A DAY AT CANIA ……. S.Morgan

EXPLORING new territory’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of angling – especially when you can crack a pattern that yields some quality fish. Recently, Monto’s Cania Dam beckoned with reports of excellent bass fishing and a heap of saratoga to boot. On the way to the ANSA state conference, I took the opportunity to spend a day and a half at Cania.

For something a little different, I decided to take some quite detailed notes on what I caught and where. This information, coupled with the accompanying map, should give you an idea about what worked, where and when, on the day I visited. It’s like an extended diary entry and, if you like the idea of this sort of detail, let me know. We’ll write some more articles like it.

The day described was Thursday 19 August 1999 and the dam level was around 20% and dropping. The weather was superb, with fine skies, the foggy cold morning and single digit temperatures having warmed to around 20°C by the middle of the day. Winds were calm until late morning, when a five- to 10-knot easterly kicked in and out for most of the afternoon. Water temperatures varied from around 64°F (18°C) in the morning to 69°F (21°C) in the afternoon. Total fish tally for the day was 17 bass and a yellowbelly. The bass, as rumoured, were quality fish, averaging close to 43cm.
Initially, I’d rigged a variety of presentations, including a floating 10cm plastic worm on a 2kg spin outfit, a Storm popper on a light baitcaster, a 9cm Rapala Husky Jerk on a medium baitcaster and a 10g tandem white spinnerbait on another 2.1-metre medium baitcaster. All of these presentations were capable of being worked within a foot or two of the surface layer, which is where I’d bet the bass to be in the low light of dawn.
As it happened, the thick fog hung around for a few hours after dawn, extending the period the bass would be in the surface layer. Consistently, big bass hit the 3/8oz tandem spinnerbait, buzzed (wound quickly just under the surface) out from the deep banks, so after a couple of fish, I concentrated on this technique.


This 3/8oz tandem spinnerbait with a white/chartreuse skirt proved productive in a variety of conditions throughout the day.

The strike zone in this half light seemed to be within a few feet of the bank, so to extend my time in the productive area, I moved the boat closer to the bank and cast along it rather than in to it. It resulted in more hookups but I paid the price, with one big bass angling back into cover and slicing the braid on a sharp rock.
By the time the fog lifted, the first seven fish of the day had fallen to this method.
Typically, when the sun hits the water, bass go deeper and this case was no exception – the glassy, sunlit water, within minutes, had the bass headed for darker waters, down deep.
The next four fish were much harder work. Fishing the same spinnerbait much deeper meant letting the lure flutter to the bottom. The slow rolling technique simply involved cranking the lure at a speed which keeps it in the strike zone. Using fused GSP line – in this case SpiderWire Fusion – meant that I could feel the lure bouncing across the top of various structure.
And that’s how fish eight to 11 fell – slow rolling spinnerbaits in eight to 15 feet of water, quite close to the bottom. I’d moved further up the dam, as the map shows, which meant that the creek bed was only 20-25 feet at the deepest parts. All four fish were holding on the breakline of the old creek bed.

After an hour’s break for lunch, I decided to fish the country that produced the morning’s fish, with the same lure but a different technique.
Finding no schooled or suspending fish of note in open water on the Humminbird, I assumed that the morning’s active bass were still in their morning spots, but just deeper. So I cast along the steep banks and bounced the lure back along the rock faces and down the slopes. While not fish-a-cast action, the next three bass and a 49cm yellowbelly succumbed to the slow-spinning blades in the locations indicated.
Finishing the electric-powered run along the steep bank, the sounder indicated a broad expanse of relatively shallow water, laden with lantana skeletons. Averaging 10’ deep, it provided excellent cover for daytime bass. Even relatively snagproof spinnerbaits can hang up in such wicked country, so I used a different retrieve again to coax some fish a few feet up and out of their comfort zones.
Casting the lure as far as possible with the medium baitcast outfit, I’d commence the retrieve immediately, but with a winding speed slow enough to ensure that the sinking lure would be working deeper and deeper. As soon as it hit a branch, I’d speed up and continue the retrieve at a speed that kept the lure rolling just above the mess.
Strikes were quite vicious, with the bass bursting from cover, grabbing the lure and then, just as quickly, burying themselves back in the shrubbery.


Fact Box
Thirty-seven kilometres north-west of Monto, Cania is around 540km drive from Brisbane, which puts it definitely into the long-weekend trip category rather than the day trip that can be afforded by Brisbane anglers to their various local dams.
While camping is not available right at the dam, an exceptional tourist park operates only a couple of kilometres downstream. Supplying all day-to-day needs, including fuel, Cania Gorge Tourist Park is contactable on (07) 4167 8188. A word of warning when camping – keep your food well guarded. The kangaroos and bettongs that roam throughout the park are always keen for a quick feed!

A couple of rod lengths of heavy leader helped me get the second bass out of the tangle a lot more quickly than the first, but I still lost two more spinnerbaits to unstoppables. The bass I could land were all smaller than average, lending credence to the theory that the big ones just kept going. It was exciting, shallow water fishing in, literally, the middle of the dam!
By 4.30, stinging from lure losses and tired from a day of casting, I packed it in, happy to have had such good success from my first day on a new impoundment.
I’m sure that Cania’s bass behaviour will change as the water warms – bass will feed more readily off the surface and the dam’s ‘togas will bite more readily.
The next morning, I squeezed in four hours of fishing before I had to keep moving – the result, 11 more bass and a saratoga.
I’ll be back! And I might see you there.

FISH CAUGHT

Location
Time
Length
Lure
Retrieve
1 6.31am 41cm 1 "Buzzing, out from deep bank."
2 6.49am 47cm 1 "Buzzing, out from deep bank."
3 6.57am 45cm 1 "Buzzing, out from deep bank."
4 7.04am 43cm 1 Buzzing along snag.
5 7.15am 46cm 1 Buzzing along bank.
6 7.23am 46cm 1 Rolling at 2′ along rocky point
7 7.36am 41cm 1 On the drop along shrubline.
7.45 fog lifts
8 9.25am 47cm 1 Slow Rolling in 15′ along deep bank.
9 9.38am 44cm 1 "Rolling out from snag, ~10’"
10 10.11am 41cm 1 Rolling over point at inlet junction (8′)
11 11.53am 45cm 1 Rolling along deep bank (15′)
Lunch 12.30 to 1.30
12 1.59pm 49cm 1 Yellowbelly. As per 11.
13 2.04pm 45cm 1 Bit on drop along steep bank.
14 2.27pm 45cm 1 Rolling along deep bank (15′)
15 3.04pm 44cm 2 Rolling outside shrub line in sml gully. (10′)
16 3.33pm 39cm 1 Rolling over top of sunken shrubs (2-3′ in 10′)
17 3.45pm 40cm 3 Rolling over top of sunken shrubs (2-3′ in 10′)
18 3.52pm 26cm 1 Rolling over top of sunken shrubs (2-3′ in 10′)
Action dies as sun drops.
LURES——————————————————————–
1. LuckyStrike Shark Spin Tandem (Gold/Silver) 3/8oz White/Chart.
2. Kokoda Tandem 1/4oz Green/Gold.
3. 1/8oz Colorado bladed yellow spinnerbait.