There is a very good reason why countless thousands of Australian fishermen visit Kinchant Dam each summer. It’s quite simple really, the barramundi fishing is off the hook (or on the hook, if you prefer to look at it this way).
As far as stocked impoundments come, this one is relatively small (920 hectares) in comparison to the others across Queensland. This is a good thing as it means you can pretty much fish the entire dam in one day. For those anglers looking to tangle with a barramundi from a kayak, this is quite accomplishable also as the small size ensure it is quite navigable by those members of the “tupperware navy”.
The dam is located in the Pioneer Valley, some 41km west of Mackay. It was constructed in 1977, predominately for crop irrigation and town water supply.
As eluded to earlier, the impoundment fishes extremely well for large bucket-mouthed barramundi. Overall, Kinchant is quite a shallow dam, and for this reason I like to fish the shallow, weedy bays. Most of these bays may be as shallow as 5 or 6 feet, with weed standing 4 or 5 feet off the bottom, therefore leaving 1-2 feet of clear water above the weed beds, for you to present your lure.
There are a couple of different options here. My absolute favourite way to target large impoundment barramundi is by using medium to large stickbaits or poppers on the surface. Barramundi will often charge out of the heavy weed to grab a surface offering and then, without hesitation, bury you back in the weed again. Although fishing across the top of the weed beds can be quite productive, I never said it was easy to extract them! I guess that is why it is called fishing and not catching right? By far the best times of the day to target impoundment barra on surface is the low light periods around dawn and dusk, when the big girls rise into the shallows to feed. Their large eyes are phototactic (sensitive to light) so will often head into the deeper, darker waters throughout the heat of the day.
Spin gear is by far the best option for flicking a large stickbait a long way and maximising the metres covered with each cast. I use a 10-20lb, 7 foot spin rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 4000FG, 20lb braid and 60lb leader. The Sustain bears 10kg of drag pressure and a retrieve ratio of 6.2:1 which both come in very handy when trying to stop a large barra from burying you in the weed.
In my honest opinion, there is no better way to catch barramundi then on surface, but be prepared for a change of underwear, especially when they hit the surface lure at the boat.
Throughout the heat of the day when the barra head a little deeper, I like to run weedlessly rigged 4 to 6 inch soft plastics, particularly a fish profile that has a large, rubber paddle-tail. Simply slow-rolling these softies through the weed beds will give the lure the necessary action. For this, I like to use a 5-8kg baitcasting rod with a Shimano Curado reel, once again with 20lb braid and 60lb leader.
There is common misconception that impoundment barramundi are fat, lazy and don’t fight when compared to a saltwater barra. Now I am not going to speculate as I have not caught saltwater barramundi at the sizes I have caught impoundment fish. But what I will say however, is that these fish are definitely no slouches and I would urge people to get out there, catch a few and make up their minds for themselves.