Big Barra in Mackay Impoundments
by Jock Craig
Mackay Big Barra
Photos, left to right: Phil and Jock Craig caught this healthy 84cm Barramundi on a glorious 2009 winter morning at Teemburra Dam, Maso's (Rob Mason’s) big 113cm Kinchant Barra caught on a surface lure during an early morning session in February 2009 and Jock Craig caught this 86cm Teemburra barra on soft plastic around a headland in June 2009.
Fishing both Teemburra and Kinchant Dams can produce some very exciting fishing all year found with huge metre plus barra getting caught regularly especially through the summer months. Sooty grunter is also a regular catch at both dams. The same as saltwater barra fishing, the warmer months from October to April are far more productive as the fish are a lot more active but saying this there is still a lot of good fish caught through the colder months, sometimes just a bit more patience is required.
Kinchant Dam, situated about 30km west of Mackay in the Pioneer Valley is around 900 ha and is a fairly shallow dam with lots of large weed beds but very little timber. This dam is also a very popular water skiing and camping spot with Kinchant Waters Resort, although the ski boats don’t head to the back of the dam where the fishing is best. Although no where near as scenic as Teemburra, the barra fishing is definitely as good at times with some huge barra coming out of the extensive amount of weed beds. Kinchant can be fairly quiet during the winter months but come September and October, things start to fire up.
From the boat ramp head straight across the dam to the far side, this gets you away from the water skiing action and into a bit better fishing area. Just watch out for the large weed beds that extend a long way out from the banks, these are what you want to be fishing. The average depth will be between 2 and 6 metres if you have an electric motor just move slowly around the edge of these weed beds casting to the edge of them, if you don’t, just anchor in a cast able distance to the weeds and be patient, changing your lure types and retrieve speed occasionally.
Because of the large amount of weed, the best lures to use are surface lures and soft plastics rigged weedless work well. Hard body lures up to around 3 metres in depth, such as Oar-gees work well casting or trolling, just stay to the edge of the weed.
Teemburra Dam is situated about 60km north west of Mackay up in the Pioneer Valley about 5km from Pinnacle (a good spot for a beer and pie). This dam is around 1000ha in size and a very scenic dam, although there is no camping. Teemburra is a lot deeper dam and has lots of timber with heaps of creeks and bays to explore.
Teemburra Dam probably fishes a bit better than Kinchant during the colder months. I find the shallower water from 0.5 metres to about 5 metres fishes the best. Fish headlands with lillies and weed around them (a couple of good ones straight across from the boat ramp) using surface lures and soft plastics like squidgy slick rigs. Any of the thick timbered areas are likely spots also. Trolling hard body lures like Oar-gee around 3 metres along the edges of timber works well. Use some smaller lures and stick to the shallow timber right up in the creek for the sooty grunter. If you don’t have a boat, it doesn’t necessarily matter because it‘s a pretty good spot right at the boat ramp or off the bank within a short walk from the ramp.
Eungella Dam is situated about an hour and a half west of Mackay, up the Pioneer Valley and into the Clarke Ranges. This dam is around 900 ha and like Teemburra is quite scenic and heavily timbered. There is about half an hour of gravel road but is usually in good condition. Eungella Dam, being up in the ranges is often a lot cooler and windier than the other two but still holds some good fish with quite a lot of large Sooty Grunter. Similar to Teemburra, fish the weedy points and the thick timbered areas for best results. Camping is permitted for a small fee and there are toilet facilities.
Finally, just remember these are stocked dams and the fish don’t breed, so if you don’t intend on keeping a fish for dinner, handle them with care, take a few photos and release your fish as soon as possible, then someone else can enjoy the same excitement. Also you are required to hold a Freshwater Impoundment Fishing Licence which can be purchased from most tackle shops or nearby servo’s for a small cost which goes back into stocking and looking after the future of the dams.