Cold Water Mixed with the Odd Hot Spot
  |  First Published: August 2011

Close to my home, the dams have been fishing tough and it’s hard to strike those great days when the fish come easy.

Further afield there has been some pretty hot action in the lakes and it seems as though anglers may need to make the effort to travel to the dams producing the best action. For those lucky enough to live near the Sunshine Coast, Borumba and MacDonald have been producing heaps of bass. Coolmunda has been the place to go for consistent catches of golden perch using baits. The barra have been tough but the rivers below the dams where the fish escaped are always a pretty reliable option on the warm winter days.

The bass closed season in the rivers will be over after the 31 August. Before the winter closed season came into effect there were plenty of bass in rivers like The Pine, Mary, Brisbane and their tributaries. After the flooding earlier in the year bass and other species have moved into new areas both up and downstream of their normal habitat. While in most cases the bass below dam and weir walls are protected by the closed season, the fish which ventured upstream into the creeks and rivers are still fair game. The closed season is in place to protect spawning congregations of bass which move downstream to the brackish waters to do their business. Despite nature telling these fish to move downstream, there have been stacks of bass in dams and through various systems holding in the upper reaches. Lakes and weirs where the bass closed season doesn’t apply can have great fishing in the rivers and creeks which feed them. Most of these spots remain closely guarded secrets but if you are prepared to do some study and put in the work, you will eventually be rewarded. For more information on the bass closed season and the areas which are not affected by it go to www.dpi.qld.gov.au .

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Catching fish in Cressbrook has been very tough over the past couple of months. The rotting grasses have broken down and made the water very dirty. Usually the water clears faster in winter as this is when the sediment seems to settle the fastest. Hopefully, this will be the case and we will see an improvement in clarity this month just before spring hits. There have been reports of dead and sick bass in the main feeder creek below Perseverance Dam. Hopefully the same fate doesn’t befall the dam’s fish. It is likely that in the deeper water of the dam there will be enough volume to water down the effects of any toxins, but action may be slow until water quality improves.

There were already signs of improvement in the mood of the fish last month as they went from being nearly impossible to catch, to an odd school of bass being willing to take a lure. The points within a kilometre of the boat ramp have at times been holding decent numbers of schooling bass. Deeper water around 10 metres seems to be their preferred depth but be prepared to look around as changes in the water quality may draw them into different depths. When schools are found, it’s hard to beat blade baits in the ¼ to ½ ounce size range. Jighead-rigged soft plastics are also a good option but in the deep, dirty water the vibration of a blade always seems to attract more fish.

The odd bass has been caught around the edges of the lake. Suspending lures like the Jackall Squirrel and Cultiva Rip’n Minnow worked on the shallower banks in The Eagles Nest area have been drawing the strikes.

Redclaw crayfish are still being caught but the numbers are way down due to the cold water. Their metabolism has slowed right down so you just need to be more patient and leave the traps in a bit longer between checks.

The boys at Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba will be able to give you some help and advice when it comes to fishing Cressy. They get all the latest reports and always seem to keep a finger on the pulse. The store stocks an awesome range of freshwater gear and the guys’ tournament results continue to back up the fact that these boys really know their stuff.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset has still been a tough dam to fish, especially for lure tossers who have been finding the action hit and miss. The fish in the basin still haven’t formed any reliable schools. There have been a few bass caught in the Bay 13 and Pelican Point area. When these fish are located, try working a ½ ounce blade bait through them. It pays to have some new super-sharp hooks fitted to the lure. I whack on some Owner trebles because when the bites are few and far between you can’t afford to miss them.

With the bass being so scattered, there are quite a few fish cruising around the shallow edges of the lake. Casting spinnerbaits, blades and Jackalls to the lake edges has been tempting some of these fish. Keep an eye on the sounder while working the edges as occasionally a school of fish will turn up right below the boat. In the main dam try your luck in Wyangi Creek and around the Queen Street banks. In the timber, try working Cattle Yard Point and up past the Power Lines. Bass have been taken kilometres past the powerlines where the Stanley River narrows back to more of a wide river than a dam.

Trolling lures around the drop offs and across the flats of Bay 13, Pelican Point and The Spit has accounted for bass of mixed sizes and the odd golden perch. Bait fishermen have been getting into the action with mixed bags of eel-tailed catfish, golden perch and bass. There have been fish coming from all over the dam but the water north of Kirkleigh and up in the timber seems to be the most reliable.

Redclaw are still about but be patient as they are moving slowly due to the cold water. The fact they are still moving suggests the action will be insane once the water warms up again. Placing pots in 5 to 7 metres of water seems to produce the best results in Somerset.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

There has been some mixed action at Hinze with a range of methods producing different species. Unusual numbers of silver perch have been caught on live worms. These fish are usually elusive in Hinze but seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. Quite a few saratoga have turned up by surprise on deeper presentations. These prize fish are nailing soft plastics presentations fished in the deeper water for bass. Toga are often targeted on or near the surface where they spend much of their time feeding - but I’m sure the lucky anglers who have landed them aren’t complaining about their deeper feeding habits.

Bass have schooled from Ian’s island right through the fishable water leading up to the dam wall. The wall area remains closed while work is still in progress but there are plenty of points holding bass schools in the fishable water. These bass are taking trolled lures and cast offerings. Trollers have had good success on shallow running lures which dive around 2-3 metres deep. The Lucky Craft Flat Mini DR has been a hot seller at Nerang’s Go Fishing tackle store. When a good patch of bass is located, it pays to cast small minnows like deep Chubbies, Atomics and 3B Fatdogs to the edges in the vicinity. Dedicated lure casters will rack up the numbers by working a mix of these lures along with the reliable blade bait and lipless crankbaits. Smaller blades up to 3/8 of an ounce are perfect for this work. The 46mm Bigeye Blade and Little Max are very popular. Lipless crankbaits can be downsized to smaller and lighter models. Offerings like the Jackall TN50, Cultiva Mira Vibe 60 and Mazzy Vib Mini 55R are perfect for covering the water and picking up the active bass.

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.

Sunshine Coast
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Big bass! It’s amazing how big fish can just turn up out of nowhere. It was thought that all the lake’s big bass had escaped over the last few years due to flooding. In the last month good numbers of bigger bass to 50cm have been regularly caught. These big models are crunching lipless crankbaits cast to the weed edges in the Three Ways area. It’s great to see the lake producing numbers of bass over the 45cm mark once again.

Schooling bass can be found around the lake but are smaller, with the better quality specimens measuring around 38cm. These big schools can be located around Bass Bay and The Botanical Gardens. Once found they will be keen to eat blade baits and soft plastics.

The Bubble Trail is a very reliable area to drop a live shrimp. Try fishing weighted and unweighted baits. When the bass are on the chew expect a fish or bite on every drop.

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. Macdonald is an electric motor only lake and is popular with smaller boats and kayaks. Petrol motors can be left on the boat but must not be used.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

Borumba’s bass fishing action has been dynamite. The dam went through a quiet phase a couple of months ago but the bass have since relocated and schooled up in the main basin. The first and second yellow buoys are positioned right over the big schools of bass. These open areas can be fished with blade baits, MF50’s, soft plastics and ice jigs. Smaller lures can be the trick to catching Borumba’s bass in winter. The 46mm Berkley Big Eye Blade was a standout performer for Callum Munroe on one of his last trips.

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: Inglewood

Coolmunda has remained one of the most reliable dams to score golden perch over winter. The fish have been mainly taking baits of live shrimp and worms with the secret bait being boiled saltwater yabbies. The goldens can’t resist them and if you have live ones, the results are likely to be even better. Goldens can be caught straight out from the boat ramp near the drop off and there have been reports of fish being caught all over the dam. With this being the case, don’t spend any more than 20 minutes in an unproductive spot. If you have the right bait keep moving until you stumble on some action. Afternoon sessions are likely to be the best and will certainly be the warmest time to be out on the water.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around one kilometre 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 has an algae bloom which is blowing around the dam. This hasn’t stopped the fish from biting and there has been mixed results coming on bait and lures. Bait anglers are scoring silver perch, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish from the banks. Live worms and shrimps are a good option but don’t expect to fill the esky with fillets as the action is pretty slow. On the lure fishing scene, casting suspending lures like the Jackall Squirrel seems to be the best option. It may be that the cold water has made the fish lethargic and the slow, in your face, style presentation of a suspender is giving them plenty of time to bite it.

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

The water at Bjelke Petersen Dam has started to clear right up but the fish have been tough to catch. August is the month when schools of bass and goldens should form over areas like Treasure Island and the points and flats in the dam’s middle reaches. If schools are seen they should be catchable on blade baits and soft plastics rigged on ½ ounce jigheads.

In the timber and upper reaches of the dam a few bass and golden perch have been taken on SMAK spinnerbaits and small hard bodied lures. This action has been slow and anglers will need to be persistent to nail the fish.

Best results are likely to come on live shrimp. Due to the tough fishing, effort should be made to obtain these baits which are likely to outfish everything else. In the timbered areas, shrimp can produce bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish. The action will probably still be slow but live shrimp are the best bet.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The water clarity in Boondooma is still poor. This has made lure fishing tough and the big influx of water earlier in the years seems to have changed fish habits. Towards the end of winter, bass should be holding in big schools in the middle reaches of the dam but they are still further up both arms and quite scattered. Slowly the bass have moved from the upper reaches and made their way into the more open parts of the timber. The Stuart arm has been reliable for a few bass and the odd golden on lures but they are hard work. Spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blade baits are a good way to hunt the lake edges in search of a fish. Keep a close eye on the sounder as a school of fish can show up and focus can then be shifted to working lures through these deeper holding fish.

With bass movement over the past month indicating they are slowly making their way out into the lake’s main basin it will be worth a quick sound across Pelican Point and near The Junction. When the schools reappear fish numbers are likely to increase dramatically.

Closest Town: Monto

Although it’s been a while since I heard of any saratoga caught from the lake and the fish have been very elusive since the level to 100%, several toga have been caught in the past couple of months. This indicates they should be more than willing to play the game once winter has passed and the water temperature heats up. Saratoga can be hard to come by in winter so the fact that there have been a few about and willing to take a lure is a good sign for things to come.

Bass are common throughout the lake with the upper reaches being one of the more reliable places to target. Throwing spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, blades and soft plastics to the lake’s edges will reward the anglers brave enough to battle the cold. Try working lures in different areas until you find the more reliable banks. Spend time on steep, shallow, rocky and bare banks until the bass let you know where to focus your attack.

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 each week, there is plenty to do when you’re not wetting a line.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The fishing at Isis has remained much the same over the past month. There are still stacks of bass willing to smash a variety of lures. Morning surface sessions are a great way to start the day. Working 50-75mm topwater lures around the shallow weed beds as the sun rises will draw some explosive strikes. There have been plenty of smaller fish whacking surface offerings but the odd big one is still patrolling the weed. Be prepared to fish right on top of the weed if you can find any of the submerged beds which seem to have died off in the past few months. Extracting big bass from the thick weed mat requires lines of around 10lb and leader of at least 15lb. You can go lighter in the approach but if a big bass latches on it could be game over rather quickly.

In the deeper water in the middle of the dam there are masses of bass schooling across the flats. These fish range in size from undersized right up to 50cm models. These bigger bass will be really starting to beef up with big fat bellies holding roe. The average size fish have been plenty of fun and come in the 32-40cm range. The bigger ones are capable of stripping a bit of line off the reel and putting a nice curve in the rod. There’s no mistaking the 50cm plus specimens as the fight usually starts off with a screaming run. If you locate a school of bass and they are only small, be prepared to move on as the fish have been holding with others of similar size.

Blade baits have been the gun lure. Little Max blades are a favourite of mine and a few of the local lads. The heavier 3/8 and ½ ounce models are ideal in the deeper water of the middle of the lake. It pays to mix up retrieves as the bass can be fussy until you crack the pattern. Try winding off the bottom at different speeds and dropping back as well as hopping the lure up to a metre off the bottom all the way back to the boat. Soft lipless baits like the Jackall Mask Vibe 60 and Powerbait MF60 are a good option to weed out the smaller fish. They are simply hopped across the bottom through the schooling fish always allowing them to touch the bottom before the next hop.

Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg has all the gear you’ll need to get stuck into the bass at Isis. Gary and Tim regularly fish the dam and really know their stuff. The area has so much great fishing to offer and the store does a great job of catering to all anglers’ needs.

Mackay Whitsunday Region
Closest Town: Proserpine

Peter Faust Dam west of Proserpine is at full capacity after a huge wet season pushed the dam level well over 110% at the beginning of the year. Like other dams across the country this overflow ‘event’ has allowed thousands of fish to escape over the wall and into the natural systems. The Faust escapees found themselves swimming in the Proserpine River. This river is already known for its barra and these fish should help regenerate numbers within this region.

Some lucky anglers took advantage of this situation and were fortunate enough to fish in the water on the downstream side of the wall. The fishing was amazing with hundreds of fish over the 1m mark and many over the 1.2m mark. Many of these fish have now moved further downstream and can still be captured. There is word of the DPI electro-fishing the fish that remained in the pool below the dam wall and transporting them back into the dam. This is highly plausible as the fish in this pool would not be able to escape unless the dam is overflowing.

Although many of the dams throughout Queensland are not fishing well due to this influx of water, Faust is the exception. Local anglers have continued to produce good numbers of quality fish from within the dam even throughout the cooler months and August should be no different. Towards the end of the month, the surface temperature of the dam will begin to rise and this really stirs the barra up while providing the right conditions for weed growth. As the barra come out of their cooler water hibernation they begin patrolling these weed edges and timbered banks in search of an easy feed.

The late afternoons will be the best time to fish and use your sounder to find the area in the dam which is the warmest. In Faust the prevailing winds normally mean the NW corner of the dam is the warmest. This area is full of timbered bays and exposed points. Position yourself off a point and cast lures like the Storm Suspending Shads and Rapala X-Raps. These erratic lures mimic a wounded bait fish perfectly and suspend to hang in the strike zone longer, driving a feeding barra to strike.

As dusk comes around try going to surface and sub surface lures like the Rapala X-Walk and Sub-Walk. These lures are walk-the-dog type lures that attract a lot of attention from both big and small fish. Try these and other surface lures around the warmer timbered bays and focus on ‘fishy areas’ like horizontal timber or timber close to weed beds. August is normally a great time for fishing Faust and if you would like some up to date information on how the dam is fishing, stop in to see the guys at Proserpine Bait and Tackle or email me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

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