Tempting ’Toga on the Top
Lake Borumba is a fisher’s paradise: calm waters, misty mornings, rainforest to the water’s edge, with magnificent timber structure to cast at. But the most exciting aspect of the lake is the aerial acrobats that lurk just millimetres below the water’s surface waiting to explode on unsuspecting prey. Saratoga are one the most energetic and spectacular fish to fight in the lake.
Borumba Dam, at Imbil, is located about 45 minutes northwest of Noosa. It was constructed in 1964 and has created one of Queensland’s most established lakes. Built across Yabba Creek (a tributary of the Mary River), the lake has a surface area of 500H when full, with an average depth of 6.6m.
Lake Borumba was initially stocked with both golden perch and silver perch, which were bred from an onsite hatchery that has now closed. It was then stocked with Australian bass and the endangered Mary River cod, however, the real draw card for Lake Borumba is the saratoga. From an initial release of around 200 fish, this iconic Australian species has established a self-sustaining population throughout the lake.
Southern saratoga can grow in excess of 90cm and weigh over 4kg. At sexual maturity they are usually 49cm in length, with the average size between 45-70cm. They are primitive surface dwelling fish with strongly compressed bodies and an almost perfectly flat back, with a dorsal fin set back towards the tail of their long bodies. They are dark brown to olive green along the back, with lighter sides and a white belly. Their large bony scales have small orange or red dots and their lower jaw slopes steeply upwards and carries two fleshy barbels on the chin.
They are generally a solitary fish, as they don’t tolerate their own kind very well with larger fish often exhibiting battle scars, but like all loner species they will call a truce in their breeding season.
Breeding begins in late winter through spring and, once spawning begins, one parent will carry the eggs in their mouth for six to eight weeks. They will go without feeding for the duration until the fingerlings are 4-6” and are then left to their own. So when targeting saratoga it would be best not to plan your trip during their breeding season. Borumba is the perfect place for fly anglers to hone their skills as saratoga will readily take a sub surface fly cast around the many stumps and overhanging trees. However, I find nothing more exhilarating than the explosive hit from this territorial acrobat as they do their best to destroy top water lures.
EXCITING WAY TO GOOD CATCHES
It only takes a quick glance at a saratoga to know they are a surface fish: eyes on top of their heads and an almost flat back with no dorsal spines. They can be found cruising along just under the surface