Dam barra action steals the prize
  |  First Published: November 2012

The warmer water temperatures around this time of year bring a few changes. Bass will be adjusting and going through a transition in some areas while other species will be lapping up the comfortable temperatures.

Barramundi numbers really started to pick up last month although results were often dictated by the quality of the weather patterns. With warmer, more stable temperatures now here to stay, you can expect the good results to come more consistently.

Golden perch can really go nuts in the dams at this time of year with southern lakes like Coolmunda, Leslie, Pindari and Glenlyon among the top performers. This activity is likely to peak next month but each lake is different and the switch can flick at any time now.

Being on the water is the best way to find out what’s happening. While these reports are good to see what’s going on, there’s no point reading about the insane fishing that took place last month. There’s only one way to experience the action and that is to get out there and give it a go yourself!

After a couple of unpredictable seasons and tough fishing in various locations, barramundi numbers have dramatically increased. Last month excellent numbers were caught across most of the barra lakes. It is shaping up to be a good season and definitely a time to be out on the water chasing them. If I had to pick one species to target this month, barra steal first prize.

Over the past couple of years my Maroon and Moogerah reports have been trickling in from different sources. I’m pleased to announce I now have Chris Galligan back on board. He has brought himself out of his early fishing retirement and is spending a lot more time on the water. Maroon and Moogerah are his home lakes so it will be great to hear his slant on how to catch the fish from these locations.

Putting together reports isn’t just about informing the reader what has been happening but going one step further and predicting what will happen in the coming month. With this information, you can be one step ahead of the fish and have an idea of why last month’s fish are no longer where they were. Chris’ reports are interesting as he dabbles in different techniques from overseas. I’m sure his bedroom walls bear posters of Japanese Bass Pros wielding largemouth bass. He has taken their overseas techniques and managed to work out which ones work well on our own native fish.

Chris is importing a new range of awesome tackle storage solutions. The first shipment should be in so ask your local tackle store about Versus Meiho or check it out on Facebook. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Early indications show the bass are starting to move location at Cressbrook Dam. For months the schools have been holding in deep water around 10m. Several fish have now migrated to the shallower edges of the lake. Here, they are holding in 4-6m of water and can be targeted on various lure styles.

For now it will pay to check both the deeper schooling fish and those cruising around the shallower areas as one area may be outperforming the other. Let’s take a look at how to go about it.

The deep water areas over 8m deep will still hold fish. The buoy line near the pump tower, the point opposite the Eagles Nest rock wall up Cressbrook Creek and the first point west of the boat ramp have all been holding schools. The school that has been around Deer Island late in the afternoons seems to have relocated.

These fish can be tough at times and the best way to catch them is to use a long cast and keep the boat well away from the fish holding area. Soft plastics are a top choice and the natural coloured 7cm Powerbait Ripple Shads rigged on 3/8 and 1/2oz jigheads have been doing the damage when fished with a slow retrieve. Blade baits can work well too and now the water is getting warmer, they may actually become a better option than the plastics.

When fishing blades, try a slow rolling retrieve with pauses to let the lure fall back to deeper water. Mix it up by allowing the lure to fall on tight or slack line and breaking the steady vibrating action of the lure during the winds with a couple of rod twitches. Blade baits in the 3/8 and 1/2oz size will be ideal for the deeper water areas.

Should the deep water fish encountered be hugging the bottom on the sounder, try hopping a soft lipless crankbaits through them. If all else fails, vertically jigging an ice jig in the school can tempt the bass into biting. Expect plenty of half-hearted taps on the ice jig but persistence should produce some more solid hook-ups.

With bass moving to the shallower areas, anglers have been granted the chance to throw a wider selection of lures. The warm months are great times to experiment with reaction baits. Spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blades are all worth tossing into any shallower fish holding locations. These faster and flashier presentations normally get the job done. If the fish refuse, go back to the subtle action of a soft plastic.

Trolling deep diving hardbodies with small profiles has started to bag a few bass from the schools. Often the fish are holding well off the bottom so a trolled hardbody can be trolled straight through them. Bait anglers using live shrimp will also be rewarded. A vertical drop straight below the boat into the schools will see plenty of action.

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.

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 bass have been a little spooky at Somerset but the numbers are still there in schools around The Spit, the northern side of Pelican Point and Bay 13.

Lure casters have found it difficult at times to put fish in the boat. This is frustrating, especially considering the size of the schools sitting right below the boat. Various lures are capable of making these tight lipped bass bite. Soft plastics, blades and hopped soft vibes will all take fish at the right time. Mix it up and change between lures and if the fish fail to bite, keep moving.

Lure trollers have been having quite a bit of success. Kezza Lures have been dynamite on the fish with The Freak and Mud Puppy scoring heaps of bass and the occasional golden perch. These lures are available from Fish’N’Bits in Toowoomba so make sure you get them when you can or put in an order because they sell fast. Alternatively, you can try slightly bigger profiled deep diving hardbodies like the Golden Child or Blitz Baga. Another of my favourites for deep water is the Crazy Deep Poltergeist 50mm.

While the bass can be frustrating to catch on lures, they are quite easy on bait. Positioning the boat over a school and dropping live shimp over the sides is guaranteed to bring success. A little while ago I took my 8 year old son Blake and his mate, Timmy for a bait fishing session. I barely had time to close the lid of the bait container as the 40 bass they caught decimated the 50 shrimp I had bought from Highfields Bait and Tackle the afternoon before.

When fishing bait, drop the bait straight over the side of the boat and keep the line vertical and almost tight. A sinker on the bottom anchors the bait in position and a dropper loop can be used to attach the hook up to 1m above. I have always liked size 1 wide gape hooks for this style of fishing. If you drop the bait a few centimetres on detecting a bite, the fish will suck in the unrestricted offering and when you slowly tighten up, nine times out of ten you will be on.

The red claw crayfish that had been mad last year have still been a bit on the quiet side. As soon as they fire up I’ll be sure to let you know.

Closest Town: Boonah

Expect the bass to move into backwater locations with the warmer water temperatures. Weedless top water lures used early and late in the day are perfect for these shallows. Weedless rigged plastics are perfect in these waters when cast around the lilies and weed pockets.

The next option is shallow to mid depth jerk baits and suspending shads. Jerk baits are great for active fish and can be fished with a ripping jerky retrieve, the suspending shads are better fished using a roll and pause technique.

Working the weed edge with a Keitech Mono Spin Jig rigged with a single tail or hawg can also fool those wary bass. Cast the lure to the weed edge and as it sinks use a shaking retrieve. The more the rod is shaken the higher the lure will sit in the water column. Slowly retrieve the slack line and the bait will stay right in the zone as it slowly works down the weed face with a crazy shaking action. – Chris Galligan

Closest Towns: Fassifern, Boonah

Moogerah’s bass will start to make the move from deep areas back up into shallower country this month. Expect to locate bass in 5m of water more often than the 8m they were favouring. While fish can be found from the dam wall right up into the back of the timber, better numbers will hang off the points, especially those bearing timber structure.

It will still be worth a look in both these new areas and the old ones the fish were holding in over the past few months, but the warmer water usually triggers a movement around this time of year.

These bass can be caught on your usual presentations of soft plastics, blades and lipless crankbaits. Another option is to toss deep diving crankbaits. Lures like the O.S.P. Blitz Max DR, Zip Bait 4.0 and Jackall Muscle Deep are capable of reaching the right depth on the cast. While many anglers would throw these lures on braided line, try using 10lb fluorocarbon run straight through off the spool. Once the lure is cranked down to 3-5m deep, mix it up with slow rolls and pauses.

Don’t forget the boom gates at Lake Moogerah. The dams opening hours are 6am to 6pm and a pin code is required to open the gates. This can be obtained from the kiosk at the dam. – Chris Galligan

Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Thanks to bass guru Callum Munroe, we have a report for Lake MacDonald which unfortunately has been fishing quite tough. There are plenty of fish about but for some reason they aren’t cooperating. This of course may change over the coming month.

The Three Ways area has been holding quite a few schooling bass along the weed edges and in any of the deeper channels. From here, these fish are likely to move up to the palm plantation where they will remain schooled around the weed edge.

Casting lipless crankbaits over the schools and hopping them back through is a good way to tempt the larger specimens. Soft lipless crankbaits are also a good lure to use when using this technique. Blade baits and soft plastics are worth trying with a slower rolling retrieve to work the lure up through the fish before pausing and letting it sink back to the bottom.

Saratoga should be a lot more common this month. The water up past the palm plantation has plenty of great weed edges and gullies to hold these fish. Spinnerbaits during daylight hours and surface lures during periods of lower light will attract these awesome fish.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

Callum Munroe has reported the fish are catchable but the action is slow out at Borumba. Last month the dam rolled over, dirtying the water and slowing the action right down. Bass were still able to be caught around The Junction area where they were schooling and suspending in the tree tops. Callum caught his fish using banana prawn coloured 3” Gulp Minnow Grubs rigged on 3/8oz Nitro jigheads. The fact the fish were still catchable after a dam rollover indicates the action will pick up fast as soon as the water settles.

By now things should almost be back to normal and within weeks the fishing should be hot at The Junction and at other areas around the lake. Casting spinnerbaits to the weed beds and rock walls in the dam’s main basin will produce bass and golden perch.

Saratoga will be on fire in the upper reaches of the lake. The Kingham and Yabba arms will be the most reliable places to target these sportfish. Casting surface lures early in the day and then spinnerbaits as the sun rises higher in the sky will tempt these fish from the structure they hang around. The Borumba arm of the lake can also produce toga and receives a lot less fishing pressure.

Between the three arms, there is a lot of exploring to do and you never know what else you will encounter. Silver perch have started to turn up on occasions and are actually being taken from shallow areas while fishing surface poppers for toga. Bass and golden perch will fall for spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits when fishing toga waters.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

Last month, the fish started to fire up in the Hinze. Ever since the dam rose to capacity months ago, the fish have stayed out wide of the edges in the deeper water where they felt more comfortable. Water conditions around the edges must now be more favourable as the fish have been right up in the shallows early in the morning.

Surface luring along the more open banks away from the big flooded trees has been producing fish in the 35-40cm size range. One lucky angler boated a 48cm fish on a topwater lure. Sammy 65 and Cultiva Zippin’ Ziggy stickbaits will score plenty of the hits. I’m sure other poppers like the cupped-face variety and wake-baits would also work well.

The edges have also been producing fish when casting spinnerbaits. While scouring the banks for a fish, keep a close eye on the sounder for deeper schooling fish. Often schools will hold around the points but many have been found on the more open banks leading up to them in the last month. The schooling bass have been of similar size to those found closer to the edges at 35-40cm. These schools will be willing to take blade baits and heavier lipless crankbaits such as TN50 and Megabass Vibration-X Powerbombs.

Saratoga have been hard to find over the last couple of months. This is likely due to the poorer water quality around the edges. The toga being caught were actually caught out wide of the banks on trolled hardbodies. Now the bass have returned to the shallows, the toga won’t be far away from lurking in the usual haunts of bank side structure. The occasional toga will fall to surface presentations and spinnerbaits fished for bass over the coming months.

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 tackle section.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Town: Warwick

The golden perch activity has been picking up over the last month. The fish which were not responsive to lures over the cooler months now have a liking for trolled and cast offerings. The gun performer has been the lipless crankbaits; casting and trolling this lure has been effective.

When casting, anglers should target key areas such as points in the dam’s main basin or along the edges up the creek.

Bait has been taking golden perch all over the dam. One of the best locations is where the dam narrows up the back where the feeder creek runs in. Live baits of shrimp are always a top option but if you must use dead bait look for a tackle store that sells frozen saltwater yabbies.

The class of goldens coming from Leslie has been small by comparison to some other lakes. Numbers generally make up for this and if you are keen on putting some on the table at home they are at the perfect eating size.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

Already the golden perch action has started to pick up with anglers taking fish on baits and lures. This is likely to get even better over the next couple of months and you can expect to encounter the odd Murray cod if you put the time in on the water.

Trolling lures out in front of the dam wall should be one of the better ways to pick up some goldens. The fish can be suspended in the deeper water here or may move up onto some of the shallower flats, so explore the area by trolling or sounding to see where they are. Medium running lures like the 3m Halco Poltergeist work quite well. Last month the black with red head (H65 blood nut) colour was a real winner.

Murray cod can turn up at any time, on the troll or when bait fishing. Anglers who take the time to target them will be rewarded more. Targeting the drop-offs to the creek channel and finding submerged structure will greatly increase your chances of success.

Bait fishers have been catching plenty of fish on frozen saltwater yabbies. The mornings and afternoons will be the best time to soak a bait as the fish are usually more willing to move around. Try your luck in around 5-7m of water.

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 action has slowed a little but there are still plenty of bass and golden perch to be caught at Boondooma. Most of the bass action has been taking place upstream from the junction of the Boyne and Stuart arms with the gun spot being Pelican Point on the last corner of the Boyne before the timber. Here, the bass should be schooling in about 10m of water. Soft plastic paddle-tailed plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads are one of the best ways to entice these deep holding fish. Plastics like t-tails, shads or curl-tailed grubs of around 75mm in length will work best.

In the main basin of the lake, jigging ices jigs around the rocky points has been accounting for a few golden perch. It’s not a bad idea to have an ice jig in the water while bait fishing the same area. Bait fishers will be able to score a mixed bag of bass, golden perch and catfish from the timbered areas of the dam. Live shrimp and worms fished right under the boat will work well on these fish.

To pick up some more advice or the right gear for the job, call in and see Matthew 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 action has finally started to pick up at Bjelke with small bass and monster golden perch making up the majority of catches. The timber at the back of the dam has been a productive location for both species with lures fooling the bass and bait the secret to tempting the big goldens.

Trolling lipless crankbaits in the timber should produce quite a few small bass. These fish are starting to improve in quality with the better ones around 35cm long.

Live shrimp and worms will catch the golden perch. These yellowbelly have been caught at over 5kg in recent times and fish over 3kg are not uncommon. While big fish worth bragging about, they are not in big numbers and certainly not the best eating. A photo and release is probably the best option for these big mommas.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The Isis will be a great place to visit and refine all those bass fishing techniques. With scattered fish out in the deep water, schools on the edges of weed beds and resident fish patrolling the thick weed there aren’t many techniques which won’t work at this lake. The hardest part is finding the right one on the day to produce the fish.

Out in the middle of the dam where the three arms meet, bass can be found in small numbers. A sounder is the only way to do this and once found these fish can be caught on hopped mask vibs and 3/8oz blade baits such as the Little Max.

On the edges of the weed schools will often form in around 3-5m of water. A lot of these fish are smaller specimens but sorting through them can reward you with a bass of better quality. These fish are great for practising different techniques on. Blade baits, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, lipless cranks - the list goes on! If it’s a sinking lure, it should be capable of catching these fish. A hint for targeting the bigger ones is to hop a lipless crankbait or even try a skirted jig with a curl-tail grub trailer.

The resident fish in the weed are tougher to target due to the nature of the environment in which they live. When they are out of the weed it allows more room for error with presentations but when they hang tight to the weed beds, the lures need to be brushing against the vegetation to find success.

Spinnerbaits are one of the easiest lures to get close and keep clean due to the upward facing hook while the lure is being retrieved. Blade baits and lipless crankbaits can be very effective but their treble hooks tend to grab the weed the second they brush against it. A sharp rip to tear the weed free form the hooks is the answer and the lure can then be fished for the rest of the retrieve.

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 town: Gin Gin

Being one of the closest barra dams to Brisbane, Monduran is sure to start seeing a lot more visiting anglers once the word of the barra fishing gets out. When the weather was favourable over the past month, the barra fishing was great.

The fish being caught were of a smaller calibre at around 60-80cm but it is good to see numbers hitting the boats since the big flood which caused a lot of the bigger fish to take a free ride to the water below the spillway. Big barra are still a possibility with a fish over 1m long coming from the Two Mile area just last month.

Hardbody lures have been the answer for most anglers with some finding fish shallow on the Bomber Long A and B52. These shallow holding fish are coming from the bays that are off the main river system. One lure that is rarely fished on barra is the Scorpion Skin Deep. With the shallow diving bib, the lure can be rolled about a metre below the surface but it is also great to attract fish by popping it on the top like a surface lure before a retrieve commences.

Deeper bays and the points in the same areas and in the northern arm of B have been producing well on small suspending hardbodies capable of diving deeper. The Jackall Hank Tune and 3m Hamma 85 would be two of my favourites. Longer pauses are proving deadly on the fish when they are in the area. Once the lure is worked down into the zone, allow it to pause for 5-10 seconds before the next twitch. Local Guide, Jamie Bein, suggests keeping it as tight to structure as possible.

When looking for spots to fish, consider the dam level. If water has recently dropped, dying weed can be a turn off to the fish. Also take into account the wind direction; a northerly wind blowing warm water across your chosen bank is the perfect scenario. Monduran has a massive shoreline so take time to pick your spots or ask for some help from the locals by heading into the kiosk at the lake or Foxies tackle store in Gin Gin.

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

The exciting news is the increase in the number of barra coming from the lake. The warmer weather has brought more anglers out of hiding and early indications seem to show the dam fishing getting better.

In the last month I have heard two very positive reports. Some metre-plus fish both lost and landed in Kens Bay in the Iveragh arm prove there are some big models still to be caught in the dam. These fish were hard work to hook and the angler certainly put in the hours for them.

Another report was from the main basin where a couple of guys had a good session with about seven fish landed and more lost. They backed it up again the next day by whacking a few more fish. These fish were caught casting hardbody lures to the edges in the main basin.

With the ABT Awoonga Barra competition on the 30 November, a lot of switched on anglers will be hitting the dam. Their results will hopefully get people excited about heading to Awoonga once again. I’m really looking forward to hearing how this event goes and hope the weather is favourable for the event.

The river below the dam will be out for the next few months during the closed season. It’s good to see the action in the dam pick up to give anglers a year round option.

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

Keen barra anglers have been excited and spending plenty of time on Peter Faust Dam. Monster barra have been the reason with the average-sized fish being around 1m long. Results have been coming from a variety of locations but this is set to change a little over the next month.

The concentration of barra around the western side of the dam is likely to disperse with some of the monsters making a move to the main basin of the lake. Westerly winds are the trigger to this movement and see warmer water blowing back across the lake to the dam wall. The big girls follow and head out into the open where they hold around the deep drop-off to the old river bed and gorge on massive schools of bony bream.

Trolling has always been one of the best options for these fish. Running a deep lure in close and a shallower offering out the back is a good ploy. Local guide Lidsay Dobe swears by a Poltergeist in close and a 160 or 190 Laser Pro out the back. If the fish are being found on the sounder but won’t co-operate try speeding up the troll to around 6km/h.

If good concentrations of barra are found on the sounder, it may be worth casting a soft plastic, heavy lipless crankbait or Transam 95 through them. This cast and retrieve approach is for the more switched on angler but I’m sure the results will be worthwhile if barra can be located in reasonable numbers.

Plenty of fish will stay back on the northern side of the dam. Here the shallow points around the trees will fish best early. On a warm morning start off with a surface lure such as Cultiva Tango Dancer or a 9cm Rapala Skitter Pop. After that or on the cooler mornings try subsurface with a shallow running suspending hardbody like a Halco Hamma or Rapala XR12. Sit wide of the points to pepper them with casts and as the day wears on, fan some casts out wider to intercept any barra making the move back to deeper trees.

By 8am it will be time to venture back to deeper areas and target barra around the creek lines leading through the timber and onto shallow points where they feed during low light periods. The deeper trees can be fished effectively with soft plastics and deep diving hardbody lures. Battling big barra here is a lot of fun. With many trees in the area, it makes for exciting fishing.

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

The big barra in Kinchant have been on the chew but expect to put in the hours for good results. A full moon night session would be one of the best options this month and if my wife loves me enough, she will understand my need to be there rather than at home doing man jobs.

Soft plastics, hardbodies and surface lures will all entice the big girls from Kinchant. Expect soft plastics to be one of the better options now the water has warmed up. Study the weed formations and pick routes the barra will travel through at night or broken weed areas where they can lay and rest to ambush feed during the day.

If you are chasing your first metre-plus barra this year, Kinchant is the place I would be heading to.

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