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Barra waking up
  |  First Published: December 2010



Welcome to the start of a new year. Hopefully Santa filled all your tackle boxes and brought you a new rod and reel or two!

The Christmas and New Year holiday period can be a busy time to fish. Anglers, skiers and campers will be out in force making the most of their days off. Planning some fishing in the less popular spots can be the best way to score fish and enjoy the peace and quiet.

The rivers and creeks are always a good option. Some wild bass exploration can be great fun and the fish are fairly easy to find upstream in the smaller creeks at this time of year. With all the rain at the end of last year, the western rivers have been firing for golden perch and Murray cod. Barra have been a little tough to tempt on the lakes but after the battle for a park at the boat ramp, you can usually find a quiet spot to yourself once out on the water.

When the ramps and lakes are busy, people need to be patient and understanding. Ensuring you avoid holding up the queue at the ramp by having everything ready to go (bungs, tie-down straps, motor supports and gear loaded) will help the flow of traffic to get everyone onto the water faster. When launching and retrieving at night on the multiple-lane ramps, dimming your lights will not blind the next car backing down while you are at the bottom of the ramp. It’s the simple things that make life easier.

On the water, try to give everyone some space, and exercise some courtesy. One of the most annoying things that happens regularly to me is boats motoring over the spot I am fishing. A while ago at Lake Awoonga I quietly positioned my boat a full cast off the weedy point I was fishing. A lure troller proceeded to pull his lures between me and the shore only to bog his outboard and lures in the weed bed. Ten minutes and lots of noise later he was free and I was not impressed. When a boat is anchored and the angler is casting to an area, give it a wide berth.

The holidays are a great time to spend some time on the water with family and friends. Be sun smart and stay safe. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Somerset
Closest Town/s: Esk, Kilcoy

There are plenty of options at Somerset this month. If you can dodge the water-skiers you will be able to have a crack at the bass, golden perch and redclaw crayfish.

The bass schools have been scattered around the dam in haunts like Poly Pipe Point, Pelican Point, Bay 13 and One Tree Point. The better quality bass have been reasonably easy to find in numbers from Poly Pipe Point right up to the mouth of Beams Creek. Many of the fish are holding shallow – around 4-6m deep. Usually the bass would start to break up and suspend in deeper water at this time of year but the amount of fresh in the past months may keep them together in schools this year.

Trolling 1/2oz blade baits is a great way to locate schooling bass. While the fish are holding shallow, you can even use the outboard motor to tow the lures behind. Troll with around 40m of line out and use 4-8lb braid. I swear by 4lb Fireline and 6lb Stealth Camo Braid as their fine diameter slices through the water, giving the lures a better action while presenting them deeper. The best blades of late have been the 1/2oz Little Max in the bluegill or ayu colours.

Once bass are located, lures can be cast into the schools. There’s been a real mix of sizes so if you are bagging undersized fish stick with it, as the bigger ones have been mixed in with them. When the action is hot, you can play with different lure styles. Last month I had a session where I caught good fish on blades, Jackalls, Mask Vibs, MF50s, spinnerbaits and soft plastics.

Golden perch can be caught on trolled lures in deeper water. The drop-offs from Pelican Point up past Kirkleagh to the timber are all worth a go. Running deep lures which are almost scraping the bottom will give you a good chance of success. The Blitz Baga, Golden Child and Smak 19 are worth a try in black, brown, purple or chartreuse colours. Goldens can also be trolled up in the sticks north of Kirkleagh. Bait fishing with live shrimp in this area should also produce a few goldens and tempt fewer pest fish and undersized bass than in the lake’s main basin.

Redclaw have been thick and can be caught in opera house traps. Finding some less pressured water using the boat is ideal but you will still score some from the banks around Kirkleagh. Catfood, rockmelon and partly boiled vegetables can all be used as bait.

Hinze
Closest Town: Nerang

Saratoga have been going crazy at Hinze dam. These great sportfish have been nailing surface and subsurface presentations. Spinnerbaits are one of the most effective ways to target toga and they will eat 1/4oz to 1/2oz models tossed around the edges of the lake.

Plenty of smaller bass from 35-40cm have been caught in the past month. To chase these fish, try casting small hardbodies such as those in the Maria range. Trolling Taylor Made lures will also account for plenty of bass. Similar timber hardbodies with no rattles are ideal for trolling and fool plenty of fish.

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.

Moogerah
Closest Town: Boonah

Small bass have been quite common at Moogerah. Trolling lures around the lake’s main basin and focusing on the points and drop-offs to deeper water should see you locate some schooling fish. The odd better quality bass and golden perch have also been caught. Lure casters will be able to boat a few fish using blade baits and soft plastics.

MacDonald
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Bait fishing in MacDonald has been great. Live shrimps will soon be demolished by the lake’s hungry bass population. These bass have been of mixed sizes, ranging from babies up to 40cm in length. Lures like blades, plastics and lipless crankbaits should produce similar results. Up the arms of the lake and around the bubbler have been holding plenty of bass.

MacDonald is an electric motor only dam. The many anglers who now own paddle craft can put them to good use here and enjoy some great fishing.

The new Slim Jim lure has been quite effective. If you are interested in trying out one of these lures, call into Davo’s Bait and Tackle. 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.

Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

After a short, quiet period, the fish have really fired up in the lake’s main basin. Deep schools can be found and they are responding well to a number of methods. Ice jigs, spinnerbaits, blade baits and live shrimp will score stacks of fish once they are located. Bass have been the most prolific although the golden perch to 1.5kg have also been around in numbers.

The upper reaches of the lake in the Yabba and Kingham arms will start to fish well for saratoga. These sportfish patrol many forms of structure. Toga love the shade of bottlebrush trees or the steep banks littered with water lilies. Spinnerbaits, beetlespins, lipless crankbaits and surface lures will all catch these magnificent fish.

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
Cooby
Closest Town/s: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Cooby has been a little hit and miss. The golden perch can really fire up some days and be hard to find on others. The bank opposite the boat launching area is a prime spot. Casting dark coloured TN60 Jackalls to the weed edge and slowly working them back will draw their interest. It is important to allow long pauses to sink the lure deeper several times during the retrieve. Bites will often come while the lure is sinking slowly.

The Murray cod have been quiet although they are always a chance. Lure casting in the middle of the day seems to produce most of the cod bites.

The points along the bank opposite the ramp often have concentrations of golden perch so would be worth fishing with bait. Live shrimp are the number one bait and will also score some cracking big silver perch. Live shrimp are the secret to catching fish when using bait and can be purchased at Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street Toowoomba.

Coolmunda
Closest Town/s: Inglewood

The golden perch have been quite active at Coolmunda. Anglers prepared to put in the hours are being rewarded with reasonable catches. Thrown in have been the odd cod and eel-tailed catfish. Both lures and bait have been successful. Baits like frozen prawns, worms and live shrimp will all get eaten. The shrimp supply in the dam is very low at the moment so you may have to buy some at a store like Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba.

Trolling medium to deep running lures in front of the dam wall and boat ramp area will give you a good chance of scoring a few golden perch. Lure trolling is a great way to target the lake’s cod as well.

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.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

Leslie has continued to fish well for golden perch of mixed sizes and small Murray cod. The warmer conditions will see their activity level remain high and lure trollers, casters and bait fishos will all be rewarded for their efforts.

Contour trolling the main basin of the lake, staying in 5-8m of water, will ensure lures are in the right zone. Once a few fish are caught, you can concentrate on staying in that depth of water and lure choice can be based on the depth being fished. Plenty of smaller golden perch have been coming from the deeper parts of the lake. Try casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges in the mornings and afternoons for the bigger fish. Lure casters have been tempting a few cod as well.

Live shrimp, frozen prawns and saltwater yabbies are great baits for golden perch. Try bait fishing out from the grass trees in around 4-5m of water.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Town/s: Murgon, Goomeri

The water in Bjelke has cleared to a tannin colour and the fish have started to respond well to lures. Last month saw some better quality bass and golden perch caught around the edges of the lake. With the water warming up, trolling lures across the flats will be a good option. The flats up past Bass Point and around Treasure Island will be well worth exploring. Due to low water levels, it’s been years since this area was fishable but the fish should now return to their old haunts. Lures like the Smak 16, Poltergeist and Brolga pulled through the area will soon reveal if the fish are there and willing to play. If schooling fish are found, try casting metal blades to them.

The edges of the lake can be explored by casting blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits like Jackalls. As the water settles even more, the timber and banks in the area will also be worth a cast.

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.

Boondooma
Closest Town/s: Proston, Kingaroy

Dirty water has been making the fishing very tough. When the Boyne arm flooded earlier in the year, it placed a lot of sediment into the water. The Stuart arm is much clearer and last month there were bass and golden perch caught on spinnerbaits in the cleaner parts.

As the water clears, trolling will be one of the best methods to score fish. Try dark coloured Blitz Baga, Brolga and Golden Child lures. Casting in the timber and to the banks in the basin may also work using spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

There have been stacks of redclaw crayfish about. Try around the rocky structure with opera house traps. The Boondooma Dam Yellowbelly Fishing Competition will be held on 12, 13 February by the Boondooma Fish Stocking Committee.

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

Gordonbrook
Closest Town: Kingaroy

Gordonbrook was open to electric powered boats at the time of writing. Blooms of blue-green algae have forced the lake to be closed in the past and the warmer weather could bring on such a closure. It would pay to check with Bass to Barra in Kingaroy before heading out to the dam.

The fishing has been pretty tough. Lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits cast around the lake’s edges and timber will produce a few nice bass. Up from the boat ramp, a troll along the creek bed would be worth a try. Shallower lures like the Brolgas, Smak 12 and Smak 16 have been successful here in the past.

Cania
Closest Town/s: Monto

Bait and lure fishing has fired up. There have been good catches of bass, golden perch and saratoga, though some bass have been on the small side with quite a few fish undersized. Try trolling the basin of the lake for bass and golden perch in front of the boat ramp, and along the steeper banks around The Quarry Island.

Bass can also be caught by casting lures to the banks. This is a top way to lure saratoga and any form of bank-side structure is worth prospecting.

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 swimming pools. 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. With regular events such as wood fired pizza night, wine tasting, camp oven dinner and outdoor movies on each week, there is plenty to do when you’re not wetting a line.

Wuruma
Closest town: Eidsvold

Plenty of 50-75cm barra have been caught in Wuruma. These fish can be caught across from the boat ramp and right up to the start of the timber. Casting small hardbodies like the Laser Pro 120, C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnow 112 and B52s to the shallows has been doing the trick.

As the water temperature heats up, try working the shallow banks but work lures out into the deeper water looking for the bites. Deeper diving hardbodies like the Tilsan Barra are ideal for this approach. Soft plastics and lipless baits like Jackall TN70s and C’ultiva Savoy Vibes will be unreal as they will also nail bass and monster golden perch.

Early morning and late afternoon sessions using poppers should see some explosive strikes. Tango Dancers are a great barra popper with the smaller 95mm size being ideal for Wuruma’s barra.

Callide
Closest Town: Biloela

The barra have been slow over the last month but increasing water temperatures and warmer nights will see these fish much more active. Small hardbody lures fished to the shallows will produce hook-ups. Try lures like Laser Pro 120s, Bomber Long As and C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows. Slow sinking plastics like the Slick Rig Pro range, Powerbait Hollowbellys and Storm Suspending Wild-Eye Shads will be ideal.

Saratoga have been plentiful due to the hard work of the stocking group. These fish should be handled with care and released as so much time, money and effort has gone into building up the breeding population of these fish.

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.

Monduran
Closest Town/s: Gin Gin

The action at Monduran has been slow at times. Trips based around the full moon are likely to produce better results for those prepared to fish well into the night. Trolling shallow-diving lures like 1m Scorpions, Classics and the new Halco Hamma will produce reasonable results.

The major points in the main basin and western side of Bird Bay are definitely worth a troll. Keen anglers can tie or anchor up on a prominent looking point and cast plastics and hard bodies into the edge retrieving them slowly.

During the day, try full weight 130mm Slick Rigs, Powerbait 5” Mullets and FLT Transams, burning them fast back to the boat in productive looking areas. This fast retrieve should be broken up with a few pauses to let the lure sink for a second or two. When the water is warm barra will love this burn-and-kill retrieve and the hits will be hard.

If plastics fail, tie up off of a point and fire out some hardbodied lures. Suspending or slow sinking lures worked with twitches and long pauses every metre or so can turn the lazy barra on. The Halco Hamma fitted with the 3m bib is ideal for this presentation. Allowing the lure to pause for several seconds before twitching it to life is often the key.

Side imaging sounders such as the Humminbird 798 are ideal for locating passing fish while at anchor. If the barra haven’t moved through after an hour, it’s time to head to a different spot.

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 lifetime. 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 you can 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 un-powered camp sites, as well as houseboats 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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Lake Gregory (Isis Balancing Storage) has been producing some thumping bass around the weed beds. Plenty of smaller bass can be targeted outside the weed edge in big schools. These tiddlers love to munch 1/4oz and 3/8oz blade baits. The big bass take a little more to target and extract.

Surface luring on top of the submerged weed beds in the early hours of the morning or late in the afternoon will produce plenty of strikes. Try a mix of topwater lures as sometimes the bass will prefer a stickbait over a popper and vice versa. When tossing poppers, work the lure back with a series of rod twitches to get the cupped face blooping. Give the bait a long pause of several seconds before twitching and then continue the retrieve. Poppers like the Gobo Popper, Frenzy Popper and Rapala Skitter Pop are ideal.

If poppers don’t seem to be doing the trick, opt for a stickbait-style topwater lure. Walk these across the top using a walk-the-dog retrieve and pause them for a second or two every 1-2m. The Zip N Ziggy is a top stickbait for this type of work. I love its ability to be cast long distances and worked fast to cover water quickly in search of actively feeding bass.

During the middle of the day, the bigger bass retreat back into the weed beds and get harder to target. Fishing over the top of broken weed clumps and running lures right over likely ambush points is the trick to getting bites. Spinnerbaits around 1/2oz in size, 3/8oz blades, and C’ultiva Mira Vibe lipless baits fished along the top of the weed bed should get crunched if the big bass are on.

When you hook a big Isis bass, the fish quickly get down into the weed. Extracting them requires a decent leader as you will often have to pull up several kilos of weed as well. Using 6-10lb braid topped with 14lb fluorocarbon leader will do the job in most cases. Keep the rod angle high on hook-up and try to keep the fish out of the weed for as long as possible. A fresh fish can bury you a long way into the weed reefs in no time.

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
Awoonga
Closest Town/s: Benaraby, Gladstone

Lake Awoonga has been quite tough. There have been periods of good fishing but most days produce only a strike or two per boat for your average angler. The nights around the full moon are always worth a shot as the barra seem to play more under the cover of darkness.

Fishing the points on the western side of the dam between the boat ramp and Dingo Island will be worth a try. New Zealand Gully and the Riverstone arm have also been producing a few barra. Soft plastics like Slick Rigs and 5” Mullets are ideal in the deeper areas. If you are surrounded by shallow water or weed beds, try using a 3/8oz weighted Hollowbelly or rolling a Halco Hamma hardbody between the weed pockets at night.

For your accommodation while in the area give Lyn and Mark from Awoonga Gateway a call on (07) 4975 0033. Here you’ll find clean, modern cabins and your hosts will be full of useful advice to help you try to land that barra of a lifetime.

Central Coast
Proserpine
Closest Town: Proserpine

Lake Proserpine (Peter Faust Dam) has been fishing quite well at night with lure trollers scoring plenty of fish under the cover of darkness. The period around the next full moon will be a prime time to target these monster fish. Most of the action has been around the wall of the dam. Trolling lures to suspended fish in deep water around the buoy line should see you hook a few.

Last month’s top lure for a couple of anglers was the 5m Poltergeist. The fluoro green colour (R7) was the standout, producing barra to over 120cm.

For more up-to-date information on the fishing, call in to see Lindsay Dobe at Proserpine Bait and Tackle.

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