The lure of metre-plus barramundi was enough to get Colby Lesko sending it straight for Lake Proserpine.
Impoundment barramundi are one of the best fishing options for Aussie anglers in spring/summer and I always make time to visit a barra dam or two during this period. As always, life commitments get in the way and this year, I didn’t find a few spare days until late November. But the boat and car were packed and off to Lake Proserpine it was. Also known as Peter Faust Dam, this is a barra mecca and has been for many years, holding a phenomenal amount of metre-plus barramundi.
Peter Faust Dam
It’s located 20km west of the town of Proserpine and there are no restrictions on the vessels you can use; you have a realistic chance of tangling with barra from a kayak or small tinny and many anglers fish out of high-speed bass boats. Accommodation is available at the Lions Camp Kanga, which is a short drive from the dam. Should you plan a family trip and wish to fish in some peace and quiet, Camp Kanga has a range of activities for the kids including a sand volleyball court, low ropes course, playground and an indoor centre. The facilities at the dam include toilets, barbecues and picnic tables.
The dam is stocked with barramundi and sooty grunter by the Faust Dam Fish Stocking Association. In 2017-18, 9,750 barramundi were stocked from SIPS (Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme) sales. A total of 760,066 barramundi and 115,000 sooty grunter have been stocked in Peter Faust Dam from SIPS.
Anglers travel far and wide to fish the dam but luckily for me it’s only a five-hour drive south. After driving through the night, I made it to the dam in time for a session at first light. Proserpine is famous for its opportunities to sight cast at big barra as they swim through the shallow weed beds hunting small fish. First light is one of the best times to sight cast barra as the fish are often in the weed moving around as they feed. The lake’s surface is also often calm and glassy before the afternoon sea breeze kicks in. I idled around the lake’s edge for 30 minutes looking for signs of barra in the shallows. After looking over a couple of different areas of the lake I noticed a couple of barramundi around a large weed bed. Their backs were breaking the surface every now and again as they moved in the weed, so the electric motor was deployed in shallow drive and the hunt was on.
Within minutes I had a metre-plus barra snaking his way through the weed, hunting bait just 10 metres from me, and a quick cast was placed out in front of the fish. With the rod tip high, a medium-paced wind kept my weedless-rigged plastic clear of the weed and on target to come past the barra’s nose. As the lure made it within eyeshot of the fish he launched forward and engulfed the plastic in one rapid boof. It’s an awesome feeling to catch a metre-plus barra in the first hour of arriving at the dam and this really set the tone for an amazing trip. Over the next few hours, I managed to cast at a handful of metre-plus barra, landing two more fish over the magic metre mark before the fish went down and the sight casting opportunities vanished.
After a bite to eat for lunch, the afternoon south-easterly winds kicked in and the lake started to get some waves rolling onto a few of the points in the main basin. This meant a change in tactics was in order, so I picked up my jerkbait combo and headed for a wind-blown point. Positioning the boat a cast away from the edge of the weeds off the windblown point, I cast my Samaki Redic jerkbaits and twitched them back to the boat. It wasn’t long before a barra smashed my jerkbait and took to the air before throwing the hooks. Jerkbaiting the wind-blown points and weed beds is an amazing way to find feeding fish in any barra impoundment and Proserpine is no different. You should have your sounder set on side scan and be able to see the odd fish swimming past if the point has actively feeding fish on it. If you don’t see any fish moving on the sounder as you sit on the point, or as you drive slowly over the point, it’s best to go look at another area. Within a few hours I had a fish in the boat and jumped another couple of fish off. The suspending jerkbaits really drive the barra crazy and they cannot handle watching it sit on the pause without biting it.
Over the next few days, I managed to catch metre-plus barra every day, albeit with mixed results. One day was quiet and the fish were extremely inactive, and I managed only the one fish that day; however my best day was five fish in the boat from a day with a dozen or more bites – a great result for solo daytime fishing. I persisted with a mixture of sight fishing with weedless soft plastics when conditions were calm and sunny, while blind casting jerkbaits was the best tactic in periods of wind and cloud cover.
If the fishing is tough and you are struggling to get a bite, persistence is key – so keep plugging away doing the right things and it’s often only a matter of time till a fish comes along. Fishing at night is a great option if you want numbers of fish but these days, I find it more enjoyable to fish during the day and sleep at night. The impoundment barra are certainly bite time-specific and it’s best to look at the times for tide changes in the closest estuaries as the barra will bite on these – even though there are no tides changes in dams. Moon set and rise are also common triggers for these bite periods, and if it lines up with a tide change, even better. To find these daytime bite periods, look at your moons and tides before you head to the dam. First light in the morning is always a great time to be on the water for both bite times and low wind.
The new campground on the banks of the lake making prime-time fishing easy. I was often off the water before dark and back at camp for a beer and a good feed to watch the sun go down, recharge the batteries and hit it hard again in the morning. But if you’re into your night fishing, it’s an easy option to head back out for a twilight session.
Impoundment barra have no problems testing your gear to the max. Big, wild head-shaking jumps, raspy teeth and powerful runs into timber or weed all put great strain on your gear and will find any weak point. You must spend the time preparing for a trip. Upgrade your hooks to at least 3x strong and tie some good FG knots to 80lb fluorocarbon leader so you can cast all day without a worry. Spin or bait casting gear can be used – it’s up to personal preference, and I like to use a mixture of both.
For me, Peter Faust retains its title as an amazing dam to fish for barramundi, as where else can you sight cast to a metre-plus fish within an hour of arriving. I’ve been travelling to the dam for many years now and I think it will be many more to come. It doesn’t even have to be this particular dam, just make some time for yourself to get out and catch some impoundment barra. Over the warmer months it really is hard to beat.
Words & Images: Colby Lesko