Golden Perch Go Nuts
  |  First Published: December 2010

It’s amazing how fast things can change. I must apologise, as in last month’s reports I couldn’t foresee the weather and some lakes copped an absolute drenching.

The southeast of the state was the most affected with several lakes reaching full capacity. While some continued to fish well, others were filthy with sediment or shut down due to the rise in levels. I’ve put some new batteries into the crystal ball for this month so hopefully the reports are a little more accurate.

I did my first trip to Lake Awoonga for the year and it was the first time I had ever seen the lake so high. It was a very different place to fish with many flooded trees, bushes and miles of banks to cover.

I have fished this lake quite a bit over the years and it was hard to find the types of weed beds we like to fish during the day. The weed was starting to take a hold in some areas and we concentrated our efforts around these, the flooded trees and the points and bays exposed to the wind.

Before arriving, the word was the barra were biting all around the main basin of the dam - but of course, the fishing had slowed down the day prior to our arrival.

It was a battle to catch fish while they were shut down. The only way we could get a bite was to hop plastics around submerged weed patches, ripping the lure out of the weed and letting it flutter back to the bottom or, slowly retrieving the new Halco Hamma hardbody lure at night.

It was the most difficult fishing I have experienced at Awoonga with most boats only getting a bite or two for a whole day of fishing. Some of the switched on guys and fishing guides were faring a little better but what about your average fisho?

A lot of anglers travel quite a distance to fish the barra dams, as is evident from the number of NSW number plates at the boat ramp. These people visit the dam for a reasonably long stay and when the fishing is so tough, it really is disappointing to fish day after day for little or no action.

Doing as much homework as you can, before heading off on such an adventure, can really pay off. Read reports such as these in the QFM or source more up to date information from tackle shops and internet reports.

Booking a fishing guide can also make a difference as these guys spend countless hours on the water. Awoonga has some great guides with guys like Harro, Motty, Jas Wilhelm and Johnny Mitchell all capable of putting you onto fish.

I’ll endeavour to do my best to predict the coming month’s fishing, where fish will be holding and what they’ll be biting on.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Cressbrook’s water level rose last month due to rain in the area. This sudden rise has been given an extra boost with even more water being pumped up from Wivenhoe Dam. This added water has caused the fish to shut right down, with many anglers including myself fishing the dam last month for not even a bite.

Sounders have been showing plenty of deeper holding bass in the Cressbrook Creek arm around the Steep Bank at The Eagles Nest. These fish have refused to eat all artificial offerings and the best option would be to suspend a live shrimp right in front of them. The odd report of a few quality bass has filtered through. These fish, around the flooded edges, have been falling for surface lures, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

The water will be clear enough to do some prospecting with lures this month. Try all options to see if the fish have started to fire up. Usually the month after a rise in level is a very productive and fun time to explore a lake. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case at Cressbrook but the fish do have to come out of their tight-lipped phase and fire up at some stage.

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

After a huge amount of water passed through Somerset in the last couple of months, the fishing has again fired up. The dam is still hovering around 100% capacity and has now stabilised. Lure trollers, casters and bait anglers are all getting into some great action.

Bass have spread out in a number of locations around the dam with Bay 13, Pelican Point, The Hump and The Spit all holding their share of schooling fish at different times. Smaller fish have been a more common capture, with bass ranging from legal size to 40cm taking soft plastics, blade baits and trolled diving lures.

Water between 7-10m is worth exploring for these fish. It would pay to have a selection of lures like 1/2oz blade baits, 1/2oz jighead rigged plastics (Powerbait T-Tails, Sliders, Atomic Guzzlers), Jackall Mask Vib 60s and Aussie designed hardbodies like the Blitz Baga, Kezza Freak and Little Ripper.

Bigger bass have been found in shallower water around 4-7m deep. These fish can be trolled up on medium diving lures or cast to with blades, spinnerbaits and soft plastics when decent concentrations are found.

Golden perch have been common in the upper part of the dam above Kirkleigh. Fishing the timber with live bait is a great option and you can expect to score some bass and eel-tailed catfish as well. Goldens will also fall for deep diving lures fished around the drop-off to the main riverbed.

The middle reaches of the dam from Bay 13 to Pelican Point are worth exploring. The hot weather will have these fish fairly active and provided your lures are almost scraping the bottom, you should find success.

Redclaw are still abundant and can be caught in opera house traps tossed in from the bank or boat. Try baiting the pots with rockmelon as the redclaw go nuts over it. Other baits include catfood, half boiled potatoes and other vegetables.

Closest Town: Nerang

Hinze is full to the brim and the flooded grasses around the edges of the lake seem to be holding the majority of fish. Casting spinnerbaits to these areas has been popular and is the method used to take better quality bass and saratoga.

Smaller bass have been getting in on the action so you may have to sort through a few of these to find the big ones. TT Vortex and Striker spinnerbaits have been very effective over the past month.

As the weather warms right up in the middle of summer, the fish will drop back into deeper water during the middle of the day. Search the points using lipless crankbaits, blade baits and soft plastics. If the fish are thick, the sounder will soon reveal their presence.

Access to the dam can be gained from the Mudgeeraba side along Little Nerang Road or via the main boat ramp area on the western side. Past captures would suggest the bass are holding around the whole dam while the toga have preferred the western side.

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.

Closest Town: Boonah

Lake Moogerah has been receiving little fishing pressure compared to some of the other lakes in the area. The dam has been producing some quality bass and golden perch. Most of the bass are in the high 30cm size calibre with the odd older bass still lurking around and pushing the 50cm mark.

Trolling medium and deep diving lures around the basin and tree line will help to locate schooling fish. Once found they can be caught by casting lures like soft plastics and blade baits. Live shrimp are a great option for a mixed bag. Expect to catch golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish on them.

Sunshine Coast Area
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

A huge amount of water ran into Macdonald in October making all the water quite dirty. In early November this water started to clear up and bass were being caught again.

As the water continues to clear over the coming weeks, the fishing will only improve. The increased visibility will not only make it easier for fish to see the lures but for anglers to see the weed beds.

Small bass have been the most common capture. The usual haunts like the Bubble Trail, Three Ways and the Botanical Gardens stretch will all be worth a try. Work blades and plastics to schooling fish in the open water or try your luck with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits around the weed beds.

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 guys 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 water at Borumba is still discoloured after the dam ran over a couple of months ago. It is clear enough to catch fish although the action is still a little slow. As it clears in the next month or so, the fishing will get better. The Yabba Arm of the lake looks as though it will clear up first and there have been reports of saratoga being caught in the area.

Try spinnerbaiting the edges in the feeder creeks, paying attention to structure and you should find plenty of toga action. Bass will be schooled up around the start of the timber and in the main basin off the points. These fish will scoff blade baits and soft plastics. Opt for the blades while the water is still discoloured, as they give off plenty of vibration.

Trolling lures and baitfishing in the main basin will fool some bass and golden perch. Try to target these fish off the points or along any ledges that drop into deeper water.

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

After rising in capacity a couple of months ago, the dam has fired up. Initial thoughts were that the water would be too dirty to catch fish but lure anglers have been reaping the benefits of the rise.

The points across from the boat ramp have been a great spot to cast lures. It seems as long as it is a bright coloured TN60 Jackall, you are in with a good chance.

Cooby has always been a hit and miss dam and it will be interesting to see how long this action lasts. The mornings and afternoons will be the prime time for golden perch; cod are a chance at any time of the day. The water should be even clearer by the end of the month and trolling lures like 3m Poltergeists and small Stump Jumper just before the sun sets will be a good bet.

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

The fresh water has brought Coolomunda back to life with golden perch being caught all over the lake. There was even a report of an 86cm Murray cod caught from the bank on a frozen prawn. The water has cleared enough for lure trolling and baits are scoring plenty of fish.

Live shrimp, frozen prawns and worms are scoring goldens all over the dam. There are still plenty of fish patrolling the shallower water making fishing from the bank a good option. The area in front of the boat ramp continues to produce quality fish and many anglers have filled their limit here.

Trolled lures had started to produce the goods last month and as the water continues to clear this month, they will become even more effective. Lure trolling is a great way to target the lake’s big Murray cod.

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.

Closest Town: Warwick

The fresh in Leslie Dam has fired up the golden perch. These fish have been caught all over the lake. Trolling the deeper water with lures like Blitz Bagas and Golden Childs has accounted for plenty of the smaller fish. This also seems to be the case when fishing with baits like worms, prawns and live shrimp.

Bigger golden perch over 2kg have been caught by casting lures to the shallower areas. Targeting the banks around rocks, weeds and flooded grass seems to be the secret to fooling these bigger fish.

The gun lure has been the spinnerbait, with smaller sized offerings sporting a single Colorado blade the most effective. Lipless crankbaits have also been pulling their share of goldens.

Closest Towns: Texas, Tenterfield, Stanthorpe

Glenlyon Dam is the fullest it has been in many years. The golden perch seem to love the extra water and have been responding well to cast and trolled lures.

Lure trolling has been accounting for plenty of 500g-1kg fish while the bigger models around 2.5kg are munching lures cast to the edges. TN60 Jackalls have been one of the most effective lipless crankbaits and it’s also worth trying some 1/2oz spinnerbaits. While casting lures around the edges, some anglers have been lucky enough to hook onto some of the lake’s mighty Murray cod.

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

After a big rise in the water level, the fish have been quiet and few anglers have tried their luck. The bass should be starting to move a bit but the water is still likely to be dirty this month. Bait fishing will probably be the best bet.

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

Fishing at Boondooma has been very steady due to the dirty water from flooding. The water will probably be too dirty for luring this month so try bait fishing in the middle reaches around the rocky points or in the timber arms.

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. 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

Small bass have been thick all over Cania. These fish can be caught trolling out from the boat ramps in the deep water with medium to deep running lures. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges will also score plenty of these small fish.

If you plan to target a bigger one try the shallow banks in the upper reaches or the backs of the smaller bays in the main basin. Surface luring early in the morning or late in the afternoon can often produce the bigger fish too.

Saratoga are always a possibility and should start to fire up this month. Target these fish around any flooded vegetation as they love to patrol and hunt around structure.

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 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: Eidsvold

The barra have been active at Wuruma. These fish are smallish with the bigger barra measuring just under 80cm. These young fish can be a lot of fun and when a concentration is found you can expect to boat quite a few. Bass gear is all that is needed to tackle them and on lighter outfits they put up a great fight.

Casting 80-100mm shallow diving lures around the shallow edges has been the best way to entice the barra. Another option is to throw some bass lures as if you were targeting bass. This method could tempt either species.

Wuruma is also home to some thumping bass and golden perch.

Closest Town: Biloela

There have been a lot of barra caught up to 70cm. These small fish are fat and healthy. Over the past month, the shallows have been the best areas to target with shallow diving lurers like the gold Bomber a hot favourite. As the water warms up even more this month, the barra may move slightly deeper making soft plastics a better option. Keep lure choices around 100mm to suit the size of these smaller fish.

A lot of effort has gone into stocking saratoga while the barra population has been low and still small. The toga seem to love the dam and have been a regular capture when chasing barramundi. One angler hooked three toga in a single session and landed two, with the biggest one measuring 78cm.

For all your fishing needs and the latest dam reports, call in and see Norm at Creek2Coast in Biloela. The store carries all the gear you’ll need to tempt the lake’s barra.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

Monduran had a slow start in spring and the barra are just starting to get more active. Lure trolling in the main basin and Bird Bay was an effective way to hook the lake’s monster fish last month.

Shallow running lures were the best choice as the barra were holding just under the surface. Deeper lures will become a better option this month as the fish move deeper for more comfort due to the longer, hotter days. Try 3m diving lures like the Scorpion, Viper and Classic Barra 10+.

Hardbodied lures will also work when casting. Choose a fishy looking area that has established weed beds on a point or in a bay that is exposed to the wind. B52s and Surunas are two lures that have been catching fish.

A new casting lure to hit the market is the Halco Hamma. I have had great success while trialling this lure. The clear bodied lure has an internal prism finish and a weight transfer system to allow extra long, accurate casts. At 123mm long it has a great baitfish profile. These lures are quite flexible as they are come with interchangeable 1m and 3m bibs. They have strong 5X hooks and suspend beautifully straight from the packet.

Hot weather can make the barra more willing to chase down artificial offerings and it is always worth burning some lures to see if this is what they prefer. Heavier lures like 5” Powerbait Mullets, 130 Slick Rigs, Transam 95’s and 3/4oz rigged Hollow Bellies are ideal for this faster presentation.

Use long exploratory casts over 1-3m deep flats and wind the lure back fast with the occasional pause. This technique is referred to as burn and kill and will often work well when the barra fire up.

The full moon is just before Christmas this year on the 21 December. The holiday period will make it a popular time to fish, but consider it anyway as the barra may fire up a little more. Late night sessions can be a lot of fun if the barra are on the prowl.

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 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 QFM column.

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 house boats 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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The early bird catches the big bass at Isis this month. Surface luring early in the morning before the sun hits the water will account for some big bass.

Late afternoon sessions can also do the trick. Working lures like Gobo Poppers and Cultiva Zippin’ Ziggys across the tops of submerged weed will produce some explosive strikes. The big bass call the weed beds home and you will need to muscle them out once hooked. Surface lures are the most effective way of drawing the strikes as once the sun rises, the bass retreat to the deeper weed pockets for cover.

You can try your luck with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits around the submerged weed beds for the big bass during the day but they can be tough.

Outside the weed, there are plenty of smaller bass in the 30-40cm size range waiting for an easy meal. These fish can be located on the sounder while fishing the weed beds.

Once found, toss a 1/4oz blade into the school and work it back with a stop/start retrieve or a hopping motion.

Soft plastics like Slider Grubs, Powerbait T-tails and 3” Minnow Grubs are also worth a try. The more subtle action they have can be all it takes to get the bass to bite.

Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg has all the gear you’ll need to get stuck into the bass at Isis. The area has so much great fishing to offer and the store does a great job of catering to all anglers’ needs. The boys behind the counter know their stuff and will be able to help you out.

Capricornia Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Weed beds are starting to flourish around the lake edges. Once the weed takes hold and produces more prominent edges and weed reefs, the barra will concentrate in these areas. Points and bays on the windward banks have been producing most of the fish.

During the day try fishing with soft plastics around the weed beds. Hollow Bellies, Storm Suspending Shads and Slick Rig Pros are worth a try. Mix up lure choice and retrieve styles to see what the barra are chasing.

This is particularly important when the barra aren’t really in the mood to feed. Rather than just winding the plastic back in, use a hopping retrieve around the base of the weeds when all else fails.

Medium sized hardbodies are worth a try around the spindly bushes that are found throughout the dam. A hardbody rigged to suspend in their face during the pause can be too much to resist. The Tilsan Barra and River2Sea Jerk Shad are ideal for this approach.

As night approaches, the barra will often become more active, leaving the cover of the weed beds and freely roaming around in search of a meal.

Selecting a productive spot when the sun is high and revealing all the submerged weed reefs is a good idea. This will give you the chance to see the fish tunnels the barra will use to swim through and hunt around.

Anchor the boat quietly in a productive area and go to work tossing plastics and hardbodies. The important thing is to keep a lure in the water at all times.

Barra can turn up or choose to feed at any time and the bite window can be short but frantic. If someone has a bite, fish hard as more action won’t be too far away.

At night, soft plastics like the Hollow Belly and Slick Rig Pro are good for shallower water. On the deeper points, you can try a heavier plastic like the 5” Powerbait Mullet or 130 Slick Rig. A slowly retrieved hardbody can outfish a soft plastic at times.

The Rapala X-Rap has long been a favourite as it draws plenty of attention. The new lure to rival it will be the Halco Hamma. Its tougher construction is designed for big hard fighting fish like barra, tarpon and black bass, all of which can destroy weaker lures.

The interchangeable bibs give a couple of actions and depth options. I prefer to kick back and use a slow stop start retrieve with the 3m bib. It’s a great way to wind down after working hard with plastics all day to catch barra – until a fish climbs all over it.

Central Coast
Closest Town: Mackay

Summer has finally arrived bringing stable water temperatures, dropping water levels and awesome night fishing. Barra in most impoundments will feed more aggressively at night during the warmer months as the dropping surface water temperature and the cover of darkness makes it more comfortable for them to feed.

If you are out on the dam during the day, try and fish weedy drop-offs or distinct points. These areas are prime barra spots as they will rest in the deep water close to these areas and then move into shallower water to feed.

Try to keep the boat in about 5m of water and slowly work a soft plastic from the shallow area back towards the boat. Add pauses into the retrieve, as this will allow the lure time to sink, keeping it deeper, therefore in the strike zone longer.

Kinchant is becoming well known for its trolling. This is mainly done along the dam wall. If you would prefer casting, use your sounder to find bait schools and cast to these schools using lures such as Rapala X-Raps or Storm Suspending Shads.

Sooties also school up along the wall and are a lot of fun on small vibes. Around dusk these fish can be caught on surface. Although these fish are mostly small, they fight hard and are extremely challenging on light gear. –Daniel Grech

Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

Teemburra’s water level has been the most stable out of all the dams in the central Queensland coast area, keeping steadily around the 95-100% mark. This has allowed for a good growth of aquatic plants like lily pads that litter all the shallow points and bays, forming perfect ambush points for barra.

The average size of the barra has increased dramatically over the past 12 months, going from 60-65cm to 75-80cm. This could be one of the major contributors to the difficult fishing conditions out of winter this year, as larger fish required more effort to tempt to bite.

Teemburra Dam is a relatively deep dam, which means it fishes well throughout the summer months because it remains cooler than other dams. This generally means dawn and dusk are prime bite times with surface lures being the choice in these situations.

Try lures like the Rapala Skitter Walk and the Storm Suspending Shads. These lures can be worked slowly, to draw attention, which often tempts a barra to bite.

If December brings rain try heading up the middle creek for some sooty action. The influx of water drives the sooties to begin the breeding cycle, pushing them into the back creeks in search of rapids and rubble that they require to breed. If you encounter sooties in the breeding cycle, do not disturb them. –Daniel Grech

Fact Box

Awoonga Guides

Barra MadnessJason Wilhelm0420846345 www.barramadness.com
Harro’s Barra GuidingRod Harrison0418 892600
Matthew Mott Sportfishing ChartersMatthew Mott(07) 4162 7555
Lake Awoonga Guide Barra Fishing ChartersJohnny Mitchell0429 723757


Fact Box 2

Fish ’N’ Bits Toowoomba under New Management

Fish ’N’ Bits tackle store in Toowoomba has changed hands. New manager, Kris George, has kept on the team of experienced anglers who have worked to make the store and its service so successful.

Bass and freshwater gurus Carl Jocumsen and Ash Simms have a wealth of knowledge to share with customers and you can be sure you are in good hands when you pay them a visit. This young team of keen anglers will steer you in the right direction the next time you are looking for the right gear to get the job done.

With a small floor space, the store carries an amazing range of fishing gear, books, DVDs, bait and even pig hunting and dogging supplies. With new stock always arriving, and the boys keeping up with and setting new trends, you’ll be able to find all the latest and greatest fishing gear right here.

Whether you’re a weekend fisho looking for the basics or a tournament angler chasing the latest Japanese lures, you’ll be able to find it all at your fingertips.

Fish ‘N’ Bits is located at 340 Alderly Street Toowoomba and can be contacted on (07) 4636 6850.

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