Hinze Dam is by no means a secret location. It has a long and decorated history of being known as a fantastic fishery, full of Aussie natives that are, on most occasions, more than willing to do their part and put a bend in a keen angler’s rod.
Australian bass to over 50cm, saratoga, golden perch, eel-tail catfish, Mary River cod all call this stunning dam home. While the numbers of bass make them the main target here, be sure to keep your polarized sunnies on and eyes peeled for a shot at a toga in the ‘hood, looking for a fight.
Originally constructed in 1976, Hinze Dam has had two further size upgrades – the first in 1989, and then again in 2011, to provide more water security for the Gold Coast below. As fishers, we’d like to think the dam was built purely for our own enjoyment. Alas, it’s actually a water supply to thousands of people.
This is where it becomes such a fantastic option for kayak fishos – there are no powerboats allowed! Electric or manually powered craft are permitted, but don’t offer you the access that a kayak can. Stealth can be a mighty weapon when sneaking through a bay looking for your next opportunity to cast.
The surface area of the dam is around 3,700 acres, plenty of it wide open space, which can leave it susceptible to wind and cause some chop. This is only a problem if you want to cross the dam on a blustery day. Even if the wind does get up, there are plenty of areas to find some still water within a short paddle of the access points.
The ramps have ample parking, toilets, picnic shelters and plenty of room to manoeuvre at the water’s edge to make launching and retrieving easy. Even if you don’t fish, this is just an awesome place for a paddle.
I first fished the dam with my Dad as a kid in the mid 90s. We spent a single weekend there and despite how long ago it was, I still remember the size of some of the fish that came aboard our big yellow Australis canoe, ‘Goodoo-Canoe’. We also spent half a day with our shiny new Humminbird sounder on ‘Simulate’ mode – but that’s a story for another time…
Since relocating to sunny Queensland around six months ago, I’ve been able to reacquaint myself with Hinze. On pulling up to the western boat ramp for the first time in some 20 years, the first thing I asked myself was, “Why have I left it so long to return?”
It had more water than I remembered, but from a fishing perspective, not much had changed. There was still an abundance of standing timber, grassy edges, steep drop-offs and any number of points where you might expect to find your quarry for the day, no matter how you want to target them.
I took my two (current) favourite rods with me on an Aquayak kayak we were testing out – an Edge Rods Black Widow DSR-6100 spin with a Daiwa Emeraldas MX reel and a First Strike 633 baitcaster with a Shimano Core 50mg. Both rods are incredibly light to cast with all day, and combined with the big drags on the reels, have enough backbone to pull a rampaging Hinze bass out of the timber, or at least most of the time. Both were loaded with 10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Don’t be afraid to beef both up to 15-16lb if you plan on fishing in close quarters. You may well need it.
Being a confessed and unashamed lure-aholic, it would come as no surprise to any of you that I had more lures on board than some tackle shops, just in case I couldn’t work out the bite. The first offerings were an OSP iWaver – a slow sinking jointed stickbait that allows you to fish the entire water column and offers some spectacular visual takes. On the other rod was a suspending jerkbait that would dive to around 3.5m.
Both afforded me the opportunity to tempt fish by keeping it in their face longer and alleviate any potential case of the dreaded lockjaw. Spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits or any number of mid-deep diving trolling lures will also do the trick. In the end, I discovered the fish weren’t anywhere near as fussy as they were hungry and angry!
While I’ve spent countless hours chasing bass from kayaks, most of that time was spent in skinny, fast flowing rivers and creeks, so I wasn’t exactly sure how or where I’d start. The entire length of Hinze Dam has a variety of options, so I focussed my attention on a few of the smaller, sheltered bays. I figured I’d start by fishing the shallower edges, then move to deeper water as the sun rose higher in the sky.
I’ve had 2 trips in kayaks now, once in the Aquayak and once in a Hobie Pro Angler. The smaller, lighter Aquayak was easier to manoeuvre around the wooded areas but the Mirage Drive of the Hobie meant I could cover a lot of ground quickly and even stand up to fish.
Hinze is one spot where it pays to have a quality sounder on your kayak but if you don’t have one, focus on what you can see: timber bays, flooded points and submerged vegetation. And like all fishing spots, if they’re not biting in one location, then just keep moving.
I’ve got a new favourite fishery, and I still haven’t wiped the smile off my face from the thrill of finding some very healthy bass. While they weren’t the longest bass I’ve caught, several fish in the low-mid 40cm were accounted for – all in very healthy condition with bronzed skin and fat bellies. I even managed to locate, hook and swiftly drop a saratoga, which has me salivating for the next opportunity.
Hinze Dam is a beauty. Even just standing at the ramp, anyone would find it hard to argue with that. It’s just seems too special to have been made by men in bright orange shirts, short shorts and hard hats in the 70s.
Grab a kayak, a mate with a kayak to take all your glory photos for Facebook or Instagram, and head out to Hinze for the day. Gates open at 5.30am and close at 6.30pm. Get there early for the best results and on your way out, stop at the café at the dam wall for some of the best hot chips and gravy you’re likely to encounter.
Photo courtesy of Taylor McKinney-Smith.
Photo courtesy of Brett Habener.Reads: 1897