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Up The Creek – with Paul Burt

Up The Creek – with Paul Burt

As we slowly walked around the next bend, we were in awe of the surroundings as cattle slowly meandered along the banks, while nesting magpie geese and Australian bass smashed sluggish insects on the water’s surface.

Unbelievably, this spot is situated just five kilometres from The Star Casino and the heart of the Gold Coast and is one of the best natural breeding systems for Australian bass in South East Queensland.

Mudgeeraba Creek, which runs into Clear Island Waters and Robina Lakes and then through to Boobegan Creek, was stocked with Australian bass back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Australian bass have the reputation of being tough and hardy, a world-class sporting fish. Because of this, they’ve been stocked in most of the freshwater impoundments throughout South East Queensland, New South Wales and right down as far as Victoria’s Gippsland Lakes region.

As we moved down the waters of Mudgeeraba Creek through to Clear Island Lake, the timing was perfect, the afternoon was peaking as a thunderhead rolled across the top of Mount Warning and quickly formed into a large cumulonimbus, making the air temperature and humidity rise another degree. These conditions are perfect for bass fishing – a blistering hot afternoon with a stiff northerly breeze feeding the thundercloud rolling in from the south. As the saying goes after a quick check on the barometer reading, ‘1020 and the bass are plenty’.

The lure range we brought along was complete with spinner baits, soft plastics, surface poppers, fizzers and small diving lures. No matter what we cast in, a few turns of the handle and a feisty bass was instantaneously hooked up. The bass we caught in this session ranged from juvenile up to around two kilos. It was fantastic fishing on light gear!

Being quiet on the waterways is paramount no matter where you are fishing with electric engines the preferred outboards used by anglers when targeting a species that is spooked by any unnatural noises. Mudgeeraba Creek and Clear Island Lake offer fishermen a huge diversity of angling opportunities. One minute you can be fishing in what could easily be described as wilderness, and the next, you’re floating past a series of multi-million dollar homes. You can be drifting past lush green pastures with cattle leisurely grazing and at the same time hearing a golfer screaming out, “Fore!” as he tees off from the local golf course.

Other offshoots off the creek meander up to Robina Town Centre. The causeways here are well-known fish magnets. Despite the endless amount of building that has been going on throughout this region, the number of bass found throughout these waters is ever-increasing.

Further downstream, a security water lock has been made where on one side lies Clear Island Lake and on the other Boobegan Creek, which runs directly into the Nerang River some 600 metres downstream. It is here where the fresh and saltwater meet to combine and mix into a brackish solution resulting in a perfect environment for bass to reside in.

Australian bass need to breed in saline conditions. In these waters, the fish can easily get down to the brackish waters to spawn. These conditions naturally replenish the stocks, unlike bass found in the impoundments where they cannot breed and need to be constantly re-stocked.

Sometimes, a species of fish such as the Australian bass need a helping hand from humans to create a habitat in which they can live. The waterways found throughout this area are vast and deep. There is plenty of underwater structure to be found. Regardless of the air temperature, thermoclines can easily form in the depths for the fish to school up in. During the warmer months of the year, the bass can move up into the warmer waters of the shallows, and as it cools down, the fish will move back into the deeper waters. In actual fact, this area is a perfect paradise for these fish to live and breed in. There are by-catches regularly taken here as well from bream to barra, eels to sharks, and the invasive tilapia.

These waters have been open for the general public to fish and experience what may be the final frontier of a self-rejuvenating system for many years. A speed limit of six knots applies to all canal waters and they can only be fished during daylight hours. If you do come to fish here, please respect the residents’ properties and do not discard your rubbish along the banks. Catch-and-release is also widely done by all who visit. Good luck!





Published in print April-June 2022