Tropical Trout – Lake Borumba Saratoga

Chris Adams takes us on a magical journey to one of the best little lakes in Queensland, Borumba Dam. Nestled in the hills between Noosa and Gympie on the Sunshine Coast, Borumba is a great place to target saratoga and bass among a number of other freshwater species. It’s a very special place and we are pleased to hand over to Chris Adams to explain more.

The thrill of the hunt

Adaptation, it has to be the most important aspect of an anglers mindset when an angler evolves into a hunter. To me, hunting is exactly the approach needed when chasing our iconic Saratoga, which is a fish that can pay just a much attention to what’s going on out of the water as to what’s going on in the water.   Attitudes towards these fish should vary depending on seasonal conditions, water levels and most importantly if they are the apex predator in that system or not. So how do you adapt to day to day changes to hunt this fish when the species itself has had thousands of years of adaptation and survival experience?

New Kaydo writer Chris Adams with a lovely Borumba Dam caught saratoga.

Perfectly equipped for feeding from the surface ..the prehistoric looking saratoga.

Perfectly equipped for feeding from the surface ..the prehistoric looking saratoga.


Introduction of a species

Saratoga Liechardti, or the southern strain of the species has been successfully introduced to freshwater impoundments throughout SEQ and has the ability to comfortably establish a breeding population without any water salinity unlike barra and bass. The southern strain is endemic to a lot of river systems in Central Queensland with the species numbers being boosted in other systems by escapees from stocked impoundments in a lot of South East Queenslands rivers and creeks. An anglers mindset in regard to hunting these fish in our managed impoundments is the focus of this article, I will also skim on the approach needed to quickly adapt to their varied behaviour. So with the popularity of social media and years of magazine articles, most of us aware about red-hot saratoga fishing and just how aggressive they can be, but sometimes or should I say a lot of the time, well they can be just plain sooks. It is my experiences that when targeting ‘toga and the fishing is slow to useless (or not stereotypical of ‘toga fishing) for whatever reason, that is when successful fishers engage into gear.  

Best fishing in cooler months

For example some of the best fishing for bigger toga can be in the cooler months which are foreign to most anglers when fishing for a species that is widely regarded as a summer fish.
A Dahlberg diver ... the perfect fly for stocked impoundment 'toga.

A Dahlberg diver … the perfect fly for stocked impoundment ‘toga.

Observations of surroundings in and out of the water, knowledge of breeding times and other species that share the waterways, in addition to a basic understanding of saratoga’s prey specific to the location can all help turn a donut into a productive session, not say there isn’t something to learn from a donut, we all have them, it’s what you take from them that polarises. Being one eyed about tackle selection can really let an angler down, as fishing the most effective method is obviously going to convert to runs on the board.

Exploring Borumba


Another nice Borumba fish – this one took a surface lure.

Let’s scratch the surface on the intricacies of one of my favourite haunts first, Lake Borumba. Situated just out of Imbil, south of Gympie and a 2 hour drive from Briz Vegas, this impoundment is a well-known mecca for saratoga. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced this dam through a variety of situations in all seasons including mid-week sessions , weekends, water levels as low as 14% and most recently at 100%.
Another fine specimen from Borumba Dam - this one fell to a trolled deep diver during the day.

Another fine specimen from Borumba Dam – this one fell to a cast spinner bait intended for a bass.

In recent years the skills of saratoga to adapt to its surroundings has been the source of some pretty long faces to those not willing to adapt.  

Boney bream

A recent introduction of boney bream in ideal conditions has resulted in massive populations of this native bait fish and in turn, could be blamed for turning Borumba’s traditional saratoga fishing from a consistent sight fishing destination to more of a blind casting style of fishing, which to me, sadly takes away from this beautiful dam. Sure, you will still see the occasional crash or gentle rise however during recent times, at times of low light you will see large ‘toga crashing schools of boney bream like a single longtail tuna would crash a bait ball, great to see but for the sight fishing aficionado what do you do to fill the rest of your day? You could pack a nice lunch? Or spend your time experimenting with new techniques, inspired by observation, perhaps what you just saw might be a good start.

Summing up

On days of consistent weather patterns fish will still cruise allowing for better sight fishing possibilities, yet these are few and far between these days at Lake Borumba. A lot of Saratoga these days seem to enjoy the safety and stability of a depth a lot closer to the thermocline, interestingly enough, it seems so do the majority of boney bream.

‘Because of its location, Lake Borumba experiences more consistent weather patterns in the cooler months, I will probably get a bit of flak for that little tip but, you get that.’

Chris Adams

About Chris Adams

My name is Chris Adams, I am based on the Sunshine Coast and have been fishing my entire life, from simple hand lines and a prawn on a hook off jetties as a kid to nothing but artificials from the age of 10. I cut my teeth on bass in the local creeks and from there, progressed from Lures to Flyfishing. Having been Flyfishing exclusively for the past 12 years, I have been to many places all over Australia and the world all thanks to my love of sight fishing. I have previously been the president of the Saltwater Flyfishing Association and a certified casting instructor with the Federation of Flyfishers (FFF), I am still a practising casting instructor and most recently a low volume commercial fly tier. These days I have evolved into a more all rounder and will mix it up between conventional and Flyfishing whenever I feel as though one has more of an advantage to the other. My favourite type of fishing is any type of sight fishing, from bream on the flats in landlocked lakes, to the pelagics cruising the flats inside Fraser Island, saratoga both wild and impounded to nones and GTs on the flats of Kiritimati. Sight fishing is my preferred style is of hunting but my heart will always be with Aussie bass.

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