Anyone who has read about the barramundi boom in Queensland’s impoundments will know about lakes like Awoonga, Faust and Callide. But there are many, less- known waters that also offer excellent fishing, and one of these is Lake Lenthall, situated at the head of the Burrum River.
Lenthall is Brisbane’s closest barramundi lake, a relatively shallow, picturesque 400 ha dammed water about 40 mins from Hervey Bay. To get there from Brisbane, turn west off the Bruce Highway about 20 km north of Maryborough.
Each year, the Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association, with financial assistance from Wide Bay Water Corporation, stocks Lenthall with fingerlings. Since 1984, more than 450 000 fish have been released, including barramundi, Australian bass, yellowbelly (golden perch), silver perch and a few saratoga. The stocking of saratoga was minimal and has ceased due to environmental concerns. Barramundi stocking has proven excellent with fish growing up to 12 kg in three years.
The dam is proving so productive that Hervey Bay fishing guide Paul Dolan has turned fly-fishing for barramundi into a specialty and said he rarely misses.
There’s a picnic area with barbecue facilities, a shelter with tables, a public toilet and a boat ramp. You’ll find that a boat is a necessity because rainforest grows right to the water’s edge, where there is a fringe of lily pads.
The dam is the main water source providing drinking water for Hervey Bay, so to ensure the water is not contaminated by oil, fuel or soil from bank erosion caused by boat wash, there is a speed limit of 4 knots and motor size is limited to 6 horsepower.
A Stocked Impoundment Permit is required to fish here, as with many Queensland impoundments. These are available at Australia Post offices throughout Queensland, at the roadhouse on the Bruce Highway a few kilometres north of the turnoff, or fishing supply stores in Hervey Bay and Maryborough. Alternatively, they can be purchased online via the Department of Primary Industries website: www.dpi.qld. gov.au/fishweb.
Anglers chasing bass and perch tend to have 5–10 kg baitcaster or threadline outfits for trolling and bait fishing. Bass have gill cutters so a 15 kg monofilament leader is standard.
In recent times, enough anglers have been burned by big barramundi that there is a swing to heavier, 15 kg outfits with 24 kg breaking strain leaders.
Fly-fishers have started to visit the lake more regularly and some excellent captures of barramundi to 15 kg have been taken on ten- and 12-weight outfits.
Worms will account for the likes of yellowbelly, silver perch and even bass. Use No. 10 to 2/0 medium-shank hooks. You can fish on the bottom with a running sinker rig, or else flip an unweighted bait into the snags, let it sink and wait for the hot strike.
The fishing technique with lures is mainly trolling or casting near weed beds, rocky points and drop-offs. Fly fishers tend to work the same areas using intermediate lines for barramundi.
For bass and perch, Halco Nightwalkers work well in the pre- dawn light. During the day, bibbed minnow lures and spinnerbait lures are a better option. Soft plastic lures are also popular. Large bibbed minnows will work on barramundi. Popular lures include Halco Scorpion, Barra Classic, B-52 and Predatek Sand Viper.
The top fly used in Lake Lenthall is the DK Dancer, developed by Paul Dolan and Lionel Kemp. Other productive flies for bass and barramundi include the Whistler, Clouser and Deceiver.