Species slow down but bass perform
  |  First Published: August 2012

Over the last month I have had quite a bit going on. Unfortunately, fishing hasn’t been one of those things. With moving house and a few other things taking up most of my time, I’ll apologise right away for a shorter than normal report this month and promise to make up for it next time.

Something that has been quite exciting for me has been the building of my new bass boat. It has been a long project but I am very happy with the end result. Brisbane Yamaha are fitting a 200HP V-Max SHO to the back of it but you’ll have to wait until next month to see a picture of the boat in action with fish slime all over it.

It’s been pretty tough sitting back hearing quite a few fish stories over the last month but when my time frees up next month I’ll be able to get back into the action

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

The action at Cressbrook slowed off about a month ago after the dam reopened following the closure, due to the spillway overflowing. Reports indicate the water is stained from the run-off. The cold winter conditions usually help to clear water quickly and I’d expect the bass action to return to normal in the coming weeks.

Deep schooling bass have been the most reliable source of action. Trolling medium and deep divers and casting blade baits and soft plastics to these schooling fish will produce the goods. There are several schools holding all over the dam with two of the main ones being located in Bass Bay and out from the toilet point up Bull Creek arm.

Cressbrook’s fish tend to shut down very quickly after you start catching their mates. Always use stealth when entering an area to try and prolong the action. It also pays to move on once the action dies down at the spot you have been fishing. If it isn’t a busy day, you can return to the same spot after you have rested it for a couple of hours.

Even though we are more than half way through winter, a few big red claw are still being caught. These crayfish are generally tough to catch during the colder months. The run-off that dirtied the water may help the red claw action to continue. Don’t expect big numbers while the weather is cold but there are some exceptionally sized crays around.

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

The top end of Somerset Dam was dirtied by run-off in the Stanley River around a month ago. The dirty water pushed its way down as far as Kirkleigh.

With a Bass Bounty tournament being held just after the rain, it was interesting to see how the successful anglers reacted to the change. Prior to the competition, quality bass were being lured from the edges in the timber north of Kirkleigh. The dirty water sent anglers south looking for cleaner areas, schools and banks to fish.

The schooling bass have been hard to find. Smaller bass have been packing into tiny schools around some of the major points and drop-offs. This is pretty odd for this time of year as usually bass are easy to find in deep schools during winter on Lake Somerset. This can only mean the fish are more spread out and as a result, casting lures around the lake edges has really paid off. Big vibrations are usually the best way to entice the big bass that hold in the shallows around the dam.

Spinnerbaits with big blades, big lipless crankbaits and bigger blade baits all seem to catch their share of horse bass.

The water north of Kirkleigh should clear if there is no more heavy rain about. Even in its current state, it would be possible to entice a few bass around the edges on lures. When fishing any edge, keep an eye on the sounder for signs of any schooling or even scatterings of fish in deeper water. You could try working these with blades, lipless crankbaits and ice jigs if they are schooled thick enough.

Bait fishers can expect to pick up bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish all over the dam. Live shrimp and small crays will be the best baits. Due to the fish being so spread out, try your luck in an area and move on after 15 minutes if you’ve had no luck. Keep doing this and you will eventually chance upon some decent numbers of fish.

Most of the action has been in shallower water so try working areas less than 5m deep.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Reports of all the big bass escaping over the dam wall seem to be a myth. It’s likely quite a few fish escaped a couple of months ago but the results from anglers fishing the dam certainly prove there are plenty of quality bass left in the lake.

Surface luring has been one of the best ways to entice the larger fish. Even in the cold of winter, the bass have been responding well to surface offerings. Topwater baits like the Zipn’ Ziggy and Megabass Anthrax have been performing well with bass to 42cm taking a liking to them. Bass Bay has been one of the best places to try your luck with surface lures.

There should also be a few fish around the weed beds at the Three Ways. These bass will take spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics. The majority of fish at this time of year tend to hold in schools in deeper water. The area between Bass Bay and the dam wall can be scanned over with the sounder while you are on the move. Prime locations are The Bubble Trail and the point before The Botanical Gardens as schools will often stage here.

Bass schools will respond well to soft vibes like the Jackall Mask Vibe 60, ice jigs such as those from the Smak range and small soft plastics such as the Gulp 3” Jigging Grub.

The guys at Davo’s Bait and Tackle in Noosaville have an excellent range of lures catering for the freshwater market. They should be able to tell you where the best action has been taking place and what lures are working well.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

The fishing at Borumba has been a little on and off. Reports coming in suggest the bass are shutting down quickly after a few are caught from the school. The best way to get them to bite again is to leave the area for about an hour and come back again.

There are schools holding around the second yellow boy and at The Junction, which is the start of the trees where the Kingham and Yabba arms meet. Alternating between these two spots should increase your catch rate if the fish won’t continue to bite.

Most of the bass schools will be found in 6-11m of water and they will respond to various lures. Soft vibes, ice jigs and soft plastics are all good choices. The 7cm Powerbait Ripple Shad in the cola colour rigged on a 3/8 or 1/2oz jighead has been particularly effective.

The saratoga have been a bit quiet but there are plenty of golden perch holding around the start of the timber. The submerged island on the left hand side as you enter the trees has held heaps of goldens for the past month. These fish should remain in the area and will occasionally take a lure. If you want numbers, try fishing live shrimp or saltwater yabbies.

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

Results from Lake Moogerah have been hit and miss over the past month. While some anglers are having excellent sessions others are missing out altogether. This suggests the bass may be holding in a particular area or are responding to something out of the ordinary.

Those finding most joy have been keeping things pretty close to their chest. The good news is the bass are there to be caught if you are prepared to put in the time and work for them.

There have been a few reports of the bass responding well to suspending lures fished around the weedy edges of the lake. The left hand bank at the start of the timber is a good spot to try your luck but if it fails, don’t give up there. Study the weed around the edges and pick the most likely places for bass to hang out.

A couple of decent Mary River cod have been caught while casting lures so you never know when you are going to get lucky. If you do manage to land a cod or lose one during the fight, be quick to get back to the area where it was hooked and fought. Mary River cod often hang in pairs and the mate of the last fish should be all fired up.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Highfields

Even through the cold winter days, golden perch are still being caught on live shrimp out in the deep water. Dropping shrimp in the old creek channel out from the boat ramp has been scoring quite a few of these species. The occasional one will also take a hopped lipless crankbait but the lure action has slowed down a lot.

Sound around for a likely spot keeping an eye on the sounder. Most fish have been coming from water over 12m deep.

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

The cold weather is keeping all but the most diehard anglers away.

Golden perch are tougher to catch and won’t fire right up again until mid-spring. Live bait is the best way to fool a few and you can’t beat live shrimp or frozen saltwater yabbies. Both baits can be hard to come by but taking the effort to get them is worthwhile.

During the colder months, goldens can be caught in shallower water (less than 5m) on top of the flats. Out from the boat ramp is a good spot to try but you can even catch fish standing on the bank at this time of year. The western side of the dam produces quite well.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. It’s a good place to kick back around a fire or snuggle up in a warm cabin. The new owner, Troy, will be able to take care of all your needs.

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

Boondooma continues to fish well for bass. The Balancing Rock area in the Boyne arm has been getting a flogging by lure anglers but this still hasn’t slowed the action. Other areas holding fish are the start of the Boyne and Stuart timbers as well as up near the buoy line at the dam wall.

In most areas the bass are holding quite deep. Here they can be caught on blade baits, lipless crankbaits, soft plastics and ice jigs. Change your lure often to see which presentation the bass prefer on the day.

In the timber golden perch have been taking frozen saltwater yabbies. This method seems to be one of the best ways to entice stubborn fish throughout the year. Next time you’re at the coast spend some extra time pumping yabbies as it might come in handy.

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

A few legal-sized bass have started to turn up. They are nothing to brag about but it is good to finally see some legal models hitting the deck. Trolling with blade baits and soft plastics is a good way to locate any schools holding in the deeper water between the boat ramps and Treasure Island. If these schools are found you can pull up and try your luck casting.

Yellowbelly (golden perch) numbers have been low but the quality of fish being caught is quite good. Try your luck around the points and in the start of the timber using live baits or frozen saltwater yabbies.

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

The team from Yallakool believe that winter school holidays are not always as busy as others because – let’s face it – who wants to camp in the cold? But anyone who did come out to the dam for their school holidays this June/July had a great time. Kids were catching catfish off the bank on live bait. This is made easier because they are nesting at the moment and protecting their nests.

Just after the rainy weather during the first week of the holidays, there some decent sized yellowbelly and bass caught off the bank on live shrimp. Fishing in deeper water is still producing a better catch but you have to be patient.

Fresh bait fishing is working better than lures but for those die hard lure anglers, deep diving lures to 15-20ft or blades in and around structures will be rewarding.

Despite the cooler weather some good redclaw were caught over the school holidays, but with the fluctuations in weather conditions they can be a bit hit and miss.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Most of the bass in Isis Balancing Storage are holding in the deep water. The weed growth around the edges has died off and only dribs and drabs of fish are being caught. There is a noticeable difference in the condition of these poorer fish compared to that of their mates enjoying the deeper areas.

The deepest flats in the lake are holding good-sized schools that can be found easily on a quality sounder. The area where the three arms meet is a good starting spot to run over with the sounder.

Once fish are found try casting blade baits to them. The bass haven’t been too fussy about the blade type although something around 1/4 or 3/8oz in gold or silver is ideal. Hopping and slow rolling techniques can be successful but try a little of both to see what the fish prefer.

Lipless crankbaits can also be used in the deep water with some success. The TN60 and TN50 Jackall are popular with the locals.

A few of the boys at Saltys Tackleworld in Bundaberg are regular bass fishermen and will be able to set you up with the right gear to enjoy the action, and also point you straight to some of the best spots.

The bass boys have also been enjoying the run of big bream in the Burnett River town reaches at the moment. 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

Not many anglers have been fishing the dam over the winter months, but those who have bothered to brave the cold have been rewarded with reasonable catches of bass.

A lot of the action has been taking place in the middle and upper reaches of the dam with the bass taking flies and lures.

Trolling has started to score a few fish again. Lure casters should keep this in mind and keep a close eye on the sounder for any deeper fish out in the open water that could be targeted on blades or soft plastics.

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 campsites, 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 have remained tough to catch over the last month. Jamie Bein from Monduran Barra Charters reports seeing a lot of barra cruising in the shallows and also on the sounder. They have been moving but refusing to eat. Last time they were moving like this it was just before they started to bite – here’s hoping for a similar occurrence.

A run of good weather and warm days are what is really needed to fire these lethargic fish up. Even through the tough month of June, one boat had a great night session landing a dozen fish. Cow Bay, which is in the northern arm of ‘B’, has been holding plenty of fish.

Stealth will be important if you plan to fool one of the wary barra in the shallows. The clear water at the moment makes long casts essential to keep a good distance between the angler and the quarry. Even bumping a lure against the side of the boat can be enough to scare the barra in the shallows in all directions.

Try using shallow diving hardbodied lures while the fishing remains tough. Lures need only run 1m deep and smaller models around 100mm long will be ideal for the small class of barra on offer.

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 campsites, 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

The hot water outlet from the power station on the Calliope River has been one of the most reliable places to catch barra. Casting 6” plastics and hopping lures like the TransAm 95 will see you hooked up to a few decent specimens in this area.

Schools of barra can be found in other areas and targeted on the same lures. It pays to run a side imaging sounder in your boat to locate patches. There can be a lot of barren water in between the areas holding good numbers of fish and a cast into the right area is likely to be eaten.

Out at the dam, the fishing has still been slow. I spoke to Kurt Hutchby from the hatchery and they have been working hard to increase the fish stocks. For the 2011-2012 financial year, 344,000 barra fingerlings were released into the dam. With the previous year’s fingerlings, there have been well over 500,000 barra go back into Awoonga. The smallest of these fish are around 40cm and growing fast, while the larger ones are well over legal size.

There are a lot of fodder fish in the dam so the growth rates of the barramundi will be exceptional. These fingerlings will be helping to boost the existing population of bigger models and when the dam fires again the hordes of anglers will return.

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

The deeper water has slowed right down in Proserpine and the only reports of barra captures have been from shallow water. Casting soft plastics to the shallow weed formations has been scoring some decent captures in the 80-100cm size range.

The Slick Rig Pro Range has been ideal but feel free to experiment with other lightly rigged offerings like Hollow Bellies. I recall one winter where a 7” Gulp Jerkshad rigged on a heavy duty worm hook was dynamite on the shallow water fish.

The mornings have been producing some of the best action but don’t rule out a late afternoon session – particularly if it has been a warm, sunny day.

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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