just outside of Monto in southern Central Queensland is
Cania Dam, one of the best kept secrets for some time. Stocked
with your usual golden perch, silver perch and australian
bass to 3kg as is the norm at most impoundements in central
and southern eastern Qld, Cania Dam's real drawcard is the
saratoga. Initially stocked with only 200 individuals, the
'toga have breed to a population where they are quite easily
targeted and caught, making Cania a rival to the likes of
Borumba Dam on Queenslands Sunshine Coast. Fishing there
is quite enjoyable and relaxing due to the postcard surroundings
of sheer sandstone escarpments, cliff faces and the abundant
wildlife like wallabies that won't get out of the way near
the boat ramp.
There are several techniques that can be used to target
the saratoga here and trolling hard bodied lures seems to
be the most popular with local anglers. This method can
produce bass, goldens and saratoga on the same lure at the
more productive technique is to cast lures or spinnerbaits
in towards snags around the steep banks almost anywhere
on the lake, although more seem to be found further up the
back of this winding waterway. Cast your offering where
you think fish are likely to be and begin your retrieve
almost immediately. I have had success using Buzzbaits retrieved
just under the surface causing a bow wave to form around
it. Don't worry about retrieving too quickly when using
spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, as saratoga are a very fast
fish and a quick retrieve commonly triggers a strike. One
downfall of using spinnerbaits is that fish, especially
saratoga, tend to strike the blades instead of the skirt
or even short strike them.
one trip there with a few mates, fishing partner Matthew
Mott and I had 14 strikes for 14 casts with fish leaping
and crossed lines everywhere, all in about four heart stopping
minutes. I found a better hook-up ratio was obtained by
trimming down the skirt and using double Colorado blades
instead of willow leaf blades. Another way to improve hook-up
rates is to add a stinger hook onto your spinnerbaits.
the most difficult but most rewarding way to catch saratoga
is flyfishing for them. My favourite fly would have to be
a wiggle minnow or a small dahlberg, although several different
patterns will catch fish. The use of surface flies early
in the morning or late afternoon is productive especially
when there is no wind, as a ripple on the water tends to
send the fish deeper. I prefer to use an intermediate line
combined with a floating fly for most situations at Cania.
This allows you to present your offering, get one or two
strips, which gets the fish's attention then allow the weight
of the line to pull the fly under. This is where most strikes
will occur with the advantage of improving the hook-up rate
compared to surface strikes.
the heat of the day try using intermediate or full sinking
lines using flies like deceivers, clousers and wooly buggers.
Count them down to the desired depth and begin your retrieve.
I've found saratoga prefer a long slow strip with a good
pause in between although they are capable of high speeds.
One local's tip is to stir the 'toga up with spinnerbaits
and then throw a fly into the fray. Saratoga can be one
of the most aggressive fish found in our freshwater impoundements.
I've yet to see any other fish that will throw a lure and
then charge straight back at it for another go time and
time again. This is one reason for a bag limit of one in
Qld. The other compelling reason is that although saratoga
will breed in impoundments, they are very slow to do so,
often rearing less than 100 in a season per pair. Another
thing to remember is that 'toga are shocking table fare,
in fact I wouldn't feed one to my cat.
There are no boating restrictions at Cania Dam. There is
a dual lane concrete boat ramp that is usable when the lake
is around half full. Alternatively, most anglers drive down
a gravel track toward the dam wall and launch there at low
Cania Dam (Lake Cania) is named after the nearby Cania Gorge
National Park and access to the dam and park can be reached
via a bitumen road that branches off the Burnett Highway
12 km north of Monto (or 77km south of Biloela). It is 14
km from the Burnett Highway to the National Park passing
through the small settlement of Moonford and a further 11km
to Lake Cania. Don't forget to take some time out from fishing
for a look at the Cania Gorge and Three Moon Creek. It is
well worth the effort of a short walk.
Competition The Cania Dam Fish Stocking Association runs the annual
Lake Cania Freshwater Fishing Classic which is to be held
on March 11-12, when camping will be allowed at the lake
for competitors. Proceeds from this event go toward keeping
this a top little fishery. There is also an annual Fly Fishing
Competition, check the Competition page for latest information.
Accomodation No camping is permitted at Cania Dam.
There are various accomodation facilities in the Monto district.
See the Accommodation
page for details.