Fishing Lake Lenthalls
 

Fishing Lake Lenthalls

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Lake Lenthalls - its back!

By Scott Mitchell

We have had our share of challenging years on Lake Lenthalls, which is the main water supply for Hervey Bay in Queensland and was once regarded as one of the state’s premier bass & barramundi fisheries. First was the access while they raised the dam wall height while installing the new Crestgate system and management issues during this period in 2006/7. Then we had a freezing cold snap in the winter of 2007, which unfortunately saw the loss of an enormous amount of the barramundi stocked up to that time.

Wide Bay Water Corporation fitted a new Crestgate system to the dam in 2006/8 which raised the capacity of Lake Lenthall from 17,800 megalitres to 29,500 megalitres. This was to ensure the dam could supply a reliable and sustainable water resource suitable for human health, community development and economic growth to the city of Hervey Bay until 2025. In times of flood the Crestgates allow lots of water to flow through as if there wasn’t a dam in place. They also enable WBWC to quickly restore Lake Lenthall to its operating level as the flood dissipates.

The dam filled to its new height with-in a month of the works being completed and spilled for the first time in January 2008!  This saw more of the remaining barramundi escape downstream to the Burrum River. The spill way has a moderate fall which ensures the vast majority of fish going over survive the trip.

The area then experienced another flood in May/June 2008 which saw thousands of Australian bass escape downstream during what is their normal spawning time. These fish eventually made their way into the tidal section of the Burrum River & consequently died when they could not travel back up stream due to there not being an adequate fish ways on the weirs between the dam & river. A new fish way is planned to be built and should stop this issue in future.

The Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association Inc (FCFSA) was not able to source any barramundi fingerlings for nearly three years during this period ( 2007/2009 ) which created a significant gap in year classes being stocked. The Gladstone Area Water Board has since come on board and consistently supplied the FCFSA with Australian barramundi fingerlings since. The passing of Bill Proctor was also a shock to all who knew him and he has been sadly missed as he was an important supplier to many stocking groups of Australian Bass fingerlings from his Bundaberg hatchery.

Lake Lenthalls hasn’t spilled in a number of years and has been closed since the 28th of April this year for remedial works to be carried out on the crest gates so expectations are high that we should see some great fishing out at the dam this summer once reopened shortly.

FISH SPECIES

Australian bass, barramundi, silver perch, golden perch & snub nosed gar have all been stocked in Lake Lenthalls since the formation of the FCFSA in 1968. There are also spangled perch and eels present along with numerous reports of Saratoga although there are no records of these ever being stocked.

The total number of fish stocked by the Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association Inc (1968 – June 2015 ) : -

Snub nosed gar    50

Golden Perch       285,900

Silver Perch          181,250

Australian bass    in-excess of 800,000-

Barramundi          in-excess of 200,000-

A stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required to fish at Lake Lenthall and this is the main source of funding for the FCFSA – so please ensure you select Lenthalls Dam as your preference when purchasing your permit.

TECHNIQUES

Lake Lenthalls was regarded as one of the best top-water bass fisheries in the country in its “hay day” period between 2004 & 2007. This title looks set to be returned with the lake holding steady and looking fantastic again with good lily’s and weed beds returning.

TOP WATER

It is hard to beat the visual excitement that comes with fishing surface lures on aggressive fish like Australian bass & Barramundi. There is an enormous range of great bass & barra surface lures available today. I generally prefer darker colours like purple or black as I find the best surface action is also during low light periods or on overcast days.

For bass I find lures in a size range from 40mm to 80 mm to be ideal .Old style lures like the Arbogast Jitterbug and Heddon Tiny Torpedo’s still stack up well alongside the new breed like Megabass Sigletts, Luckycraft Bevy Props and the Jackson B Pivot & Owner/Cultiva Tango Dancers. You can also use a range of soft plastics like frogs, critters & Squidgy bugs. The Squidgy fish in 65 - 80mm in poddy, silver fox and Garry glitter are great lures and match the local bony bream in the lake. You should also have a selection of hard & soft vibes, hard body diving minnows and spinner baits on hand. That’s why we love bass – there’s just some ways to catch them!

For barramundi the introduction of larger “barra” sized frogs changed our surface fishing for ever a few back with the Squidgy Boof frogs being essential lures in any barra anglers arsenal. In hard bodies you should have Rapala Skitter pops & X-Rap walk , Owner/Cultiva Tango Dancers, River 2 Sea Tango Pro Fizzers etc. You can then again add the endless myriad of hard bodied diving minnows and soft / hard vibes by personal choice.

WEEDLESS / SNAG PROOF PLASTICS

I would now fish 60-80% of my soft plastics using weedless/snag proof rigs and have dramatically improved my results. You can fish just about anywhere without fear of snagging up and losing expensive tackle and lures. Any species you enjoy chasing with soft plastics can be pursued using weedless rigs.

The key to rigging weedless is the hook – which will generally be a wide gape worm pattern. These have a unique bend just below the eye which works like a “keeper “in holding the head / top of your soft plastic in place. The wide gape assists in providing enough space to position the body of your soft plastic in line with the head while concealing the point.

These specialised worm hooks are available from all of the big brands today including Mustad, Owner, Gamakatsu ,VMC  and TT . These are offered both as a plain hooks and with weights on the shanks both fixed and sliding on some patterns.

If you need to add more weight to your presentation to reach the fish being targeted you can again go back to a Texas style rig and add an appropriate sized ball sinker to your loop knot at the eye. I actually prefer to crimp my heavier leaders when chasing fish that require hand to hand combat like barra which makes adding a sinker to the loop really easy and neat. There are also some great new innovative jig heads available from TT with their SnakeLockz & Aus Spin with their Swingin’ Drop/Hop Jig Heads.

Ensure you rig your plastics carefully because to ensure they are perfectly centered or they may spin when being retrieved. Most plastics have a central line or a hook point slot that helps you to line up the middle. Don’t be afraid to start again if you get it wrong the first time. I also like to use a few drops of Selleys Quick Fix fast setting liquid supa glue. Just remember to strike harder to pop the hook point out of the skin and into a position to hook the fish when you feel a strike.

CAMPING

Camping is permitted at Lake Lenthall. Short stay camping up to three (3) days/two (2) nights is permitted. The maximum number of campers at any one time is eighteen (18) plus up to six (6) self-contained camper vehicles that have waste storage facilities.

The number of campers is limited to the capacity of the on-site sewage treatment facilities to protect the main drinking water source of Hervey Bay. Places are limited so pre-booking of sites is required. To book site visitors can contact the Lake Lenthall Ranger Office on (07) 4129 4833.                                                                             

BOATING RESTRICTIONS

Powerboats are allowed on Lake Lenthall but speeds and horsepower are restricted. Visitors should be aware of the low emission outboard engine policy for Lake Lenthall which allows ONLY 2 and 3 star rated engines up to 60hp. Low emission engines include:

•          All 4-stroke engines up to 60 horsepower

•          Low emission direct injection 2-stroke engines up to 60 horsepower

•          The speed limit on the lake is strictly 6 knots

If you traveling North on the Bass to Barra Trail – you really should add beautiful Lake Lenthalls to your itinerary.

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A big thank you to the Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association for the release of 15,000 Barramundi Fingerlings and 27,000 Bass into Lenthalls Dam on Sunday as well - Photo courtesy of Aiden Roberts.