Rain changes freshwater scene
  |  First Published: April 2012

So far this year old Mother Nature has been giving the lakes and rivers a fair hammering with serious downpours of rain.

This makes my job as a field editor more challenging. It’s near impossible to predict these events and even tougher to know just how much runoff there will be and for how long it will affect the fishing. Please bear with me as I endeavour to do my best and make the right calls on next month’s fishing.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Currently Cressbrook is still trickling over the spillway and the council has the dam closed until further notice. Local news reports state the dam condition is being reviewed on a daily basis. This suggests it shouldn’t be too long before it’s open again, provided there is no more heavy rain in the area.

Water clarity at the lake should still be good in the areas where the bass have been schooling. One of the better schools has been holding between the shallow boat ramp and the buoy line over near the pump tower, though these fish are finicky and easily shut down.

An early morning start and being the first to the spot will usually guarantee results until the schools start to get tight lipped. Soft plastics and blade baits cast over the schooling bass will draw the strikes.

Once the action stops, the bass are really hard to entice with lures so live shrimp are the best option. Drop a lightly weighted shrimp straight over the side of the boat. Fishing with the sinker on the bottom of the rig and having the hook tied to a dropper loop is quite effective.

Shore based anglers can fish from the bank below the playground, barbecues and volleyball court. A long cast will see baits reaching the schooling bass. Again, live shrimp are the best option when chasing bass.

Make sure the dam is open to the public and boating before heading out there. You can shoot me an email at --e-mail address hidden-- or check with the boys at Fish ‘N’ Bits in Toowoomba by calling (07) 4636 6850.

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

At the end of February, a serious amount of water made its way into Somerset. The extra water was dumped straight into Wivenhoe Dam below and then into the Brisbane River below Wivenhoe, to control both dam levels. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland copped a pounding with rain and the surrounding hills then funnelled the water into Somerset.

Authorities closed the lake for several days and it was reopened to boating and fishing at the beginning of March. Having just reopened mid-March, reports are few and far between.

I’d expect bait anglers around Kirkleigh and the dam’s middle reaches to be scoring plenty of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish. If the water remains stained for the next month, catches on lures will be reduced.

Before the rise, the majority of bass were scattered throughout the lake’s basin and suspended in the water column.

Trolling diving lures in this situation produces good catches provided the right lure is chosen for the job. The depth the fish are marking on the sounder should be matched with a diving lure capable of reaching a similar depth.

Somerset Dam does tend to clear quite quickly in comparison to other lakes. The water may appear dirty but is actually a stained colour and visibility returns fast. Once you can see your lures 40cm below the surface, the bass and goldens should start to respond. As visibility improves, so will the catch rate.

Somerset’s fish should be getting used to the regular flushes of water coming in from the Stanley River. In the past they have adapted quickly to the change. Due to the lake remaining so close to full capacity, a fresh doesn’t cause a rise in water level to flood and kill the vegetation around the perimeter of the lake.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

After heavy rain just over a month ago, Lake Macdonald was dirtier than regular visitors had ever seen it before. Within a couple of weeks, bass were being caught from the dirty water on lures so it looks as though the lake will improve fast. Macdonald has always been a lake that clears up quickly after dirtying from runoff.

Casting TN60 Jackalls and Chubbies to the weed beds around Borer Creek, the Three Ways and back down to Runway Point has been effective in the last month even when water visibility was down to 20cm.

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

Even after heavy rain in the last couple of months, Borumba is fishing well. The main basin of the lake is slightly dirty but further up the creeks, the cleaner water running in after the initial flooding cleared the dam’s upper reaches.

These upper reaches have been producing quality bass and quite a few saratoga on spinnerbaits. This action should continue right through this month and bass may start to turn up in schools around The Junction and further up in Yabba and Kingham Creeks.

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.

Closest Town: Boonah

There have been some shallow schools of bass around the edges of the lake. I have only had a couple of reports but both suggest the best depth in which to look for these bass is 5-6m of water. Once found, try using small profile blade baits. Impact Tackle Bladez have proven a real winner on Maroon’s bass.

Closest Town: Boonah

Not much to report on Moogerah this month except that the bass are still active and available in good numbers. One report suggested the fish were suspended and loving deeper running suspending hard bodies.

An angler had great success on Jackall Squirrels so similar deep suspenders like the Halco 83 Hamma and Cultiva Rip’n Minnow 70 would be worth a try too. Suspending bass can turn up all over the lake but try the ever-reliable edges and the trees before doing too much exploring.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Highfields

Cooby Dam has reopened to fishing after being closed due to bacteria levels present in the water. Toowoomba Regional Council monitored the water condition and reopened the lake around a month ago. So far the fishing has been steady with just a few golden perch being caught on trolled lures and bait. Live baiting with shrimp will be the most reliable way to hook a few fish.

If you are heading out to Cooby, don’t forget your $2.50 in coins to open the boom gate. Call in and see Doug at Highfields Bait and Tackle behind Subway on the New England Highway in Highfields. The store has a good range of fishing tackle, and also sells live shrimp and other baits.

Closest Town: Inglewood

There have been a few golden perch caught at Coolmunda. Don’t expect big numbers of fish this month but if you work at it, you should catch a few.

The occasional silver perch has turned up on live worms while shrimp have been the best bait for golden perch. Lure anglers are managing to troll and cast up a few goldens up but their activity level will start to taper off over the next couple of months. Murray cod have been quiet but they are always a possibility, especially for anglers casting lures.

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 been one of the most reliable fishing spots in the Darling Downs region over the last month. Golden perch and smaller cod have been common on lures and bait. The action should continue this month but will start to taper off as the cooler weather approaches. If you want to get into some native action on the western side of the range before the cold sets in, this is the month to do it.

Trolling Jackall TN60 lipless crankbaits with electric motors around the ledge out from the Black Boys has been accounting for some of the better sized golden perch. Diving hard bodies which run 3-5m deep are also ideal. The Kezza Mud Mouse is ideal and has the right vibration to attract Murray cod.

Bait fishing around the points and drop offs will account for a mixed bag of goldens, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish. The ideal depth at this time of year is around 5m but be prepared to experiment until you find where the fish are most responsive.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma has been another reliable lake over the last month. Bass and golden perch are quite easy to come by and can be caught on cast lures, by trolling or on bait.

One of the most effective methods to hook fish is to troll hard body lures in the main and second basin. The fish have been spread out but they are found in small schools so working an area thoroughly where you have caught a fish or had a strike can pay off by producing more fish. The fish are holding at 5-7m deep so lures like the Smak Brolga and Predatek Boomerang Deep Diver are perfect to work the desired zone.

Lure casters have been harassing the schooling bass holding around Leisegangs Ledge, which is on the left bank before reaching The Junction. These suspended fish can be caught on Jackall Masks and soft plastics. Hopping Jackall Masks and Powerbait MF60’s down the steep points in the main basin can also account for bass.

Bait anglers can expect a few golden perch and the occasional bass in the timber. These fish will take shrimp and worms when fished in tight to the trees or around the major points.

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 where you can catch up with Dylan. Be sure to catch up with the guys if you’re heading out.

Closest Town: Monto

Over the last month, there have been quite a few bass and the occasional saratoga caught. Lure casters are having some fun casting to the timber around the lake. Accuracy and good lure presentation is often rewarded with a strike.

Due to the tight country, fishos need to be on the ball and ready to give it to the fish once they hook up to extract them from the snaggy country. Blade baits and lipless crankbaits have been hooking plenty of fish. The 3/8oz Little Max and Jackall TN60 in brown dog worked well for Shane from Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg on his last trip.

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

The Isis has cleared up over the last few weeks and the fishing has returned to its reliable and predictable patterns. The weed edge is holding plenty of bass that are keen to take a topwater lure early in the morning. Fishing the surface with a stickbait like the Zipp’n Ziggy is bound to draw some attention - often, it is the attention of the lake’s bigger bass which love to hide deep in the thick weed beds.

Surface presentations give the angler the ability to prospect water too shallow for other offerings. Work a surface lure over submerged weed only 30-60cm below the surface and you are asking for trouble. Quite often the bigger bass dive deep into the weed after the strike and anglers need to go hard early to take some of the steam out of them. It can be hard extracting a buried bass from the thick weed beds of the Isis.

As the day wears on, surface lures will draw less attention and deeper offerings fished tight to the weed beds will get the results. Spinnerbaits can be cast over submerged weed and teased across the weed tops. 3/8oz spinnerbaits are perfect for this technique as they tend to run through the weed better than heavier models. Small blades in the ¼ to 3/8 ounce size range can be fished in a similar fashion.

Keeping these lures out of the weed requires more skill but the rewards are there for those who have the patience to master the skill. The beauty of blades is that they stop vibrating once they are fouled with weed. A sharp rip of the rod can be enough to free the hooks of weed and get the lure vibrating again.

Casting parallel to a weed face with a lipless crankbait or blade is another option. The TN60 Jackall brown dog is a proven performer. These lures should be worked within inches of the weed to get good results. When bass are very active, they will leave their hidey holes and travel some distance to take a lure. When they are more shut down, lure presentation needs to be more precise to get the reward.

Schooling bass were holding in the deep water of the lake where the three arms meet about a month ago. There haven’t been any reports on these fish with so much action taking place in the weed. If you are struggling to catch fish, it may be worth sounding around to see if these deeper fish are about. Once found, try hopping a 3/8oz blade or Jackall Mask through them.

Closest Town: Biloela

The barra action at Callide has slowed over the last couple of months, though quality barra are still being caught from the shore and from boats. While shallow diving hard body lures are the best option from the bank, boat anglers have had success fishing slightly deeper water in the upper timbered areas using 5m Poltergeists.

The barra have been in excellent condition and are now approaching the high end of the 80cm size bracket. It won’t be long until 90cm plus sized fish are being caught on a regular basis. From there it’s only a short time until they reach the magic metre mark. For best results fish during stable weather patterns and concentrate on peak feeding times like morning, afternoon and night times around the full moon.

Redclaw crayfish numbers have increased again and there are plenty of big ones amongst them. Between the plentiful redclaw and a reasonable chance of a barra, there would be enough to keep you busy for a couple of days at Callide this month.

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.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Tows: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The barra fishing has been steady but quite reliable at Proserpine. There has been a strong move by the successful anglers to the deeper channels through the trees. These channels mark old river and creek courses and the barra take residence in the timber structure lining their edges. While casting hard bodies has been successful in the early morning, trolling has been the preferred approach. Deep divers like the Halco Poltergeist and Reidy’s Big Boss have been successful.

The big weed bed on the southern side of the main basin has been a great place for early morning surface lures. Walking a Cultiva Tango Dancer or popping a Rapala Skitterpop over the tops of the weed can draw some explosive strikes and serious action. This same area has produced some big sooty grunter over the last month. The sooties tend to hold close to any spindly trees or timber structure inside the weed bed.

Similar weed beds in the timber are certainly worth a go if you can find them. A GPS is a handy tool for navigating in the dark but don’t rely solely on that. Proserpine has a jungle of trees and planning your approach to an area is best done in daylight hours so you are sure it is safe to take the same path when it is dark or hard to see.

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.

Fact Box

Top 5 Spots this month

Boyne River (Gladstone) – Barramundi

Proserpine Dam (Proserpine) – Barramundi

Boondooma (Kingaroy) – Bass

Isis Balancing Storage (Bundaberg) – Bass

Leslie (Warwick) – Golden perch

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