Lake Burbury - A great all year round waterLeroy Tirant
Lake Burbury is a massive body of water located near Queenstown on Tasmania's west coast. The water has a dark tannin stained appearance and can seem as though a fish wouldn't see a lure swim past its nose, but don't let this fool you, as the water is usually visually clear. In this article I'll briefly discuss popular methods practiced for fishing Lake Burbury but I will cover my favorite methods more in depth.
Lake Burbury is famous for its wind lane fishing, when the conditions are right, rainbow trout by the hundreds can be seen rising and swirling on masses of insects caught in the bubble lines that are pushed off points in the lake by steady gentle breezes. These fish will readily take flies such as a small beetle fished wet or dry and lures cast or trolled along the edges. The most important thing about fishing a wind lane is to not park your boat so that you drift or troll through it, as this will soon have fish spooking back to the depths of the lake. When fishing a wind lane park your boat jut off to one edge, fishing your lures parallel to or quartering into the wind lane. A drogue can be a distinct advantage by being able to slow your boat down and let you fish more effectively. An electric motor is another advantage as you can silently manoeuver and reposition your boat without having to start your noisy main motor and possibly scare off fish. You can also fish with bait in wind lanes. Worms, grubs, mudeyes and other insects can be used and are best fished unweighted under a small clear bubble or pencil float.
Trolling is by far the most popular way of fishing here. But a mistake I see most anglers making is trolling to far off the edges away from the trees and snags that dot most of the shore line. Whilst fish can be caught in open water the bigger concentrations of fish patrol around the edges where the fish and their prey have cover. When trolling I prefer to use bibbed minnow lures and only have one rod rigged with a Tassie Devil or Cobra lure. I usually troll with a four rod spread (with two anglers aboard) and run a shallow diving(approx 1 metre) Rapala or Halco in a Perch pattern in close to the edge of the bank or hard in the trees and then stagger the other lures by running different depths. The second rod will have a Tassie Devil with the lure at about 6-8 ft. The next rod would then be rigged with either a Rapala CD7 or a Strike Pro Galaxia 2 in a bright color which will run at approx 12ft and lastly a RMG Scorpian 90, a Tilsan Bass or a Bandit Wasp in dark reds or yellow greens. These lures trolled well out from the boat can pull down to 15- 20ft. What I am trying to do using this spread is to have all my lures running down the side of the bank in the water column.
To troll Lake Burbury effectively I would suggest the following points.
- Stagger depth of lures to find where in the water column the fish are feeding, then change all lures in spread to this depth plus or minus a couple of feet.
- Keep changing lure colors until you consistently catch fish on a particular color.
- Concentrate efforts around points and bays. Structure is very important to fish, such as trees and rocky banks etc
- Troll as close as possible to structure as fish will not often move far from cover to take a lure.
- Use a tackle back retriever available from most tackle stores to minimize lure losses.
- Watch depth sounder for changes in bottom topography and water temp as these can be key indicators as to where fish are holding.
There is limited shore access around the lake but there is still enough room to make bankside fishing viable. Worms, mudeyes, grubs and other insects fished off the bottom or under a float will work fine. Spinning from the bank with Wonder Wobblers, Cobras, Nilsmasters and Rapalas will also catch fish. Colors vary upon time of year but my favourite at Burbury is what is called a Perch pattern, which is available in nearly every make of lure. Using surface lures at night can also be deadly.
Fishing with soft plastics.
This is by far my favoured fishing method for Lake Burbury. The following techniques are what led me to weigh last year's heaviest fish (2006) at the Queenstown Anglers club competition and also win the memorial trophy for the heaviest fish 2005 at the same competition.
Using soft plastics opens up so much more water to fishing than what can be covered by trolling or with bait. Using lures such as a 65 mm Squidgy Fish in colors "Gary Glitter'and "Neon" I can consistently catch fish to 5.5 lb with most averaging 3 lb.
What I target fishing with plastics is the heads of bays, points off rivers where they enter the lake, stands of trees that have rocky drop offs behind them and of late muddy clay banks clear of any structure. I rig the plastics mentioned on a TT Jighead #1 hook in 1/16 th oz and 1/12 th oz. I sometimes go as heavy as 1/8 th oz. When rigging the lure be sure that the hook is dead straight or the plastic will not swim correctly. At the recent Squidgy nights held prior to the bream tournaments Kaj Busch emphasised the importance of getting the rigging correct. He said that the importance of rigging the plastic dead straight was the most important thing. So get it right.
Using a Squidgy fish pattern means that the lure is constantly working for you as the shad tail wiggles enticingly as the lure sinks, and of course when it is retrieved. I start by picking a small patch of trees and look for laneways between the trees and cast well up the lane way and let the lure sink counting down to say 5 seconds or so, then I begin a shaky lifting retrieve by flicking my rod tip gently. Doing this allows me to work the top part of the water column back to the boat. If I don't catch, see or feel a fish bump the lure I cast back into the same laneway and let the lure sink for a further couple of seconds and work it back. If the lure is again not taken then my final cast will see the lure sinking all the way to the bottom and bounced back along the bottom back to the boat. I then look for the next lane way and start all over again. If I find I am catching fishing at a particular depth then that's where I will only fish and not waste unproductive time fishing the whole water column. Most importantly don't fish too fast, a nice steady to slow retrieve often works best. Flat out casting and straight winding your soft plastic back to the boat is almost pointless - and I see people doing this often.
I would be lost without my electric motor. I use a Minn Kota bow mount 55 lb thrust with a foot control. This motor lets me position and move the boat effortlessly and quietly and has a variable speed control which you can adjust on the foot control to counteract the wind and hold position easier in a stiff breeze. The foot control makes fishing more productive as you can continue to fish as you move about as it doesn't take long for the control to become second nature and you will work it without having to look at it all the time.
As far as tackle goes all your normal spinning rods and reels will work, but of course if using soft plastics then a rod designed for this sort of work can be an advantage. Braided or Gelspun lines can be an advantage to dectect subtle bites and let you work a lure more effectively but a good mono or fluorocarbon straight to the hook in 2-6 lb is fine, just be sure to buy the best you can afford and make sure its as thin as you can get.
Drogues are definitely something I don't see anglers using often enough, especially at Burbury. A purpose built drogue will stop nearly any boat to walking pace in even the stiffest of breezes which when drift spinning is invaluable. Peter Hayes and Paul Kaine make the best I've seen and retail for about $160-$180.
Lake Burbury is a big body of water that has countless bays and little corners to escape other anglers and the weather, on a good day it can turn on some superb fishing but even on a bad day for those that persist and work to find their fish it can be a very rewarding place to fish.