Dam big girls!
  |  First Published: December 2009

The water levels at Fred Haigh Dam (Monduran) are diminishing daily. The fishing is still good but can fish stocks maintain at such low levels? In early December the dam was at 24% and without rain in the foreseeable future fishing may become tough.

Fishing was still good in early December with plenty of good size barra being caught. One of my fellow QFM contributors had a recent overnight trip to the lake and caught some massive barra measuring 110cm, 120cm and 130cm – not bad!

We are just at the end of the ABT BARRA tour, which is finishing off at Lake Monduran. After fishing Teemburra, Kinchant, Peter Faust and Awoonga I now realise this really is a hard lake to fish. We don’t seem to have the fish stocks of dams like Awoonga, which seems to have an endless supply of habitat to hold the local barra.

While we might have the hardest dam to fish, we do seem to have the biggest fish. Monduran is also one of the most natural dams, as the lake follows the course of the old Kolan River system and breaks off into its many creeks and tributaries, which creates an ideal network of creeks to keep any angler happy.

This labyrinth of trees, creeks and bays also creates the ideal habitat for barra to live. We have plenty of fish rich water to feed our barra on the endless supply of boney bream and garfish. These warm shallow bays are ideal for the fish to survive the winter chill and Lake Monduran offers some of the best winter fishing of all the dams with limited fish kills.

If you have the opportunity to do a tour of the dams in Queensland I would highly recommend it as the barra fishing is second to none; there is really no need to make those huge trips to the Gulf or the Northern Territory.

I have just returned from the northern end of the BARRA tour with my ten-year-old son, Tommy, who loves his fishing. As a father it was the most rewarding thing I have done with my son, even though he out fished me.

Not every moment was rosy; we had our little moments in the boat where we were yelling at each other. But in the end we both had lots of fun and became a lot closer. We are both keen to do it together again next year.

Month ahead at Monduran

Fishing at Monduran in the months ahead will only improve as we move into January and February with the barra thriving in the warmer, mid-summer conditions.

Trolling will be productive with most fish taking hardbodied lures trolled at minimum boat speed while in the main basin. Trolling is also an easy alternative to break up the day or night. Use an outboard to troll with and keep the lures within 10m of the boat. For best results use lures that dive between 1.5-3m deep.

Casting is best done with soft plastic lures with Storm Bait and Switch slick rigs the best choice. You can also do well with suspending hardbodied lures such as ones from Rapala. While these lures are more expensive, you do get what you pay for; they work perfectly and the finish is second to none.

Other hardbodies that work well are the floaters like Barra Classics, Tropic Anglers, RMG and Halcos. You must remember to upgrade your hooks and in doing so keep the weight just right so as not to disturb the qualities of the lure like the float or suspension.

Suspending hardbodies work great in around structure and there is something about the pause that encourages the barra to bite; they just can’t seem resist it in their face.

Terminal Barra Tackle

Soft plastics are one of the best baits to use for barra and there are many techniques to get the most out of these lures.

Firstly our tackle must be the best you can afford with 30lb braid and a minimum 80lb leader the norm. Brush up on your knots; the Slim Beauty is one of the best and the internet is a great way to learn how to tie it.

It’s a good idea to super glue your knots too, as your knot will be the weakest link in your tackle. You can also use a Bimini Twisted double and looped to a 1.2m, 30-40lb lethal leaders for fishing soft plastics. Ask you local tackle store about stinger hooks and how to fit them to your soft plastics as these are a must for converting bites into hook-ups.

The rod is the most critical piece of equipment to catch a barra. As implosion feeders barra inhale lures with massive amounts of water and eject them just as quickly in under a second.

If you are lucky the fish will hook-up as it rolls on the lure if it doesn’t and you don’t have stinger hooks that hook inside the mouth you will lose the fish. A good soft tip rod with a fast taper will make up for your lack of strike speed and this is imperative to hook barra. Buy a rod that is designed for barra fishing or large mouth bass fishing.

Loomis Rods are great and so are Ian Miller’s barra range; be careful of the generic barra rod as these are usually not up to the task of hooking the fish. I know these rods are expensive but it will make a lot of difference to your chance of hooking a fish. Any good tackle store will point you in the right direction but expect to pay from $200 up.

I have converted to spin reels as they encourage a better hook-up due to rod position. Teamed with the right rod this is a deadly combo.

For spin reels I would recommend a minimum 3500size such as a Daiwa Sol or a Shimano Stella or Sargosa. Drag isn’t all that important as it is more important to be able to catch the fish and to run the fish down. To cruise the weed edges you will need an electric motor. Don’t try to dead boat a fish on anchor – you won’t stop a barra with drag alone.

Electric motors hold you in the zone for longer and give you the ability to dictate the fight to the fish rather than the alternative. An electric motor is a must and you can purchase one for under $1000.

I know you might be thinking this is an expensive pastime, and it is, but the rewards are worth it. If you try to do it on a tiny budget you might walk away disappointed.


On the offshore front the fishing is always great around Bundaberg as we are right at the start of the Great Barrier Reef. We have all the top table fish right on our doorstep. The fishing is easy and all your GPS points for reefs are available on the net or your local tackle store.

The gamefishing has had a slow start this year with a limited amount of juvenile black marlin on the coast. Sailfish have been noticeable in their absence, as well as plenty of cobia, mahi mahi and wahoo.

Large blue and black marlin have been present in waters over 100m. We just had our local HBGFC tournament and we had a stand out year on heavy tackle blue marlin off the east coast of Fraser Island.

Hope to see you in our area over the holidays.

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