Borumba’s Australian bass have torn up the rule book on topwater fishing. Throwing a surface lure at midday in bright sunlight would be unheard of in most locations, but Borumba’s high cliff faces and overhanging trees allow this unusual phenomenon to occur. This can make for some of the most memorable bass fishing you will ever experience.
Borumba Dam, near Imbil, is located roughly 45 minutes northwest of Noosa. Constructed in 1964, Borumba Dam has been one of Queensland's most established lakes. Built across Yabba Creek, the lake has a surface area of 500 hectares (when full) with an average depth of 6.6m.
Lake Borumba’s shoreline consists mainly of heavy timber and inhospitable terrain. High rocky cliff faces are covered with lantana, vines and ferns which seem to be the only plants that can inhabit this mountain goat country. The sound of wild deer bellowing their mating calls from the tops of the mountains adds to the serenity of this beautiful location.
The main basin in Borumba is where the water-skiers like to play. There is lush green grass all the way to the water’s edge and it makes for a great picnic location in the heat of the day. The skiing section of the dam is worth a visit for fishing only when the skiers aren’t around, which means you have to go first thing in the morning or possibly mid-week when there is less activity on the water.
No camping is permitted on the lake shore but there is a camp ground immediately below the dam wall. This is only a minute’s drive from the launching ramp.
All forms of boating are permitted on Lake Borumba however care should be exercised in the feeder creeks due to extensive standing timber. There is a double-lane concrete boat ramp adjacent to the dam wall that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There is a small no-boating zone near the dam wall.
Stocked impoundment permits are required for fishing in Borumba and are available in Imbil. Alternatively, if you have a printer you can get your permit online at www.smartservice.qld.gov.au.
The type of structure and conditions to look out for should depend on how well the bass are biting.
When the bass are annihilating anything that floats, all you need to look for is shade. Bass require only enough shade on the water to cover their eyes, so if you can see shade then it is worth a cast. I have caught bass in Borumba in shade that extends less than a foot from the bank.
The shade doesn’t have to be on shallow water or contain weed. I have pulled bass from cliff faces that drop straight into 20ft of water with barely a branch in the water. A general idea of what to look for would be a steep cliff face that supports overhanging shrubs with some large submerged timber in close proximity to the bank.
When considering the pros and cons of your chosen location and when the fish might be active in the area, pay attention to where the spot is in relation to the sun. Is the bank exposed to direct sunlight in the morning or afternoon? Is the shade going to build on it or deteriorate during the course of the day? These are important questions that will maximise how many fish you will encounter on your bank and when.
A bank that the shade builds on as the afternoon progresses will bite best when the first shadows start to appear. In the heat of the day the fish will be hiding deep on structure waiting for the cover of darkness before they begin tormenting the local wildlife.
The bite times on a bank that the shade is deteriorating from will vary. With full shade in the morning the bass will venture further from structure and often chase down lures. The receding shade draws the fish closer to structure and an accurate caster can capitalise on this, knowing that accurate casts will produce results.
The need to cast accurately is important for almost all dams when chasing bass on surface. The reliance on being accurate is even more important in Borumba, as you not only need to land near an object but do it in such a way that you can keep your lure in the shade for as long as possible.
The need for accuracy is becomes even more important as the day progresses. In the wee hours of the morning the shadows are long and the fishable locations are plentiful. Even the gentle sloping banks in the main basin have the tendency to hold surface smashing fish. Casting accurately in these conditions is important yet not vital. The long early morning shadows provide cover for the fish to venture further away from their dark homes, so a cast that lands 2-3ft away from its target will still get obliterated in the early hours.
The most successful lure for this type of fishing is a popper. The unique style of a popper allows you to work the lure without moving it too far out of the strike zone. My favourite lure for Borumba is a Megabass Pop X. When choosing a popper for this technique, try to find a lure with the majority of weight in the tail. This way, after being popped, the lure will slide backwards almost into the same spot as it started. This will allow you to get a lot more time in the strike zone, thereby maximising your chances.
When fishing banks with receding shade, your technique needs to change to suit the conditions. The most effective technique when the shade is at its peak is to start by covering lots of water. Long casts in any direction across or along the shade will increase your chances of locating a fish.
With long searching casts it may pay to change the lure from a standard popper to a walk-the-dog style lure, i.e. a surface stickbait that can be worked from side to side with small twitches of the rod tip. Alternatively, you can use a popper that will do both, like the Pop X.
A walk-the-dog style lure has the ability to be worked faster, covering more water. As the fish are actively hunting at this time of the morning, you don’t need to pause the lure for long periods.
As the morning wears on, the sun will draw the bass back towards the structure so your lure placement will need to mirror this. The less shade there is, the more accurate you will need to be. Find some fishy looking structure that is still in the shade. Cast a popper past the timber deep into the shade, then work the lure slowly with lots of pauses back towards the structure. Pauses in your retrieve are important as you won’t have much shade to work with. The most important pause is as your lure closes in on the structure, and you can never pause too long.
In most bass impoundments I get on the water before the sun rises. I do this to make the most of the surface bite before the light overcomes the shade.
Borumba dam is the opposite. The top arms of Borumba are completely covered with shade until at least 8am. This darkness provides the bass with a sense of security, allowing them to travel vast distances and hunt almost anywhere. Unfortunately, the fact that they can venture so far under the cover of shade can make them difficult to locate.
As the sun takes control and draws the shade towards the more dominant cliffs and steeper banks, it begins to expose the bass’ secret vantage points. Rather than fish when the shade is at its peak, I have found chasing Borumba’s bass on topwater more productive when the sun is high in the sky. The sun forces the bass to retreat to the shade against the side of the rocks and heavily timbered banks. The small pockets of shade work like a highlighter, pointing out exactly where I need to place my lure.
Patches of shade like this effectively mark a zone around the target where you can still score points even if your cast isn’t a bull’s eye. Think of the shade as the strike zone. Whenever your lure is in that shade, you are in with a chance. With your retrieve technique, make sure to include lots of pauses maximise the time you have to draw the interest of an inquisitive Borumba bass.
When fishing tight to structure it is important to constantly make sure drags are tight and set correctly. When using tight drags I also constantly check my knot strength every few casts and always retie the lure after fighting a fish. These bass have an uncanny ability to make it back to structure, defying all attempts by the angler to stop them.
Rod: Mega Bass Destroyer rod F2 Super Full House
Reel: Shimano Stella 1000
Main line: 10lb Unitika Aorika II super PE braid
Leader: 14lb Unitika Aiger III fluorocarbon
Lure: Megabass Pop X in the colour IL Tamamushi Ob
Replacement hooks: Gamakatsu treble wide gap size 6
A good bass taken in a shady area of the dam. The shadow gives the bass a sense of security.
A healthy Borumba bass taken on a Megabass Pop X. I like this lure because it can be a popper or a walk-the-dog style lure, depending on how you work it.
Some small shade starts to form along the bank. When the shade is restricted to narrow bands along the shore it is generally easier to locate the bass.
You can often catch more bass throughout the day at Borumba than at other bass impoundments.
When the shade is covering a wide area you don’t have to cast quite as accurately.
A bass taken in the early morning on a walk-the-dog style lure. These lures are a good option when there is lots of shade as they allow you to cover a lot of water.