Plenty of Freshwater Options
  |  First Published: October 2010

As the weather heats up this month, the fishing action will follow. The effects of the change in season usually take until the second month of spring before the fish feel the differences and change their mood to suit. Bass will continue to school and feed while golden perch and barramundi will enjoy the warmer water and become more active.

A lot of lakes have received water increases in the past year, which boosts the nutrient level in the lakes and makes small native fish and crustaceans thrive. Weed beds will also flourish with the warmer weather and longer days providing ideal growing conditions.

Many anglers curse the weed when it fouls their hooks while others learn to accept being fouled by weed as simply being part of trying to effectively target the mass of fish living in and around it. To target fish holding around weed the lure needs to be positioned as close to it as possible. Repeated casts can help the angler create a visualisation of the weed they are exploring.

The use of polarised lens sunglasses makes a dramatic difference when fishing weed formations. Polarised lenses reduce the surface glare on top of the water and allow the wearer to see further into it. Different coloured lenses can be worn to suit different light conditions and even on dull, cloudy days the angler’s ability to see into the water can be greatly increased.

After having a skin cancer removed and reconstructive surgery on my lower eyelid I never run the risk of fishing without protecting my eyes from the sun. Plus some of my mates get pretty excited when casting and I dread the thought of wearing a treble hook through the eye. Some of the big lures they throw and the force they use would almost tear it from the socket. I’d never head out without a good pair of sunglasses. They’re a great investment that will not only help you catch more fish but protect you and make you look cool while doing it.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Cressbrook has been turning on some good fishing with quality bass smacking lures in the shallows and deep water. The standard of the bass still shows signs of improving with legal sized fish common and the occasional one stretching over 40cm in length.

Exploring the edges of the lake with soft plastics rigged on 1/4oz jigheads is a good way to start a session. Cast the lure tight to the edges and around any weed formations and work it back to the boat using a twitching retrieve. Paddle-tailed grubs and shads around 3” long are perfect for this style of fishing.

The warming water may see the fish respond better to reaction baits like lipless cranks and spinnerbaits. Never dismiss using a surface lure early and late in the day as they can provide a lot of fun. The smaller bass have really taken a liking to surface lures. This is quite interesting as in other lakes, surface lures can be used to fool the bigger bass.

Deeper schooling fish can be found in the main dam basin between the boat ramp and the buoy line across from the pump tower. When these fish are on, they provide some great action and will munch blades and soft plastics. Half ounce rigged paddle-tail plastics like Powerbait T-tails, Guzzlers and Squidgy Fish can be cast over the fish and retrieved or even trolled using an electric motor.

Blade baits and Jackall Mask Vibs can also be effective and it pays to mix up the presentation to see what the bass prefer.

Speed restrictions of 8 knots in open water and 4 knots close to the shore are still in place. Don’t forget your $2.50 entry fee at the gate, which allows you to access the boat ramp and BBQ, picnic and playground facilities.

Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street, Toowoomba can set you up with the necessary tackle and live shrimp. They’ll also provide a more up-to-date report to help you on your way to scoring some decent catches.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The action at Somerset has been hot and cold. Schooling bass are sometimes hard to find, and on these days they are hard to catch. Spending time using a quality sounder to locate the best concentrations is the key to success. Boating pressure can shut down the schools when they are finicky so a mid-week trip will often produce more fish.

Traditionally spring is the time to target the lake’s schooling fish. Once they are found, it is just a matter of putting the right lure in front of them. Somerset’s bass will take 1/2oz rigged soft plastics, 3/8-1/2oz blade baits and lipless crankbaits. All these lures are quite heavy and sink fast to the depths where the bass are likely to be holding.

Bass schools have been turning up across the flats in front of Pelican Point and also on the tip of the point at The Spit. Over the past months, these schooling fish have shown a preference for water between 10-14m deep. As the water temperature increases, I predict these fish will hold in the same areas but move slightly shallower to 7-10m of water.

Golden perch are another target species now the water has warmed up. These fish will feed along the steep rocky banks in the lower part of the dam and the drop-off to the old river bed in the middle and upper reaches. Trolling deep diving lures like Blitz Bagas, Golden Childs and Kezza Freaks will give you a good chance of hooking one of these fish. Goldens can be quite aggressive around this time of year as it is close to breeding time.

Red claw crayfish have been abundant despite heavy harvesting across the lake. Opera house traps baited with rockmelon are perfect to lure these delicacies. Try spacing your traps in different depths of water to find the most productive spot and remember to have your pots and marker buoys named and showing your information as per the current regulations.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

Hinze Dam has been producing some quality bass. These fish are catchable using a wide range of lures so sorting through your tackle box and experimenting may help produce some bigger specimens.

The early mornings will be a good time to try your luck with surface offerings. Topwater lures in the 50-75mm size range are ideal for exploring the lake edges. Bass are the main target but the odd saratoga can be caught. The chances of hooking a toga can be greatly increased by fishing around any form of structure.

Rocky points throughout the dam are holding good numbers of bass. These fish are suckers for soft plastics such as 3” Slider Grubs or Atomic Ripperz. While the plastics may catch numbers of bass, other lures can produce better quality fish.

Suspending jerkbaits are the perfect option once you have located fish and are looking to target the bigger ones. Shallow running jerkbaits are a good choice early in the morning but as the fish move deeper with the growing level of light, probe the depths with deeper running lures. A couple of options would be Rapala Husky Jerks for the shallow fish and deep diving C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows for the deeper holding fish. These lure types are built to suspend and by allowing them to pause for several seconds between rips and twitches bass can come to inspect the offering before demolishing it. Jerkbaiting is a great clear water technique.

The better quality Hinze bass have been averaging just over 40cm but expect plenty of smaller fish and the occasional large one. Access to the dam is via the old boat ramp at the western end of the dam. The new boat ramp upgrades had opened but were closed again after some inconsiderate vandals went to work not long after.

For an update on access to the dam and the fishing, call in and see the guys at Go Fishing Nerang in Spencer Street. They can also point you in the right direction with lure choices and finding fish. John at the store specialises in catching saratoga during the warmer months and has a great knowledge of the dam.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Cooby has been through a quiet period over winter. This is typical for this lake as most of the stocked species residing there prefer the warmer weather. Golden perch should become more active and willing to chase lures and devour baits. The lake level is still low so attack the deeper areas out from the boat ramp and up towards the wall.

Lure casting with lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits to the edges of the lake can produce golden perch, big silver perch and the odd cod. These edges can also be trolled with the same lures or shallow diving minnows. Trolling can be quite effect late in the afternoon.

Bait fishing with live shrimp is the most reliable way to score fish. From a boat, target fish along the ledges of the creek bed drop-off and if shore based walk up to the steeper banks closer to the dam wall. Bait will tempt golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish.

There is a boom gate at the entrance to the lake which requires $2.50 in coins to open. Only electric or paddle powered craft are allowed on Cooby so take extra battery power on windy days. Outboards can be left on the boat but must not be used. If you need bait and lure supplies, an update on the fishing, or a renewal of your SIP give Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba a visit. Fish’n’Bits is found in Alderly Street or can be reached on (07) 4636 6850.

Closest Town: Inglewood

After staying out of the spotlight for some time, Coolmunda has finally started to produce some better action. The dam has undergone several rises in the past month and with water still flowing in September, things look promising for the future. At around 70% capacity the fish have a much bigger playground but surprisingly seem easier to catch.

Plenty of golden perch have ventured up the feeder creeks to where the water was running in. These fish were easy targets during the rise and with the ground now well soaked it will pay to keep a close eye on the weather patterns over the coming month in case more rain is on the way.

In the dam basin, the fish will be spread out over all the new ground. Fishing from the banks is a great option as the goldens mooch around in the flooded grass looking for food. Fishing right at the boat ramp late in the afternoon has been one of the best shore based options.

Live shrimp are the prime bait and are usually easy to catch in the lake, but since the rise they have been harder to catch and this could also be a reason why the fish are more willing to bite. A shrimp trap will lure a few in but you may need to leave several in place overnight to get enough together for the next day’s session.

Bait fishing will be the best option for at least the next month due to the dirty water. Keep the lures in the box until the water starts to clear up and there is at least 40cm of visibility.

Camping is allowed near Lake Coolmunda itself but, for more comfort, the Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway on the way into the dam. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. To take advantage of this and the great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below, give the park a call on (07) 4652 4171.

Inglewood is just a bit further south and has motel accommodation.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Schooling fish have been found in the middle reaches of the dam over the past month. These fish will hold in the same areas but may move shallower as the weather warms. Look in between 6-10m of water in areas like The Islands, Junction, Pelican point and the bends in the Stuart arm before the timber.

Once found, these schools can be caught with 1/2oz TT Switchblades, 1/2 and 5/8oz rigged paddle-tail plastics like Sliders or Atomic Ripperz and ice jigs.

Golden perch will start to fire up and can be targeted by trolling deep diving lures around the points in the main basin. Lures like the Brolga, Blitz Baga and Golden Child will pull through the zone and tempt some of these fat fish.

Golden can also be caught in the timbered areas on spinnerbaits. While many anglers cast around the trees, trolling slowly on an electric motor is also effective, especially when you can feel the lure bumping over the tops of submerged timber.

Bait fishing in both arms of the lake around the trees will pull a mixed bag of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catties. The redclaw crayfish were abundant before the cold of winter set in and are sure to be back in force now water temperatures have warmed back up. Baited opera house traps placed around rocky areas should produce the goods.

For more information on the fishing scene and your supplies, call into Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. The store is in Youngman Street and the guys can help you out and offer some useful advice. Bass to Barra Marine can also be found in Dalby. As the name suggests, this shop stocks a great range of quality gear for bass and barra fishing. It’s located in Shop 2 Drayton Street so be sure to check it out.

For accommodation at the lake, give the managers a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins, powered sites and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The fishing at Bjelke has been tough over the last month. The hit and miss action may improve as the schooled fish tend to scatter making them better targets for trolling lures.

Lure casters may still be able to catch some fish by working plastics, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits off of the steeper points. The warmer weather will have fired up the golden perch so expect to encounter both goldens and bass if casting to these areas.

Trolling will also produce goldens and bass. Lures like the Blitz Baga, Golden Child and Smaks are a good choice for exploring the edges to the old creek bed. Scattered and schooling fish will locate themselves close to this ledge in the section between the boat ramps and Bass Point.

A long run up to the timber is now safe with the higher water level. The timber acts as a fish attracter and holds reasonable numbers of bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish. Dropping a live shrimp down in this area should attract some attention in a short amount of time. If the bites are slow move around and try different areas every 15 minutes or so.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The bass have been on fire at the Isis and this is a great time of year to try a number of techniques and lure styles on quality fish. The early morning surface bite has been a great way to start the day with some big bass. Zippin’ Ziggy lures walked back across the tops of the submerged weed beds seem to excite the big bass into strikes more than any other surface offering. Be sure to pause these lures every metre or so for a second or more as stopping and starting the retrieve is the way to excite bass. Explosive strikes that send water showering into the air will be on the cards.

Once the sun pokes its head up, the surface bite will slow down and the bass will respond better to subsurface presentations. Exploring the pockets, holes and edges of the submerged weed with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits is a great way to hook the lake’s bigger fish. In this tight cover you will need to go hard on them to extract them before they turn and bury themselves in the thick weed beds. Some big bass reside in the dam and there have been confirmed reports of several 52cm bass and one at an impressive 60cm.

Blade baits are a good way to fish for numbers of fish. Quarter ounce blades worked parallel to the weed face will produce plenty of bass. The Little Max blades are ideal and seem to outfish many of the other models. Schooling fish can be found but are finicky. The schools also seem to hold bunches of smaller bass.

For more information on this awesome little lake call in and see the guys at Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg. The store is located at 22 Quay Street and can be contacted on (07) 4153 4747. Access is gained from Voss Road about 20km south of Bundaberg on the Isis Highway.

Closest Town: Monto

After producing reasonable numbers of fish over the winter period, the dam shut down. This same pattern happened last year and the fish were hard to entice at the end of winter and beginning of spring. This lull in fishing action didn’t last long last time and I expect the fishing to have returned to normal by the beginning of this month.

Bass will be the most common fish encountered with the odd golden perch, silver perch, saratoga and eel-tailed catfish deciding to get into the action.

Surface lures and shallow diving jerkbaits fished around the edges early in the morning and late in the afternoon will lure some quality bass and the odd Saratoga. During the middle of the day explore the upper reaches with spinnerbaits and the main dam basin with a range of lures including soft plastics, lipless crankbaits and blade baits. Schooling fish should be starting to show up in the deeper water. These fish can be cast to or even trolled through. There are plenty of options and ways to go about catching the fish on this lake.

To find out more about the lake or to book some great accommodation nearby, call the Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park on (07) 4167 8188. There are excellent facilities including camp sites, cabins, a playground, 9 hole par 3 golf course and a swimming pool. Each Saturday, the park offers wine tasting. On Saturday and Wednesday nights as well as all school holiday nights there are outdoor movies on the big screen. It’s worth a visit to the park just to see some of the rare and beautiful wildlife that regularly drop in and live in the area.

Closest Town: Eidsvold

Reports of barra holding in the shallows and following lures in the winter months are enough to confirm the barra bite will have already started at Wuruma. Fishing shallow running lures to the backs of bays and shallow flats will see you in with a good chance to catch one of the barra from this re-emerging fishery.

The barra, now well over legal size, will be willing to play and can be caught on a range of lures. Not forgetting Wuruma is also a bass lake, it can pay to toss a lure that will appeal to both species.

Lipless crankbaits are an ideal choice and can be used to quickly explore area for active fish. If you specifically want to chase barra, try using shallow running hard bodied lures. The Laser Pro 120 is a classic example and can be used to entice barra when they are not so willing. Cast these lures into a shallow, productive looking area and twitch them several times on the surface. Then rip the lure down and move it a metre before allowing it to float all the way back to the surface. Repeating this process back to the boat can produce some explosive strikes. Lightly weighted soft plastics like the Slick Rig Pro range or Hollowbellies will also account for plenty of action.

The beauty of this magic lake is that it is rarely fished yet provides such great opportunities. With the water level now higher than it has been for several years, boat launching is made easier from several bank side locations.

Closest Town: Biloela

Before winter, the barra were starting to play for those taking the time to fish at Callide. The mild winter will have put the barra in the mood to step up the action and start to feed and chase down their food.

The shallow bays in the main basin of the lake will be just one place worth visiting this month. They are accessible by boat or even from the bank giving everyone the chance to tangle with the lake’s barra.

Hardbodied and soft lures will work on Callide’s barra which should now be around 80cm long. Be sure to have a selection of shallow running lures, including the Laser Pro 120, Scorpion 125 1m and B52. Soft plastics should include Slick Rig Pros, Hollowbelllies and Storm WildEye Shads.

If you are heading out to the lake, be sure to call in and see Norm at Creek2Coast Tackle in Biloela. Local knowledge can really pay off and Norm should have all the recent reports on where fish have been caught and on which lure types.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

The barra at Mondy were tough to tempt over the winter months. Serious anglers were still boating fish but needed to put in the work and time trips to the most suitable conditions. As we move into the second month of spring, the water temperatures will rise further and the barra activity level will increase.

A significant number of the fish will be found holding in the shallows where they can be caught by casting lures. With so much shallow water to explore anglers need to narrow down the most likely areas.

In the lower part of the dam look for points that run long and at a slow taper into the dam or even shallow flats formed by slow tapering banks. Reading the dead flooded trees can also help when judging the water depth out from the shoreline.

When you see a spindly bottlebrush top well out from the edge, you know the water is shallow in that area. These shallows can be explored with hardbodied lures like Gold Bombers, B52s and Laser Pro 120s. Change the weight of these lures by adding larger hooks, rings or even sticky weight so the lure can be made to suspend or slowly sink for a more enticing presentation.

Soft plastic swimbaits in the 100-150mm size range will also be popular tools and are great for prospecting new areas. The popular models like Slick Rig, Hollowbelly and Storm WildEye are well proven but other less known types that fit the criteria for a barra plastic will also do the job.

By the end of the month, more fish will be holding in the deeper water of the main basin. Here, lure trollers can take advantage of the open water and successfully target these scattered fish on trolled lures. It pays to troll at different depths and if possible select lures by reading the depth fish are holding on the sounder. The Scorpion and Classic range have a great selection of lures suited to probing different depths.

The Win Television Monduran Family Fishing Classic will be held on the 9-10 October. There are stacks of great prizes up for grabs including $1000 cash for the heaviest barramundi and bass. One lucky competitor will also head home with a new boat, motor and trailer package.

To increase your chance of scoring some barra, call in to Foxies Barra Pro in Gin Gin. The store has all the gear you’ll need. The staff there will be able to give you a few tips and steer you in the right direction. It’s a huge dam so one of the detailed maps they sell would certainly be a bonus for navigation and fish location.

Another option might be a charter with local guide Rob Wood. Rob runs a Skeeter bass boat and has plenty of knowledge to share, having spent countless hours on the lake. He can be contacted on 0427 590 995 or check out his regular column in this magazine.

Accommodation can be booked through Lake Monduran Kiosk and Tackle Shop. They look after all the cabins, houses, powered and unpowered camp sites, as well as the house boats and boat hire. Bookings with Guide Lines, a guiding service specialising in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Casting soft plastics around the weed beds will be one of the best options this month. Lures like Slick Rigs, Hollowbellies, and Berkley Mullets fished around the weed beds in the main basin will entice some quality fish. Target the wind blown banks concentrating on points, bays and shallow tapering banks. Other areas worth prospecting will be the start of the Boyne River and Iveragh Creek.

While swimbait soft plastics are the most popular casting lure used for targeting Awoonga barra, other lures can work well too. Lipless crankbaits, hardbodied divers and hard swimbaits are all worth trying. Experimenting with a range of lures can draw different responses from the fish. Where barra may only tap and head swipe at a soft plastic, they can try to annihilate other offerings.

Night sessions around the full moon should be quite productive if the weather is favourable. Selecting a spot and anchoring the boat correctly before nightfall will ensure your casts are landing in the right area. If barra are on the prowl, they will move past your chosen spot so be sure to keep lures in the water at all times so opportunities aren’t missed.

Mackay Region
Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

Trollers get your favourite lures out, sharpen your hooks and get ready for some awesome late night action at Kinchant in October! The water temperatures should begin to stabilise meaning some of Kinchant’s largest barra begin schooling in the deeper water awaiting a passing bait fish.

If you’re new to the trolling game, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Barra will move around and although just trolling around aimlessly may catch the occasional fish your chances can be increased dramatically by using your head, ears and your sounder.

Use your sounder to find schools of bait, these may be in 30ft or just 3ft, but if you can find these fish the barra won’t be too far away. If you don’t have a sounder then just look out for bait fish flicks, splashes and swirls. Bait fish will generally be in one area of the dam, if you can find that area then you’re in with a chance.

If you’re keen on casting a few lures and you’re after a larger 1m+ barra then look no further than Kinchant. During October these barra that school up in the deeper water are not just accessible to trollers; they can also be tempted by a few surface and shallow divers. Once again use your sounder to located the schools of bait and focus on these areas.

Persistence is normally the key when night fishing, if you can find the bait, the barra will come and feed on them sometime during the night, it may be at 7pm or it may be at 3am.

Try shallow divers like the B52 and Rapala X-Raps as these lures attract a lot of attention under the water with their action and life-like finishes. If you are after a surface bite two great lures to try are the Tango Dancer and the Rapala X-Walk. Both these lures can be worked with small twitches to the rod tip to create a walk-the-dog action that drives barra wild.

For the trollers, all the old style deep diving hardbodies are your best bet for a good size Kinchant barra. Lures like the Classic Barras, RMG Scorpion and Predatec Vipers have proven catch records.

For any more information on the Mackay area feel free to email me on --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

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