Hot fishing before the cold snap
  |  First Published: May 2012

As we move into the colder months of the year, most freshwater species will be entering the transition phase. The shorter days and cooler water temperatures will trigger changes in fish behaviour over the next couple of months. These changes will usually occur slowly but keeping track of the fish while they are making a transition will see more hitting the deck of the boat.

Colder water will see some fish heading to deeper areas while others are happy to do the opposite; rest in very shallow water and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Suspended fish will often venture back to the bottom to school at a particular depth.

While reaction baits may have worked well over the last few months, it is likely you will have to tempt a strike now by using more lifelike lures with subtle actions. Slower presentations are often the secret to catching fish in the cold months. Soft plastics, ice jigs, small blade baits and soft lipless crankbaits are some of the best lures for this time of year.

While barra and golden perch will slow down, bass can actually become easier to catch. Scattered fish often form tight schools in winter. If you find these schools and they are active, you can expect to catch big numbers.

Murray cod can be caught during the cold months on lures and bait. The smaller cod can shut down but the big bruisers will continue to bite. Again, slow the presentation. Put lures right in front of fish to get the results. Slowly wound spinnerbaits and big hardbodied lures will put out plenty of vibration even at slow speeds.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Cressbrook Dam went through periods of being closed while it was overflowing in the past couple of months. When open, the fishing was hit and miss, mainly because the bass responded quickly to fishing pressure and refused to bite. This has always been the case at Cressbrook and the results on a quiet day are always much better than when fighting with other boats to get at the schooling fish. Anglers who have fished midweek have had great results with plenty of bass between 30-40cm long.

The bass have been holding in the same areas for the past couple of months. Schools can be found 30m directly out from the boat ramp and continue all the way to the no fishing buoy line towards the pumping tower. This area is often referred to as Bass Bay.

Most days the fish will be holding in 8m of water where they will suspend a couple of metres off the bottom. When first to the scene, the bass will respond to plastics and blade baits. A fast retrieve up through the fish and then a pause to let the lure fall back to the bottom will trigger an aggressive strike.

When the Bass Bay fish have shut down, move to the school on the north western side of Deer Island which is opposite the pump tower. These fish will respond to similar lures and tactics.

When the fish go off the bite, one of the best ways to continue putting them into the boat is to use live shrimp. Drop shrimp directly over the side of the boat on a size 1 Owner K-Hook weighted with a #1 sinker. There’s no need to put the bait right on the bottom. The bass are suspended so wind the bait up a couple of metres until it is right in the middle of the school.

The lake edges have been very quiet. There is little weed growth and the area doesn’t have that healthy, fish attracting look about it. When the schooling bass in the two known areas go off the bite, anglers should seek out new areas and look for schooling fish in deeper water. A rotation of spots can prolong the bite.

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

With all the water passing through it over the past month, Somerset has been a tough dam to crack for most anglers. The fishing will begin to improve over the next couple of months once the water settles and visibility improves.

The Pelican Point area has been holding big schools of small bass out on the flats. When co-operative, these tiny fish can provide heaps of action with a fish per cast. Blade baits around 3/8-1/2oz will draw the strikes when cast and retrieved through the tight schools.

The bigger bass have been elusive. Some have been taken by trolling medium running lures in the deeper water between Beams Creek and Bay 13. These bigger bass are scattered and a lure that dives around 3-4m will put you in with a good chance. Another option is to troll a 1/2oz blade at the same depth while sounding around in deeper water and driving with the outboard motor.

There was one report of big bass to over 3kg schooling on the flats in closer to Pelican Point. These fish were sitting in 4m of water and loved heavy blades wound fast through them. This school appears to be mobile as it was there one day and gone the next. Still, it would pay to sound over the area just in case they turn up.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

After a serious flooding in the last couple of months, the water has already cleared up. Bass have been active in several areas around the lake and lucky anglers have been hooking the occasional saratoga.

Fishing to the weed edge around the Three Ways with lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits has been producing some of the better bass to 40cm in length. The deeper water around the bubble trail is holding quite a few schooling bass and golden perch. Bass schools have also been found on the flats out in front of the dam wall. These fish will hold together somewhere across the flat and a sounder is the best way to find the fish concentrations. MacDonald’s deep water bass will respond well to ice jigs, soft lipless crankbaits, shad soft plastics and live shrimp.

Saratoga have been seen working the surface around Borer Creek and the Three Ways. Toga are great fun to catch early in the morning using surface lures. Surface lures like the Zip’n Ziggy will also fool some of the better quality bass hiding in and around the weeded edges.

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

Borumba has been producing plenty of saratoga and some mid-sized bass. Most of the action is taking place in the feeder creeks where the water is actually clearer than in the main lake basin. The backs of bays in the Yabba and Kingham arms have been the hot spots for saratoga. These great sportfish have loved surface presentations with the Zip’n Ziggy Stickbait an absolute standout.

The banks in the same creeks have been holding bass. Occasionally they will take a surface lure but the best way to persuade them to bite is with a spinnerbait. The average size bass has been around 40cm and the big models have been hard to find.

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 has been quite a bit of bass action taking place around the shallow edges of Maroon. While spinnerbaits, small blades and lipless baits have been the flavour of the month, these fish may tend to like more subtle presentations over the coming months. Soft plastics rigged on 1/8 and 1/4oz jigheads will be ideal for exploring the weedy perimeter of the dam.

Early morning and late afternoon are prime times to try for some surface action. The bass can often be seen feeding on top and this is a good indication they have their sights set on prey nearer to the surface. Even when fish aren’t seen busting up on top, it doesn’t mean they can’t be caught on topwater lures.

If small fish or insects aren’t there to feed upon you won’t have the surface boils. In this situation you can experience great topwater action as the fish may be looking for a feed but not finding anything until your lure enters the zone. Recently, the Megabass Dog-X Junior has been a top lure for those surface munching bass.

Closest Town: Boonah

Moogerah has been fishing quite well for bass on lures. These fish are coming from around the lake edges and timber. As the water cools, it is likely more schools will appear around the lake’s edge in between 4-6m of water.

Tossing lipless crankbaits in brown colour around the deeper tree tops has been fooling quite a few bass to 40cm.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

With Stage 3 of the dam wall completed earlier this year, the dam soon rose to almost full level that doubled its capacity. While it looks awesome, the bankside vegetation has died off and forced most of the fish into the deeper water away from the edges.

Points still seem to be holding numbers of bass in 10-13m of water. Here the fish are suspended mid-water and will take lures like spinnerbaits, blade baits and soft plastics. Most specimens are small with the bigger ones up to 40cm.

Once an area has been fished for a while, the bass tend to shut down so it is unlikely to catch many more than six fish from one spot.

Trolling small hardbodies thst dive between 3-5m will also account for plenty of bass. Diving lipless crankbaits fished on light line are capable of reaching this depth and the bass love them.

Smaller vessels like kayaks can be carried to the water at the dam wall and the eastern and western boat ramps are operational for electric powered boats.

Hinze is not part of the SIP program and a separate permit is required to fish it. These permits are available from Go Fishing at 10 Spencer Street Nerang. Here you can pick up all your supplies and find out the hot spots which have been producing.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Highfields

The fishing at Cooby has been pretty ordinary over the past year and it looks as though this slow action is set to continue as winter starts to set in and the activity level of the fish drops even more. In the last month, there have been reports of big silver perch on bait and some small golden perch caught by trolling lures.

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

Coolmunda has been fishing well for golden perch with lures and bait producing the goods.

The action on lures will slow down as the weather cools but bait should continue to produce fish. Live shrimp and frozen prawns will also attract a few silver perch and eel-tailed catfish. The hot spots have been out to the left of the boat ramp in the direction of the main highway and across the dam past the wall to the start of the sticks.

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

Bait fishing at Leslie has been awesome when anglers have been able to park the boat on top of a school of golden perch. Live shrimp supplies will be quickly decimated when the yellowbelly are on and a hot spot will quickly produce a bag limit. Lure trolling has slowed down but there will still be a few taken on medium diving hardbody lures or slow trolled lipless crankbaits.

The opposite side of the dam from the ramp has been holding plenty of fish. Pay particular attention to any points and on top of drop-offs to deeper water.

Closest Towns: Stanthorpe, Texas

I made my first ever trip to Glenlyon last month. It’s hard to believe after over 20 years of fishing impoundments I had never laid eyes on the dam before. I took my son Blake and our guide was my brother Kerry. We arrived at Kerry’s spot which was right up the arm opposite the boat ramp. We tied on our orange and yellow handpicked Kezza lures and started our first trolling run.

Within ten minutes, Blake said, “I’m on” and boated his first Glenlyon cod. The fish measured 69cm and would have weighed around 6-7kg. It was a great start and we had plenty more cod and golden perch action over the two 3-hour sessions we fished.

We worked a stretch of bank that had a long point jutting out into the middle of the dam and followed the contour of the bottom between 5-7m. At the end of the point we were more than 100m out from the nearest shore. The Kezza lures were running at 4m deep and I also had a lot of success on a 90mm RMG Scorpion in the 4m model.

Plenty of golden perch were being caught on bait with live shrimp, crays and worms all working well. It appeared the anglers prepared to move about and find concentrations of fish were being rewarded more than those who stayed put. Once the good schools of goldens were found, boats were reaching their bag limit of 10 yellowbelly per angler for the day.

The kiosk at Glenlyon stocks an amazing range of Australian-made timber hardbody lures. Timber lure collectors would be mad not to visit Glenlyon for this reason alone.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Bass and golden perch have been plentiful at Boondooma. Over the next couple of months the cooler temperatures will draw the bass schools between the dam wall and The Junction closer to the dam wall or send them slightly deeper.

Leisegangs Ledge has held one of the major bass concentrations for some time and these fish should still be around well into this month. Here, bass can be caught on soft plastics. The 3” Gulp Minnow Grub in pepper prawn colour rigged on a 1/2oz jighead has been one of the most successful lures. Start looking for these bass schools in about 10m of water.

Near the dam wall buoy line, bass can be caught by trolling lures. The Smak Golden Child in the number 10 colour is a real winner on these suspended fish. Working along the banks and concentrating on the major points should account for some golden perch when using similar lures on the troll.

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 call in and see the guys for the latest tips if you’re heading out.

Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The fishing has been picking up at Bjelke over the last year with some just legal bass and big golden perch on offer.

The bass can be caught from schools holding around the main basin. Blade baits around 1/4oz in size are ideal for these small bass. In the timber at the back of the dam, live shrimp and worms have been producing some whopper golden perch. Some of the bigger models have stretched the scales to 5kg.

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 in to the store and say hello.

Closest Town: Biloela

The barra have stayed pretty quiet at Callide over the last month so it doesn’t look like there will be a hot bite before the cold sets in, although the cooler temperatures may actually work to the advantage of switched on anglers.

Lower water temperatures will see the barra venturing into the warmer windblown bays. At close to full capacity, Callide is a big dam with plenty of places for the barra to hide. To see these fish concentrate around the shoreline in specific warmer areas has to increase the chances of catching them even though their metabolism has slowed down. Anglers will need to slow down presentations to suit the mood of the fish. A slow twitched shallow diving hardbody will be the answer. With the barra so close to the edges in the shallows, they will be a good proposition for both stealthy boat fishers and shore-based anglers.

The fishing competition held at the end of March only produced one legal barra and half a dozen undersized models. This isn’t a good indication of how well the dam can fish as the barra population seems to know to lay low when there are heaps of boats on the water. Saratoga over 70cm in length have been turning up and there are plenty of redclaw crayfish about.

The ongoing efforts of the Callide Valley Native Fish Stocking Association will be seen over the coming years. Already this year, the devoted team has released 15,092 golden perch, 43 saratoga including six adult fish and an impressive 18,600 barramundi.

The group uses grow out ponds with some of their stocked fish. Fingerlings are placed into these ponds where they are grown to a larger size before being transported into the dam. This ensures they have a better chance of survival by being able to avoid predators like other fish and birds. To check out what the Callide Valley Stocking Association has been up to, you can check out their website at www.cvnfsa.org.au .

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

In the last couple of months, the dam has received a pounding with over 2m of water pouring over the spillway. As the water flowed through the lake it dirtied and the fishing became difficult.

Last month, with visibility at only a bit over 30cm, the barra were tough to catch but certainly not impossible. Several fish were caught but the sessions really slowed down in comparison to the fishing prior to the last flood.

The upper reaches in the timber have been the best area to target the barra. Some of the bays outside of the main flow stayed a little clearer but the dirty water will settle quickly and by the end of the month, conditions will be ideal for a pre-winter fish. That is of course if it doesn’t bucket down rain again.

Small hardbody lures, like the Halco Hamma 85 and Rapala XR10, will be the go around the lake edges. Choose bright or flashy colours which stand out in the dirty water and give plenty of pauses and twitches to give the fish a chance to find your offering. The rainforest has been one of the successful barra haunts to fish.

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 lifetime. 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 guides Rob Wood or Jamie Bein. 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.

Jamie runs Lake Monduran Barra Charters and fishes that dam more than anyone else I know. His regular visits ensure he has a good understanding of what’s going on. Contact Jamie on his mobile number 0407 434 446 or through his website www.lakkemonduranbarracharters.com.

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.

Capricornia Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

The few reports from Awoonga indicate the fishing is still tough. The Boyne River below the dam is continuing to produce barra even when the dam wall is running over. The rain should steady over the next few months and this will see balance and consistency in catches.

The top end of the Boyne River above Pikes Crossing has been good just below the 400m no fishing zone below the dam wall. Soft plastics through the day and hardbodies late in the afternoon and into the night will see some barra dancing around your boat. Some nice freshwater mangrove jacks have also been taken from this hole in the past couple of months.

The hole below Pikes Crossing takes a bit more effort to get a boat into but the water sees less pressure and there are heaps of snags and areas to explore. The whole Capricorn Region has heaps to offer barra fishers with the deeper river holes in the Boyne and Calliope rivers worth exploring with heavier soft plastics and Transams during the cooler months. Gladstone Harbour also holds its share of barramundi for those willing to explore.

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

With the change of season, it will be time to hit the shallows in search of barramundi.

The cooler water will tempt the fish back onto the shallow sandy points in the timbered areas where they can bask in the sun to keep warm during the day. These points are easily found by studying the formation of the submerged tea trees. Where they form a point, the bottom is usually shallower and there will be a nice ridge protruding well out into the dam. This will be the place to probe with shallow diving hardbodies and lightly weighted soft plastics.

The Rapala X-Rap, Halco Hamma and Scorpion Skin Deep are great hardbodies and for softies try a 3/8 or 1/4oz jighead rigged Powerbait Hollowbelly or a Slick Rig Pro. Use long casts to reach the area as the barra will be more easily spooked now they are back in the shallows.

Surface lures can be used effectively right through the cooler months. The cooler weather sees the barra respond better to more subtle presentations. The 11.5cm C’ultiva Tango Dancer is the perfect topwater tool for seducing barra to the surface with its side to side walking action. The walk-the-dog retrieve that gives these lures their action takes some skill to master but the results are well worthwhile it as the technique can be used on a host of species.

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.

Top 5 Spots this month

Upper Boyne River – barramundi

Moogerah Dam – bass

Leslie Dam – golden perch

Glenlyon Dam – Murray cod

Lake Proserpine – barramundi

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