Bundanoon Dam is located about forty minutes from Mittagong and about 30 minutes from Mossvale in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Both of these towns have all the usual amenities including supermarkets, petrol stations, cafes and so on.
If you’re headed to the dam, stock up at one of these two towns. There is nothing close by the dam and should you get bogged in for the night (a distinct possibility), you will need plenty of food and water. There is a small tackle shop in Bowral where you can get fishing supplies. Bring heaps of gear – there are a lot of snags.
I found out about Bundanoon Dam after talking to Team FishFlix. Tim, Ben and Dylan are three excellent bass fishers who spend a lot of time fishing the creeks, rivers and dams around the South Coast. They suggested I give Bundanoon a crack during the summer holidays.
My truck got bogged on that first trip and I broke my finger, but I did get a few bass. Since then, I have returned to the dam twice. Though the fishing is not always easy, it’s a fun spot to cast a line for Australian bass.
There are no facilities in or around the dam area and the track to the dam is 4WD only. I really want to stress that the drive in should not be done in anything other than a 4WD, because the track is very rough and if it rains during the day or the night before, it can be almost impossible to get in or out in a regular car. This also means that it is very hard to bring a boat to the dam. It is far more suited to kayak fishing.
I recommend bringing a life jacket and a beacon to ensure you have contact with the outside world, as there is no phone reception.
Bundanoon Dam is stocked with Australian bass. This was organised by the Bowral flyfishing club in conjunction with NSW Fisheries. The bass aren’t big, as the stocking only began a few years ago, but they do fight really hard. They fight harder than river bass. I’ve been told a few big specimens also remain from a failed stocking program many years ago. I have yet to catch one.
Tim from Fishflix recommended I throw a blade for my first visit, and I can attest that this is by far the most effective lure type to use at Bundanoon. There must be a lot of little shrimp or yabbies in the dam, because the bass hit blades with ferocity as they sink through the water column or when slow rolled near a snag. Black is the best colour and the Ecogear ZX35 is a great size.
Other lures which work well for me are small Squidgy Wrigglers in 65mm and 80mm. Fast twitching these lures near the bottom and then up through the water column can result in a big hit and a larger than average specimen. Orange, green and black are great colour choices and a 1/8oz jighead gets the plastic down deep nice and quick.
There is a surface bite at dawn and dusk in January and February. Fish can be very skittish, even during these prime times – I’m still working out the surface bite. If you are after surface action, be on the dam before first light and be prepared to throw lots of different surface lures to discover what they are feeding on at that time.
I used my trusty Native Slayer Propel 13 and it handled the dam well. I will say that this kayak can be hard to manoeuvre in tight spots, and there are several parts of the dam where the water gets very skinny. We also took a very inexpensive paddle yak to test out. The dam is protected by significant hills on all sides, so there is very little wind. It’s very easy to fish with just a rod, reel, a handful of lures and a basic kayak setup.
The area near the dam wall is a good place to start and the majority of the reed-lined banks also hold fish. Sometimes the bass will move deeper. If you don’t get a strike in close, move out deeper, look for the drop-offs, put a plastic right on their heads and jig up.
There are several rocky points that are worth a look, especially if the bass are holding deeper. I know that the experienced anglers pick up a lot of their better fish in these areas.
The bass in the dam can be a challenging proposition, as they are sometimes completely disinterested in chasing lures. Therefore, it is really important to use the lightest gear possible. Finesse pays at Bundanoon Dam.
I use a Daiwa Gekkabijin 7’6” spin stick rated 1.5-3kg and a Daiwa Certate 1003 spooled with 3kg fluorocarbon straight through. This is very light and though I have lost a few big fish, I catch a lot more now than I did the first time I fished the dam with a heavier outfit.
Polaroids are an important part of any angler’s arsenal if fishing Bundanoon. Sometimes the bass will be holding high up the water column and won’t be hitting lures. It pays to watch them for a while and figure out exactly what size baitfish or yabby they are chasing and then match the hatch.
I recommend fishing the dam around the end of summer when the water is warmer and the bass will go for surface offerings, which is really exciting. I have also found that the fish bite well during a full moon or during cloudy/rainy days.
Bundanoon Dam represents a significant challenge for any bass fisho, as it is very hard to get to and the bass are often shut down. However, it is a beautiful place to fish and a place that is, for the moment, relatively untouched. For that reason, it’s a great place to have a paddle. While you may not get a fish, the wildlife, rolling hills and gin-clear water make it a must for the experienced kayak fisho.Reads: 1895