Fresh Spots Fire Up
  |  First Published: October 2011

On many occasions when it comes time to put reports together for the following month, I dread the job.

In the fresh, our major influences are rising and falling water and temperature changes. These changes don’t come around all that often so changes to the fishing are often quite slow and I find the previous month’s report very similar to the one next to be released. This certainly hasn’t been the case this month.

With the exception of a few lakes and areas, there have been some major changes. It will certainly pay to read on if you’re heading out for a freshwater session this month as you may find the following reports quite useful.

My reports come from anglers, tackle stores, accommodation close to the area being reported on and yours truly. Together we try to compile the most accurate information for the following month, based on what’s been happening at the time the research is done. Reports are a forecast of the fishing future so I offer my apology if ever they are wrong.

River Fever

For months, many of the dams have been fishing poorly due to the massive floods at the start of the year. The same floods that brought about this poor fishing have allowed plenty of stocked fish to escape into the rivers below the dams. It’s no secret the Boyne River below Awoonga is loaded with barra and the Brisbane River below Wivenhoe has stacks of bass in it.

There are plenty of creeks and rivers in the same situation in Southeast Queensland and the Burnett Region. It can take a little research and a few fruitless trips but the rewards are there for anglers willing to devote the time in search of some sweet water loaded with fish.

The rivers have helped me get through the fishing doldrums while the dams have been quiet, but read on as plenty of the lakes are now starting to produce more reliable fishing. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Unfortunately, Cressbrook isn’t one of the lakes to rely on for fast fishing action. The dam has been going through hit and miss stages for the past couple of months. Bass have been schooling in numbers and biting well only to disappear within weeks and then re-school in an entirely different area.

There are several areas that are prime fish holding locations so it always pays to check these out. Sound around in front of the steep boat ramp, the buoy line near the pump tower, the point on the north western corner of the island and the huge point on the inside of the bend up near The Eagles Nest rock wall.

While these locations have held bass schools in the past, bass can turn up anywhere so check out other likely areas as well. All the points in the main basin within 1km of the boat ramps are fish holding areas. When the bass school more reliably, several schools will form around the lake making them easier to find and target.

Anglers who have managed to find schooling bass have had great success on blade baits when the fish are active. Casting 3/8oz and 1/2oz blades into the school and winding and hopping them back draws the strikes. Soft plastics and ice jigs are the answer when the fish are reluctant to bite.

The quality of Cressbrooks bass has been better than last year’s average but numbers are certainly down. I recommend Cressbrook as a fishing destination this month based on the fact that, if bass are found they should be easy to catch - but keep in mind if you don’t find the schools you may need a backup plan like heading off to another spot altogether.

The boys at Fish ‘N’ Bits, Alderly Street, Toowoomba will be able to steer you in the right direction and provide an update on whether fish are being caught.

Redclaw activity will continue picking up this month. Opera house traps baited with rockmelon or strong smelling meats like liver or cat food are able to draw the redclaw in. Experiment with different depths and areas until you find where the redclaw are. Don’t forget your $2.50 in coins to get through the boom gate and the 8 knot speed limit which is in place.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Fishing at Lake Somerset is slowly starting to improve. The days can be tough and it’s hard to nail massive numbers of fish. This is due to the bass schools being so spread out. Schooling fish can turn up in the timber right down to the dam wall.

There have been a few more reliable areas like just south of Kirkleigh and out from Red Rock. When these schooling bass are found try catching them by using ice jigs or blades when they are holding in reasonable numbers. If schools are sparse and tend to follow the boat, vertical presentations as soon as the fish appear may be rewarded. The ice jig is one of the more subtle presentations and therefore most effective.

Trolling results will improve this month with the scattered bass schools and more aggressive golden perch getting in to the action. Somerset is usually known as a deep trolling dam. Trolling runs along the old river bed drop-off with deep diving hardbodies are usually rewarded with stacks of fish.

I’m tipping there will be plenty of action in the shallower water this spring so run some medium (3-5m) diving lures around the edges of the lake. Try areas like the rock walls in the lower half of the dam, Queen Street and the banks to the north and around the point at Kirkleigh on the less busy days.

There will still be a few fish falling to lures cast around the edges of the lake. The warmer and longer days will see the peak bite times in these areas shortened to the mornings and afternoons. During the day, try working some of the steeper banks. Spinnerbaits and small blades have been effective here but you’ll need to keep moving to find the fishiest areas, as there is plenty of dead water in between bites.

Bait fishers using worms and live shrimp will find fish all over the dam. The timber is still holding plenty of bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish. Tying to a tree in around 5m of water is a good way to hook into these fish. If you have no bites after 10 minutes, move on to another tree until you find a few fish; don’t wait for them to come to you as this may never happen.

Redclaw crayfish were caught right through winter indicating their numbers are still out of control. The warmer water temperature will see these tasty crustaceans on the move and opera house traps should be loaded after a few hours. If you have no success, try moving your pots and try different depths. A good starting point in Somerset is in the 5-7m range.

Closest Town: Boonah

Lake Maroon has been fishing very reliably for bass. Both schooling fish and edge dwellers can be targeted with success. The schooling bass can be found off the major points jutting into the dam’s main basin. These bass will fall for soft plastics. The new 7cm Powerbait Ripple Shad is an absolute ripper and I’ve been catching bass on it everywhere.

Around the edges bass have been caught on blades throughout the day. Their presence in the shallows and the warming conditions indicates the early morning and late afternoon are prime times for tossing a surface lure.

Maroon bass favour a slow retrieve with plenty of pauses when using topwater lures. If you happen to spot any bass feeding on the surface get a lure into the area quickly as they often pounce on it straight away.

Closest Towns: Fassifern, Boonah

Lake Moogerah has fired up again with plenty of bass to 40cm on offer. The dam seems to keep dropping off the radar but the latest reports suggest it will be popular with bass anglers right through the coming months. Like Maroon, bass have been coming from schools as well as around the edges of the lake. The fish are in top condition and a session can produce double figures of fish.

Moogerah’s bass haven’t been too fussy about lure presentations in the last month. They have been falling to ice jigs, shad style soft plastics, blades, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Ashley Simms from Fish’N’Bits, Toowoomba had plenty of success there last month and shared a few of his successful techniques. Schooling bass could be found in the gorge where they were quite fond of shad style soft plastics. Ash used the Squidgy Fish with great success.

On another occasion he boated stacks of fish along the dam wall buoy line. These bass were schooling in 6-10m of water and munching ice jigs and blade baits.

Other anglers have scored bass casting lures to the edges. Blade baits, Lipless crankbaits like the TN60 Jackall and downsized spinnerbaits are ideal for this. The edge action may taper off this month as the water heats up and water-skiers start to terrorise fish in the shallows.

Look for the quieter areas and work them in the early morning and late afternoon for best results.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

There have been stacks of saratoga about so far this spring. These togas can be found in the shallow bays and are willing to take a surface popper. Anglers have also scored plenty of toga while trolling across the front of bays in search of bass.

The River2Sea Flexi Vibes have been very popular with the bass fishers. Hopping these small soft vibes through the schooling bass and down the points will see the lure crunched! Be ready for the strike as the lure falls back to the bottom as this is when bass pounce on most hopped lures.

Other soft vibes to try are the Powerbait MF 40, 50 and 60. These lures have a small profile and are well suited to catching Hinze bass. Deeper fish will also fall for a soft plastic wound through them. Three inch paddle tails are perfect for this and the old smoke/yellow core Slider is still one of the most effective.

Bass can be caught casting to the edges earlier in the morning. Surface walkers like the Sammy 65 and Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy are ideal and they will not only attract bass but saratoga as well. One angler has found success switching to larger 80mm jointed swimbaits as soon as the surface action stops.

As the fish move deeper on the edges as the sun gets brighter, it pays to run a diving crankbait around the edges. The Maria Crank SS45 has been one of the hottest sellers for this approach at Go Camping, Nerang.

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 Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

There will still be plenty of bass and golden perch in the deeper water around The Bubble Trail. These fish love a lightly weighted live shrimp. Live shrimps can be caught from the dam in traps or down below the dam wall in the creek. Just remember the same restricted area for fishing below the dam wall applies to shrimping.

Lure fishers can get into the action too with ice jigs, Jackall Mask Vibes, MF vibes and small blades. Bass Point, near the scout camp, has been holding its share of schooling bass too. These fish will fall for the same presentations used to fish The Bubble Trail.

Bigger bass seem to be coming from the weed edges. These fish have been up to 45cm and pounce on lipless crankbaits and blades. When fishing the weed edges get the lure as close to the weed as possible to ensure waiting bass can see it and are prepared to dart out of their ambush spot.

If lures hit the weed and foul up, give them a sharp rip to free them and continue with the retrieve. The beauty of using blades and lipless crankbaits is that as soon as they are fouled, the vibration stops.

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

There are a couple of areas worth targeting this month for Borumba’s schooling bass. The Junction where the Kingham and Yabba arms meet at the start of the timber has been holding bass schools for some time. Just to the south, Borumba Creek has also been holding its share of schooling bass.

When these fish are located, try using blade baits and soft plastics to entice them. If the bottom is too rugged with fallen timber, soft plastics may be the better option as they are more affordable to lose.

The Borumba Creek arm also has heaps of bass holding around the banks. These bass will fall for spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits. The warmer conditions should produce reliable fishing right through the month and even when the water-skiers arrive the good fishing should continue because the fish are right up in the treed areas.

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 Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda Dam has had a massive turn around in the past 12 months. For a while it seemed all the fish had disappeared but they are now back with a vengeance. Golden perch have been filling anglers’ bags in a short amount of time. The goldens have been loving live shrimp and worms.

Shrimp can be caught from the dam using traps and are easiest to catch during the night. There has been action all over the dam with some confirmed catches coming from straight out in front of the boat ramp and the start of the Bracker Creek timber.

The occasional golden was falling to trolled lures last month. The warming weather will quickly fire these fish up and lures will soon be almost as successful as bait. Lure trolling the flats between the boat ramp and out in front of the dam wall can score plenty of decent goldens as well as the odd big Murray cod. If you find the flats aren’t producing, venture wider until you find the old creek bed and zigzag across it on your trolling run.

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.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Town: Monto

Cania has been fishing reasonably well though is still not living up to its former glory. At 100% capacity there is a lot more water than when the fishing was firing at less than 10% capacity a couple of years ago. More water does tend to spread the fish out a bit more but there are still plenty to be caught with most anglers bagging a few.

Bass have been the most common species and these fish are chasing lures cast to the edges of the lake. Some fish have come from the middle reaches and there are even some right up in the shallow areas of the timber at the top end of the dam. In these areas anglers also stand a good chance of tangling with saratoga.

While casting has been the most effective method of catching fish, trolling the steeper banks of the main basin should start to score a few fish as well. Scattered and schooling fish should be found around the major points and also the deep water between the boat ramp and dam wall buoy line.

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 Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The fishing at Boondooma has been patchy for some time but it is slowly starting to improve. Water clarity is still poor but it appears it may be starting to improve which will increase the success rate for lure fishing anglers.

The bass have been spread out but as we move into spring the fish should move more into the open areas. Although scattered, they will be easier targets for lure trolling anglers. Anglers will have the option of using diving hardbodies or blade baits on the troll. Both lure types pump out plenty of vibration making them easier to find in the discoloured water.

Baitfishing in the first 200m s of both the Boyne and Stuart arms has been producing golden perch. More bass should start to turn up on bait this month as well. Golden perch will start biting more in the lake’s main basin around the steep banks and rocky points. Dropping a live shrimp in these areas should be rewarded.

The redclaw crayfish have been a bit quiet but warmer conditions should see them starting to move again. Try baiting opera house pots with rockmelon or strong smelling meats in order to lure them in.

Bass to Barra in Kingaroy can give you all the tips to catch the dam’s fish and redclaw. The boys specialise in freshwater fishing and carry a great range of Australian and imported lures.

Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Bjelke has been fishing poorly with only a few golden perch being caught on bait. Traditionally it has always been a better dam in the warmer months. The water has cleaned up and the weed beds should now start to grow. You can check in with Bass to Barra in Kingaroy for up to date reports on the fishing.

Closest Town: Kingaroy

Gordonbrook Dam has had slow fishing for the last few months but fishing should pick up with the warming weather. There have been eel-tailed catfish caught on baits fished from the shore. Bass and golden perch may turn up with the warming weather. Bass to Barra in Kingaroy is the best place for reports on the fishing action.

Burnett Rivers and Creeks

Over the past few months, freshwater anglers have found most of the action in the creeks below the dams. These systems have been fishing extremely well for bass and golden perch.

The Stuart and Barambah Creek have been exceptional. Fish can be found throughout these systems but there are hotspots where the fish congregate. For more information on the awesome fishing in these creeks and all the gear you could possibly need, call in and see Matthew or Lucas at Bass to Barra in Youngman Street, Kingaroy.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Isis is one of the lakes to undergo some serious changes in the past couple of months. Schooling fish were littering the deeper parts of the dam’s main basin but they have now moved back in to the weeded edges.

The colour of the resident fish coming from the weed is very dark indicating they are now spending most of their time there. For some anglers this is seen as more of a challenge, trying to hook and extricate these fish from the heavy cover of the weed beds rather than from the open water.

Surface lures in the morning and late afternoon are a very effective way to explore the weediest of areas. The surface lure can be walked right over weed which is just below the surface. In these low light periods, bass will rise to smash topwater offering and often some of the biggest fish are caught this way. The Cultiva Zip’n’Ziggy is an Isis favourite and always gets a run every time I visit.

During the brighter parts of the day, bass can still be caught by keeping lures working close to the weed. Spinnerbaits are great as their weedless design allows them to brush across the top of the weed without fouling too much.

Lipless crankbaits can also be effective but their treble hooks love to bury in the weed. The answer is a quick, sharp rip to free the lure and tear the weed free from the hooks. The result is often a bass chasing the lure as it leaves the tangled mess of weed behind to nail it in a crunching strike.

In most bass fishing lakes and scenarios you can get away with 4lb and 6lb braided lines. In Isis it pays to increase the main line to 8-10lb and up the leader to 14-17lb just to make sure you stand a good chance of landing the fish from the thick weed beds they call home.

Isis is loaded with bass and this makes it a great place to experiment and learn different techniques. Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg has all the gear you’ll need to get stuck into the bass at Isis. Gary, Shane 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.

Closest Town: Biloela

Callide should just be starting to feel the warming effects of spring this month. With this warmth, the barra population will start to become more active. There should be plenty of fish up to 80cm on the move.

There is a lot of water to explore so try to eliminate the worst looking areas and pick out the best ones. Relying on wind direction and bottom formation is the way to do this. Look for shallow areas that are receiving plenty of wind across them, even to the point the edges are dirty from the lapping waves.

Once you’ve found a likely barra haunt try casting shallow running hardbodies like Laser Pro 120s, B52s, Halco Hammas and X-Raps. Use a slow twitching retrieve and allow plenty of pauses as the barra are still likely to be a bit slow to chase presentations down.

Lightly weighted soft plastics are another good option and the Slick Rig Pro range and Powerbait Hollow Bellies are well suited to this approach. With the plastics, use long casts over the fishy areas and bring the lure back to the boat using a slow wind and occasional twitch.

Callide will be a quiet place to visit as it lost popularity after the big fish kill some years back. Restocking efforts have meant anglers will soon be back in force once the word gets out about the great fishing on offer.

Norm at Creek to Coast tackle store in Biloela will be able to give you the up to date reports and a few hints on where to find the barra. Creek to Coast stocks a great range of barra fishing tackle so if you forget something or don’t have the secret weapon to catch them, be sure to call in and say hello.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

Last month there were a few barra about on the nicer days. When conditions suited, barra were willing to play the game provided presentations were kept nice and slow to suit their mood. Now warmer weather has arrived these fish should be prepared to move around and hunt a bit more.

Jamie Bein from Lake Monduran Barra Charters managed a few fish on charter using the fire tiger coloured Hollow Belly rigged on the new TT Area 51 weedless jigheads designed by Jason Wilhelm. The technique was to wind the lure back across the shallows with a dead slow retrieve broken only by a few sharp twitches.

The bites were timid last month but these fish should become more active with the warming water. Jamie reports plenty of barra in and around the shallows of the 2 Mile area and some deeper holding fish in Bird Bay. You can contact Jamie through his website www.lakemonduranbarracharters.com to find out about making a booking.

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. Paul Embling who works at the store now does barra mounts. You can check out the fish on display and place orders through the shop. Foxies 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 specializing in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Capricornia Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

While not a lot of fish were caught over the last couple of months, the few anglers who did visit the lake reported seeing plenty of barra sunning themselves trying to keep warm.

Back in August, Mark from Awoonga Gateway fished the lake with some people holidaying in their cabins and they had a couple of bites. Things will certainly have warmed up since then and barra catches will be on the increase.

The catfish population looks like it may have increased so don’t confuse the bite of the pesky fork-tail for that of the mighty barra.

Down below the dam, some barra have been netted from the top side of the weir and relocated to the downstream side where they’ll have more food and a better chance of survival. That is of course unless they migrate to the mouth of the Boyne where the commercial netters will quickly snatch them up.

It looks like things will really pick up this month with the dam and the river both worth fishing. It’s handy having a couple of options like this just in case one area shuts down. For your accommodation while in the area 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.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Tows: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

There have been good numbers of barra in the 50-90cm size range. These fish have been quite easy to find in the timbered areas by simply looking for the well defined tree lines which follow the old river and creek courses. Casting lures into the tree line and retrieving them has been the most effective way of scoring fish and the battle that follows in this tight country can be quite interesting.

The standout lures have been shallow running suspending, or slow sinking models like the Halco Hamma and Rapala X-Rap 14.

Closer to the edges, barra have been hanging around the water lilies, amongst which shallow presentations or even surface lures are required to draw the barra’s attention. These spots are ideal in the morning and afternoon while the tree line can be fished all day.

If you are planning a Proserpine Dam assault call in and see the boys in town at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. Lindsay Dobe has spent years running charters on the lake and has a good idea where the barra will be and how best to catch them.

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