Aaron and Rob to get amongst a few themselves and hit some other likely points.
Following Rob’s advice and keeping to the general area he had suggested paid huge dividends with another massive barra being landed at 117cm and several others in the sub-metre bracket coming on board the boats. The action wasn’t super fast, but if we stuck at it fish came.
We followed the point pattern for the remainder of the trip and finished up landing 10 quality barra, missing plenty of strikes from barra, getting amongst Monduran’s plentiful catfish population with about a dozen landed and jumping off a further half dozen barra.
While it wasn’t fast fishing, it really showed the advantage of using the tools available to give yourself the best shot at success.
If I wrote down a recipe for Monduran success it would go something like this:
1. Book accommodation early, be that houseboat, cabins or camping sites.
2. Get a guide. Book Rob Howell early in your trip for a minimum of half a day. He will give you the confidence to persist with a method or location and will have all the latest information about what is happening. Also check out web reports, tournament reports and anything else that may give you a clue as to what is happening. Dropping into the Gin Gin Hotel or Foxies Barra Havoc is another great way to source up-to-date information.
3. Be prepared to work hard. Monduran is famous for hard work but it gives amazing rewards.
4. Bring a variety of lures from hard bodies to softies and surface offerings. And make sure the terminals are suitable for 30kg fish.
5. Bring appropriate tackle. There is little use getting all the good oil, using the right lure and getting a fish to hook up if you are only going to lose it due to catastrophic gear failure. These are big fish with a mean attitude so be prepared.
6. Persist in locations where you have a strike or land a fish. Rob reckons you only interest a small portion of the actual barra that are located where you are fishing, so persistence will pay off.
7. Bring the biggest, meanest Environet you can. Even the biggest Environet looks small when a barra over 110cm comes boat side.
8. Always make sure your camera is charged as you want to have memories of a lifetime.
9. Go home and brag senselessly to all your mates about your success.
So there is my recipe for success at Monduran.
No it’s not rocket science and it certainly does not guarantee you a fish. What is does is put you in the best position to catch your dream fish. So what are you waiting for?
The houseboat can sleep up to 10 anglers but for a group of male anglers I reckon 6 anglers is about perfect. That leaves 4 anglers in the single beds and two lucky anglers with a Queen bed each. The houseboat has a shower and toilet, three bedrooms and a roomy dining and kitchen area up front with the helm. Inside this front area is a massive BBQ that serves as the primary cook top.
The kitchen itself has hot and cold water, gas cooktop, gas fridge and freezer and enough supplied plates and cutlery to see you through any trip. Storage is not an issue for food as there is plenty of cupboard space and shelving. We had cool boxes with us too, so all out food was kept in tip top shape for the duration of the trip.
The houseboat is naturally very popular so it pays to really plan ahead if you want it. I love the ease of rolling out of bed and into a boat to go fishing any time you want – it’s fantastic. And you can drive the houseboat up into the middle reaches of the lake where prepared anchorages are already there. All you do is clip on to the anchorage and you’re firm in one spot.
The houseboat costs $400 per night and between 6 anglers (or 10) the price is fantastic for such unparalleled access to the water. By the end of a trip you really do appreciate how much time is taken up launch and retrieving your rig and getting to your fishing location.
The houseboat is booked through the Lake Monduran Holiday Park.
There are four cabins available in the Holiday Park and they are every bit as popular as the houseboat. The cabins can sleep up to 5 anglers, and have air conditioning, toilet and showers, kitchenette, dining area and a great balcony for sitting back watching the sun go down – hang on, you’d never see that from the balcony as you’d be fishing! Anyway it’s a great balcony.
Rates start at $95 per night in low season and peak season you can look at $130 a night. There are weekly and weekend price packages available and if you’re into a bit of comfort I’d suggest you get in early and grab a cabin.
The Holiday Park has huge numbers of powered and unpowered campsites and it’s not until you see the 1500 strong crowd at the WIN TV Monduran Family Fishing Classic that you get to appreciate just how large the Park is.
Obviously you bring all your own gear when camping but the Park has a fantastic camp kitchen, showers and laundry so you don’t really have to rough it too badly. Prices for unpowered sites start at $19 per night for two people and powered sites start at $25 for two people. Cheap as chips.
We took a variety of rigs with us to land the Monduran monsters and I’ve included the outfits we took to give you an idea of what you may need. I’ve also included a list of lures we had on board as a starting point.
Zaneq MYS Twitch and Daiwa Branzino filled with 35lb Daiwa PE braid.
Garry Howard built Bobby Loomis IMB665 and Shimano Stella 4000 filled with 30lb FINS
Blue Acres XS705BA and Daiwa Steez 2508 filled with 35lb Saltiga braid
Blue Acres XS705BA and Daiwa Hyper Certate 2500 with 50lb Sunline Castaway braid
EGrell S10 and Daiwa Certate 3500HD filled with 35lb Daiwa PE braid
Adam Royter built Northpoint 4kg and Abu Revo Offshore filled with 20lb Stren Microfuse
Daiwa TD-AA 661 HFB and Daiwa Redback filled with 30lb TD Sensor Tournament
Squidgy Slick Rig Pro
Squidgy Slick Rig
Berkley Hollow Belly
Lively Lures Arafura Barra Shallow
Tropic Angler Floater
Zoom Horny Toad
Squidgy Boof Frog
C’Ultiva Tango Dancer
Reidy’s J Walker
Rob Howell runs Guidelines Charter Fishing on Lake Monduran. Rob also runs the Lake Monduran Holiday Park and is always up to date with what is happening in his back yard.
You can hire Guidelines for a half day, full day or consecutive days depending on your requirements but we found having Rob come out and show us around on the first morning did wonders for our confidence. Rob unashamedly wants people to catch fish. He reckons if a visitor catches a barra they will come back and Guidelines can certainly help you do that.
Rob does not guarantee you will catch a fish, as no guide should, but what he offers is the opportunity to learn where and how to catch a fish. This to me is the most important ingredient in a guiding operation as I want to learn how to and Rob offers general areas where the fish are biting.
On our trip Rob showed us the point fishing technique in Bay B and it was spot on. While we were following Rob and the two boys on his boat around we saw them miss three fish including one spectacular jump off. We used Rob’s locations and information to land most of our fish for the trip, so that is where the value of Guideline is found.
I also like Rob’s general feeling about information. He insists there are no secret spots, secret lures or secret retrieves. He will tell you everything he can to get you onto a fish and even show you if you book with him.
Contact Rob at the Lake Monduran Holiday Park on 07 4157 3881 to book some time with Guidelines.
The range of Squidgy Slick Rigs is built for barra and barra just love chewing them back. But like all anglers we love tinkering and luckily we’ve been shown a few simple ideas that will hopefully improve your fishing.
Firstly, Slick Rig bodies are the same size: if you have a 110mm Pro version or a 110mm Original the bodies are the same. That means you can quite easily swap over the bodies to get just the right colour and weight. The Pro version is about half the weight of the Original so if you want to fish an Original colour on a light weight, simply pull the lightweight from the Pro version out and slip it into the colour you want.
My box now has two compartments with heavy and light weights and the rest of the box is filled with my favourite colours from both ranges.
Some of the barra pro anglers have taken to boiling their Slick Rigs to get more movement from them, but Jason Wilhelm showed me a much quicker and easier way to do this. When you’ve rigged your Slick Rig up, fold the tail over and snip off a bit of the tail wrist. It doesn’t look too hot, but it makes the tail pulse and move at the slowest of speeds. You don’t need to be super accurate with this cut, you just need to thin out the tail wrist a bit. I actually made a mistake and cut the top of the tail wrist on one Slick Rig and it landed a 107cm barra!
Aaron and Pete working the weedy margins with Slick Rigs under the guidance of Rob Howell.