LAKE Wyaralong was on the ‘must-fish’ bucket list for some time, and being only a quick 40-minute drive from home, I wondered why we hadn’t bothered fishing the lake beforehand.
With stories of Rob’s uncle Mick having very productive sessions on live shrimp filtering through to us, we thought bugger it, this will be an awesome place to take the kids. It had been a few years since we’d been shrimping, so we bought some opera house traps and headed out to Lake Wyaralong to put our new acquisitions to the test. The black Wilson traps we used had a fine mesh suited to targeting shrimp, and we set four of these along a sandy foreshore before heading home to prepare for the following day.
With the alarm blaring annoyingly at 4am, an earlyish mark was made to Lake Wyaralong (kids somehow make early starts late ones). Little John pulled in the pots and was ecstatic to see plentiful shrimp had made their way into the traps. With ample shrimp for bait in the aerated bucket, we quickly launched the boat. Under electric motor power we made our way to one of the stands of drowned timber. Sounding the area out on our old Lowrance HDS-8 Side Scan unit, we found a tonne of Australian bass marking on the screen, which was a good start.
With the anchor dropped, we arranged the boat so we kept a handful of shrimp in an aerated bucket for easy access while leaving the majority in a bucket tied to the side of the boat to keep them in good condition. Flicking the bail arm open, Rob made a short cast towards the timber with an unweighted shrimp and within 20 seconds a bass smashed the bait and swam straight back to the timber. Not giving the fish too much line, Rob wound the fish back to the boat where our little net man scooped the catch. At 45cm, our good start was only getting better!
I know bait fishing is seen as a bit of a mug’s game, but I don’t know if the kids enjoyed it more than the parents or vice versa! It was spectacular fishing, with only about 20 percent of the shrimp being ignored.
The 80 percent of hook-ups provided us with 40 fish all over 40cm, with the biggest four measuring 46cm. As well as our captures, another 25-30 fish either took us into the timber or pulled the hooks. Another angler we met was using frozen bait and didn’t land a thing, so live shrimp was definitely the key.
Any shrimp that died or were a bit lethargic on the hook were broken up and used as berley – not that I think we really needed it. We were fishing tiger country, so the fishing was pretty exciting as well as being brutal.
Frantically landing the fish was paramount because as we all know, re-rigging multiple times on the water really does suck. The Australian bass in Lake Wyaralong were chunky and very healthy looking, and best of all, they pulled bloody hard! We only fished two locations and both were in about 5.5m of water, with timber providing the structure that held so many fish.
I honestly don’t think we went for longer than two minutes without hooking up, except while re-rigging. John mostly had a great time and really impressed us by sticking with it on a tightened drag and fish that pulled hard.
Unfortunately the great time was short lived after he was spiked when holding a fish for the camera, proceeding to scream the place down for 20 minutes. Though we tried lure fishing for about 10 minutes without a touch, it was really hard to ignore the excellent results provided by using live baits.
Moogerah and Maroon dams have always provided us with plenty of entertainment over the years and obviously we will fish them again, but it was so easy driving half the distance for a great half day on the bass. I’ve got to admit electric-only dams are awesome to fish for the tranquillity, and it’s not bad to get away from the skiers as well.
Lake Wyaralong is located less than 15 minutes’ drive from Beaudesert on the Beaudesert Boonah Rd, with the entrance to the dam well signed. The gate opens at 5.30am and closes at 6.30pm from September to April. The dam was opened in 2011 and is managed by Seqwater, providing the public with an excellent single-lane ramp (though on a busy day I imagine more trailer parking would be great), toilets, fabulous barbecue and picnic facilities, a fun playground for little ones as well as a sculpture walk above the picnic grounds for all ages.
Our kids loved the large fishing rod and reel sculpture. Adults need to buy a stocked impoundment permit prior to fishing, but kids fish for free. Non-angling activities include mountain bike tracks, horse trails, bushwalking and rowing (note: they do use outboards for this activity.)
Wyaralong is quite picturesque and we were lucky to see beautiful Aussie wildlife including kangaroos coming down to the water for a drink.