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Googong green and gold
  |  First Published: February 2017



I first fished Googong when I was 18 on the recommendation of an old timer who owned what was then one of the few tackle shops in Canberra.

He told me stories of enormous trout and sent me out there with some PowerBait. When we arrived, I walked down from the carpark to the first bay where I spotted a large yellowbelly sitting in the shallows. It was by far the biggest golden perch that I had ever seen, so I ditched the PowerBait, switched to a diver and spent the rest of the afternoon casting for natives.

I have been fishing Googong ever since for Murray cod, golden perch and redfin, but only recently have I started to discover the excellent angling opportunities for those who are willing to use a kayak on this amazing body of water.

Facilities

Googong Dam is located on the outskirts of Queanbeyan, about thirty minutes from Canberra. There are BBQ facilities and toilets located near the main carpark, as well as a boat ramp. Wheelers Outdoors in Queanbeyan is the closest tackle shop and is worth a visit, because you can get some good advice from the owner John and he stocks some excellent lures. It is important to bring a lot of gear with you, as Googong is riddled with snags and the big Murray Cod will often pulverise your lure, bending hooks and sometimes taking chunks of the lure off completely.

Googong opens at 8am and closes at 8pm during daylight savings, and opens at 8am and closes at 6pm at all other times. It is best not to test the rangers patience by staying out too late.

Species

Googong holds healthy populations of large golden perch, enormous schools of big redfin and goliath Murray cod.

The largest cod caught in the dam that I have heard of is a 128cm specimen caught by local Canberra gun Sam Hancox. Sam has hooked larger fish, but has lost them in the sunken timber.

The big trout that were once stocked in the dam are long gone and only a few remain. Even when I was young, these fish were few and far between. It has been a native fishery for decades and is regularly stocked, so put your efforts into chasing yellas and cod.

Techniques

I could spend a long time writing about the number of lures that have and have not worked at Googong, because some days you can go through an entire tacklebox searching for the right lure for the conditions. Googong can be a really hard place to fish, so it pays to try a lot of different things. However, there are a few lures that I use regularly that consistently catch fish.

I caught my first yella at Googong using a Squidgy Wriggler 80mm in redrum. I had run out of ideas and was just trying for redfin. I have now caught a fair few goldens with this lure by targeting the gaps in between the timber, allowing the lure to sink and then fast twitching the plastic back to my yak. Lots of twitches and the occasional pause seem to bring them on the bite.

Deep divers are another great choice, especially when casting at banks that drop almost vertical into deep water. Redfin, cod and golden perch all hold in these areas and for me, the stand-out lure in these circumstances is the Jackall Chubble. This floating diver can be bounced over timber, and at 65mm, appeals to every species in the dam. I incorporate lots of pauses into the retrieve to give shut down fish a good look at the lure.

Vibes also work really well with Jackall TN 60s and 70s fished tight to structure producing excellent results for a lot of anglers. Slow rolling vibes is the best way to connect to a fish, and again, these types of lures appeal to all the species in the dam and consistently get the hits where other lures fail.

Googong is deep, with some of the better snags sitting at 10m but still close to shore, so a sinking swimbait is an effective lure in these areas. By slow rolling this lure up the column and parallel to a tree, many anglers connect to some great fish.

Spinnerbaits have to be one of the most effective lures to use when fishing heavy cover at Googong, with a lot of fish hitting the lure on the drop as it descends down the snag towards the bottom.

If you are finding the fishing tough, switch to a natural coloured lure that imitates a baby redfin or juvenile yella. Bright lures certainly work at Googong and can be deadly, but when the fish are shut down, it pays to use lures that ‘match the hatch.’

The Kayak

Crossing to the other side of Googong can be like crossing a bar. The wind can whip up, creating waves and genuinely dangerous conditions for any boat or kayak angler. This is why Googong is recognised as an alpine waterway, meaning life jackets must be worn at all times.

I use a Native Slayer 13, and it handles the chop with ease. I have fished with anglers in Hobies and Wilderness kayaks and these also held up well. A peddle or paddle kayak is fine, provided it has the stability to cope with the waves.

Make sure your kayak has plenty of room for water, food and gear, as Googong is a big dam and if you go right up into Bradleys Inlet or up the back of the dam, it can take a long time to get back depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Fishing Googong from a kayak means that you can use stealth to creep up on the fish. Often, large fish will be feeding up on a bank and will become spooked by a boat, but a yak can creep into these areas without upsetting the fish.

Locations

If it is your first time to Googong, I would recommend Shannons Inlet, which is only a few kilometres down from the boat ramp and holds good populations of native fish. Target the timber and grassy banks, and always risk a lure or two by casting in between the exposed tips of the trees.

Bradleys is opposite the boat ramp and a fair paddle, but is often worth the trip, as there are some decent cod in the area along with plenty of big redfin. There is a lot of timber to explore, as well as overhanging trees and a few rocky banks.

Tackle

I usually fish light, but at Googong, you never know if a monster is going to latch on, whether it be a yella or a cod. For this reason, it is important to upsize everything.

For cod, I use a Daiwa Air Edge (heavy) rod coupled with a Tatula 100h baitcaster reel. I use 20lb braid and 25lb leader. This is a solid combo that gets the job done and doesn’t cost a lot either.

For yellas and reddies, I use a Daiwa Gen Black Pinster (series 2) coupled with a Daiwa Gen Black 2000 reel. The rod is only 6’4, but because it is tippy and also powerful in the butt, I find I can throw plastics with ease but also heavier vibes and divers. For yellas and reddies, 10lb braid and 12lb leader is the minimum, as the goldens can reach 70cm with the largest from last season coming in at 71cm.

Timing

Googong fishes well year round, with early summer being best. However, there is a flurry of activity in late autumn, which is when a lot of the larger cod are caught. Winter also produces big fish, where the hits are fewer but if a fish does hit, you can almost be guaranteed that it will be big.

Get down to Googong

Googong is a challenging fishery because of the weather and also because the fish can be fussy. However, it is also one of the best native fisheries around the Canberra region, and on its day offers some of the most exciting angling opportunities to be had from a kayak, because stealth is key to catching these wily natives.

Now is the time to fish Googong, as a new township is being built nearby and it won’t be long before it attracts huge numbers of anglers.

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