The temperature is not the only thing heating up in The Mackay Region this summer, so too is the incredible fishing on offer in any one of the region's three stocked impoundments. Kinchant, Teemburra and Eungella Dams are world class fisheries and home to some of the biggest Barramundi and Sooty Grunter you could ever hope to encounter. These fish are legendary, iconic and firmly etched upon the bucket list of nearly every red-blooded angler in the nation and for good reason. Oh… did I mention that you don’t even need to be an experienced fisherman to stand a good chance at catching one of these brutes? If you’ve never caught a Sooty Grunter or you are fixated on catching that metre-plus Barra, there is absolutely no better time than now. Let me explain…
First and foremost, Mackay is an amazing city in its own right with brilliant natural landmarks well worth exploring by families and fisho’s alike, but more importantly its geographic location makes it absolutely ideal as a base to stage your assault on the dams. Seriously, I don’t know another regional city that can lay claim to being located within 90 minutes of three world class impoundments (allow a slightly longer travel time to Eungella dam if you are towing your tinnie or camper trailer). The close proximity to these angling mecca’s is a massive feather in Mackay’s cap.
No boat? No worries mate... Whilst people do manage to catch some cracking barra off the bank at each of the dams, you’d be doing yourselves a great favour if you gave Jason Kidd from Inshore Fishing Mackay a call. Whilst his bread and butter is putting punters onto saltwater species in Mackays epic Net Free Zone, he does run fishing charters in the impoundments as well (namely Kinchant) and let’s just say that his clients have been more than happy with the results.
Whilst saltwater barramundi are off limits from 1 November to 1 February due to their seasonal spawning closure, the beauty about the impoundments is the fact that the you can target these fish all year round. Summer is absolutely prime time too. Like all stocked impoundments in Queensland, you will need to obtain a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) to fish them. These can be obtained by visiting https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/activities/boating-fishing/rec-fishing/dams or various fishing stores, post offices and service stations in Mackay. A portion of the funds raised from the sale of these permits is fed back to the Mackay Area Fish Stocking Association (MAFSA) to continue their great work stocking the regions dams, which they have been doing since 2000.
Located just 41km west of the Mackay CBD, amidst the picturesque Pioneer valley, Kinchant dam has earnt itself a legendary reputation amongst the barramundi fishing fraternity for producing exceptional number of trophy, metre-plus barramundi. It is seriously helping to put Mackay on the map.
Weed beds within the dam and lilies around the margins had “previously” been the main fish holding habitat within the dam. This meant that anglers visiting the dam had to adapt their techniques to fishing this weedy impoundment by opting to utilise weedless soft plastics amongst the weed beds or top water presentations (poppers, stickbaits or plastic frogs) across the top of the weed beds. Now, I say “previously” because Mackay Regional Council and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have embarked on an innovative three-year project to install 186 fish attracting structures into the dam in a conscious bid to improve the fishing. This has been exclusive information to date and you’ve heard it here first! The first half of these structures will be deployed into the dam in late October 2018 which is perfect preparation for the upcoming hot summer bite period. Like I said, there is literally no better time than now to fish Kinchant dam as these structures will aggregate fish, making them easier to catch for locals and tourists alike.
Although technically classified as a single lane boat ramp, two boats can easily be backed down at once with a little common sense and courtesy. This should be implored especially during peak deployment times. There is ample vehicle and trailer parking spaces at the dam and even extensive grassed park areas equipped with a couple of picnic shelters, tables and chairs. Kinchant is a very family friendly impoundment.
For those who like to camp, the Kinchant Waters Caravan Park is located right at the dam. The camp ground is 4 hectares and offers a range of accommodation options including cabins, camp sites, bar, restaurant and laundry facilities. It does get very busy during peak holiday periods so make sure you book well ahead. You can always opt to stay in nearby Marian, Mirani or the Mackay CBD is a mere 40 minute drive away.
Drive another 25km west of Kinchant and you will stumble upon Teemburra Dam nestled amongst Crediton State Forest. This is your typical impoundment environment dominated by a multitude of differing habitat types including an abundance of free-standing timber.
Whilst predominately being a barramundi fishery like Kinchant, some excellent sooty grunter fishing actually occurs here each summer with the corresponding wet season rains. You see, in order to spawn, sooty grunter need flowing water. Teemburra creek is one of the main feeder creeks that delivers flow and runoff to the dam. Sooty grunter move up into the headwaters of this creek, against the flow in order to spawn, migrate and recruit. Cast your lure amongst the rapids and back-eddies and you can rack up cricket scores of sooty grunter with a fish-a-cast being quite achievable.
Unfortunately, camping is not allowed at Teemburra dam, however Pinnacle Family Hotel is a mere 5-10 minutes down the road and can help you out in this department. Their entire back cricket oval has been made available for camping at a cost of $10 per night per vehicle. This minimal fee is more of a donation than a fee and covers the use of the toilets and showers. Do yourselves a favour and try one of their famous Pinnacle pies while you are there, they are to die for. This good old country pub is one of the most visited destinations in the Pioneer valley, particularly after a fishing session in Teemburra dam or a swim up at Finch Hatton gorge.
When thoughts are cast to sooty grunter fishing in Mackay, those thoughts immediately turn to Eungella dam. Eungella dam is the world's premier Sooty Grunter fishing impoundment. Not only does amazing fishing happen here but Eungella dam would have to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing as well.
It would be safe to say that Sooty Grunter are the northern equivalent of the Australian Bass from the south. They reach similar sizes, found in similar habitat, fight equally as hard (probably harder actually) and can both be caught on a diverse range of fishing applications. These fish have a legendary reputation in their own right and have earned the respect of thousands of fisho’s across the north as a result. They will test angling skill and terminal tackle to the absolute limit and have the ability to bust leaders and straighten out a stock-standard split-ring or treble without too much effort. Sounds like fun? You bet!
The basic single lane boat ramp and amenity block serves its purpose but it is the lush and inviting expanses of grassed coves amidst the eucalypt trees that offers some of the most scenic and relaxing camping in The Mackay Region.
Boasting one of the best climates in Queensland, Mackay offers red hot fishing action that would rival any other location in Australia. Collectively, Kinchant, Teemburra and Eungella dams have it all - excellent barramundi and sooty grunter fishing, great facilities, scenic views and just a stones-throw from the amazing city of Mackay. The fishing within our impoundments is world class in every sense of the word and its only going to get better as the temperature rises this summer. A word of warning though, once you visit these impoundments, you will be back. Believe the hype! They are seriously addictive.