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Big bass at Big W ( Lake Wivenhoe ) - Garry Fitzgerald

SEVERAL years ago now, Lake Wivenhoe was the original big bass location in south east Queensland. Cricket score captures by anglers in the know, and those that had electric motors on their boats, were common events particularly during the depths of winter.

At a time when most fishing commentators were claiming freshwater fish couldn't be caught during the colder months, Big W was producing big fish in good numbers. The major rain of early 1999, that saw more rain in the Brisbane catchment than in '74, changed things a lot. Many of the bass and yellow belly here went "over the top" when the flood gates were opened for an extended period.
Picturesque Platypus Cliff
Wivenhoe Dam with flood gates open While this gave some spectacular fishing down stream around the Colleges Crossing area (many over night gun anglers came into being at the time), Lake Wivenhoe and the upstream Lake Somerset seemed almost devoid of quality fish compared to previous years, the turkey shoot was over it seemed.

The limelight for big bass and yellow belly went to other locations like Lake Barambah and more recently Lake Samsonvale and rightly so. Big fish capture the imagination of anglers everywhere.
With a timely return to winter fishing form, Wivenhoe is again the talk of many avid fresh water anglers discussions. Recent captures of plenty of 50cm + bass (between 2.5 and 3 kg) and good numbers of average sized specimens has seen an upturn in fishing here once again. Some of the tried and true locations such as Billies Bay, Hamon Cove and Platypus Cliffs are all holding fish. Many of the bigger fish are scattered around points, ridge lines and weed lined bays.

As always, Big W is best fished with traditional bibbed lures as opposed to the current trends of soft plastics, deep fly & spinnerbaits. This is possibly due to the big numbers of bony bream and mouth almighty present here that our predator fish seem to have a penchant for.
Fishing with bibbed deep divers claimed all of the top placings at the recent Brisbane Bass Masters Wivenhoe event. International angler Chris Barnett took out first place with a 50 cm, 2.46kg bass on a deep diving Bill Norman lure. See below right.

Another food source that is fast become a staple diet for the bigger fish is redclaw crayfish. Some looking at stomach contents of fish here recently has revealed some interesting finds. Big redclaw crayfish, shrimps, bony bream, mouth almighty, gudgeons and even small fork tailed catfish have been found.
With the upsurge in stocking rates here over the past few years, and extra money from the Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) beginning to filter through the future looks bright for fishing at Big W.

Fact File
Wivenhoe takes the name from the town in Britain and is of Saxon origin, Wiven or Wifa meaning proper name and Hoe meaning ridge or spur of land.
The potential for Wivenhoe, as a suitable location for a dam, was recognized in the 1890's as a result of the great flood in 1893.
Preliminary work and reporting for a proposal to build a dam at Wivenhoe began in the mid-sixties and the acquisition of land for the submerged area was commenced in 1973.
Design investigations were commenced in 1973 and construction began in 1974.
The dam was completed in 1983 when a minor flood substantially filled the lake before construction was quite finished creating the biggest lake in Queensland at that time.
The dam supplies town water to Brisbane and surrounding regions and also acts as flood mitigation, a necessary objective after the 1974 Brisbane flood.
The dam itself has a catchment area of 5700 km², has a surface area of 10 800 hectares and holds some 1 165 000 ML of water at an average depth of almost 11 meters.

After constructed, many fish found themselves trapped in Lake Wivenhoe.
This provided for some spectacular captures of big tarpon and mullet.
The first opening of the flood gates however saw the last these remnant catadromous fish disappear with snub nosed gar, fork tailed catfish, eel tailed catfish, spangled perch and lungfish staying in the lake to establish breeding populations along with a myriad of smaller bait fish species.
Since then, over 1 000 000 native fish fingerlings have been stocked to provide good fishing opportunities for anglers.

This 53cm Bass took a bibbed lure cast around rocks

These stocked fish include bass, yellow belly, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga.
Other species that have been illegally introduced are tilapia, barred or banded grunter and redclaw crayfish.
For better or worse it seems these are here to stay.
Tilapia and redclaw are now a popular target by locals and tourists alike due to their highly regarded eating qualities.

** A Stocked Impoundment Permit is required to fish on Lake Wivenhoe.

Boating on Lake Wivenhoe is restricted to 4 stroke and direct fuel injected 2 stroke motors with a speed limit of 6 knots. Electric motors and paddle craft are also permitted but no ski boats, tubes, skiing or jetski's are permitted.
It pays to take extra fuel &/or deep cycle batteries to ensure that you make it home safely. During the summer months, the afternoon southeast breeze can turn the surface of Wivenhoe into white caps.
A Seqwater boating permit is required for all trailerable vessels.
Boating access is from daylight till dark with all access gates being locked at night except at camping areas for obvious reasons.

Camping is permitted at Captain Logan Camp and at Lumley Hill, booking is essential at times and a camping fee applies. Toilets, BBQs, public telephone, hot showers, playground, picnic tables, drinking water, limited firewood, and kiosk are provided in here.
On the western side of the dam wall is a tourist information center, on the east at Cormorant Bay is a restaurant and café.
For further information contact Lake Wivenhoe Information Center: Phone 07 5426 1866.

Lake Wivenhoe Maps & pictures

Garry Fitzgerald.

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Copyright© 2001 Garry Fitzgerald. Sweetwater Fishing Australia