SPILLING: Lake Awoonga pictured the day after rain which fell on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
SPILLING: Lake Awoonga pictured the day after rain which fell on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Casey Christmas

Barra blitz predicted for the Boyne

BOYNE River anglers are in for a barra bonanza after Lake Awoonga spilt due to rain dumped on the Gladstone region by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The effects of Cyclone Debbie are being felt at the lake west of Gladstone with the water levels peaking 2.08ms above the 40m spillway height yesterday morning.

In among that tide of water spilling out of the lake is a good number of barramundi.

Similar to the floods of 2013, the lake's loss will be Boyne River's gain as the barramundi make themselves at home outside their lake confines.

While there is still plenty of barra in the lake, experts predict there could be some good fishing now downstream.


An aerial shot of Awoonga Dam as it spilled over yesterday.
FLOWING: An aerial shot of Awoonga Dam as it spilt over into the upper reaches of the Boyne River on Friday, March 31. Aerial Media Gladstone

Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfishing said the lake spilling is a backwards step for the Gladstone Area Water Board hatchery team, but fishing in the short term can be "quite exciting."

"Long term there's a lot of hard work that the hatchery team put in, but the reality is it's imprinted in the DNA of a lot of the large fish to leave," he said.

"Fish come over the wall and they're hungry going from fresh to salt water, so it certainly can be an exciting time."

Mr Nye said that now was a good time for people who had never caught a barramundi before to go and catch one.

"There will be some fish around Pikes as they push down river," he said.

"You'll see a fair spread of fish throughout the Boyne River with a high percentage pushing down to the river mouth."

Mr Nye said it would take a number of days for the water at Pikes Crossing to subside, while Darren Box of Boyne Island Bait & Tackle said that the section between the spillway and the bridge on Pikes Crossing Rd would "definitely" have barramundi in the area.

Nigel 'Nudge' Trezise of Lake Awoonga Boating & Leisure Hire has had more pressing concerns to deal with as the water level in the dam caused flooding in the lake's recreational areas.

"Our hut is flooded; we've had a few hundred millimetres of water over the floor," Nudge said.

"The Water Board has shut the gates to the recreational area and there's a big mess at the Iron Bark Gully recreational area."


Lake Awoonga after the rain on Thursday March 30, 2017.
FLOODED: Lake Awoonga Boating & Leisure Hire was inundated with water from Lake Awoonga on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Mike Richards GLA310317LAKE

Nudge witnessed "a couple of barra around the 70cm mark" go over the spillway, including some turtles.

"Usually the locals get out to Pikes and are rubbing their hands together thinking the fish will be on," he said.

"I went down there one afternoon after the 2013 floods and saw about 13 boat trailers."

GAWB operations and maintenance manager Sarah Lunau said the Water Board were monitoring the spillway and had seen some evidence of fish loss.

"Given the spillway is only two metres over and expected to recede soon, we're not expecting to suffer major fish loss from the lake," Ms Lunau said.

Ms Lunau said the GAWB stocks Lake Awoonga with approximately 300,000 fingerlings each year, with the majority of being barramundi.

The lake is also home to mangrove jack, yellowfin bream, sea mullet, silver perch, golden perch and other species of fish.

The Water Board advised that based on current trends, the water is expected to recede to 41.5m this weekend, at which point Gladstone-Monto Road should again be passable.

Gladstone Airport received 566mm of rain in March.