4 ways to reel in a catch on the ‘Bass to Barra’ fishing trail
There are fishing challenges of all shapes and sizes on the piscatorially-blessed stretch of coast between Bundaberg and Rockhampton, but hooking the big one is all about your plan of attack, flexibility, and trying a few different techniques.
But how exactly do you land the catch of your dreams? Here are my top 4 tips:
1. When in doubt, fish the reef
During a recent adventure on the Bass to Barra trail, our plan was to go impoundment fishing for ‘barra’ near Bundaberg, but a cold snap – that’s what the locals call a mild 25 degree Celsius day – scared the inland barra away. Instead, we headed out to sea with Captain Rob Wood on his charter boat, ‘Black and Blue’.
The ocean water around Bundaberg is warm year round and late autumn/winter produces lovely calm days that make long distance travel an absolute pleasure. We ended 45 miles (72 km) off the tip of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, near the start of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. This is our special ‘go to’ spot when we want some impressive fishing and on this day it didn’t disappoint. Huge cobia, mahi mahi, reef fish, and the incredibly fast wahoo turned up in droves. These are top table fish and made it onto the dinner plate for more than a few locals that night.
We even managed to tag and release a marlin within half an hour of trying – a real bonus as marlin fishing is normally an all-day specialty mission.
2. When it’s too cold, warm up at the local
The next day we set out for barra in the freshwater reaches of the Kolan River, 25-minutes’ drive inland from Bundaberg. Unfortunately, the water temperature at 23 degrees was still too cold so we packed up and headed to the Gin Gin Pub.
Piscatorial Pointer: Barra won’t bite if the water is less than 25 degrees Celsius, so head to the second-best watering hole – the local pub – to warm up with some tall tales.
3. Tap into local knowledge
On day three, the temperature rose within target, putting barra back on the fishing agenda. We headed north to Lake Monduran, but not before getting some inside information from the local tackle stores on the best spots to go.
Word was that lakes Monduran, Awoonga, Peter Faust Dam, Kinchant Dam, and Teemburra Dam were all stocked with barra as part of an impoundment program, started just after the January 2012 floods. Since then the fish have grown a millimetre a day. Do the maths, these fellas are big and the fishing is sure to be good!
Impoundment barra fishing takes skill and patience, but it’s a must do on any angler’s bucket list. The calm protected water, lots of bird life and lush surrounds of Lake Monduran add to a great fishing experience.
Piscatorial Pointer: Grab a guide. They love their jobs and are obsessed with getting you a big barra. Or take time to gain local knowledge on spots and lures.
4. Try stealthy, eco-friendly kayak fishing
Keen for more impoundment barra, the next day we launched a kayak on Lake Monduran and headed straight to the shallow points with tree lines. The easiest technique is to creep up with trolled lures: Simply cast a sturdy lure – one that dives down about a metre below the surface – five meters out the back of the kayak, and drag it along so it wiggles. A kayak with pedals is best – you can hold onto your rod while trolling and feel when the lure is wiggling (and not caught in weeds).
Our game plan was to do a few laps of each point and, if the fish weren’t biting, move on. But we didn’t need to travel far – the first lap produced a jolting strike and a big run from something beyond our expectations! We followed the fish around the snags, and after a few adrenaline-charged moments, our quarry finally popped up – the first official metre-long barra since the 2012 floods. These fish grow 30cm longer each year, so anyone heading there is in for some great fishing.