Bundy Fresh Options – Dave Magner

While Bundaberg is perhaps better known for the extensive saltwater fishing options it provides, it’s actually not a bad place to base yourself if you prefer to fish freshwater. Being located towards the lower end of what is effectively Central Queensland, it is surrounded by a diverse mix of southern and northern species. In fact, it’s quite possible to find yourself hooking anything from Mary River cod, to bass or even barramundi on the one trip.

To make it a bit easier to cover all the possible options, I’ll split this article up into a couple of different sections. First, I’ll start by looking at the larger impoundments within day, or at least weekend range. Then, I’ll step back a bit closer to town and set you on the path to a few sneaky little waterways you might want to hit up for a morning’s or afternoon’s fishing.

Road Tripping

Bundy has a number of impoundments within a two to three hour drive. The closest is probably Lake Monduran, better known as Lake Misery or the lake of a thousand casts to the locals. That description is probably a little unfair, as Monduran can turn on some okay bass fishing at times and of course, some very good barra fishing. The world record barra was taken from Monduran, so that should give you some idea of the barra fishing potential of the place when it decides to turn it on.

At the moment, it’s probably fair to say that Monduran looks like it is about to peak again after a period of rebuilding. The barra are continuing to get larger and larger and the frequency of captures is picking up again. Those who know the place are getting some pretty good fish and even during last winter there were some good fish landed. The secret at present seems to be the use of small to medium sized suspending minnows, with Jackall Squirrels being a perfect example of the preferred presentation.

I’m expecting big things from Monduran if the wet season is kind to us and the dam doesn’t have a big overflow. If it all goes to plan, we may see the lake firing again like it was prior to the big wet of 2013 when so many big fish surfed the raging spillway. Put it in your diary for a visit before the end of the year.

In many ways, Awoonga is like Monduran. It lost a lot of fish back in 2013 and is still recovering. Mind you, it generally picks up a bit quicker as it normally gets a higher stocking rate. I’d say if you haven’t fished Awoonga in a few years it will probably be worth fishing again once the weather warms up.

While Monduran and Awoonga have past runs on the board to be judged by, Paradise Dam remains a bit of an enigma. It’s on the Burnett River and is just a little further out than Monduran (depending on which end you head to) and it’s the sort of place I don’t think too many anglers have really worked out yet. During those big floods, it had all sorts of species funnel into it and it wouldn’t surprise me to find just about anything here. Barra have been taken and bass and yellas can be encountered at times while Saratoga are not unknown. Once a bit more work goes into it, it may just surprise a few people.

Heading further west of Bundy, there are a number of bass dams which are well worth a visit. As far as I’m concerned, Cania is a must do if you love freshwater fishing. It holds good numbers of bass (it was the first Qld impoundment stocked with this species) as well as yellas and Saratoga. Despite also overflowing, it has really come back on line quickly and the fishing up there is as good, if not better than ever. The bass are big and hungry.

A little further south is a greatly under-rated impoundment in Wuruma. This place has been off the map for a while as it got down to one percent and then filled to several metres above the spillway. However, like Cania, it is back with a vengeance. Big bass and lots of them are the main temptation at Wuruma. If you are a bass fisho, put this place firmly on your list for this summer as it’s a great camping option if you are self-sufficient (there is little in the way of facilities).

If you keep going south, well you have Bjelke-Petersen Dam (or BP to the locals), and Boondooma Dam. Both these are regular fixtures on the bass circuit and rarely disappoint. BP went through a quiet patch there for a few seasons, while fish numbers rebuilt and then the average size increased and it is now producing again in a big way on both counts.

Boondooma just never seems to let you down. The latest trend has been casting and retrieving spoons and that has been getting big numbers of bass from the suspended schools in the main basin. Of course, other methods are still working but with the size of some of the fish the spoon boys are getting, the place is starting to feel a bit like Somerset!

While not technically an impoundment, I can’t leave this section without plugging Barambah Creek. This feeder stream of the Burnett River flows out of BP and can produce bass fishing out of all proportion to its size. It’s mainly a kayak option but if you are prepared to poke around in the bigger pools, you might be staggered at the number of bass to be found. Just watch out for the snakes during the warmer weather.

I won’t cover Borumba in this article, so the last major impoundment to discuss is Lake Lenthalls. Lenthalls is a mixed barra and bass fishery but if last summer is anything to go by, it won’t be for long. The barra were right on the job during the warmer months and while they were only pocket rockets then, by now they will have stacked on enough weight to be a serious threat to your lure collection. I love Lenthalls as it can really turn it on with surface lures. The compact nature of the dam makes it an ideal kayak fishery too, as you can easily cover most of one arm in a day. If only the track (you can’t call it a road) in was less corrugated, I’d be fishing there all the time.

Day Tripping

Bundy’s main freshwater fishery is undoubtedly Lake Gregory, which also goes by the less flattering title of Isis Balancing Storage. This tiny, lily covered lake is a great little bass fishery, offering everything for edge bites to schooled fish in the deeper channels.

Undoubtedly, the main attraction of the place though is as a surface fishery. You can catch fish off the top all day long here if you know how to fish lilies effectively. Of an early morning or after dark, it can seem almost too easy at times to get the fish hammering your surface lure.

The drawback of this place is the launching facilities, or more correctly, the lack thereof. There is no ramp, just a dirt bank with a slight gap in the fringing lilies. The bottom of the lake is hard here, but the incline is so shallow that I’ve often had to back so far as the water is starting to come into the back seat before I can slide the boat off. Again, canoes, kayaks are fine and small tinnies are usually no problem if the water level is anywhere near normal.

Something a bit less well known is the barra fishing around Bundy. Just to the north of town you have the Kolan River and while some intrepid small boat owners launch there, it’s better suited to kayakers. Once on the water, it’s great fun to drift along and toss suspending lures into the bankside snags. Mid-sized barra and big bass can be expected, and while the numbers have dropped off due to drier seasons, enough fish remain to make it a worthwhile pastime.

The freshwater section of the Burnett River is worth a mention. Despite years of neglect, it does actually contain a reasonable number of Australian bass.

Yellas are also available and can be targeted and of course, if forktailed catfish are your bag, then you have hit the mother lode! I’ve never seen a place produce as many catfish as the Burnett does. But getting back to the more desirable species, look for any sort of obstruction to the flow (like weirs or dams) as these tend to concentrate the fish in the areas downstream (below any closed sections naturally).

Of late, those imported pests Tilapia have spread down closer to Bundy. The floods carried them from upstream and like most pests, they seem to have flourished in the Burnett. They grow to a reasonable size and I’ve been told they are good eating but of course, being a noxious fish you can’t do that and they have to be killed and humanely disposed of above the waterline.

Another unusual fish you might encounter is the jade perch. This relative of the silver perch is not native to the Burnett, but seems to be another species which made its way in via the floodwaters. I’ve caught a few in the side creeks running off the Burnett and have seen photos of some whoppers which bait fishos have taken out of the river itself.

There are a number of freshwater creeks (or at least creeks with freshwater sections in them) around town and I’ve fished most of them from my kayak and old canoe. The Elliot can be tough, but does produce some monster bass as well as tarpon which put on a real performance. You can launch at Dr Mays Crossing in the Elliott and head upstream without too much trouble.

My favourite day trip however is down around Maryborough. Here I either keep going and put in at Tiaro to fish the freshwater section of the mighty Mary River or turn left and tackle Tinana Creek. Both options can be prolific fish producers.

Generally speaking, if I’m fishing from my boat, I’d usually head for the Mary. It’s much bigger and easier to cover in a boat. Believe it or not, saltwater croc sightings have been reported in the Mary and while you’ve probably got more chance of winning the lotto twice, it’s better to be safe than sorry.Tinana Creek on the other hand is really a kayak fishing venue and what a cracker it is for that. Some of the biggest wild bass I’ve seen have come from the waters below Teddington Weir.

It’s also where I’ve suffered some of my most memorable wipeouts. 10 kilo leader can sometimes not be enough on the bigger bass here.

This place is also a surface fishing special. If you want to get in on the action, then get online and order yourself some of Red’s custom painted surface lures (Search up Red’s Lures on Facebook).

These things are dynamite and you can literally catch bass off the surface with them all day. It’s the sort of surface fishery that bass fishing heaven will have I’m sure.

Anyway, as you can see, freshwater fishos are hardly short changed around Bundy. It doesn’t matter if you only have a small boat, or even just a canoe or kayak you can nearly always find a freshwater option or two to target. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you want to chase and getting out there on the sweetwater and giving it a go.