Rain brings mixed results
  |  First Published: March 2012

Already this year, there has been quite a bit of rain in some areas. With these downpours, runoff has entered the dams and given them a seriously good flush, which can produce some great fishing.

The water clears quickly and in the case of many impoundments, the main basins may not get dirty at all. A sudden rise in water creates a new fishing habitat with a range of food on offer. Flooded grasses attract crustaceans and small fish and there is always the possibility of dining on some fresh worms and insects straight after a rise in water level.

Keep a close eye on the weather over the next couple of months. Big rises or river flushes can steady the fishing right down but the smaller ones can bring on ideal conditions for hitting the shallow edges in search of fish.

A good place to target while the water is running is in the first few kilometres below a dam wall. When the dams overflow, the water leaving them is clear and stays this way for several kilometres downstream. This clear water is perfect for luring. Finding a concentration of bass, golden perch or barra in these rivers and creeks can produce some dynamite fishing action.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

It seems anglers lucky enough to find the schooling bass are reaping the rewards. Several schools have been holding better quality bass with most over legal size. They are available in several spots such as Bass Bay east of the boat ramps, in front of the camping grounds and Bull Creek arm.

These bass have been fond of 1/4-1/2oz blade baits and soft plastics when schooling in over six metres of water. When schools are found in shallower water, lipless crankbaits such as the smaller profile baits like the Cultiva Mira Vibe or Jackall TN50 have been doing the damage. Casting has been the best approach although the same lures can be slow trolled.

From a boat you will need to use your electric motor for stealth and to control lure speed so they are just working and running nice and deep. Trolling from a kayak or canoe is another good option. These smaller vessels make little noise and this can be used to the angler’s advantage when it comes to targeting spooky fish.

Bait fishing with live shrimp around the main points within sight of the boat ramp will give you a good chance of boating some legal sized bass.

In the last month, the redclaw crayfish activity has picked up. You will still have to work to get enough for a feed but constantly moving pots and checking them every couple of hours will ensure you have a steady supply coming on board.

The boys at Fish ‘N’ Bits, Alderley 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 eight knot speed limit which is in place.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

After an inflow in late January and early February, the dam has settled, the water cleared and the fishing has been great. Bass and golden perch have been common on bait and lures. Bait anglers have had good success within sight of Kirkleigh.

The flats and underwater drop offs in this area hold good numbers of golden perch and smaller bass. A sounder is a good way to see the underwater terrain and a quality one will also reveal the presence of fish. If you don’t have the luxury of a sounder, try heading for the timber to the north to tie to different trees and fish around the base of them.

When bait fishing, don’t spend any more than 20 minutes in one spot if you haven’t had a bite. Keep moving and you will eventually come across some active fish. Live shrimp are the best bait. Shrimp can be purchased from some tackle stores but are expensive. Fish ‘N’ Bits in Toowoomba and Highfields Bait and Tackle stock live shrimp if you want to give them a try.

Keeping them healthy so they are lively once they enter the water is the trick to catching more fish. A shrimp from an aerated container will spend a lot more time flicking on the hook and won’t last long in the dam if fish are nearby.

Lure trollers have been smashing the bass and at times the golden perch. The bass on the trolled lures have been smaller fish and have been coming from Pelican Point. Trolling is a great way to pinpoint the exact location of the better schools as the fish can be mobile, changing location from one week to the next.

Deep diving lures that dive at least seven metres will wobble their way through bass country. Smaller profile lures will draw more strikes so keep in mind some of the successful models like the Kezza Freak, Ridgedback, Blitz Baga and 50mm Halco Crazy Deep Poltergeist.

Toying with colours can also make a big difference. This has been proven on many days where one lure catches 80% of the fish. Browns, purples and blacks are a safe bet but also have some brighter lures like golds, yellows and greens just in case.

Trolling the same lures around the steep rock walls between Pelican point and Kirkleigh and even further up in the timber to the north can account for some good golden perch and the occasional smaller bass. The drop off to the old creek bed in the middle of the dam is another good place to try your luck for goldens. Quite often good numbers of golden perch turn up while chasing bass at Pelican Point with the seven metre flat on the southern side of Pelican point one of the hot spots.

Lure casters should be able to locate bass schools quite easily. The Pelican Point fish are quite easy to find on the sounder although these schools contain a lot of smaller fish. The bigger fish have been tougher to find with the better reports on big bass coming from the Bay 13 area. Sounding the flats between these two areas may reveal some bigger arches.

A colour sounder is a great way to look for these big fish. Using my Humminbird 787 and 798 sounders, I can tell how big fish are before I even drop a lure in the water. This is done by studying the amount of red (strong return) in the fish arch. The more red and solid the arch, the bigger the fish is. With experience you can start to work out how big fish are before you even catch them.

Lure casters should have a few rods rigged; one with a 3/8oz or 1/2oz blade bait, another with a 1/2oz jighead rigged soft plastic and maybe a third with an ice jig. Mix up your presentations until you find what the fish want. When they are being picky, only one presentation may work but normally they will take them all when presented at the right time.

If I had to pick my three favourite lures at the moment, they would be the 3/8oz Little Max blade, The 70mm Powerbait Ripple Shad plastic and a Smak ice jig.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

There will be good numbers of bass and golden perch to be caught this month. Bigger bass can be found around the weed edges. Casting lipless crankbaits like the Jackall TN60 to the weed growth in the Three Ways area should see a few decent fish coming on board.

For the early starter, there will be some surface action up the back of the dam around the water lilies. Walking Stickbaits between the lilies will see the water erupt as bass take a liking to surface offerings and do their best to annihilate them. The Cultiva Zipp’n Ziggy remains one of the most proven lures for this technique.

Anglers wanting to target golden perch should try the bubble trail, which can be fished with ice jigs, Mask Vibes or live shrimp. The moving water created by the bubbles attracts plenty of bait to the area and goldens are a year round proposition.

The team 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 road to the dam was cut in a couple of places in February as the dam spilled over yet again. Straight after the water subsided, anglers were able to get back into the action. The rise did little to change the lure fishing as the water remained clear enough to entice bass and saratoga on artificial presentations.

Bass have been coming from both Yabba and Kingham creeks. While some bass can be caught from the edges on surface lures, spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits, numbers will come from deeper schools. A good method is to target the edges while keeping a close eye on the sounder, watching for schooling fish. The odd bass will come from the edge and there is an excellent chance of tangling with several saratoga.

Once schools are seen on the sounder, try casting a small blade bait or soft plastic to the fish. The 90mm Ripple shad rigged on a 1/4oz jighead seems to get the job done for quite a few anglers at Borumba.

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: Toowoomba, Highfields

At the moment, Cooby remains closed. The Toowoomba Regional Council closed the dam for public safety due to bacteria levels.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda has continued to fish reasonably well. Golden perch have been common for bait and lure anglers. The occasional cod has also been encountered in the last month just to make things a little more interesting.

Casting small Stump Jumpers, 3m Poltergeists and Jackalls has been tempting reasonable numbers of golden perch. Some lucky anglers also boated a Murray cod over a metre long several weeks ago.

When casting lures, target structure. The timber at the mouth of both creeks is a favourite spot. Working the timbered points, drop offs and edges further upstream can also pay off. The basin of the lake is more open and better suited to trolling lures. When the fishing is tougher, try positioning the boat and lures in prime fish holding territory to maximize chances of success. Following drop offs and working any submerged structure is a great way to better your chances.

Bait anglers can expect to tangle with golden perch, catfish and the occasional silver perch. The best baits are live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. Worms and frozen prawns can also produce the goods although they are usually not as effective. Tying to the trees and moving often until you find fish is a good ploy. The area directly out from the boat ramp can also fish well when using bait. Just like in the timbered areas, if the bites aren’t happening, pull anchor and make a move.

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

The golden perch have been a bit tough to tempt for lure anglers, though there has still been plenty of action on bait up the back of the dam.

In this area, deeper lures have been effective for some anglers who have caught fish in six to eight metres of water. Gold and brown has been the gun colour with lures like Predatek Boomerangs, Ridgebacks, 80mm Poltergeists and Macs lures drawing the strikes.

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

Bjelke received a fresh at the end of January. This will have minimal impact on the fishing as it wasn’t all that significant. The action has picked up at the dam in the last month with quality golden perch being the most exciting fish on offer. Smaller bass have also made their presence felt.

The bass are a good option for lure casters and trollers. While most of these fish are undersized, there are a few legal ones also. Areas worth a look are Bass Point and the rock walls in front of the wineries on the eastern shoreline. Numbers of fish are likely to move further up the dam making The Islands and the start of the timber a good place to investigate. Keep a close eye on the sounder as you pass over the flats as this is often where a school of fish will pop up.

Golden perch have been taking baits with the occasional one falling to a lure. The wall end of the lake has been most productive. Live shrimp are by far the best offering but if you want to lure one up, try using a Jackall Mask Vibe or medium to deep diving hard body.

Matthew and Lucas at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy will be able to give you the latest news on Bjelke Petersen. They keep a close eye on the place and will have heard many of the latest reports so be sure to call into the store and say hello.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Despite a reasonable inflow, the dam has remained quite clean. Even the upper parts where the water ran in show signs of clearing quickly. There should be plenty of action unless more rain causes the water to dirty up.

Both the Boyne and Stuart timber will be worth exploring. The shallows in the timber seem to be delivering some of the best action. Good reports have come from anglers casting 1/2oz and 5/8oz Smak Spinnerbaits in dark colours. The familiar TN60 Jackall has also nailed its share of fish from the same area.

Trolling in the main basin of the lake will produce bass and golden perch. These fish can be caught anywhere from the dam wall to Pelican Point up past The Junction. The wide distribution of fish is the reason trolling is so effective. Lures like the Smak 16, Golden Child and Blitz Baga in natural colours like purple and brown seem to be most reliable.

Bait fishing around the rocky points and the start of the timber will produce golden perch as well as a few eel-tailed catfish and bass.

Redclaw numbers have increased in the last month. Some of the better catches have been coming from inside the timbered areas but be prepared to move the pots to different depths and areas to get results.

To pick up some more advice or the right gear for the job, call in and see Matthew or Lucas at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy. Bass to Barra also have a shop in Dalby so be sure to catch up with the guys if you’re heading out.

Closest Town: Monto

There have been quite a few smaller bass to be caught at Cania along with the occasional golden perch and saratoga. A lot of the fish have been undersized but switched on anglers will be able to lure some of the bigger specimens.

Last month, the dam flowed over the spillway again. This top up should keep the fish active around the edges and may see more action right up in the shallows.

Surface lures in the mornings and afternoons are a good way to start the day. The flooded trees around the lake’s edges have been holding some of the better quality bass. Casting lipless crankbaits to the edges and rolling them back past the trees should draw some strikes.

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: Bundaberg

Lately the Isis was fishing tougher than normal due to some dirtier water. This influx of coloured water was pumped in from the Burnett to top the dam up. The Isis is an irrigation supply and when the level drops, water is pumped in to fill it back up. This means the dam constantly fluctuates but always remains close to full capacity. The dirty water shouldn’t take long to clear and the fishing will improve within weeks. Even at the dirtiest point, bass were still being caught from the shallow weedy edges.

Casting lipless crankbaits like TN60 and TN50 Jackalls to the weed is one of the best ways to attract and excite the bass when the water is discoloured. Lipless crankbaits rattle and give off plenty of vibration making their presence felt. Spinnerbaits in the 3/8oz and 1/2oz sizes are another great option for working around the dense weed formations in the shallower water.

Tim from Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg had a short session casting lures to the weed last month and managed several bass from the stained water. The bigger fish went 44cm and 48cm long.

Smaller bass have been holding in schools in deeper water. In the centre of the dam where the arms meet, there should be a large school moving around. This school is so big it’s possible it will contain some better quality bass too. To weed out the smaller fish and target quality ones, try hopping soft vibes like the Jackall Mask Vibe or Powerbait MF60.

Closest Town: Biloela

Callide continues to produce barra around the 80cm size range. The shallow timbered bays within a couple of kilometres of the boat ramp seem to be holding reasonable numbers of fish. Casting to the edges between the dense clumps of trees concentrating on points and bays should entice some fish. While a boat is a great way to get around and catch fish, many locals score their barra by wading out and casting from the edges.

Small hard bodied lures fished with a twitching stop-start retrieve mixed with pauses draw plenty of interest when barra are nearby. The B52, Halco Hamma 85 and Rapala XR10 are great lures for working the shallows. Morning and afternoon sessions are likely to be most productive due to warmer water temperatures.

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

After a rise in level of around three metres last month the fishing has improved, with good numbers of barra being caught close to the newly flooded edges. The rise has created a fish highway between the now flooded weed edge and the shore. There are certain areas where the fish seem to be holding and willing to play. A lot of smiling anglers have been returning from the banks around I and D.

Small profile hard bodies are still doing the damage with white and orange being two of the most popular colours. Popular styles include the Hamma 85, Rapala XR10, Tropic Angler Floater and Flatz Rat. These smaller lures are perfect for 60-80cm barra which seem to be the most willing to strike.

There’s a lot to be said for these smaller barra. While everyone loves to catch big fish, smaller barra put on a great show with acrobatic leaps and powerful runs.

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. Foxies also sell dam maps which are designed to show the dam when it’s at different levels and importantly, is marked with all the local names and letters for the different sections. The next angler to ask me “which way is the boat ramp” at Mondy won’t be the last. The dam map or a GPS is certainly a great idea if your navigation skills aren’t up to scratch.

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 0427590995 or check out his regular column in this magazine.

Jamia Bein from Lake Monduran Barra Charters has battled through the tough fishing times and is now rewarded with a great knowledge of some of the lake’s most productive fishing spots. You can check out his site at www.lakemonduranbarracharters.com for more information.

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. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The barra have still been playing the game at Peter Faust Dam. Trollers and lure casters have been able to score fish with reasonable consistency. Trolling lures over near the northern banks has produced fish with the key times being early or late in the day or even at night when there is some moon in the sky. The 5m Poltergeist in green and 190mm Laser Pro have been proven time and time again over the last few months.

Casters can expect to find the action in shallower water around the flooded tea trees. The tea tree points often have weed growth around them as well and are the perfect place to target barra cruising along their edges. The big weed bed point on the southern side of the main basin will also hold quite a few barra for the lure caster.

Casters can start their day early with a surface lure like the 90mm Rapala Skitterpop, Halco Rooster Popper 80mm and 105mm or Cultiva Tango Dancer. Nothing beats a big barra whacking a surface lure twitched back to the boat on a still morning. If surface fails, try diving hard body lures. The B52, Hamma, Rapala X-Rap and 3m Scorpion are all worth throwing and it pays to experiment with different lures in case the barra are being fussy.

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. 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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