Awesome freshwater fishing locations
  |  First Published: October 2012

If whoever made the saying, ‘good things come to those who wait’ was talking about fishing, they were spot on. Right now our freshwater lakes and systems are fishing brilliantly.

Quite often it is case where a hotspot will dictate the choice of location for my next trip and at the moment there are so many options to consider.

Bass have been biting in plenty of dams and are in prime condition. Golden perch, which have been taking baits in the rivers and dams over the cooler months, have now fired up and will take lures too. Murray cod have been coming from the creeks and rivers, and the dams are sure to produce as we approach the end of the year.

Things have been a bit slower on the barra scene to take off but once they decide it’s time to hunt the baitfish in their system, they’ll be fighting for our lures. With such great fishing on offer, there are never enough days to be out on the water.

Lately, there have been a few sessions where I have had to ruffle through the tackle boxes to find the right lure for the job. Old techniques that I am a bit rusty on have been working well. To be successful, a freshwater angler really should be able to perform with a full bag of tricks.

For the impoundments in the South East, ensure you have a good range of lures, like assorted soft plastics, various jighead weights and styles, ice jigs, blade baits, silent and rattling lipless crankbaits, soft lipless crankbaits, bibbed minnows and spinnerbaits. I could continue with the list but with these lures, there are not many situations you won’t have covered. Having a good range of lures and knowing when to use them either by trial and error or previous experience will really pay off.

Our lake dwelling fish can cop a lot of fishing pressure and being able to present the right lure in the right manner certainly pays off. Taking note of the smaller details and refining techniques so they can be repeated once a successful pattern is cracked will ensure you keep putting fish in the boat. We all long for the days when the fish come easy but it is usually persistence and hard work that puts the numbers in the boat.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Switched on anglers are still managing to catch their share of quality bass from Lake Cressbrook. The schooling fish can be hard to find but frequent the same areas from one week to the next. A stealthy approach, long casts and positioning the boat away from the hotspot will ensure a longer bite time.

The Bull Creek arm (through the buoys past the pump tower) has held scattered bass around the toilet point. These fish will hold close to the drop-off and can be found in 7-11m of water. Rolling a soft plastic slowly through the school can see the fish tapping away at the offering. A slow continuous wind seems to be getting the fish excited. Any fast movement or drop backs after the initial bite seems to scare the fish off.

The toilet point fish have been holding close to the bottom on most occasions. This places them in the perfect position for jigging ice jigs. The Smak 12g model has been accounting for heaps of bass when jigged with a sharp but short hop.

The point on the northeastern side of Deer Island has been holding schools of bass on occasions. Soft plastics will entice them but they have also been fond of a slowly wound blade bait. Small blades around 3/8 or 1/4oz are ideal for the slow retrieves in the deeper water.

The point opposite the Eagles Nest up Cressbrook Creek has also been holding its share of bass. These fish are still quite scattered and when they eventually bunch up at the same depth, the school will be massive. The action has been a little slower but now the water has warmed, these fish may be more responsive.

The bass in Bass Bay near the buoy line have slowly moved away but this is an indication they will re-school in new areas. Explore all the major points that extend into the dam, paying attention to water between 7-10m deep. Stick with deep water presentation like ice jigs, plastics and blades and you should be rewarded.

The masses of bony bream are likely to keep the fish happy and holding in deeper water but keep an eye on their movements as they have been favouring similar depths all over the dam, despite schooling in different areas.

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 that is in place.

For all your supplies and expert advice, 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 action at Somerset started to pick up at the beginning of spring. Fish that were hard to find started popping up in schools all over the place. Bass were in excellent numbers at The Spit and the big flat between Kirkleigh and Queen Street and Pelican Point. Other schools will start to pop up more consistently in the usual haunts like Bay 13, The Eagles Nest and Poly Pipe Point.

Somerset fish, although quite easy to find, can be tough to catch. Anglers will need to be switched on and prepared to try a variety of methods. Some days the fish throw caution to the wind and bite like crazy but can be frustrating to tempt the very next day. Make sure you have a selection of lures ready to hit the water.

Ice jigs are ideal for vertical presentation when the fish are right below the boat. Sharp hops in the school should see them tapping away at the jig. Soft plastics and lipless crankbaits can be slowly wound and hopped through the schools or even trolled across the flats with an electric motor when searching for fish.

The fish’s reaction to blades hasn’t been as good as normal but be prepared to try them as the mood of the bass may change. Blades are one of the fastest and most effective ways to put fish in the boat when they are whacking them.

Golden perch numbers will be on the rise. Anglers targeting bass in the deeper water will start to pick up a few of these fish as by-catch. Trolling the southern side of Pelican Point in 7-9m of water with deep diving hardbodies, like Blitz Bagas, Golden Childs and Kezza Freak,s will score some of these fish.

The same lures can be worked around the steep bank opposite Pelican Point, the steep walls near The Spit and around the trees up past Kirkleigh.

Bait fishers will start to reap the rewards due to the more active fish. Live shrimp dropped into bass schools will be quickly nailed. A vertical drop over the side is best as it allows the angler to better feel the bites and set the hook on picky fish.

Shrimp, small crays and saltwater yabbies will be great baits for targeting golden perch. The timber north of Kirkleigh is a good option. If you pull up on a school of banded grunter or tilapia move on as they will quickly deplete your bait supply.

Redclaw crayfish will be more active and can be caught in deeper water in opera house traps. Try water around 7m deep and be prepared to move the pots every couple of hours if they are empty upon checking.

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Bass and golden perch have been coming in fairly good numbers over the past month. If the dam level remains stable, the action should stay the same or even improve.

Bass have been whacking lipless crankbaits around the weed edges in Bass Bay and the Three Ways. Casting and retrieving lipless crankbaits in tight to the weed and following the contour will ensure you are in with a good chance. Lighter lipless crankbaits are a really good option around weed edges and are best fished on light spin tackle to ensure they obtain the best action.

The Bubble Trail will be the spot to chase golden perch. Jigging ice jigs or working blades will account for some decent goldens but live bait will almost guarantee success. Live shrimp can be caught in the creek below the dam wall. Placing some pots along the weedy botanical gardens stretch may also pick up a few shrimp or small crays.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

The water visibility has started to improve and as a result the lure fishing has picked up. Callum Monroe managed to boat around 30 bass in a session last month with plenty of fish over 40cm, and the odd one over 50. Soft plastics and ice jigs have been the gun lures, with the Powerbait 9cm Ripple Shad in ayu colour rigged on a 1/2oz jighead standing out.

Heaps of bass will be schooling at the start of the timber where the Kingham and Yabba arms meet. The rise on the left hand side, which becomes an island at lower levels, should continue to hold plenty of fish in the 4-7m depth range.

Further up the Kingham Arm, Rows Island has also held some schooling bass. Around the edges the fish should be more lively, with golden perch, bass and saratoga willing to take spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

The shallow water fishing at Hinze has started to improve with quite a few bass whacking surface lures in the early morning and late afternoon. The best action has been coming from the banks with no drowned trees. These areas aren’t all that common so it shouldn’t be hard to pick a suitable spot.

Throughout the day, the deeper water out from the prominent points has been the place to hit. Working 1/6 and 1/4oz blade baits, small lipless crankbaits and soft plastics through the schooling fish has been scoring quite a few. Lately, the 46mm Big Eye Blade and Rapala 5cm Rippin’ Rap have been effective.

If you are after any information on Hinze and the fishing, call in and see John at Go Camping, 10 Spencer Street Nerang. John specialises in catching the Hinze saratoga and when he’s not fishing, you’ll find him at Go Fishing’s fishing section from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Highfields

Cooby has been a little slow to pick up but the action should start to improve from this month through to the beginning of next year.

Golden perch are being caught on bait in the deeper water of the main channel out from the boat ramp. The occasional fish is falling to a hopped lipless crankbait in the same area. From the shore, a few goldens are being caught on live shrimp along the medium sloping and steeper banks.

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

I don’t have much to report on Leslie. Bait anglers were catching reasonable numbers of golden perch from the upper part of the dam last month. The warmer weather should bring them on and catches on lures will increase.

Try trolling lipless crankbaits and medium diving hardbodies up in the creek and around the major points of the main basin.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

The golden perch activity is slowly starting to pick up. Bait has been the key to catching a few fish over the past month, although catches on bait and lures will increase with the warming water temperature.

The best baits have been saltwater yabbies, prawns and live shrimp.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. 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

The fishing at Boondooma has been awesome. Bass have been the highlight with fish schooling in heaps of areas and willing to eat cast lures. Soft plastic paddle tail shads and grubs rigged on 3/8 and 1/2oz jigheads have been doing the damage.

Slow retrieves through the schooling fish at The Junction, Pelican Point and the start of both timbers should be rewarded. The bass have been holding in 8-10m of water with other schools popping up all over the dam.

Jigging ice jigs with short sharp hops has also been effective.

The edge bite has picked up. Casting lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits to the edges will score some big golden perch and the occasional bass. The timbered arms are a great place to target using this method and are home to some thumper goldens. Due to the warmer water and plenty of fish over 50cm in length, expect some hard tussles after you hook up.

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: Murgon, Goomeri

The fishing has been pretty steady at Bjelke. While plenty of anglers have struggled, some have been rewarded with catches of small bass around the lake edges using blades and soft plastics.

Bait fishers have managed some quality golden perch when using live shrimp. When bait fishing you can expect a few eel-tailed catfish and the odd silver perch mixed in.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

A few changes have taken place at Isis over the past couple of months. Schooling bass that were holding in the deeper water have migrated to the shallow regions.

The dirty water has cleared right up so the bottom is visible metres below. This will call for a stealthy approach and presenting lures tight to the weed where the bass are able to dart in and out to ambush them.

A lot of the lure action has been taking place tight on the weed edge where black coloured bass have been residing. These bass will fall for 1/4oz blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits worked close to the weed reefs. Once the lure touches the edge, give it a rip to free it from any trailing weed before continuing the retrieve. Little Max 1/4oz blades, Megabass Vibration X Powerbombs and Jackall TN50 in the silent versions would certainly be worthy of a run.

A bass electric event was held on the lake last month. Young gun, Jordan Renz took it out by hopping Jackall Knockin Jaw blades to schooling fish in around 5m of water. Often the schools will contain smaller bass. It just goes to show it is always worth a crack in the schools in case they contain some bigger specimens.

Surface luring has started to pick up and some quality bass can be caught if you are prepared to hit the water early. Casting C’ultiva Zippin Ziggy Stickbaits around the submerged weed beds is a great way to look for those big bass willing to rise to the top and nail a lure.

A few of the boys at Saltys Tackleworld in Bundaberg are keen bass fishers 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. 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

Bass have been common in the upper reaches of the dam. These fish are coming from the timbered area on ice jigs and blade baits. Hopping retrieves have been getting the fish fired up. In the main basin of the dam bass have been caught but, by all reports, are not in the same numbers.

Bait fishers have been scoring a mixed bag of bass, golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish. Bait seems to be producing fish all over the lake.

Saratoga numbers should start to increase if specifically targeted in the shallower areas. They will hold around the standing trees and structure around the lake edge. They can be caught on spinnerbaits, beetle spins and small hardbodies. Since a lot of anglers have been targeting the bass in deeper water, the saratoga haven’t been all that common.

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

Last month was pretty slow but the barra action should step up a notch as the water starts to warm.

The fish have been seen cruising around in the shallows but presentation of lures has been enough to make them flighty and scared. The big bays and weed beds have been holding these fish so persist, especially in the upper part of the dam.

The better water is up past White Rock, which is no longer there. The painted stone has fallen in the dam so you’ll need to rely on a map or knowledge from a previous visit to know when you have passed the spot. Areas like the south and north arm of B, Jacks, The Cattle Yards Bay and Insane Bay will all be worth a look.

Small, suspending hardbodies were very effective on the smaller class of barra prior to winter. With this in mind, I’d be throwing lures like the Halco Hamma 85 or some of the timber hardbodies available from Foxies in Gin Gin.

As the water warms up later in the year, it may be time to break out some soft plastics but for now stick to hardbodies.

The tackle store in Gin Gin, Foxies, stocks a range successful barra lures. You’ll also be able to get an idea of where the fish have been hiding and pick up a detailed lake map.

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.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

There haven’t been any reports from the dam this month. I heard whispers of a few fish being caught well up the Boyne River.

The coming months and warmer conditions will be the time to get out and try your luck. Soft plastics fished around the edges of the dam will be the way to entice the fish. Anglers have reported seeing quite a few barra on the sounder so sooner or later, these fish will have to bite.

The Boyne River below the dam wall and above Pikes Crossing has started to fire up. Barra are taking soft plastics like Powerbait Hollowbellies and Squidgy Slick Rigs. Further downstream, barra are coming within an easy run of Benaraby.

The Upper reaches of the Calliope River has also been fishing well for barra and mangrove jack.

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

Barra have been caught from the deep trees and from the shallow points over the last month. The action is set to continue with similar results.

The shallow points up in the timber have been producing a smaller class of barra. Fish in the 50-90cm size range have been taking surface lures, plastics and hardbodies in these areas.

The deeper tree lines marking the old creek beds have been holding a bigger class of barra. Barra to 80-120cm will be lurking and can be targeted with medium diving hardbodies. The Scorpion 125, in 3m and 5m models in the king brown colour, has been a gun lure. It would pay to have a couple of these in the box, as well as a barra bait in the 12ft and 20ft models.

In the main basin, the odd fish has already been taken while trolling. The full moons from now on will be prime times to target some Proserpine monsters. Trolling the open water around bait schools at night is the way to hook up to beasts over 120cm long. The 190mm Laser Pro trolled at a faster speed seems to bring good results.

Troll lures well behind the boat and don’t be afraid to move along above 6km/h. Some compare the technique to trolling for mackerel but the results speak for themselves.

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.

Closest Town: Mackay

Early reports on Kinchant Dam indicate it will be another awesome year.

Catches of barra have been high for those anglers prepared to fish night sessions around the full moon. Soft plastics cast into the pockets and runways through the dense weed will score some massive fish.

The barra tend to move around mostly at night but finding the best areas is done in daylight hours. Anchoring positions can be evaluated to best place casts into the fish tunnels in the weed. Once set up, it is just a matter of repeatedly casting to the chosen area while waiting for the fish to move through.

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