Given that bass are prime targets for South East Queensland fly anglers during winter, I have expanded the agenda to cover the expansive Wivenhoe Dam.
Wivenhoe is a massive dam when full. It has over a 10,000 hectares capacity and can carry 1.16mL of water. However, recent years have been fairly dry so it currently sits around 40% with some water continuing to enter via Lake Somerset.
These reduced water levels have seen the bass school up during winter in the lower levels of the dam, which is good for anglers as this is where the main public launching area of Logan Inlet is situated.
The dam is not often widely fished by fly anglers yet it contains a fair head of bass, and big ones at that. A big bass in Somerset Dam wouldn’t rate as a big one in Wivenhoe. The ante is upped considerably in Wivenhoe thanks to ample food, plenty of room to grow, and perhaps not so many fish per hectare.
Nevertheless, in winter the fish still school up in much the same places as we might expect to find them in other impoundments. Locations such as drop-off areas along the Brisbane River bed, deep flats adjoining the river bed, and humps arising from quite deep water are all likely areas to find schools of bass in the colder months.
As with other bass impoundments the fishing starts at the boat ramp – No boat equals no fish!
Fortunately, Logan Inlet, which is well signed posted and just a few km north of the Wivenhoe Dam wall, has a very good ramp that caters for all sizes of boats and is located in the lower section of the dam where we can expect to find most schools of bass.
There’s plenty of parking areas, cleaning tables, picnic shelters and toilets all nearby. It is a very convenient dam to fish.
The main rule of the dam is electric propulsion only. However, unlike some dams, the authorities do not require the removal of petrol motors from your fishing craft.
You will need a permit to use a boat on Lake Wivenhoe, which is available at the adjoining Captain Logan camp grounds (a great base for a weekend’s fishing) or the Information Centre near the dam wall. It can be obtained for a weekly or yearly basis and also covers Lake Somerset as well.
Likewise, a Stocked Impoundment Permit is necessary for both bodies of water.
Wivenhoe bass are no more difficult to take on fly than their mates in nearby Lake Somerset. The bait biomass in the dam is mainly bony bream and snub-nosed gar so it’s not surprising that the fish grow big and fat on this tucker.
Similar to Lake Somerset, there won’t be much activity around the edges in winter so we need to look for fish on the sounder. Once the fish are located, ply the fast sinking Striper IV fly line to the depths, allow it to sink for approximately three seconds per metre, and then strip back in very small, sharp movements of around 15-20cm per strip.
The best flies are still the Vampire or Clouser styles, but various bony bream patterns based on Lefty’s Deceiver are also worth a go. These days, Vampire colours extend from the original black and purple to black and red, black and chartreuse and black and green, and all have their worth. The same colour scheme will work with the ubiquitous Clouser as well. Try different flies once the fish are noted and see what they prefer. I always start with black and purple as my confidence fly.
The bony bream/Lefty’s Deceiver style flies work well – but be advised that there are plenty of fork tailed catties in this dam and they just love white bony bream style flies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anglers curse these catties but if the bass are going to be released anyway (considering the bag limit) what’s wrong with playing a big cattie and releasing it? Yeah, I know it’s just not a bass…
Other interesting by-catch possibilities in Wivenhoe’s waters are golden perch, Mary River cod and saratoga. These fish do not school up the way that bass do and tend to be caught while prospecting areas where the sounder isn’t showing much activity
Bass show up on the sounder as thick lines, so if they show up en masse on the screen, then nine out of ten you know bass are around.
New large bodies of water can be quite daunting at first look, but smart anglers will do more than just turn on the electric motor and rely solely on the sounder to show up fish while the boat is moving about from place to place. Wivenhoe Dam bass tend to favour areas close to the old riverbed or the flats adjoining substantially deeper water so finding the deeper water is often the key to success.
Locating the riverbed below won’t be easy at first, but by taking note of the bank side topography we can often assess where it was prior to the dam filling. A steep cliff-like bank section would be a great place to search for the riverbed. Once the riverbed is located, a zigzag pattern of travel will often show up fish and then the fun begins.
There are also masses of hyacinths floating in Wivenhoe Dam and fish will congregate beneath them. If one is close by, it’s definitely worth some casts to see what’s doing.
Contacts, Boating Permits
Lake Wivenhoe information centre can be contacted on (07) 5427 8100. Captain Logan Camp, camping information and boating permits, (07) 5426 4729.