Spring into the freshwater action
  |  First Published: September 2012

The reasonable fishing conditions throughout August across the lakes and rivers are a good indication of a great fishing season ahead.

Hot bites were experienced at several lakes over the winter period but unfortunately the action failed to remain consistent. After a hot session one day, you could go out expecting the same only to be poorly rewarded for your efforts.

The changing weather and longer days in spring should be the trigger needed to ensure the fishing is hotter and more consistent. Spring will quickly bring core temperatures up several degrees and 20ºC+ water temperatures won’t be too far away.

All in all, spring is a great time to be out enjoying the freshwater. Bass will be firing after their post spawning cycle and carrying heaps of weight. The closed season for these fish will be lifted and we can once again enjoy targeting them in the rivers where they were protected.

Golden perch (yellowbelly) have been biting well on baits in the rivers and some dams over winter, and by the end of the month I’d advise tying on your favourite yella lures for lots more action. I’ve always liked the full moons in September and October for heightened golden perch activity. It may just be coincidence but this time of year can really see these golden battlers turn it on. The cold temperatures of winter really slow them down, but as the water temperature hits the right mark they become active and they need a higher food intake to sustain this level of action.

Barramundi will be more willing to play the game. This will be the case in the rivers and dams. Anglers have found these fish quite elusive and tough to tempt due to their flighty habits during winter. There will definitely be an increase in barra action and we can expect to see this improve even more as we head from spring into summer. I can’t wait. Bring it on!

All this great action has happened at the perfect time. I have almost finished building my new toy – an 18ft Reaper Bass Boat. It has been a project I have been working on in conjunction with Custom Ski Boats. The new Yamaha V-Max 200 SHO has almost been run in and is a sweet bit of gear. The motor has a sleek design with futuristic styling, making it look like something out of a Batman movie. The few little trimming bits and pieces and windscreen will have to wait because there’s just too much fishing to try and fit in at the moment. Between the new rig and my Polycrafts for the smaller creeks, rivers and inshore, there are plenty of fishing options now available.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Before I rave on about the fishing at Cressbrook, there are a few things I should explain. Cressbrook has been a tough fishery for quite a few years. There was the occasional session when you could really whack the bass but usually after nailing a few, the school would shut down. The fishing over the past month has been quite good and Cressbrook is leading the charge when it comes to choosing a dam where the bass are most willing to play the game.

The bass activity can quickly go downhill unless you take a few things into consideration.

Cressbrook bass are an easily spooked fish. Fishing pressure is the major cause of this and anglers often find the bass will shut down after a few are caught. There are several ways to help prolong the action and you can start by using silent lures with a subtle action. Try soft plastics first, then blades and only opt for rattling and noisy lures as a last resort.

Likewise, hold well off the fish holding area. I have found the anchor button on my new Minn Kota i-Pilot electric motor is awesome for this. I simply point the nose of the boat into the wind and hit the button. The i-Pilot locks onto the spot using GPS and does the rest while I stand on the back casting deck of the boat and fish away without having to worry about controlling the boat. I use a very long cast and stay at least 40m from the main concentration of bass. On a windy day you can even increase this distance and use the wind to deliver longer casts.

Part of the trick is to use light braided lines. I run several types for distance casting but it’s hard to beat Berkley’s NanoFil. Cressbrook fish don’t require anything heavier than a 6lb braid line with 10lb leader on a 2-4kg spin outfit around 7” long.

Once you catch a few fish, place them in the livewell until you have your limit on board. Then drive several hundred metres away to release them. Even dropping a fish during the fight can shut down a school.

The way Cressbrook’s bass react to fishing pressure and different lure types isn’t always the same. At times they can be the most stubborn fish you will ever encounter, while at others they seem to throw caution to the wind and bite like crazy.

The number of bony bream in the dam is amazing. Thick schools can be seen on the sounder all over the dam. Flocks of black cormorants have moved in to eat their share but even they will struggle to make a dent in the population. Bonies are a great source of protein for predatory fish and after the boom in numbers, the quality of bass has really picked up. Where Cressbrook’s bass were once poor, skinny runts, they are now sporting thick shoulders and fat bellies.

It is the first time since the dam’s opening almost 20 years ago that I have seen baitfish in such numbers. It is obviously a result of the dam filling and continuous run-off raising nutrient levels to boost the whole ecosystem. With so much food and the bass already in top condition, Cressbrook is well on its way to producing some awesome fish and fishing in the next few years.

If you are heading to the dam, don’t forget your $2.50 in coins to get through the boom gate and the 8 knot speed limit which is in place. The dam has been closing after any serious downpours of rain. Water has been going over the spillway and the council is obviously worried that boaters might be silly enough to take the plunge as well.

If there has been any big falls of rain call in at Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street, Toowoomba or give them a ring on (07) 4636 6850. The boys at the store all compete in bass tournaments and really know their stuff.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The fishing at Somerset has slowly started to pick up. Schools have been hard to tempt, but at the beginning of last month, there was a brief period when they went crazy. Fishing wide of The Spit with blades, plastics and ice jigs was the way to entice these active bass. The action died down quickly but switched on anglers were still able to bag a few with ice jigs and soft plastics.

There are several other areas holding schooling bass, which are refusing to play the game. There is quite a large concentration on the deep drop-offs just north of Pelican Point. As the fish become more active this month it will be worthwhile checking out this area and either side of it at Bay 13 and the northern side of Pelican Point. Between this and the bass schooling at The Spit, you should be able to locate and entice a few fish to bite.

Spinnerbaiting and throwing lipless crankbaits rigged with beetle spin blades to the edges has also been scoring some quality bass. While the schools will be a better option this month, consider this as a backup plan if the schooling bass fail to perform. There have been some quality bass holding in around 3m of water below the houses at Queen Street not far from the big eagle’s nest in the dead tree on the water’s edge. In the timber north of Kirkleigh, there have also been some big bass caught while fishing edges. There is a lot of unproductive water between the fish so if you commit to fishing edges you need to take this into consideration.

Golden perch will become more active and you can expect to tangle with a few while casting around the edges. Bait fishers and lure trollers will also encounter more of these fish this month. The steep banks around the dam wall end of the lake and The Hump are good places to have a troll for September goldens.

If trolling, run a mix of lures as the goldens can, at times, sit shallower along the steep banks. A good option is to run a 3-4m diver on the inside and a 5-8m lure on the outside of the boat. This pattern will keep both lures swimming close to the bottom.

I noticed quite a few red claw trap floats at Pelican Point last time I was at the dam. Surely that is an indication there were still a few about, even in the cold of winter. As it warms up these crayfish should get a bit more active so it is worthwhile trying your luck if you’re heading out for a fishing session.

Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

Wivenhoe showed signs of promise at the beginning of winter but since then the fishing has been tough. Bass anglers hit the dam in an electric event early last month. The bass were very scarce but golden perch were quite common. The bank opposite the boat ramp at Logans Inlet and the point leading out into the main dam was where these fish were caught.

Catching some goldens on lures could be well worthwhile this month as they should only get more active as the weather warms. Try trolling while on the move and vary the depth of your run to see if you can pick up a few of these fish. Casting from the boat to the banks with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits should also tempt these fish.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Lake MacDonald has been fishing well for bass and golden perch with several areas producing fish. The weed edge in Bass Bay has been holding good numbers of bass. Fishing places where the weed drops away into 4-6m of water has been ideal. Smaller lipless crankbaits are effective with lures like the Duo Vibe, C’ultiva Mira Vibe and Jackall TN50 all worth a try.

Schooling bass should still be holding in the Bass Point area in 4-5m of water. Sound around to locate these fish, looking in the middle of the bay southeast of the scout camp. Once these bass are found, try casting soft plastics, blade baits, soft vibes, like the Jackall Mask Vibe or MF50, and jigging over schools with ice jigs.

The Bubble Trail is a popular and reliable spot for bass and golden perch. These fish can be whacked using live shrimp or, if you prefer luring, try soft plastics, blades and ice jigs.

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 water colour at Borumba has been very ordinary. The coffee coloured water offers poor visibility and as a result lure fishing has been very tough. The fish are still being seen on sounders in their usual haunts with The Junction holding plenty. Lure fishers are finding it very difficult to tempt these fish and the fishing won’t improve until the water clears.

Bait fishing The Junction and on the submerged island in the same area should still score well on bass and golden perch. Live shrimp or saltwater yabbies are the pick of the baits.

If you want to check up on the fishing and water clarity, be sure to call in and see the guys at Davo’s in Noosaville. 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

Most of the action at Cooby has still been in the deeper water. Golden perch have been responding to live bait fished in over 13m of water. As the water warms, the goldens should fire up more on lures.

Considering the fish are holding so deep, it may take another month or two for the water to warm up. It will be interesting to see if the goldens stay in the deep water or make the move to the shallower areas around the lake edge.

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: Warwick

Leslie dam has been tough over the last month with the best action coming from the creek up the back on baits of live shrimp or saltwater yabbies.

The action will improve this month with more fish willing to eat bait and even hunt down a trolled or cast lure.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The slow fishing at Coolmunda will start to improve this month. Golden perch were being caught on bait over winter but not in any huge numbers. The warming weather will be the spark to get the fish moving and more active again. Lure fishing with trolled diving lures that dive to around 5m will again produce fish. Don’t expect the action to be awesome as soon as spring hits, it isn’t likely to hit its peak until sometime in summer.

Trolling and bait fishing around the flats close to the creek beds should be the best option. Try in water from 4-6m deep and if the main basin fails, try working the start of the timbered areas.

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 Dam will be a good option this month. Bass action will continue and the golden perch population will start to fire up. Bass have been holding close to the bottom between The Junction and the start of the Boyne and Stuart timbers. Hopping lipless crankbaits off the bottom will see you connected to some of these fish. It is the perfect presentation to entice bass holding close to the bottom.

You could also consider the use of ice jigs when there are fish directly beneath the boat. If these fish become more active and lift well off the bottom, try using soft plastics and blade baits.

Golden perch numbers will increase this month. These fish love spinnerbaits cast around the edges of the lake. Trolling will be a top option with spinnerbaits and Smak Brolga hardbodied lures ideal for the task. Try trolling around rocky points or following submerged ledges.

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.

Closest Towns: Kingaroy
Fishing with live bait has still been proving to be the best choice at Bjelke-Petersen Dam this month. A regular to the park caught half a dozen golden perch late in August on live shrimp and had to bring his biggest catch up to the office to show it off. This 52cm, 8lb beauty was caught off Bass Point on live shrimp.
Bass have been tough to catch still. Those being caught are now reaching above 30cm and as the water warms we are expecting better fishing.
Just a quick update on the fishing competition in September. All nominations are eligible to go in the draw to win a 310 Stessco Aluminium Car Topper worth $1,800 kindly donated by Kingaroy Great Outdoors and Marine. There will be plenty of other cash and prizes up for grabs in each category and loads of raffles, kids activities, food available over the weekend. For further information or to nominate call Shona at the Yallakool Caravan Park Kiosk at Bjelke-Petersen Dam on (07) 4168 4746.
Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Bass have still been favouring the deeper water where the middle arm and timber arm meet. The fish can be found on the sounder right out in the middle of the dam but are not always easy to catch.

A slow hopping retrieve is often best while using 1/4oz blade baits. The Evergreen Little Max and Jackall Knockin’ Jaw blades have been popular with the local boys who regularly fish the lake. Most of the bass are 30-35cm in length but you can expect to encounter some 40cm+. When the bigger fish are on the bite, it’s not uncommon to catch several in the same session.

The edge fishing has been quiet and isn’t likely to pick up until next month. Stick to the deep water and refine those techniques. There will be plenty of opportunities to smack the bass around the weed later in the year when they return in numbers.

A few of the boys at Saltys Tackleworld in Bundaberg are keen bass fishermen and will be able not only to 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

The winter months made the fishing slow down but expect plenty of action now as the water warms and the days are longer. Cania is a great spot to pick up a mixed bag of fish on bait or lures with species like bass, golden perch, silver perch, saratoga and eel-tailed catfish on offer.

The top end of the dam in the timber has been the pick of the spots. Ice jigs hopped around the trees are a great way to pick up bass, golden perch and the occasional eel-tailed cattie. Baits like live shrimp fished in the same area will also be successful.

The upper part of the lake should also start to fish well on lures cast around the edges and to any schooling fish holding out wider below the boat. Try casting spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blade. Blades are a great option as they are also perfect for working schooling fish should they appear.

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

After a long run of great weather in August, the fishing in September should improve faster than normal. Winter has seen the barra very flighty in the shallow water. The fish have been seen on sounders and cruising the shallows but catching them has been very hard due to their spooky nature.

The warmer days of spring should soon snap the lake’s barra out of this mood and have them ready and willing to smack a lure. The fishing prior to winter was exceptional for the smaller class of barra to 70cm on offer. You can expect this action to start again this month and the fishing to be full on for the rest of the year. With the lake so close to full capacity, further rainfall in the catchment will see it running over again and this may affect the fishing.

Pinpointing the hot spots is the way to catch numbers of fish. Using one of the guides for a day or two can really be worthwhile as there is just so much water to explore all on your own. Make sure you stock up on small hardbody lures like the Halco Hamma 85 or Rapala X Rap XR08. The tackle store in Gin Gin, Foxies, also stocks a range of very successful Australian crafted timber lures. Soft plastics may pick up a few fish but I’d be saving them for the summer months, as hardbodies seem to be the best option.

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 houseboats and boat hire. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The nice weather at the end of winter should have given the barra a good kick-start. Warm, calm weather will still play a big part in having a successful outing.

There were a few barra about during the winter months with some anglers scoring two or three per session. These numbers should increase as the days get longer and the lake’s temperature increases.

The shallow waters up in the timber around the tea tree points and submerged weed beds and humps should produce well. Casting soft plastics like Slick Rigs and Powerbait HollowBellies will tempt these shallow holding fish.

Some barra will start to migrate towards the deeper trees that mark the creek channels leading back into the main basin. Diving lures that run to 4-5m cast in close to these trees may draw some crunching strikes.

Barra Baits in the 12ft model, 5m Halco Scorpions and RMG Poltergeists are good choices. All of these lures can be cranked down into the timber and allowed to float back up to the surface before being cranked down again.

Surprisingly, surface lures work quite well in the deeper water. The commotion they create on top is enough to draw the deeper holding fish all the way to the surface. Cupped face poppers like the 9cm Rapala Skitterpop and Roosta Popper 105 are ideal.

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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