Big winter bass on offer
  |  First Published: July 2012

The fishing across the dams is a little tougher this month. While some dams have picked up with better results, more have quietened down. Planning trips to the better areas will be rewarding as there’s still plenty of great freshwater action to enjoy.

I had a session a couple of months ago, which was a great reminder not to get too fixated on one particular style of fishing. I was targeting bass and on every trip to this particular location and in the past I had cleaned up on small blade baits. The schooling bass on this particular trip had disappeared so I had to put the blade baits away and resort to fishing structure. After limited success casting faster reaction style lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the timbered edges, I opted for the slower presentation of a suspending jerkbait.

The suspending jerkbait is a great choice when working fishy areas in clear water conditions where the bass, or even other species, are reluctant to bite. A jerkbait can be wound down to its running depth and paused right in the strike zone. This pause gives inquisitive fish plenty of time to swim over and investigate. When the lure is twitched to life, it sends the fish crazy. Bites can come at any time, even during a long pause, so be ready to set the hook if you have slack line.

Jerkbaits come in shallow and deeper models. When targeting bass I like to start off with shallower offerings in the morning and go deeper as the sun gets higher in the sky making the day brighter. Before the start of winter, we were having great success on the Halco Hamma 85 with both the 1m and 3m bibs, the Cultiva Rippin’ Minnow 70SP and Jackall Squirrels.

Another lure that has been excellent after some slight modification has been the Halco 2.5m 52mm Scorpion in its natural colours like jelly prawn. By adding a few lead stick-on strips to the belly, these lures suspend beautifully, still swim great and cast further and more accurately than similar sized suspending jerkbaits due to their weighty tail end.

Lead strips are a handy item to keep in your hardbody box as they are a fast way to alter a lure’s buoyancy. Keep your eye out for Storm SuspenStrips or SuspenDots to make the job of changing a lure’s floatation level fast. If you have a little more time you can try changing to heavier split rings or hooks to achieve the same effect but be sure not to kill the lure’s action too much with the change in weight.

With one of the highlights over the next couple of months being big fat winter bass it will pay to brave the cold weather. Winter and the first month of spring is big bass time in the dams so throw on an extra layer of clothes and give it a go. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Schools of bass have provided some fun in different locations around the dam. These bass have been spread out with sizable schools holding just east of the boat ramps, off the island opposite the pump tower and up Bull and Cressbrook creeks. Sounding around to locate these fish is important, as there is plenty of barren water between the tightly packed fish. Trolling while in search of fish can produce the odd bass and often produces numbers when a congregation of fish is found. Look for the bass in water between 5-8m deep.

The schooling bass can shut down when heavily pressured but the number of schools spread around the lake gives anglers the chance to rest one school while they try another. Casting blade baits and soft plastics to the fish will usually get the desired results. Cressbrook bass can be stubborn fish though and even when they surround the boat, they can refuse to 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 that is in place.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset bass have been hard to locate and even when a school is found they are refusing to bite. It is shaping up to be a tough winter. A lot of the fish being landed on lures are coming from the timber in the northern part of the lake. Casting lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and blade baits to the edges is scoring some fish but it generally takes a lot of work to bag a few fish.

In past years, when the bass schools in the main basin have been tough to tempt at the start of winter, they remain tight lipped right through until spring. If they can be found in numbers, deep fly techniques with small Clouser style patterns can be their undoing. The odd fish will fall to a blade, plastic or Mask Vibe.

With the fish population being quite scattered, bait anglers can expect to pick up a mixed bag of bass and golden perch all over the dam. The timber is a reliable area for those without a quality sounder. Tying up to a tree in 5-8m of water and trying your luck for 15 minutes will let you know if there are any fish in the area. If the spot fails, try another tree and vary the depth until you find productive areas. Live shrimp are hard to beat, especially when the fishing is on the slow side. As a backup try live worms or frozen prawns.

Closest Towns: Fernvale, Esk

With some quality fish caught around the lake’s edge in the last couple of months, Wivenhoe should continue to produce the goods. Expect the odd monster bass mixed in with the smaller ones but don’t expect the fish to come easily. Using an electric motor to move along the shoreline and casting spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits up into the shallows is the best way to explore and cover plenty of water. When a fish is encountered, there should be more in the same or similar areas nearby.

The points outside Logan’s Inlet and the banks within sight of Billies Bay will be well worth a look. On occasions you may find schooling bass, which will be willing to take a blade bait or soft plastic.

When on the move under your electric motor, it always pays to troll a deep diving hard body lure. Sometimes the sounder will miss moving bass schools and the trailing lures will intercept them. If this happens, quickly cast plastics and blade baits into the area of the last strike to bag a few more fish in quick succession.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

The word is Lake MacDonald has lost quite a few bigger bass over the spillway. Schooling fish, which were hanging around the Botanical Gardens not far from the dam wall, are reported to have hitched a ride in the last overflow to the river below the dam.

The fishing has been quiet with not enough anglers hitting the dam to confirm these reports and evaluate just how bad the fishing is. Over the next couple of months, we should be able to get a better gauge on the remaining fish numbers, sizes and how willing they are to bite.

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 whether it has started to recover.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

Some interesting changes have taken place in the last month at Borumba. Bass schools that were been hard to locate over the past months have started to reappear in their usual winter haunts. The Junction where the Yabba and Kingham arms meet is one of the most reliable areas for finding schooling bass. In the basin of the dam fish have also started to appear around the points near the markers on the southern side of the lake heading towards the timber.

Bass schools can be fooled with soft plastics such as 3” paddle tail grubs, curl tail grubs and shads rigged on 1/4oz and 3/8oz jigheads. Some of the best ones to try are the 3”Gulp Jigging Grub and the 70mm Powerbait Ripple Shad. Small blade baits around 1/4oz can also work well when hopped or wound deeply through the schooling fish. Vertically hopping an ice jig in the schools will also get the attention of the bass. If you are getting the small taps, which they seem to encourage, stick with it as sooner or later you’ll hook up.

Upstream of The Junction the Kingham and Yabba arms are still worth hitting for saratoga. The toga may be a little slow in the mornings but as the day warms, so will the fish and once their metabolism peaks, they should be willing to hunt down lures. Slower presentations are a good idea. Suspending hardbody lures cast around the snags, lilies and shallow bays will give the saratoga plenty of time to react to the intruder in their area. The ability of these lures to pause and remain nearly motionless in the face of fish can be a real winner during the cooler months.

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

Moogerah Dam has been quite a reliable bass fishery over the last month. Bass to 45cm are not uncommon and, at this size, they are quite an adversary. Casting lipless crankbaits around the deep trees and trees around the lake edges should produce some action. The TN60 Jackall in the rattling version is reliable but you should also consider using a silent model especially if you are struggling to catch anything.

If bass are located, it can pay to switch to a suspending jerkbait to pick up the less active fish in the area. Deeper diving jerkbaits are great and will receive more attention. Try the Cultiva Rippin’ Minnow RM70SP, Jackall Squirrel 61 or Squirrel 67 and Halco DD Scorpion 52 fitted with stick-on lead strips to make it neutrally buoyant. Work jerkbaits down to their maximum depth with a medium retrieve before switching to a twitching retrieve with plenty of pauses.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

It seems as though anglers are having some luck while others are missing out altogether. The successful pattern that has emerged over the last couple of months is fishing to schooling bass in the deeper water. The deep points and rock walls have been producing bass on silent TN60s and TN50s, soft plastics and blade baits. The western bank from the eastern boat ramp has been one of the productive areas. Look for the big white gum standing in the water and target this area.

Apart from bass, there is a slim chance of a saratoga while the Mary River cod and golden perch have been elusive since the dam rose earlier in the year.

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 about the hot spots.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Highfields

The golden perch action at Cooby over the last couple of months has tapered off with the onset of the colder weather. The goldens are still holding in the same deep water but are less responsive to lures.

Switched on anglers found excellent numbers of golden perch a couple of months ago out in 15m of water in the middle of the lake. Here they could be caught on hopped and jigged lipless crankbaits. The goldens are still schooled in the deep water but to catch good numbers during the coldest months, you will need to use live shrimp as bait, though the odd fish may still fall to a lure.

If you’re 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 is continuing to produce fish for those willing to put in the time. Live baits have been the most reliable method with the occasional fish falling to a lure. The cod and silver perch have been quiet and golden perch are making up the majority of catches. The area out from the boat ramp and slightly off towards the main highway has been popular for boat anglers.

An interesting development has been the increase in goldens being caught by anglers fishing from the bank. The area around the Ski Bay has been holding a few fish for the shore-based angler. Live shrimp are the best offering but frozen prawns and live worms can tempt a few fish to bite as well. Don’t expect to bag out on fish but catches of 3 or 4 fish per session are not uncommon.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Peter and Maureen from the Coolmunda Caravan Park for providing me with up to date reports over the years. The park has been sold and next month, I’ll be talking to the new owners to see how they are settling in. 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 Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The fishing at Boondooma has been quite reliable for lure casters and bait anglers. The dam wall area has been holding good numbers of bass in 10-13m of water. Smak Ice Jigs and 3/8oz Little Max blade baits bounced around the bottom have been fooling these fish. Bigger bass have been schooling around Pelican Point and Balancing Rock at the start of the Boyne arm. Sound around in 7-13m of water to locate these schools. Once found, try hopping Jackall Mask Vibes and blade baits through them.

Bait fishing has been rewarding in the Boyne timber. The golden perch are quite fond of frozen saltwater yabbies and live shrimp. Both baits are hard to acquire but the effort in getting them will certainly pay off.

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 still been tough at Bjelke. There have been a few smaller bass caught on soft plastic in the deeper water.

For an update on the action at Bjelke, call in and see the guys at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Isis has been fishing well with good numbers of bass available to lure casters working the deeper areas in the middle of the dam. The same pattern as last year started to reoccur last month. The weed beds died off and the bass that were living on the shallow edges moved to the deeper water for a total change in habitat. These schools of bass can be found in water up to 10m deep in the middle of the dam where the three arms meet.

A quality sounder will really pay off when fishing schooling bass as the rewards come when you position the boat within casting range of the bulk of the fish. Last month, the bass were active and were often cruising around in the bottom half of the water column, at times well off the bottom.

Small blade baits like the 1/4oz Little Max, 3” plastics like Slider Grubs on 3/8oz Nitro Dam Deep Jigheads and lipless crankbaits such as the TN60 Jackall have all been getting plenty of strikes. The fish are in numbers and the smaller ones around 30-35cm have been winning the race to the lure. There are those days when the bigger bass seem to be more prolific and you can be lucky enough to have a run of quality fish over 45cm in length.

You could also try making your own luck by using a big fish lure like a Jackall Mask Vibe 60 or Transam 95. These soft lipless crankbaits can be hopped along the bottom to produce a strong vibration, which will hopefully attract those bigger fish.

Around the edges, the action has been much slower than normal. Some bass will still take spinnerbaits throughout the day but they are in a much leaner condition than their mates out in the deeper water. An early morning start with surface lures will also break up the day and draw a few strikes. Those big fish that normally monster surface offerings are likely to have moved to the deeper water.

A few of the boys at Saltys Tackleworld in Bundaberg are regular bass anglers and will be able to not only set you up with the right gear to enjoy the action, but point you straight to some of the best spots. Saltys has a great range of fresh and saltwater tackle so be sure to call in and take advantage of the great fishing in the area.

Closest Towns: Monto, Biloela

Based on last month’s reports the action at Cania is going to be slow. Anglers staying in the Cania Gorge Caravan Park were struggling to produce fish so things don’t look great for this month.

When the action is tough, it can pay to slow down presentations and work concentrations of bass with 1/4oz rigged soft plastics. Use plastics with a good action at slow speeds like the 3” Slider Grub. If using bait, take the time to get your hands on some live shrimp. Shrimp aren’t available for purchase anywhere in the nearby area so you’ll have to look for them in the surrounding creeks and farm dams. A trap baited with cat food left in the water overnight may do the trick.

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: Gin Gin

The barra fishing at Monduran has really slowed down over the last month. The fish are still there for the catching but expect to work hard and put in plenty of time if you want results. Smaller hard body lures were the go to method before the fish shut down so stick with what was working and hope for the best. A run of warmer days should fire the barra up and see them more willing to play so try to time your trips around better weather.

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 carries 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.lakemonduranbarracharters.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
Awoonga and Surrounding Rivers
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

There have been plenty of barra caught and spotted in the saltwater reaches of the Boyne and Calliope Rivers. In the harbour and closer to the river mouths, structure seems to be attracting the fish. Bridges, wharves and pylons have been like magnets and are holding their share of these big fish. Some of the areas barra have been seen cruising are off limits to anglers but the fact they are holding in these areas such as the coal wharves is an indication they will be also found close by in waters that aren’t off limits.

The hot water power plant outlet on the Calliope River will be a big attractor to fish seeking some warmer water over the colder months. The warm water draws in bait fish and the predators follow. Last month, barramundi were hard work but switched on anglers were managing a few bites each day. Powerbait 5” Mullets and 130mm Slick Rigs are ideal for casting long distances and covering heaps of water. If you put in the time and effort you will hook a fish in this area.

There haven’t been many people fishing at Awoonga Dam so I don’t have any positive reports of fish. The freshwater reaches of the Boyne River is still fishing quite well although the action may slow after a run of cold weather. Big mangrove jacks are still turning up in numbers in the upper reaches of the Boyne and Calliope Rivers. These jacks are falling to lures intended for barra and it’s great to see these cracker fish cooperating right through the colder months.

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 Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The barramundi fishing at Lake Proserpine has picked up over the last month. Reasonable numbers of barra have been active in the shallower water around the weed beds where they are quite fond of soft plastics and shallow diving hard body lures. These barra can be caught throughout the day but expect them to bite better from midmorning on when the day warms up and makes them feel a little more comfortable.

The deeper trees lining the creek channels in the thick timber are a good place to cast medium and deep diving hard body lures like the 5m Scorpion 125 and 12 foot Barra Baits. It’s a good idea to cast past the target snag and work the lure down into it for a few metres to ensure it has reached its running depth as it reaches the prime fish habitat. Throw in a few pauses to allow the lure to float up and mix in a few twitches to make the lure dart about as you retrieve it back to the boat.

Sooty grunter will be worth targeting around the bigger trees using soft plastics. Sooties prefer smaller plastics in the 75-100mm size range. Look for the biggest trees you can find with really solid branches or trunks. Fish the top 7m of the water column regardless of depth and look for flocks of black cormorants nesting in the area to increase your chances.

Being winter, bad weather with cold winds will shut the dam down. Some of the best fishing will be had when the days are warm and still. When the weather is pleasant, you can almost guarantee success.

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 1

Top 5 Spots this month

Moogerah (bass)

Borumba (bass and saratoga)

Coolmunda (golden perch)

Proserpine (barra)

Boondooma (bass)

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