Hot Action across the Dams
  |  First Published: November 2010

Technology has come a long way in the past decade and this is certainly the case in the fishing industry. Lures, rods, reels and lines are all far superior. The list goes on and each and every item we use has been refined and improved over the years.

Something that I have really learned to take advantage of are my colour sounder units. I run two Humminbird units – a 787 on the front deck and a 798ci Side Imaging unit at the driver’s console. The Side Imaging feature on its own is a great feature but what I want to bring to your attention is how the coloured display can be used to specifically target big fish.

For years sounders have had the pretty little pictures of fish of different sizes but this was never as accurate as reading the raw sonar image with the fish ID feature turned off. Being able to find fish is a great achievement on its own, but to actually tell how big they are before you catch them is an even bigger bonus.

Much of my time on the fresh water is spent fishing for deep schooling bass. These fish can vary in size from just legal to over 3kg. When the big fish are about, my colour sounders really come into play. The fish show up as an arch on the unit’s display and when the return is solid (caused by a more solid object) there is a section of red inside the arch. Basically the more solid the return the more red there will be inside the fish arch. Therefore with practice - and actually catching what you see on the display - you can get a good indication of the size of the fish you are targeting.

Somerset has been a popular haunt for me this spring as I target big bass still carrying their fat winter condition. These fish are easily found on my sounders now I know what to look for. I imagine the results would be the same on other species such as golden perch and barramundi. Once you have caught a lot of what you are looking at in the deep water you can gauge their size before you even place a lure in the water. It’s a pretty handy feature when you are looking for that monster fish. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The bigger bass, which were quite common through winter, have been harder to find. These fish were around in good numbers in the deeper schools but have been tricky to locate and catch for the past month. The occasional good bass over 40cm is still coming from deeper schooling fish as well as around the shallow edges but consistently catching them is the problem. Smaller bass under legal size and just over 30cm are far more common.

Recent rain has had little effect on the fishing. Bass can still be targeted in the usual deep water areas as well as on any of the shallow edges. Schooling fish can be found in the Cressbrook Creek arm of the lake around the Eagles Nest. There have been reports of bigger bass in these schools but most fish are small. Exploring the deeper water (over 8m) out from the boat ramp and towards the no fishing area which runs out from the pump tower may be rewarding. The bass schools in this area are quite hard to find and can be present one day and gone the next. The size of these fish is usually reasonably good.

When prospecting the deeper water, try casting lures like 1/2oz jighead rigged soft plastics and 3/8-1/2oz blade baits. These lures can be worked through any schooling fish by making several winds from the bottom and allowing the lure to sink again before repeating. Trolling the same presentations using an electric motor can be a great way to locate fish or effectively target them when they are scattered. When trolling with the electric, try speeds between 1.8 and 2.5km/h. A GPS is the perfect tool to give an accurate indication of boat speed so the presentation can be repeated once a successful pattern is cracked.

The lake edges should fish well around any signs of weed growth or on the shallow to medium tapering banks. Plastics rigged on 1/4oz jigheads are effective but reaction baits can really work well now the water has warmed up and the days are hotter. Spinnerbaits, beetle spins and lipless crankbaits buzzed through the area should get some sort of reaction.

Surface fishing the morning and afternoon will produce some great action. Cressbrook bass love to whack surface lures and the visual strikes are quite exciting. Lures like the Zip ‘n Ziggy, Zara Puppy, Rapala Skitterpop and Gobo Popper are perfect.

Boats can be launched easily from the gravel boat ramp. 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. This allows you to access the boat ramp and BBQ, picnic and playground facilities.

Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street offers all of the required gear and tackle for fishing Cressbrook and Queensland’s many other lakes. The experienced staff there will help you out with the most up to date information.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

At close to 100% for the last several months, Somerset has produced some reliable fishing for bass and golden perch. Anglers using lures and bait are reaping the rewards and the hot fishing should continue.

Schooling bass can be found in several key locations around the lake in around 10m of water. The point of The Spit, Pelican Point and Dead Tree Point will all hold bass over the next month. The schooling fish will tend to break up in the next month or so. While this makes targeting them by casting lures more difficult, it is ideal for lure trollers. The constant angling pressure these fish receive tends to make them a little shy. Even when huge schools are found boating a few quick fish is important before the school shuts down. If you have several areas holding bass, it’s a good idea to hop between them to rest the fish before coming back to them. Casting soft plastics like 1/2oz rigged paddle tails, 3/8-1/2oz blade baits and hopping soft lipless crankbaits though them should draw some strikes. I always have several rods rigged with my favourite lures - a 1/2oz rigged Powerbait T-tail, 1/2oz Evergreen Little Max blade bait and 60mm Jackall Mask Vib. This allows me to alternate quickly and see if the schools have any preferences.

Trolling with the same casting lures can be very productive. An electric motor is ideal to achieve a slow and controlled speed to get the lures just working and allow them to reach the desired depth. If you don’t have an electric, use the outboard to troll deep diving lures that reach close to 10m deep. Light braided line from 4-10lb will help achieve these great depths with relatively small lures. Blitz Bagas and Kezza Freaks are two great lure choices.

The steep banks, drop offs in the middle reaches of the dam and the timber in the top are the places to try for golden perch. Goldens should be very aggressive now the water temperature is high. Trolling deep diving lures is a great option to cover water in search of these fish.

Live shrimp are top baits for bass and golden perch. Dropping a shrimp down to the shut down bass schools that hold below the boat is a great way to get a response. Popular golden perch spots such as The Hump can be plagued with barred grunter schools so it may be necessary to move around to find good water. The timbered areas north of Kirkleigh are productive, especially if there is any fresh water running into the lake.

The redclaw crayfish population has had a hiding over the past year and numbers are down. If you are prepared to look around and find the better areas holding good numbers of these crustaceans, you should be rewarded. Opera house traps baited with rockmelon are usually the way to go.

Closest Town: Nerang

Around a month ago, the boat ramp on the eastern side of the dam reopened. This temporary ramp has given boats easier access to the dam making the eastern side the most popular fishing area.

Saratoga and bass have been on the prowl. The togas have been holding shallow and love a well-presented surface lure. The Sammy 65 or Jackall Water Moccasin are winners when it comes to tempting these fish. Bass schools have been holding in deeper water. Try working the points using cast Jackall TN60s and blade baits for better numbers of fish. Deep suspending jerkbaits fished to the edges in the area of schooling bass can produce some better quality specimens.

If you are after any information on Hinze and the fishing, call in and see John at Go Camping at 10 Spencer Street in Nerang. John specialises in catching the Hinze saratoga and when he’s not fishing, you’ll find him at Go Fishing’s fishing section from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

Sunshine Coast Area
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Bass have been taking lures all over Lake MacDonald. The smaller bass are now around 35cm and in top condition while the bigger bass are between 42 and 45cm. Many of the better quality fish have taken up residence in the weed beds.

The Three Ways has been productive for anglers working Mini Coop spinnerbaits in the I.B. colour and TN60 Jackalls. The same lures have also been very effective inside Borer Creek around the weed beds. The spinnerbaits are particularly good in this area as they foul up less in the weed.

Schooled fish can be found around the bubble trail and the Botanical Gardens. These bass will nail soft plastics, blade baits and soft vibes. The saratoga population seems to be doing well so it is quite possible a few of these sportfish will show up in the coming months.

MacDonald is an electric motor only dam. The many anglers who now own paddle craft can put them to use here and enjoy some great fishing. The team at Davo’s Bait and Tackle in Noosaville have an excellent range of lures catering for the freshwater market. They can give you an up to date report on the fishing and what’s working best.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

The main basin has been holding good schools of bass around the major points. The Stockyards and points near Duck Bay have been some of the stand out spots. These schooled fish will feast on soft plastics, soft vibes and medium sized blade baits. The Yabba arm of the lake is also holding its share of bass. These fish have been suspending around the tops of the trees along the steep banks. A paddle-tailed soft plastic rigged on a 3/8oz jighead is the perfect tool for extracting them. The lure needs to be counted down for around 10 seconds to get it into the strike zone and keep it mid-water in front of the fish.

Further up the Yabba arm is a top spot to try for bigger saratoga. The section of submerged weed around The Clumps is a top spot. Try using flies, small blade baits, beetle spins and small profiled spinnerbaits.

In the Kingham arm near the steep rocky banks, Empty Bay has been a top spot for casting TN60 Jackalls for golden perch.

Be sure to call in and see the guys at Davo’s in Noosaville if you are heading to Borumba or anywhere in the surrounding area. You’ll have a good chance of catching up with bass guru, Callum Munroe who can share some of his secrets and set you up with the right gear.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

A combination of warmer weather and some run off from rain seems to have fired up the golden perch in Cooby. This is an unpredictable dam, as it can fire one day and fail to produce the next, but anglers who are prepared to put up with the bad days between the good ones have been rewarded with some good action. Casting purple TN60 Jackalls to the edges has accounted for reasonable numbers of golden perch. The steep rock wall has been one area worth prospecting.

Trolling dark coloured lures like StumpJumpers and 3m Halco Poltergeists will also score some goldens and there’s even a chance of scoring a Murray cod when they are active. Cooby has some huge silver perch and these fish will often smack a lure intended for golden perch or cod. These big silvers perform well on light gear and often surprise anglers when they are boated.

Try fishing with live shrimp close to the drop offs if you have a boat or off the steeper walls if you are shore based. Live shrimp are the secret to catching fish when using bait and can be purchased at Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street Toowoomba.

Closest Town: Inglewood

After several runs in the river the dam flooded and reached 100% a couple of months ago. The fish, which had been hard to tempt for some time, suddenly reappeared and decided to play. Bait fishing has been the best option due to the stained water, reducing visibility for lure fishing.

Baits of worms, frozen prawns and live shrimp have all produced good catches when used from the banks. In October few boats had ventured out due to the number of floating logs in the dam. The wind will now have pushed these to the edges and the skiers will be enjoying the extra water. In the last month, one of the most productive spots has been fishing from the boat ramp.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway but far enough away from the noise of trucks to get a good night’s sleep. 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.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Early in October Bjelke had reached 65% capacity. With the ground soaked, all the rain we had through the middle of October pushed the lake level up higher.

After the rise the water cleared quickly, making the fish targets for both lure and bait fishers. Bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish have been keeping anglers happy but this action may die a little as the flooded grasses die off. The bass have been mostly small but there are still some of the lake’s older and bigger resident bass mixed in.

The middle reaches of the dam are holding good numbers of fish. The area around Bass Point is a good place to start fishing. With all the new flooded country up towards the timber, schools of fish may head upstream and find new homes on places that haven’t been under water for many years. The flats before the timber and around Treasure Island are definitely worth a look as well as the first few hundred metres of the dead trees.

Trolling lures like a Smak, Brolga or Golden Child will be a good way to locate fish, especially if they start to scatter from their tight schools. Bait fishing the newly flooded areas should produce a mixed bag of golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and bass.

To check up on the fishing and the current water conditions give Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy a phone call on (07) 4162 7555.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

After running over the spillway for several weeks the dam should come back quite quickly. The water was 200mm over the spillway, which has given the dam a good flush while not allowing too many of the stocked species to escape. The water is discoloured but should start to clear up this month so expect bass and goldens to be taking lures and bait.

The majority of fish seem to be holding in the upper sections of the dam around the timbered arms. Pelican Point will have a few schooled fish but these will start to break up making them good trolling targets. Bait fishing in the timber has been producing stacks of golden perch and eel-tailed catfish. Mini Coop spinnerbaits and blade baits will be worth a try in the timber if you are into lure casting. Fresh weed beds should emerge quite quickly in the upper parts of the dam and as soon as this fresh vegetation starts to grow, exploring the shallow edges with big spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will pay off.

Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy can look after all of your fishing needs. 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. 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. Boats can be launched below the far boat ramp from a reasonably hard bank.

Closest Town: Monto

Over the last couple of months, Cania has risen to around 30% capacity. While at this higher level water will be released to the creek below to supply the irrigation. During periods of rapidly falling water levels the fishing can be slower but, even with these releases occasionally affecting the fishing, the action has been great. Unfortunately though, the fish have been down in size.

Small bass have been the dominant catch. These fish have been spread out across the dam and are right around the legal size limit of 30cm. Big bass can still be caught but you will have to fish smarter to specifically target them. These fish can be targeted along the rock walls and shallower points further up the dam. Often they will be holding in smaller groups or even alone while the schools hold masses of smaller bass. Try casting lures such as lipless crankbaits, 1/2oz spinnerbaits and 1/4oz blade baits.

Golden perch will be willing to nail lures being cast or trolled for bass. Bait fishing can be worthwhile for these fish but the numbers of small bass may mean you will need extra bait and patience.

Saratoga will start to show up in greater numbers this month. These great sportfish love any form of bank side structure. A popper or spinnerbait tossed hard up against the steep rocky banks where structure is present is usually a winner. Shallow bays and points are also worth exploring provided there is some form of sunken timber or vegetation to attract toga to the area.

With so many small bass on offer, the dam will be awesome in the future when these fish mature. Anglers need to exercise care when releasing these small bass to ensure they have a good chance of survival. The current bag limit on bass is 2 fish of 30cm minimum length in your possession.

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 campsites, cabins, a playground and a swimming pool. 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: Gin Gin

Monduran has had a slow start to the spring months. The warmer water and relatively stable dam level should get the barra fired up and more willing to chase lures over the coming weeks. Lure casters and trollers will have a good chance of scoring some monster fish.

Over the past months, the barra have taken a liking to suspending lures paused for long periods. A ten second pause with the lure sitting motionless or just sinking in the strike zone is what seems to fool the stubborn fish into striking. This slow form of fishing will continue to produce over the next month but anglers will start experiencing better sessions on faster presentations like soft plastic swimbaits, frogs, lipless crankbaits and surface lures. Try casting these lures around the shallower points and banks in the main basin. Wind pushing into an area can increase the chances of success.

Venturing into the water above white rock will be worthwhile. Here you have the option of exploring Jacks Bay, B Arm or continuing up the main river. Look for similar areas here as well. Shallower sections of water formed by points and bays will usually fish better than steep sloping banks. Hidden shallow flats, which can be found well out from the closest bank, are also worth exploring. Such areas can be found in the trees by looking where the forks of the trees are. A flat of 2-3 metres deep is an ideal area to explore.

The main basin is the safest place to spend a night session due to having to navigate all the trees in the upper reaches. The major points around Bass Straight and Bird Bay start to fish well late in the afternoon. Anchoring up on one of these and repeatedly casting into the bank until the barra swim through can be rewarding. If you have a hit or catch a fish, there’s a good chance that plenty more fish will be moving through the area at the same time so try to keep lures in the water.

Trolling lures in the main basin has been very effective in November over the past couple of years. Numbers of barra seem to make their way to the area where they suspend in the deeper, open water making them easier targets for lure trolling. The prime times of early morning and late afternoon are most productive however the fish will be present all day - just tougher targets when the sun is overhead.

Trolling a range of lures to cover different depths will put you in with a better chance of locating barra. Once you have a winning lure, selections can be based around it. Sounders will show the barra holding in the open water and on a quality unit the arches they create are unmistakable for anything but big fish. When they are all holding at a similar depth, lure choice can be based around that. Tough Aussie designed lures are the way to go for these powerful fish. Halco Scorpion and Classic Barra lures are proven fish takers that come in a range of depths.

If you’re after some help or need to stock up on the right gear call in and see the locals at Foxies Barra Pro in the town of Gin Gin. They carry a great range of barra lures, rods, reels, lines, hooks and maps to help you score that fish of a life time. An up to date report could make all the difference on your next trip.

If you are after a charter with an experienced guide, try the local guide Rob Wood. Rob runs a Skeeter bass boat and has plenty of knowledge to share. 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 campsites, as well as houseboats and boat hire. Bookings with Guide Lines, a guiding service specializing in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Capricornia Region

Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

The barra in Lake Awoonga have been playing the game for the past couple of months. The warmer weather will see the fish even more active although added fishing pressure can make them a little shyer around boats and lures.

Trolling lures outside the weed growth, which run close to the bottom, has been yielding good results. Lures that run to 4m are the ideal offering with the Classic Barra in guns and roses colour being a hot favourite. Other lures worth a run are the Halco Scorpion 3m and even the smaller Tilsan Barra when the fish are chasing smaller baitfish.

The weed growth is quite clumpy at present and these weed reefs can be explored with cast soft plastics. Wearing polarised sunglasses to see the deeper water between the weed beds will allow you to accurately work deep around them without continually fouling up the lure. Swimbaits like the Squidgy Slick Rigs, Powerbait Hollowbellies, Berkley 5” Mullets and Storm’s WildEye range are all very effective. Rather than just casting the lure out and retrieving it mid-water, try to fish the base of weed clumps by letting it sink to the bottom occasionally. A slow and steady wind can produce but twitching the lure as you lift it from the bottom can entice a strike.

When casting, the points of the main basin and in the rivers and creeks seem to be reliable areas to start. Day and night sessions should produce and the moon phase won’t be too critical in timing your trips. Night sessions based around the full moon may however produce some of the lake’s bigger fish. When fishing at night, a surface popper is always worth a try.

Central Coast
Closest Towns: Mackay

November is always a great month for barra in Kinchant and this year should be no exception. Due to a wet spring there was minimal change to the water level in Kinchant, which allowed stable weed beds to form. The deeper edges of these weed beds will be your best bet for fish as they will be moving along feeding during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

Night fishing is a great way to land some of Kinchant’s giants. In the warmer months barra become more active after dark as this is when the water cools to a more comfortable temperature for them to feed.

Weed points with well-defined edges are a great focus point during the night as bait will often school up on this edge, attracting barra. Don’t be put off if you don’t get a fish first cast as barra will move up and down a weed bed and it will only be a matter of time until they cross paths with your lure.

Rapala X-Raps are awesome for night fishing as they have a realistic profile, loud rattles and attractive colours. For any more information on the Mackay region feel free to contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

Proserpine (Peter Faust)
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

Faust has been the pick of the dams throughout winter and spring this year. Shallow timbered bays and weed and lily pad edges were holding good amounts of healthy fish throughout these months and should continue to do so right through November.

Faust water level has not had any huge changes over the past year, hanging around the 80-90% mark. This means that weed beds are well formed and they have no shortage of barra crawling through them. The average size of these fish is around 70cm and they are well built and pull hard.

The shoreline at Faust has many long points and shallow bays all littered with horizontal timber. Focus your attention on the windblown points, as this is where the barra accesses the shallows with a close retreat to deep water. Points give barra a comfortable zone where they can find their favoured water temperature and wait for an unsuspecting baitfish to swim past. Your job is to substitute that baitfish with your lure.

Soft plastic lures like the Storm WildEye Suspending Shad are great in Faust. These lures mimic sick or dying bony bream with a subtle wiggle and almost perfect neutral buoyancy. For any more information about the Mackay region feel free to contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

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