Fresh makes slow comeback
  |  First Published: April 2011

Even a few months after the big floods, anglers and the fish are still feeling the effects.

The dirty water has made lure fishing difficult with reduced visibility making it harder for the fish to find lures. Some areas will improve before others and when the fishing is tough like this it really pays to do your research before heading out on the water.

There are a few places where the fishing has been great but even these hot areas can turn sour and fail to produce, like the Boyne River below Awoonga Dam. The section between Pikes Crossing and the dam wall has been extremely busy with many anglers taking advantage of the barra that escaped from the dam.

These fish have been actively scoffing down soft plastics and hardbodied lures in this heavily fished piece of water. But as the water stops flowing from the dam, oxygen levels will drop. This water can only sustain a certain amount of fish life and numbers of barra are likely to die, which is just anther example of how things can change quickly in the freshwater environment after flooding rain.

Other influencing factors determining the willingness of fish to bite are dying vegetation, water clarity and further significant rain events. Keeping an eye on these reports or checking in with a local tackle store for an update before your next trip can really pay off.

The Brisbane Tinnie and Tackle Show is on again this month. I’m teaming up with Jason Medcalf to present the Berkley Kids Fishing Show on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10. Over the weekend I’ll be presenting a couple of more serious topics such as choosing freshwater locations when the going is tough and techniques and secrets to fishing surface lures. I hope to see you there.

South East Queensland
Cressbrook Dam
Closest Town: Crows Nest

As of early March, Cressbrook remains closed as a result of rock slides and road damage caused by the flooding rains earlier in the year. Progress has been made with the Esk/Hampton Road reopening, which allows access to Mount Jockey Road to the south of the dam. Rumours are the dam will be reopened by the time this magazine hits the shelves.

If you want to check on the progress of the reopening of this lake, call Fish’N’Bits in Toowoomba on (07) 4636 6850. The fish will have had a good spell over this time and the action should be great for the first few days of the dam reopening. Cressbrook’s water is likely to be clear enough for luring and there are bound to be stacks of redclaw.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

With the dirty water conditions, few lure anglers have bothered with Somerset Dam. By early March a few reports of bass caught on cast and trolled lures were filtering through.

The water is still discoloured so to achieve any success, fish location is critical and lures will need to be presented with pinpoint accuracy. The low visibility leaves little room for error.

Bait fishing has been very successful. Around the campgrounds at Kirkleigh have been good numbers of eel-tailed catfish, golden perch and tilapia. Worms and frozen prawns will do the trick, but if you can get some live shrimp, chances are you will score more desirable species like golden perch and bass.

Masses of redclaw are still being caught at the dam in opera house traps. Baits of rockmelon, mango, sweet potato and pineapple seem to be doing the trick. The shallower water around 3m has been producing, which means traps can be easily placed and checked from the shoreline.

Leaving pots in overnight has been the secret to producing the huge numbers. Some anglers have been going overboard with reports of in excess of 1000 redclaw being taken at a time. However, there are no bag limits on this introduced species in our southern dams where they really seem to thrive.

Closest Town: Boonah

Lake Moogerah has been receiving little fishing pressure. This once hot freshwater destination seems to be making a steady recovery to its former days of glory.

Decent bass have been common around the dam. The upper timbered reaches have been a reliable area to explore by casting lipless crankbaits and blade baits. Jackall TN60s are a good option as they can be cast or trolled when sounding out new areas. Earlier in the day, try casting closer to the edges of the lake and move out wider as the day progresses.

Be aware of the opening and closing hours of 6am to 6pm which are now controlled by a gate before you enter to the boat ramps.

Closest Town: Boonah

Maroon has been hit and miss, but it seems if you have the pattern wired you will score plenty of bass and the odd golden perch. The mornings are the time to explore the surface with topwater offerings. Target the shallow to medium tapering banks and where possible fish across the top of submerged weed beds.

Walk the dog lures like the Cultiva Zip’N’Ziggy and Sammy 65 are great tools for a subtle presentation. If more splashes are required to turn the bass on try a cup faced popper like the Gobo Popper or Rapala Skitterpop. Be sure to work these slowly, allowing plenty of long pauses in the most productive looking areas.

Small hardbodied lures like the Jackall Squirrel and Cultiva Rippin Minnow 70SP are great for working around the holes in the weed or along the weed edge. Hardbodies are normally the go to option after the surface fishing slows down or fails to produce. Smaller blade baits up to 3/8oz can also be fished through the same areas.

As the sun rises, the fish will retreat into the weed or the deeper areas for protection. This is the time to bring out the reaction lures like 1/4oz to 1/2oz spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Work these lures around any broken weed patches with the aim of pulling the lure through deeper holes where the fish may be hiding.

The weed face can also be a productive area to explore and often fish will be seen schooling on the outer edge. Better quality fish tend to come from close to the weed itself so if size is what you are after, spend more time probing the weed rather than tossing into schools of fish.

Trolling close to the weed edge can also tempt a few bass. Lipless crankbaits like the TN60 Jackall and Megabass Sumatra are weighted beautifully for this approach. Small diving minnows can also produce the goods. Stealth will certainly help increase the catch rate and an electric motor is the best way to go about pulling your lures around.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

The fishing has been a bit tough but guys who know what they are doing are still having reasonable sessions. The bass have been smaller fish in the low 30cm bracket with only the odd fish measuring over 40cm. Casting lures to the weed edge in the Three Ways area seems to be the best option with lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits drawing the best response.

A few saratoga have also been caught while targeting bass in Borer Creek. This would make a session aimed at the toga worthwhile.

The guys at Davo’s Bait and Tackle at 6 Mary Street 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. Local lad Callum Munroe spends a lot of time fishing the area and is full of useful tips.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

Borumba will be a good place to visit for anglers wishing to mix up their fishing and target a wider range of species. Bass, golden perch and saratoga are all on the hit list at Borumba and each species responds best to a different approach.

Bass have been schooling at the start of the timber at The Junction. These fish are suckers for small blade baits. Callum Munroe highly recommends the 46mm Berkley Big Eye Blade in the bunyip colour. Soft plastics like the 3” Gulp Jigging Grubs and 3” Minnow Grubs also work a treat when rigged on a 1/4oz jighead.

The steeper walls of the main basin and the deep water trees are the place to head for golden perch. Trolling medium to deep diving lures covers plenty of water and keeps the lures down in the right zone. Try a few different lures until you find a colour pattern, or the depth preferred by the goldens and then change to suit to increase catches.

Borumba’s saratoga population has been quite active in the upper reaches of the Yabba and Kingham arms. These fish love structure and shade provided by bushy trees and lilies.

Toga are quite fond of surface lures as well as sub surface presentations. A few lures to try are the Megabass Anthrax, 1/4oz to 1/2oz spinnerbaits and 1/4oz beetle spins. My favourite saratoga beetle spin is made up of a 1/4oz Nitro Dam Deep Jighead fitted with a 2.6” Powerbait T-tail attached to a size 3 or 4 silver Colorado beetle spin blade.

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. There is camping below the dam wall or a few kilometres back you will find the Borumba Deer Park, which has camping and cabins. Borumba Deer Park can be contacted on (07) 5484 5196.

Lake Samsonvale
Closest Towns: Kallangur, Petrie

April marks the annual release of boating access permits for Lake Samsonvale, with the new season commencing on 3 May 2011 and operating for a 12 month period. Samsonvale offers a good variety of species, with Australian bass, golden perch, silver perch, saratoga and Mary River cod stocked over the last two decades.

The Pine Rivers Fish Management Association (PRFMA) stock this impoundment under a license agreement with the owners SEQwater. The boating access permits is the major source of funding for the PRFMA stocking program, which, along with SIPS funding, ensured the 2010 stocking was one of the best in recent years.

The boating access scheme issues a maximum of 400 permits, available to anyone aged 16 years and over. Permits for the 2011/12 season will soon be available at a cost of $100, (which is the same price as when the scheme was launched in 2001,) and will operate from the 3 May 2011 until 2 May 2012.

The permit scheme allows access to a defined section of the lake, with approximately 8km of water available, about the maximum comfortable range for the manual or electric propulsion systems allowable (outboards are not permitted on the lake).

Permit holders are issued with a key to access the site, a permit card, and craft identification stickers. All holders are required to sign a Deed of Agreement with the PRFMA that sets out the conditions of access. While not onerous, these conditions ensure that anglers comply with the conditions imposed by SEQwater to maintain water quality and respect the rights of lease holders around the lake, as well as ensuring safety on the site. The Association also requires permit holders to fill out catch cards to collect data, which assists with future stocking decisions.

Applications forms will be available online from 3 April 2011 at the PRFMA website (www.prfma.com.au) or can be obtained by contacting the PRFMA at PO Box 131, Lawnton, QLD, 4501, call 0417 742 023, or email --e-mail address hidden-- - PRFMA

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Cooby Dam has reopened but the fishing has been pretty slow. This is partly due to the poor water clarity being unsuitable for lures. Plenty of fish escaped the dam during the flood but a mixture of fish have still been caught over the last month.

Silver perch and eel-tailed catfish have been common when fishing with worms from the shoreline. Now the dam is full the golden perch and cod will have moved around to inhabit new areas; it will be time to explore the old haunts where the fish used to hang out 10 years ago, the last time the dam was full.

The bank opposite the boat ramp and up to Cooby Creek along the eastern shoreline is a good place to start. Try trolling 3m lures that have a strong action like the RMG Poltergeist, Stump Jumper in size 2 or Oar Gee Wee-Pee. Play around with colours while the water is dirty to try and find the more productive ones. I prefer golds and brighter colours in the dirty water but as soon as it clears up, I switch to black or very dark colours.

Fish’N’Bits in Alderly Street Toowoomba will be able to give you all the latest information on Cooby Dam. The store carries a huge range of freshwater lures and they have expert staff who spend a lot of time on the water. If you are chasing some live shrimp for bait, give them a call on (07) 4636 6850.

Closest Towns: Inglewood

Coolmunda Dam has been slowly clearing over the past months and the lure fishing has become better. Trolling medium diving lures around the old creek bed is the key to catching fish consistently. Lures that dive around 4-6m are ideal in this area.

The coloured water and chance of Murray cod calls for bigger bodied lures like the 5m Poltergeist, which really pumps out a lot of vibration. Over the next couple of months the water will cool and the fish are likely to move onto the shallower flats.

As this transition takes place, anglers will need to adapt and follow the fish and choose lures to suit the depth of water. It pays to look between the boat ramp and dam wall across the flats area working different depths to see if the fish prefer a certain area.

Bait fishing with worms and live shrimp has been scoring good numbers of golden perch. The area straight out from the boat ramp to the creek channel has been very popular. Further up in the trees at the southeastern end of the lake will also be worth a try when bait fishing.

Golden perch and cod have been actively taking lures and baits in the river below the dam. However, the hole below the dam wall has now been closed to public access due to the amount of abuse it has received over the past few months. Visitors have littered the area with rubbish, bottles and fish frames, so access to this hot spot has been closed.

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

Leslie Dam continues to fish quite well for golden perch and small Murray cod. Lure trollers are finding plenty of success in water around 3-4m deep. Shallow diving hardbody lures that run close to the bottom are perfect for this water, as well as soft lipless crankbaits, which seem to slow troll well in this depth.

Golden perch have been coming from all over the dam and it seems depth is more critical than the area being fished. Below the Washpool Campground and out from The Blackboys have been two of the most popular spots.

Live baiting with shrimp has been taking heaps of golden perch and eel-tailed catfish. Because the fish are holding in shallow water, they can easily be targeted from the shoreline. Boats need to be careful not to make the mistake of fishing too deep.

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

Bjelke’s water is still very dirty and the fishing has been tough. This is going to take some time to change and the best bet will be to target fish with live bait. If fishing in the main basin of the lake fails, try heading to the opposite end and fish the timbered area.

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

Boondooma Dam is very dirty, making lure fishing a waste of time this month. Bait fishers have been getting into a few bass and silver perch, but the redclaw crayfish have been drawing the crowds. These crustaceans seem to be present in the trillions with huge numbers being taken from the dam. Opera house traps baited with rockmelon or sweet potato have been luring them in by the dozens.

To check 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

Unlike many other dams in South East Queensland Cania is at its best, looking beautiful and clear. This clear water makes for some great lure fishing. There have been heaps of bass around, all willing to bite a range of lures. Spinnerbaits up the top in the timbered areas are a good way to hook a few bass while giving you a good chance of luring a saratoga.

Further back in the lower half of the dam, the points will be holding plenty of bass. These fish will whack spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blade baits. Gary Leather from Tackleworld at Bundaberg had a top session using 3/8oz Little Max blades and brown dog coloured TN60 Jackalls. If the bass shut down on a particular offering, make a change and try to fool them with something else for a while.

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.

Closest town: Eidsvold

After the rise in water, the fishing has been very tough. The Wuruma fishing competition produced only eel-tailed catfish. It seems the yellowbelly, barra and bass are hiding or may even have ventured over the spillway.

As the water clears up, fishing conditions for these species will improve and we’ll get a better idea of how the dam has fared.

Closest Town: Biloela

Fishing at Callide has been very ordinary, though the majority of barra and other stocked fish should still be in the dam and should have survived the flood. Once the water is clear enough, anglers will return and reports of good fishing should increase.

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 Towns: Gin Gin

Anglers have started venturing back to Monduran since the flood but the action has been pretty slow. Some guys have managed three fish weekends over the last month, proving the barra can be enticed to bite.

The upper reaches of the dam seem to be most reliable. Casting soft plastics around weedy areas and prominent points will ensure you are in a likely area. If you have a side imaging sounder and have located numbers of fish, try using a suspending hardbodied lure; the Halco Hamma is a fine example.

Twitch this lure for a metre or so then let it pause for 5-10 seconds before twitching again. This slow presentation can turn shut down barra on but due to its inability to cover lots of water, you need to be confident the barra are there or will move through.

A lot of big barra were smashed up and killed when the dam ran over but several have survived the journey as reasonable numbers have been caught in sections of the river below the dam wall.

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 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 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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Over the last month, the fishing has been a little tougher than normal. Water fluctuations caused by pumping water in and out of the lake have shut the fish down and dirtied the lake but even in these conditions, the schooling bass can be caught by using 1/4oz to 3/8oz blade baits.

The Evergreen Little Max blades are dynamite on Isis bass and they are a versatile lure which can be used to fish the schooling bass or search for bigger ones holding on the weed edges and pockets.

If you are keen to tangle with a big bass in the lake live baiting is an option. Try to catch a small garfish by berleying with bread and using a small hook baited with bread, worm or chicken. Live gars only attract the fish big enough to eat them and a weighted rig sent to the bottom will often be found by a stud bass.

These big specimens are best released as their numbers are only getting fewer. If you are after a feed, there are stacks of smaller fish to take.

Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg has all the gear you’ll need to get stuck into the bass at Isis. The Bundaberg area normally has so much great fishing to offer but the flooding has limited angling opportunities. A trip to Isis is the answer and Salty’s 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

Apart from the barra action in the Boyne River below the dam, there haven’t been a lot of reports from the dam itself. Lyn from Awoonga Gateway cabins has been steering a lot of customers right up to the top of the Boyne River for their fish.

It seems the main basin of the lake is fishing very tough while the upper reaches between the Lambing Flats and Boynedale Bush Camp are far more productive. Night sessions around the full moon are likely to be the best but also try your luck in this area during the day.

Soft plastics like 5”and 6” Powerbait Hollow Bellies and Squidgy Slick Rigs are great for exploring during the day. At night these lures will catch fish but black and gold hardbodied lures have been more effective.

Down below the dam wall in the Boyne River it has been hard to get a spot above Pikes Crossing. Small boats can be launched here and the fishing has been great. How long this hot action lasts is unknown as the health of the fish may suffer when the water stops running and the oxygen level drops. This small section of water can only sustain a certain amount of fish life and lots will surely die.

Further downstream in the tidal waters the barra have a much better chance of survival. The Boyne River will be a very popular fishing hole over the coming months. The same techniques of slow rolled soft plastics and hardbodied lures used in the dam seem to be tempting the fish in the river.

For your accommodation or an up to date report on the fishing give Lyn and Mark from Awoonga Gateway a call on (07) 4975 0033. At Awoonga Gateway 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
Closest Town: Proserpine

The barra fishing action at Peter Faust (Lake Proserpine) has slowed down over the last month as fish have acclimatised to the changes since the flood. Many big fish rode the flood waters down into the Proserpine River which has now become a great place to target monster barramundi. Some of this water is hard to access but the results certainly make it worth a try.

In the dam the small fish have been the most willing to play with barra in the 60-80cm size range producing most of the action. Casting around shallow weed beds with shallow offerings like Rapala X-Walks, frogs and poppers have been getting results.

It is important to keep moving until you find an active patch of fish. An electric motor is the ideal way to do this quickly and quietly, ensuring you explore plenty of water. Once a barra is found it is likely there will be more in the area so give it a thorough working over.

Up in the timber, the points with structure in the form of lilies and flooded tea trees are holding their share of small barra. These fish aren’t too fussy when found and will eat poppers, shallow diving hardbodies and soft plastics.

For more up to date information on the fishing, call in to see Lindsay Dobe at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. Lindsay runs charters on the lake so is full of tips and knows which lures work best.

Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

With months of unstable weather Kinchant Dam should begin to fire in April. Leading into the cooler weather the barra will be feeding more often around the mid to late afternoon as this is when the water temperature reaches the most stable temperature.

When fishing in the afternoon try and focus on the deeper weed ledges. Barra will be sitting on these ledges and picking off any baitfish the stray too far from the weed bed. Patchy weed towers can be found throughout Kinchant and will also hold fish.

The fish will be sitting in tight to these towers and will eagerly tackle any passing lures. Rapala X-Raps, Gliding Raps or the Storm Suspending Shads are all perfect for this situation as you can control there depth, suspend them next to towers or rip out of the weed bed.

If you go fishing in the morning, try focusing on the tops of weed beds as the barra will be feeding amongst the weed itself. Lures like the 11cm and 13cm Rapala X-Walk are a great option for early morning surface bite.

April probably won’t be garner much success for the trollers as the deeper water will start to cool off pushing a lot of fish from the wall over into the weed beds. Although if we get a few hot days around the full moon there is a good chance of a few good fish.

The sooty fishing will still continue along the wall in April as with plenty of good fish to be had, all you have to do is fight through the little fish. Give surface lures like the Rapala Skitter Pop in the early morning or late afternoon and you will have some exciting surface action. – Daniel Grech


Top 5 Spots This Month

Boyne River:barramundi
Leslie: golden perch, Murray cod
Boondooma: redclaw crayfish
Brisbane River:bass

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