Mixed Results But Worth the Effort
  |  First Published: May 2011

The freshwater dams have started to produce some better fishing. The golden perch dams in the south are cooling down and the action slowing, but bass are starting to fire up at several locations.

The barra have been given a break in Monduran and Awoonga due to the number of fish being caught in the Boyne River below Awoonga Dam wall. These escaped fish have created an amazing fishery and anglers are using their impoundment knowledge and gear to target fish in a saltwater environment with big tides.

The by-catch in the lower part of the system has been amazing. Big giant trevally, fingermark, queenfish and even a stonker permit have been caught by anglers with their sights set on barra.

Dam level increases lead to unpredictable fishing ahead. The changes in water level and fish habitat tend to make fishing tougher for around 12 months after the event. It seems strange but when the dams do finally fire up after the quiet phase, the fish that have been so hard to catch are in outstanding condition. The growth rates of fish after flooded dams boost the food chain with nutrients is amazing.

While some lakes may be quiet now, we have much to look forward to. In the meantime, head to the ones that are fishing well. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Cressbrook Dam has reopened to fishing and it’s a magnificent sight to see this lake at 100% capacity. The once small puddle has now transformed into a beautiful lake bordered by trees and wildlife.

The fishing has been a little tough for most but some of the more experienced anglers are faring well. The trick is to locate schools of bass. These fish are hard to find and they tend to shut down quickly after a few are caught. This is surprising considering the long spell they had from any fishing pressure during the dam closure.

I fished the dam on reopening day and was shown the location of a school of bass. These fish bit out of control with hits every cast for quite a while. Then, the bite shut down. The fish were still there on the sounder but they refused to eat. This has been a typical Cressbrook pattern for years, even in the good times of high water levels. I recall having to rely on a number of spots during my guiding days on the lake. We would score well at each spot, nailing the active fish until they shut down. Each spot needed to be spelled for a couple of hours to allow more active bass to move in. Having a money run of productive spots like this is the answer to catching fish all day long.

Cressbrook’s most active fish seem to be holding in areas where less grass was submerged. If lures are allowed to reach the bottom in most areas, they will come back with pieces of dead grass hanging from them. I have noticed that the areas where the bass are schooling have very little grass and the bottom is quite clean. Casting soft plastics rigged on 1/4oz jigheads or 1/4oz and 3/8oz blade baits should draw the strikes. The main basin of the lake is fishing quite well and I am yet to hear reports of good numbers of fish up either of the arms. Try all the major points and some of the steeper banks, keeping in mind the short grass theory.

If you are lucky enough to get an early morning or late afternoon session, try some surface lures. Fizzers, poppers and stickbaits twitched around the edges will draw some explosive strikes. The edges of the dam are quite easy to walk at the moment, making surface luring a good option for anglers without a boat.

Redclaw crayfish have been abundant in the shallow water around the lake. These crustaceans have been thriving since the rise in water levels and there are some foot long monsters among them. The redclaw have been most active in less than 3m of water.

Opera house traps can be set from the bank or boat or you can do it the old fashioned way with a piece of meat on a string and a small scoop net. Baits of catfood, fish, half-boiled potatoes and sweet potato have been doing the job nicely.

Closest Town: Nerang

Fishing action at Hinze has slowed down. Bass schools have scattered, making it hard to catch good numbers of fish. Casting to the edges to target individual fish has been the best bet and downsizing lures is getting the best response. Small hardbodies with deep diving bibs and smaller lipless crankbaits have scored well in the past month. Cooling water temperatures and water level stability may spur the fish into schooling again. A quick look across any of the major points jutting out into the dam will reveal if the schools are there.

If you are after any information on Hinze and the fishing, call in and see John at Go Camping, 10 Spencer Street 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

The fishing at Moogerah has really picked up in the past couple of months. Scattered bass have been suspending in the timbered reaches of the dam. These fish seem to be everywhere although there are certain areas where concentrations seem to be higher.

These suspended bass have been holding only a couple of metres from the surface, so lure positioning is critical considering they are often found so high in the water column in water from 8-14m deep. Blade baits and spinnerbaits have been scoring plenty of strikes. Blades would be my preferred offering as they can be cast much further than the spinnerbait and therefore effectively cover more water. The spinnerbait could be used as the go to lure when you’re looking for better quality fish.

With the changes in weather, the cooler conditions could see the fish holding in the upper dam move to the basin of the lake. Here, they may school up on points or across shallow flats. It will be interesting to see just how they react to the changes. It will certainly pay to do some exploring if the bite up in the timber dies right off.

There are boom gates at A G Muller Park which open at 6am and close at 6pm. These gates allow access to the dam and the boat ramp so be sure to stick to these times.

Closest Town: Boonah

The fishing action at Maroon has been red hot. The big bass, which had disappeared for several years, seem to be back. It’s amazing how high water levels can promote growth rates as we are now seeing some weighty bass of 1.5kg coming from Maroon. With winter fast approaching, it could be possible to pull some well conditioned bass bordering on the 2kg mark from this lake. This is excellent news as Maroon’s bass can be targeted using a number of different techniques.

Ash from Fish’N’Bits in Toowoomba had a great session with over 30 bass up to 45cm caught on surface lures. The boys used a Dog X Stickbait and also trialled one of the new O.S.P. Bent Minnows. The results spoke for themselves, a number of the fish taking the lure after it had been walked across the top, paused then twitched sharply. Surface action will continue this month with the early mornings being the prime time. Some bass will also be encountered late afternoon on the surface.

The edges will also fish well with small hardbodied lures such as the Atomic Hard Shad 40 and Berkley 3B Fat Dog Deep. Try working these small deep diving lures around pockets in the weed along shallow and medium tapering banks. Cooler weather can make soft plastics one of the better options. Rig T-tails on 1/8 and 1/4oz jigheads and fish them to the same areas. On the lighter jigs, the soft baits can be twitched to give them a darting action or hopped to make them bounce off the bottom. On the heavier heads, try swimming the plastic with a continuous steady wind with just the odd small pause thrown in.

Schooling bass have been holding in the bay opposite the boat ramp. There have been some nice bass mixed in with the smaller ones. These fish will whack soft plastics, blade baits and ice jigs.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Lake MacDonald has been fishing well for smaller bass. The Botanical Gardens area will be worth a try this month using small to medium sized blade baits, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Usually the Three Ways are productive but fishing here has been quiet. Bigger bass are being caught around the palm plantation and at The Runway, which is the point extending into the dam near the airstrip.

Saratoga are still being targeted with success. These fish are more common in the Borer Creek area. Surface luring in the morning will tempt them, otherwise try casting spinnerbaits during the day.

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

Schooling bass are still holding in the start of the trees in The Junction area. These fish are in good condition with the better quality ones reaching 50cm in length. Soft plastic 3” paddle-tail grubs and shads rigged on 1/4oz jigheads are very effective. If you can position the boat on top of a school, try vertically jigging an ice jig. The new Smak models come with great hooks and produce better hook-ups than some of the other models on the market.

Bass have also been schooling in the basin of the dam around the first yellow marker buoy. These bass will suck down plastics like the 2.6” Powerbait T-tail and Evergreen Little Max 3/8oz blade baits.

Saratoga have been whacking plenty of lures in the Yabba Arm of the lake. The area around The Clumps is one of the most popular. Togas will hunt around any form of structure; overhanging trees, submerged sticks, weed and lilies can all hold these predators. Surface luring in the mornings is a good way to start the toga attack and stickbait lures like the C’ultiva Zip’n’Ziggy can also produce some nice bass. If surface fails, try small spinnerbaits like the Smak Mini Coops or a soft plastic rigged on a 1/4oz jighead attached to a beetle spin blade.

Small spinnerbaits have also been doing well along the steep banks in the main basin of the dam. Here, golden perch will be the most commonly encountered fish. Borumba produces some thumper goldens at times.

Be sure to call in and see the guys at Davo’s in Noosaville if you are heading to Borumba or elsewhere 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

Fishing at Cooby has been slow. There has been the occasional golden perch caught on a lure but even this action is likely to die off as the water gets colder. The best results have been on bait fished from the edges of the dam.

Bait will tempt eel-tailed catfish and the occasional golden and 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.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda’s fishing has slowed down considerably over the last couple of months. Anglers can still expect some golden perch action but will need to fish with bait for guaranteed success. Lures tend to produce fewer fish when the water temperature drops.

Below the dam wall in the river, there are some quality Murray cod and golden perch. Bait fishing will be a good option for the goldens. If you have your sights set on a big cod, try casting a big spinnerbait like a Bassman’s Codman or using a big hardbodied lure with a dead slow retrieve.

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 fishing at Leslie has been hit and miss. There will still be a few golden and cod willing to whack shallow trolled offerings. The TN60 Jackall and Oar Gee Wee Pee run around 3m deep on the troll and this seems to be the depth at which most of the action is taking place. Fishing the upper reaches of the dam quietly on the electric motor might be a good option for May.

Baitfishing with live shrimp, worms and frozen prawns is more likely to produce fish. Eel-tailed catfish and golden perch will be the most common fish caught. There’s no need to place baits in the deep water as most fish will be in less than 5m. This makes fishing from the edges of the dam worthwhile.

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

Fishing at BP has been very slow. The water is still dirty due to continued rain in the catchment. As not much is happening, few anglers are venturing to the lake to experiment with different tactics.

There are a few redclaw about for those willing to work their pots. They are not in the numbers found in some of the other dams but this may change by the end of the year if they start breeding up.

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

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The water at Boondooma is still dirty and it may be that cool weather is needed to settle the sediment in the water. The dam is sure to fire up once it clears but this is going to take some time. The upper reaches of the dam in the Boyne and Stuart arms are the places to go if you are keen on doing some luring.

Fishing small spinnerbaits like Smak Mini Coops to the edges of the lake will tempt some good bass. It will be necessary to keep moving and trying different locations as bass will only be concentrated in certain areas. Mix it up by working banks with different tapers, structure on the edge, points and bays.

In the basin of the lake, the main catch has been golden perch on live shrimp and thousands of redclaw. The redclaw will still be around this month before they start slowing down over winter. Make the most of it!

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

Cania Dam was producing hot action before it suddenly died down after another fresh around a month ago. The schooling fish scattered throughout the lake, making concentrations of bass nearly impossible to find. As the water settles, these fish might return to schools and hang in the main basin of the lake over the cooler months.

Casting to the edges with lures like lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and blades should draw a few strikes. Keep moving as while the fish remain spread out, they are holding on their own rather than in bunches. While moving along the banks, keep a close eye on the sounder in case it reveals any better concentrations of bass. These fish may not respond all that well but often there will be some active ones in shallower water nearby.

If bass schools are found and they are stubborn, try to tempt them with a slowly retrieved soft plastic or a downsized blade, lipless crankbait or spinnerbait.

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: Gin Gin

With all the barra action taking place in the Boyne River, much of the spotlight has been taken off other areas. This is giving the few anglers visiting Monduran almost free reign of the dam. The barra have been hard work with only a few fish encounters to be expected for a full day’s fishing. This is still enough to keep most impoundment barra anglers interested and the chance of stumbling on a patch of fish is always there.

Working soft plastics such as Slick Rigs or Hollowbellies around the points and weed islands in Jacks Bay, B arm and Two Mile is definitely worth a shot. The most prominent points should be hammered with suspending or sinking hardbodies like the Halco Hamma. Use long pauses and kick back and have a break while using this technique. Fish steady with twitches between the pauses.

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 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

Lake Gregory (Isis Balancing Storage) has continued to fish well for bass despite being dirtied by water pumped into the system. The dirty water should settle and the fish are sure to continue biting. The biggest drawcard to this lake is the early morning surface action. Big bass that lurk in the submerged weed beds rush out and smash topwater lures before rushing back to their home.

Anglers need to be on the ball to pull these monsters out of the thick weed. A freshly hooked bass will soon pop the line or leader once it buries itself deep in the weed growth. Braided lines of 10lb with 14lb leaders are usually sufficient to extract these fish but expect to be doing some underwater gardening to get them out of the weed. Bigger Isis bass caught on topwater lures are around 50cm in length. Try different types of lures to see which style the fish prefer. Sometimes the noise of a popper will outfish the silent walking action of a stickbait. I think it’s hard to beat the walk-the-dog action of the C’ultiva Zip’n’Ziggy.

Smaller bass can be caught around the perimetre of the weed towards the back half of each of the three arms. Schools will usually contain baby bass that love 1/8oz blade baits. The tiny trebles on these lures secure plenty of the taps that would be missed on lures like soft plastics.

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

Awoonga Dam has dropped out of the spotlight with hordes of anglers targeting the lake’s escaped barra in the Boyne River below. Barra can be caught right through the system from Pikes Crossing at the top to the mouth of the river at Boyne Island. Casting and trolling has been effective.

Trollers can take all day to work from the mouth all the way up to the bridge and beyond at Benaraby. While trolling is scoring fish, targeting hot spots with cast lures is the most effective way. Soft plastics are doing most of the damage and plenty of barra are being hooked by land-based anglers.

In the dam, there are few reports other than that the best action has been at the top of the Boyne River. Barra have been caught around the bridge in Futter Creek and above the Boynedale Bush Camp located in the Boyne River.

For your accommodation while in the area give Lyn and Mark from Awoonga Gateway a call on (07) 4975 0033. Be sure to book early as they have been kept busy with so many anglers venturing out to the river. 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: mackay

Continuous rain has hampered most angler time on the water over the summer months in Central Queensland. This rain has kept water levels high and water temperatures below 30°C. This is ideal leading into winter as it has allowed weed beds to take a firm hold over all areas that are less then 15ft.

These areas will be your best bet coming into the cooler months as active feeding fish will be patrolling these edges and picking off baitfish in the warmest parts of the day. Mid to late afternoon will be the best times for chasing these feeding fish and sub-surface lures are perfect for this situation. The large thin profile, erratic subsurface action and realistic surface finish is identical to a fleeing baitfish.

Kinchant is blessed with many types of weed beds, some are dense and thick while others, like lily pads, only cover the surface. Lily pads provide awesome cover for sooty grunter. Sooties are an aggressive fish and use cover as an ambush point on small baitfish.

In the early morning and late afternoon throughout the cooler months you can see small and large sooties cracking the surface feeding around these areas. This is the ideal situation for a top water lure. With gentle jerks short pauses this lure can not be resisted by sooties.

Although barra fishing might slow up in May as the water temperature begins to drop the sooty fishing will not. Although these fish do not grow to the size of barra they put up just as much fight. For any extra information on the Mackay area feel free to contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

Pioneer River
closest town: Mirani

As with most areas around Central Queensland the Pioneer River catchment has been hammered by the wet weather over the last summer. Although, once this weather stops and the water level starts to drop, there is good fishing to be had.

The Pioneer River catchment begins in the Pioneer Valley and starts at Cattle Creek. This creek, when not in flood, has gentle crystal clear water filled with pristine sooty grunters. These fish can be caught from the upper reaches of Cattle Creek to just before the final weir at Dumbleton.

A kayak is normally the best option for chasing these fish, but there are still some great land-based options if access is available. These fish are unbelievable fighters and can be found around most structures, such as rocks and snags. There are plenty of freshwater creeks in and around the pioneer river.

A light spin of baitcaster outfits is preferred as small lures are normally thrown. For any extra information on the Mackay Area feel free to contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

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