Awesome Action in The Fresh
  |  First Published: November 2011

I always get excited when things fire up in the freshwater. Several dams have really come alive in the past month and the spike in fish activity has seen the boat ramps a lot busier.

The warmer water is responsible for much of this activity with species like golden perch, toga and barramundi all feeling a lot more comfortable and willing to feed.

Living in the Toowoomba area, anglers are right in the hub of South East Queensland’s freshwater hot spots. Toowoomba anglers are well catered for with stores like Fish’N’Bits, Mullet Gut Marine and BCF.

A new store has also opened to the north of Toowoomba at the fast growing town of Highfields. Highfields Bait and Tackle is in Shop 5 in the small centre behind the Subway along the New England Highway.

Store owner Doug Leicht is passionate about his fishing. The store has a good range of products and there were several cheap lures that caught my eye. Doug also carries live shrimp but to be sure you get your quota give him a call on (07) 4615 4335. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Fishing at Cressbrook is still a little unreliable, although some good sessions have been experienced in the last month.

Switched on anglers have been able to tempt the bass that school thickly around the boat ramp. Fishing here in 10m of water with bladebaits or ice jigs is a good way to target these fish, though they feel the effects of fishing pressure and will shut down when they have copped a hammering.

Smaller schools turn up around the lake and can be targeted using the same lures. Spots to check out include the buoy line near the pumping tower, the point off the north western corner of the island, the long point that stretches out to the steep rock wall at The Eagles Nest and any of the other major points protruding into the main basin.

Small lures have also taken their share of bass when fished around the edges. Small diving crankbaits like the Jackal Chubby, 3B Fat Dog Deep and Laser Pro 45 are excellent for working Cressbrook’s edges as they tempt both small and bigger bass. The warmer weather should see a spike in the amount of surface activity. Stickbaits, poppers and wakebaits will all draw surface strikes in the early morning and late afternoon.

Bait fishing with live shrimp will be excellent although smaller bass can be a nuisance. Working the points jutting into the main basin is the trick to scoring plenty of fish. If small bass are a problem, move to another point or try the same area in shallower or deeper water in an attempt to locate better quality fish. Live shrimp tend to draw out more golden perch than lures and after the water level rise earlier this year, golden perch should be more willing to play.

The Boys at Fish ‘N’ Bits, Alderly Street, Toowoomba will be able to steer you in the right direction and have an awesome range of lures and tackle. You can also place your order for live shrimp through the store to ensure you have the best bait available.

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

Over the last month Somerset has really fired up with big bass, golden perch and saratoga on offer. Saratoga are not a common capture in Somerset but anglers targeting bass in the upper reaches have been able to hook quite a few of these fish in the past few weeks.

Saratoga love shallow diving lures and are very fond of spinnerbaits. These fish have been present in Somerset for years and the wet conditions and high water levels over the past few years will certainly have helped them establish breeding populations.

The vast expanse of timbered rivers and creeks that feed Somerset offer them plenty of protection so let’s hope we will start to see many more of these prized sportfish in years to come.

The bass that were scattered moved quickly at the start of spring to form tight schools all over the lake. Reports of big numbers of schooling bass have come from The Spit, Poly Pipe Point, the mouth of Beams Creek, Spot X, Pelican Point, Bay 13, Queen Street and the flats just south of Kirkleigh.

Over the coming months, I expect these fish to form bigger schools but be more confined to particular areas. Already there appears to be a bigger concentration along the northern bank between Pelican Point and the mouth of Beams Creek.

Sounding around to locate bass is the trick to catching them when casting lures. Look for signs of schooling fish in 8-13m of water. Bladebaits and soft vibes like Jackall Masks and MF60s are always a great option when the fish are willing to take faster presentations.

Soft plastics are also taking their share and most times outperforming all others. Three inch T-Tails and shads rigged on 3/8oz and 1/2oz jigheads are perfect plastics to use. Showing the fish something different can really pay off and the 3” Gulp Minnow Grub is always a winner when the bass are biting on plastics.

I fished a 7cm Powerbait ripple Shad on my last visit with great success. The fish were responding to a dead slow presentation and I increased the hook up rate, converting tiny taps to solid hook sets, by using an Owner stinger hook under the belly of the plastic attached to the jighead eye via a small braid loop.

Trolling hardbodied deep divers to the schooling bass can be productive. Electric motor users can also choose to slow the troll down and present soft plastics and blade baits. In the timber, golden perch have been taking lures cast and jigged around the trees. These fish can also be targeted by trolling close to the trees, banks and drop-offs in the timber.

Bait anglers can drop live shrimp down to the bottom around the trees and expect to catch a mixed bag of golden perch, bass and eel tailed catfish. If an area is quiet, don’t waste any more than 15 minutes before moving to a new area.

Closest Town: Boonah

The bass have been on the chew at Maroon and there are several ways to go about catching them. In the mornings and on still afternoons, surface lures are a great option. Poppers and stickbaits in the 60-80cm size range are ideal. Work these lures slowly around the edges with plenty of big pauses. Always keep an eye (and ear) out for any bass feeding on the surface to move quickly and quietly into casting range and get a lure into the feeding zone as fast as possible.

The edges of the lake can also fish well. Casting soft plastics, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits around the weedy edges can produce fish during the day. Play around with lure selections until you find what the fish prefer. As temperatures warm right up towards the end of the year, the bass may prefer flashy, vibrating offerings so keep reaction lures ready for this time.

Schooling bass can be found on some of the points in the main basin. The banks opposite the boat ramp near Pointro camping area are usually reliable. Using the sounder, look for fish in 6-8m of water. When found, try working small blade baits and 3” soft plastics through them.

Closest Towns: Fassifern, Boonah

One of the most under-rated and least pressured bass dams is Moogerah. Bass have been holding in different areas around the lake with great concentrations in 6-7m of water out from the dam wall.

Ash Simms from Fish’N’Bits Toowoomba recommends switching lures often to keep them interested. Ash’s approach is to alternate between blade baits and soft plastics as soon as one or the other slows down. Ice jigs worked vertically in fish holding water below the boat can also be a good option.

Schools can turn up in other areas around the lake so if the fish at the dam wall move on, use your sounder to locate new areas. Schooling bass have been ranging in size from 35-40cm.

Early mornings are the time to look for better quality bass on the edges of the lake. Casting lipless crankbaits to the edges is a fast way to search for fish. This technique will be most effective in the lower light periods when the fish are prepared to venture up into the shallower water. Boat activity can shut this bite down in the main basin where water skiers will be active so it may be worth a try up in the timber where boat noise is quieter.

The odd big golden perch has been caught while targeting bass. These fish will be more common through the warmer months. Mary River cod are also a rare capture, which will fall for lures worked around the lake edges, timber and drop-offs.

In accordance with SEQWater rules for boats on the water, access to the boat ramps is available from 6am to 6pm. The boom gate only operates on weekends or during busy holiday times.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Bass are biting like crazy at Macdonald. This Sunshine Coast lake has been performing well for quite a while now and the same spots keep producing quality bass. The water inlet at the Botanical Gardens and the Bubble Trail are two of the most productive spots. Here, you will find big schools of bass, which can be caught trolling, casting and on live shrimp.

Bass to 51cm have been caught in the last month but the average fish measures 35-42cm. Medium sized bladebaits and ice jigs are the most commonly used lures by lure casters. Other options to consider include deeply presented flies, soft plastics and the almost forgotten tail spinners.

Trolling lures is an option in these areas with the 45mm Asari Tail Turner in the bright orange a real winner. This shallow running lure can also be used around the weed drop-off when travelling to and from spots. Bigger bass can often turn up on the weed edge. To specifically target the big bass try using lipless crankbaits, blades and spinnerbaits around the weed beds. An early start with a surface offering may also pay off.

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

The fishing at Borumba has been a bit tough. Bass schools are holding around The Junction and also on the humps in the start of Borumba Creek. These schooling fish are often close to submerged timber making blade baits a little too expensive to risk using and losing to the snaggy bottom. Soft plastics and vertically jigged ice jigs are the answer.

The banks around these areas will be worth a try with small spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits as active bass make their way through the shallows. If a bass is caught, thoroughly work the area over, as there will often be a concentration of fish holding along the bank.

Another alternative is to look for single fish in areas full of structure. Place casts deep into the bank and shadows through tight gaps in the trees where you wouldn’t think other anglers would be bothered casting. When I do this, I like to be breaking through old spider webs with the line as this is an indication no one has placed a cast in there for some time. Working right into the backs of bays can really pay off too.

Saratoga will be keen to take surface lures up the creeks and are quite fond of beetle spins and spinnerbaits when surface seems to fail. Look for these fish around the bushy trees and in the backs of bigger bays with plenty of submerged structure. Fishing a windward bank can produce well as here the food is delivered to the fish via the wind.

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

After a short quiet spell last month, the dam seems to have fired back up again with great catches of golden perch and the occasional Murray cod. Bait fishers have been scoring well all over the lake. The timber, flats, drop offs and even fishing from the bank near the boat ramp has produced plenty of fish.

Live shrimp are the number one bait and these can be trapped in the dam or in the river below. Frozen prawns and live worms make a good backup but just don’t fool as many fish.

With the warmer conditions, lure fishers will be reaping the rewards as golden perch fire up and chase down trolled lures. Trolling across the flats and near the drop-off from the boat ramp to out in front of the dam wall will do the trick. Medium sized lures that run close to the bottom will score the strikes and always have the chance of producing a cod.

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

There hasn’t been much to report on Leslie in the last month apart from golden perch starting to take trolled lipless crankbaits. The TN60 Jackall is a popular lure to use as the golden perch just seem to love it. The warmer conditions should only fire up the golden perch more and their liking for a lure and bait will only increase. The water quality looks ordinary at the moment with plenty of algae discolouring it.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Town: Monto

Bass have been biting well a Cania on bait and lures. Trolling has again become an effective way of targeting the lake’s bass. This indicates more of the bass have ventured away from the banks and into open water. Trolling shallow to medium diving lures is a great way to locate and catch bass. When a fish is caught, give the area a few more runs to see if you can fool some of its mates into biting.

On the edges bass will still be taking spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits. Keep an eye on the sounder while casting, as the fish will often turn up below the boat and moving off the schooling fish and throwing back into them can pay off. Other lure options to consider in the morning and late afternoon are small hardbodies and surface offerings.

Bait fishermen have been catching most of their fish from boats but you can also expect a few from the banks. Bass and silver perch are most common but there is also the chance of eel-tailed catfish and golden perch.

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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The Isis bass have remained close to the weed for the last couple of months. Not many schools can be seen in the deeper water.

Without a doubt, the best way to start off the day is by throwing surface lures in the early hours of the morning. As the surface bite dies down, try deeper presentations as the fish bury deeper in the weed.

Spinnerbaits of 1/4oz are ideal as they can be tickled over the weed bed before being allowed to flutter down the face into deeper water. Following the weed contour in this manner is a great way to tempt those bigger bass, which hide close to the weed.

Bladebaits are also an option but they tend to foul more in the weed. A hard rip to free them and break free of any weed on the hooks can result in a crunching strike. Fishing weed can be a tricky scenario for the inexperienced angler. The Isis is a great place to learn and practice the technique as the rewards are there with big hungry bass waiting to pounce.

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

Big fluctuation in the day and night temperatures at Biloela has kept water temperatures low and the barra reluctant to bite. The barra have been seen cruising around but have unfortunately been tight lipped. As the water temperature becomes stable this month the barra should be noticeably more willing to play.

Anglers can expect barra in the 60-80cm size range. These fish can be targeted around the shallow bays and points and will concentrate around any weed formations. Shallow diving lures and light soft plastics will fool these fish.

Saratoga have been on the move for some time and they will continue to be caught by anglers chasing barra. The saratoga population has taken off and land-based anglers have been scoring plenty when casting lures from the edges.

The stocking of these fish and establishment of this fishery has taken a lot of hard work so take care with these fish and release them safely.

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

It still seems small barra are providing most of the action at Monduran. These smaller fish can be specifically targeted using small lures.

Hardbodies were most effective last month but as barra activity rises this month, there will be more options to consider. Faster retrieves with soft plastics and lipless crankbaits can really fire up these smaller fish. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and always consider going back to a stop, start twitchy retrieve with a hardbody if the action is slow.

The bigger fish are still showing up on occasions but they seem really spread out since the flood. There have been reports of barra boofing and swirling in the creek up near Kalpowar over 60km away from the main body of the dam. Monduran has always fished best at lower levels when the fish are more concentrated.

Each November around the full moon, bigger barra migrate down towards the dam wall where they can be caught trolling medium and deep diving lures. With more water in the dam, the fish will be more spread out. Look for them in the main basin, Bird Bay and the section up to the first cut through.

Morning, afternoon and night trolling sessions may pay off. Experiment with the deeper, open water as well as following contours. Believe in your sounder and work areas holding fish at different times of the day to see if you can get them to bite.

The Kolan River below the dam is a big system and has quite a few sweet spots for big barra that escaped during the flood. Launching a kayak and exploring these waters would be a great way to tangle with some monster fish. The word is hardbodied lures have been performing well.

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. 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 QFM.

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

With last month’s fishing closure of Gladstone Harbour and surrounds, barra anglers were forced back to the dam.

The Boyne and Calliope rivers are holding great numbers of barra but their condition is worrying. Barra and other fish were found with red spots, lesions and milky eyes, forcing a fishing ban while investigations took place. The ban ended at the beginning of last month. The health of the fish will be monitored closely and the source of the problem is yet to be confirmed.

In Awoonga, the fish have started to move and there have been reports of barra being caught in The Iveragh arm and in the bays inside New Zealand Gully. Last month shallow diving hardbodied lures were doing the damage. The Rapala X-Rap, Halco Hamma and a similar hand crafted lure available from The Awoonga Gateway Cabins are perfect for casting to Awoonga’s barra.

As the activity level of the fish increases this month, soft plastics will be a good option. Even though many barra were lost over the spillway at the start of the year there should be plenty left in the lake. Going back to basics and working points, windy banks and weed formations will pay off. Time sessions around the full moon and concentrate on mornings and afternoons around the new moon.

Learning how to set up and read side imaging sounders from Humminbird and Lowrance certainly boosts your catch rate by making barra easier to find.

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

Being further to the north, Proserpine was one of the first barra dams to fire up. Lindsay Dobe has been successfully putting clients onto barra each trip since the beginning of spring.

Last month I joined Lindsay for a fish and he made an amazing prediction before we even cast our first lure. Most of his fish had been coming from a deep tree line that followed an old creek bed. The shallows had been explored but they were quiet each time.

With some warmer northerlies blowing over the dam Lindsay took us to a shallow flat coming off a point of submerged green trees. Within two casts, Lindsay was hooked up on a Rapala 9cm Skitterpop. As the sun rose, we had a ball fishing the Skitterpop and a Cultiva Tango Dancer 115.

Lindsay’s prediction was right and the same flat that had been quiet for the last month was now alive with active barra. We managed to score more fish on a Scorpion 90 Skin Deep and Laser Pro 120 before we moved to the deep trees where other boats had enjoyed some action that morning.

With the warmer conditions, the barra will tend to feed across the shallower parts of the lake. Pinpointing good concentrations of fish may be tricky due to the sheer volume of water. The western side of the lake should fish well and there are plenty of areas growing big weed beds that will hold fish. Horseshoe bay on the northwestern side of the dam has acres of submerged weed perfect for frogging and surface luring.

Hardbodied lures have been scoring most fish but you can expect soft plastics to start performing well as the activity level of the fish increase and they are more willing to chase lures down.

Trolling in the deep water of the main basin may also be worth a shot this month. Big barra often congregate around the dam wall area in November and a late afternoon troll or even night session on the full moon can produce some exceptional fishing.

Medium and deep diving lures that pump out plenty of vibration will draw the strikes. The Poltergeist 80 and Scorpion 125 in 5m and 8m models are hard to beat.

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 of running charters on the lake and has a good idea where the barra will be and how best to catch them. If you are interested in a charter make sure you get in early with your booking. Lindsay can be reached through the store on (07) 4945 4641.

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