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Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Drive to some dam great fishing near Mackay

IF YOU'RE looking for a new and beautiful place to catch a feed, take a drive up to Mackay for some of the best inland fishing in the country.

Whether you're looking for a lake to float your boat, or a quiet riverside to dangle a line, the Mackay region has spectacular opportunities for the angler.

1: Teemburra Dam

How to get there: Take the Mackay-Eungella Rd, turn off at the Pinnacle Pub, then follow the signs.

Why it's great: This dam has been stocked with barramundi and the size of fish is growing rapidly after a flood in 2009-10. These are truly magnificent barramundi. Some are more than a metre long and the average is about 700mm.

Tips: When fishing on the dam look for sunken tree crowns, where the big barra like to lurk.

Watch out for: The rules. No water sports are allowed, and there is no camping ground. Many who want to go for a weekend stay overnight at the Pinnacle Pub. A toilet block is near the dam and there are barbecue facilities.

2: Eungella Dam

How to get there: Turn left at The Chalet at Eungella, and drive along to the Eungella Dam Rd.

Look out because there is only a small sign indicating the Eungella Dam turnoff and if you miss it you could end up at Collinsville, hours later.

Why it's great: It's the top spot in Australia for sooty grunter, and an annual championship is held there attracting anglers from all over.

The fish, which are stocked, grow to 50cm, the equivalent of a 1m barra.

They are an excellent fighting fish and great fun on light gear. It's a good spot for water sports and popular at Easter, if you're planning ahead.

Tips: You'll pay a fee for camping. There are toilets and (cold) showers.

Watch out for: Submerged trees when on the water - they are a big threat to your outboard. As with barra, search for the sooties around the crowns of submerged trees.

3: The Pioneer River at Marian or Mirani

How to get there: Drive along the Mackay-Eungella Rd and stop off at Marian or Mirani at various spots within reach of the banks of the Pioneer River.

Why it's great: It's easily accessible less than half an hour from Mackay for land-based fishing. Just find access points and walk down to the rocky river bed.

What you'll catch: Barra, sleepy cod and sooty grunter.

Tips: Look to fish in rocky pools and flowing water, but also watch out for slippery rocks. Swimming is okay as no crocs have been sighted here.

At Mirani it's possible to launch a small boat on the far side of the bridge but be cautious: The river has lots of rocks and stumps.

4: Kinchant Dam

How to get there: Head west from Mackay through North Eton and follow the signs. There is also a bitumen and dirt road from Mirani, past the Pioneer Valley golf course.

Why it's great: As local fishing celebrity Luke Galea says, the barramundi fishing is off the hook, and you can fish from a kayak. The dam is stocked.

Tips: Try a lure over the weeds in the shallow bays, preferably at dawn or dusk. You need a stocked impoundment permit, and there's a fee for camping.

What you'll catch: Apart from barra, look for sooty grunter and sleepy cod.

Watch out for: A fight. These big barra won't come easy.

5: O'Connell River near Proserpine

How to get there: Turn off the Bruce Hwy at Campbell Rd, south of Proserpine. At a causeway, turn to the right at the river.

Why it's great: This spot has it all; barra, tarpon, sooty grunter, the elusive jungle perch and, in the lower reaches of the freshwater area, mangrove jack. It's a big system with lots of area for fishing, so if you're willing to walk you can find peace and quiet to catch some nice fish.

Tips: This spot is for land-based fishing only, so be prepared to hoof it. But it's got some nice rainforest and is scenic. You can walk up or down the system.

Watch out for: Your safety. Wear suitable footwear to protect your feet, and cover up because it's exposed to the sun.

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