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article: guide to fishing around bundaberg by dave robinson
Dated: 5 December, 2001
Yabbies are a popular and plentiful bait found in most rivers and estuaries. Pumping a few Yabbies gives you one of the best baits that will catch most estuary species.
From the outset of this article I must admit that I love living and fishing in the Bundaberg area. Having lived here permanently for over a decade and having seen a fair slice of Queensland and Australia before that, I believe it's one of the best all round fishing locations that any angler could ask for. The Bundaberg region offers anglers the full range of piscatorial pursuits from freshwater to blue water.

Now I recognise that when you live in an area you often tend to view it through rose coloured glasses, seeing only its virtues and ignoring its faults. Add to this the natural tendency of anglers to exaggerate and you often get a distorted picture of what an area and its fishing potential are like.

Having said this I still believe that the Bundaberg region offers fishermen opportunities that are the envy of many anglers, not only in Australia but also throughout the world. The purpose of this article is to briefly introduce you to some of the fishing locations in this area and by doing so, hopefully encourage you to come and check them out for yourself.

Bream can be caught throughout the year during the winter they make their annual spawning runs into the rivers and provide some excellent fishing. This one was caught in the Burnett River about 800 metres from the post office.
River and Estuary
Within an hour's drive of Bundaberg, the estuary angler can be fishing in one of five major river and creek systems catching species ranging from Sand Whiting and Yellowfin Bream to Barramundi and Mangrove Jack. Some old timers have spent a lifetime in these systems and never got them fully wired and in my time of fishing them, I've only just begun to scratch the surface. What follows is a brief description of some of the major estuary systems close to Bundaberg that will give you a general idea of how to get there and what's on offer.

Bream can be caught throughout the year in the region's estuaries and rivers. During the winter they make their annual spawning runs into the rivers and provide some excellent fishing. This one was caught in the Burnett River about 800 metres from the post office.

The Burnett River
The Burnett River flows through Bundaberg dividing it in two. The river offers a wide range of fishing options with species from whiting and bream through to Barramundi and threadfin salmon all being caught throughout the year. The winter months produce bream, Tailor, Blue Threadfin Salmon and diver whiting. As the warmer weather approaches the mighty Barramundi, Mangrove Jack and King Threadfin Salmon provide excellent sport while summer whiting, Dusky Flathead and Javelin Fish (grunter) are also prevalent giving local anglers an excellent range of species to target. The river can be fished from its mouth at Burnett Heads through to Ben Anderson's Barrage that marks the end of the tidal flow of the river. Some of the rivers hotspots include the North Wall, Skyringville, Strathdees Rocks, Kirby's Wall, the Town Reach and Splitters Creek.

The prized barramundi that is found in most of the region's rivers and estuaries. This one was caught in the beautiful Baffle Creek system.
The Elliot River
Twenty kilometres southeast of Bundaberg the visiting angler will find the picturesque Elliott River. The river can be accessed from the township of Elliott Heads at the river mouth and Riverview further upstream. Like most rivers in this area it offers anglers a wide range of fishing options. Bream, whiting and flathead are caught throughout the river with the area around the river mouth, which is characterised by large sandbanks, being popular with both land-based and boating anglers who target these species. Giant Trevally and Queenfish are also found in the river and will take both lures and baits. Barramundi take up residence in the river during the warmer months and areas such as the Black Bank and Sharks Nest produce some quality fish, particularly in early autumn.

The Kolan River
The Kolan River is situated on the northern side of Bundaberg, a leisurely 30-minute drive from the city. The main boat access to the river is via Miara, which is situated towards the river mouth. Miara has a caravan park and an on-site kiosk that provide caravan and camping accommodation. The visiting angler can enjoy catching bream, whiting, flathead, trevally, Queenfish and trumpeter throughout the year, while in winter, Tailor and the occasional mackerel can be added to this list. In summer, Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, king threadfin and blue threadfin take up residence and some monster fish are landed. The Kolan is also known for its crabs and prawns that are also caught during the warmer months.

The Burrum River
The Burrum River system is one of our region's biggest with the Gregory, Isis and Cherwell Rivers running into it. Like most of the area's rivers and estuaries it has extensive sand flats, channels and mangrove lined banks that offer the angler a piscatorial smorgasbord of fishing and crabbing options.

Spanish mackerel are one of the many pelagic species that take up residence on the reefs offshore from Bundaberg.
Situated at the mouth of the Burrum River, approximately 70 minutes drive south of Bundaberg, is the town of Burrum Heads, which is the gateway to this beautiful river. A wide range of accommodation is available at Burrum Heads from rental houses and apartments to camping and caravan parks. The river offers the angler a great range of fish species from bream, whiting and flathead to Golden Trevally, Mangrove Jack and barra. Bait is plentiful in the river with numerous Yabby banks and places to drag or throw a cast net for live bait. Yabbies are the most popular bait used in the river and will catch most species. For the angler that likes to toss lures or cast flies, you could throw your arms out exploring all the potential sand flats, snags, rocky outcrops and mangrove creeks within the system. My advice is to bring your lure and fly boxes and start exploring.

Baffle Creek
Baffle Creek is one of the few remaining unspoiled estuary systems in the southeast corner of Queensland. Having a tidal reach of 35 kilometres it's quite a creek and with over 70 fish and 10 crustacean species found in the system there is plenty of water to explore and fish to catch. Baffle Creek is situated 58 kilometres north of Bundaberg and the easiest boat ramp access is via the small town of Winfield. The creek offers anglers everything from sand flats and rock bars to kilometres of mangrove-lined creeks. The total range of estuary species are on offer but it has become quite renown for its Mangrove Jack fishing. The sandy sections of the creek produce bream, whiting and flathead while deeper holes and rock ledges provide protection for grunter, cod, Barramundi and Mangrove Jack. No matter what your angling preference is, be it bait, lure or fly, the Baffle has more than enough water and fish to keep you occupied.

A pretty estuary cod that took a live bait fished among the snags of Baffle Creek.
Some excellent reef fishing is available off Bundaberg for anglers who wish to venture offshore. The waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef off Bundy offer anglers a choice of bottom dwelling species such as the prized members of the emperor family through to pelagic speedsters such as Spanish Mackerel. The number and variety of reefs found off Bundaberg give most boat owners the opportunity to experience some form of reef fishing. This ranges from fishing the close inshore reefs found only a short distance from shore to extended fishing charters on the outer reefs of the Capricorn-Bunker group.

The waters north of the Burrum River are classified as 'Open Water' and require you to have all current safety gear on board at all times. The close inshore reefs are accessible to most boats from four metres upwards. Of course this depends on the weather and sea conditions, but on good days when the seas are calm, many small boats can be seen enjoying the reef fishing these close reefs offer and many of them are within a 'Tiger Woods' drive of the shore.

The yellow sweetlip or spangled emperor is just one of the prime reef fish that is encountered in the Southern Great Barrier Reef waters out from Bundaberg
Most of the reefs are found in depths of between 10 and 30 metres and offer a range of delicious reef fish including emperor, Coral Trout, squire, cod, Snapper, sweetlip and trevally as well as wide range of pelagic species including mackerel, Cobia and tuna. Bottom fishing, trolling both lures and dead baits and live baiting, are very popular reef fishing methods and each produces good results.

Some of the closer reefs out from Bundaberg include The Four Mile, Cochrane Artificial, Woodgate Artificial and The Two Mile. These are found only a few nautical miles from shore. Reefs that are further a field include The Fifteen Mile, 25 Fathom, The Five Degree and Thirty Degree patches, Southern Gutter, Northern Gutter and Kolan Patch. Most of these reefs are well over 10 nautical miles from shore and require boats that are equipped to handle extended ocean travel. A list of the GPS marks for these reefs can be found in the book "Fishing the Bundaberg Region A Guide to the Hotspots". The fishing outlets, listed in the fact box of this article, are locations where you can purchase this book.

While Bundy is recognised more as a saltwater fishing location it does have more than its share of freshwater localities that can cater for most freshwater enthusiasts. What follows is a snapshot of some of the freshwater fishing available around Bundaberg. Bass are one of several species that have been stocked into the region's impoundments. This one was caught at Cania Dam and is typical of fish that are available within the district's impoundments.

Bass are one of several species that have been stocked into the region's impoundments. This one was caught at Cania Dam and is typical of fish that are available within the district's impoundments
Lake Monduran
This pretty stretch of water is the third biggest dam in Queensland. It's located 73 kilometres northeast of Bundaberg off the Bruce Highway. Constructed in 1978 its main purpose is to supply irrigation and town water to over 1300 farms in the Bundaberg area. The dam was first stocked with native species in 1981 and by 1991 the Department of Primary Industries had released 140 000 fingerlings into the dam made up of Sooty Grunter, sleepy cod, golden and Silver Perch, saratoga and Barramundi. In 1997 the Monduran Anglers and Stocking Association (MASA) was formed and since then have stocked the dam with 70 000 barra, 147 000 bass and 400 garfish. While Fork-tailed Catfish have dominated catches over recent years the numbers of bass, barra and garfish now being landed show that the dam is developing into a significant freshwater fishery. Bait fishing, trolling, cast and retrieving lures and fly fishing all catch fish in the dam.

Lake Lenthall
Lake Lenthall is located between Maryborough and Torbanlea approximately seven kilometres west of the Bruce Highway. The dam wall was constructed in 1984 and impounds the headwaters of the Burrum River. The dam water is used to supplement the town water supply for Hervey Bay City and district. Since 1992 the Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association, Hervey Bay City Council and Fisheries Group and the DPI have released over 280 000 Silver Perch, Golden Perch, bass and Barramundi fingerlings into the dam. Powerboats are usually limited to a speed limit of four knots and this makes for peaceful fishing on this dam. As with most impoundments in this area, fish are caught using bait, lures and fly.

Cania Dam one of the many picturesque freshwater fishing locations the region has to offer.
Lake Cania
Lake Cania is situated in Central Queensland 540km north of Brisbane and approximately two and half hours drive from Bundaberg. The dam forms part of the 3000 hectare Cania Gorge National Park and is reached via a bitumen road that branches off the Burnett Highway 12 km north-west of the rural town of Monto.

The dam was built primarily as an irrigation facility but has become a popular tourist spot for nature lovers, bush walkers, animal and bird watchers and of course freshwater anglers. Over 300,000 Australian Bass, golden and Silver Perch and 240 adult saratoga were released into the dam between 1993 and 1997. All species have good survival rates with the bass and Eastern Saratoga thriving in the environment. As with most successful impoundment fisheries, a dedicated stocking association is largely responsible for initiating and maintaining the quality of fishing in the dam. Bait, fly and lure fishing are all popular and successful methods at Cania.

Lake Gregory
This stretch of water is only 25 kilometres southwest from Bundaberg and is accessed by turning off the Isis Highway while heading towards Childers. This impoundment is also known as the Isis Balancing Storage and the Duck Pond. The lake has been stocked with bass and Silver Perch while garfish and eel tailed catfish occur naturally. Since 1991, 80 000 bass and 25 000 Silver Perch have been released. Bait, lure and fly-fishing methods are all successful at the lake with bait being the most productive method especially when the fish are reluctant to bite.

A whopper toga that ate a spinnerbait at Lake Cania.
As I said at the outset it's hard to contain yourself when you are talking about an area that you love. If you've stuck with me this far I hope the information above will be useful to you and may even inspire you to come and have a look for yourself. Looking over what I've written I realize that I haven't even touched on the Agnes Water and 1770 areas, which are a mere 90 minutes drive from here. Ah well - that's another article on its own.

Bundaberg Fact Box
Bundaberg City has a population of approximately 45,000 and is a major provincial centre within the Wide Bay Region of Queensland. Situated approximately 400km north of Brisbane it has a wonderful climate and offers excellent fishing and facilities for visiting anglers.

Bundaberg is recognised as being the southern access point to the Great Barrier Reef. The region boasts over 140 kilometres of unspoilt coastline. Mon Repos Beach is famous as the largest and most accessible turtle rookery on mainland Australia. The rockery is open from early November to the end of March for visitors wishing to see the turtles laying and the hatchlings making their way back to the ocean.

The district is known for its sugar, timber, beef and small crop industries as well as its most famous export Bundaberg Rum. Sugar has been grown in the area since 1866 and is exported world wide from the bulk storage facilities at Port Bundaberg. The famous Bundy Rum is produced right in the city at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

The Bundaberg region has 15 National Parks that will cater for the interests and tastes of most visitors. Several famous Australians have called Bundaberg home including: aviator Bert Hinkler, singer Gladys Moncrieff and cricketer Don Tallon.

Fishing Contacts
Rehbeins Fishing 35 Targo Street Bundaberg (07) 41513194
Bundy Bait Tackle and Seafood 102 Maryborough Street Bundaberg (07) 41525289
Salty's 22 Quay Street Bundaberg (07) 41534747
Sportfish 1770 Agnes Water/Town of 1770 (07) 49749686
1770 Marina Town of 1770 (07) 49749422
PJ's Estuary Fishing Charters 4 North Pocket Bundaberg (07) 41533062
Ron Glass Marine 97 Targo Street Bundaberg (07) 41513764

The book "Fishing the Bundaberg Region A Guide to the Hotspots" is available from the above locations as well as the Bundaberg District Tourism & Development Board Bourbong Street Bundaberg (07) 41522333. This book expands on the information in this article and gives maps and in depth commentary on the fishing in our local waters. At .95 it's well worth purchasing.
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