Trolling Time in the Dams
  |  First Published: December 2012

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Christmas. Over the last year, there have been plenty of great freshwater fishing opportunities.

Being prepared to travel to the hot spots is the way to experience the best fishing on offer. Whether you’re into bass, barra, toga, goldens or cod, there have been plenty of opportunities to take part in the action. One of the more recent areas to fire up (and just in time for the wild barra closed season) has been Awoonga Dam. The lake hasn’t seen a lot of anglers since the big flood two years ago where it lost a lot of its big barra population over the dam wall. A few switched on anglers have been out whacking some small and medium sized barra in preparation for an ABT Barra Tournament. Stay tuned for a more detailed report on that next month.

The summer months are an excellent time for all forms of angling. You can drop bait, cast a lure or troll. Trolling becomes an excellent option over the next few months. Bass schools tend to scatter on some lakes and trolled lures are the way to cover heaps of water. Golden perch will be active and therefore more willing to respond to our fancy bits of plastic and timber. Barramundi should push a little deeper to avoid the heat and here they can be targeted with a trolled hard body or even a soft plastic.

If anyone is keen to contribute to the freshwater section of the QFM, please get in touch via my email address. It is a chance to promote the fishing in your area and if you run a business, you’ll get to give it a free plug. I look forward to keeping you up to date on all the freshwater action next year. I wish you all a safe Christmas and New Year and plenty of rod bending action. Until next year, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Cressbrook has been a tough dam to fish and unless you put in the time to find fish, chances are you will go home empty handed. On my last trip, we spent a couple of hours motoring around checking points and deeper water for bass schools. After a little while it appeared most bait and bigger fish had moved into 3-6m of water. Early indications showed the fish starting to make this move two months ago and this is where they have taken residence and should stay over the summer months. The schooling bass can turn up on the points in the main dam basin or in Bass Bay, near Deer Island or off the long point opposite the Eagles Nest.

Once found, the bass schools can be easy to catch. In the shallower water the fish will be suckers for soft plastics. The Powerbait Ripple Shad in black and gold has been working well when rigged on a 3/8oz jighead. Other lures which can produce are a hopped Jackall Mask Vib 60 or slowly retrieved 1/4oz blade bait. The mood of the fish will dictate lure choice.

With the fish in shallower water, trolling medium running lures in 5m of water may produce. Last month, some big bass around 50cm were caught trolling Smak 12 hard bodies. Kayak anglers seem to have plenty of success due to the stealth of their craft. If fishing from a boat try using an electric motor to increase catches. When the bass are really on, they will still eat lures trolled behind an outboard powered boat

Live shrimp will be a good bait to use. With more fish close to the banks, there is the chance of scoring a bass when fishing from the edge. The spangled perch population has increased over the last year and they can be quick to pick bait off, especially in shallower water. For best results try dropping a live shrimp straight below your boat in around 6m of water. Try fishing out from the points which jut out into the dam. The north-west side of the dam would be a good option.

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 big bass at Somerset will start to scatter over the coming month though smaller bass should still be quite easy to find in the regular haunts. Pelican Point, Bay 13, The Eagles Nest and The Spit will all hold schooling bass. These smaller fish will respond to blade baits and soft plastics when cast into the heart of the school. Somerset fish can be finicky and after you fish a spot for a while they can get tougher to catch. Moving between spots can pay off as the rest the fish have in between can be enough to see them active when you return.

Trolling deep diving lures will be a great way to tempt the bigger scattered fish. Deep diving lures like the Kezza Freak and Mud Puppy, the Blitz Baga and Halco Crazy Deep Poltergeist are all good options to reach Somerset’s deep schooling fish. Trolling covers plenty of water and if you keep a close eye on the sounder you may find better concentrations of bass to target with cast offerings.

Closest Town: Boonah

The warmer days have triggered the surface activity and bass are responding well to topwater lures. Throwing weedless frogs, pencil baits like the Sammy 65 and small poppers early and late in the day will bring the fish out of hiding. The weed and lily pockets around the lake edges are the perfect place to target. Cast surface lures past the target area and work them into it. Allow a long pause in the fishiest looking water and bring the lure to life with a few twitches before working it out of the productive looking pockets.

The backwater areas have been producing some of the best action. As the day warms up, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits and deep micro cranks are all worth giving a run. While bass will be the main species caught, the odd golden perch will fall to the same presentations. Expect the bigger bass to be holding in the deeper holes around the weed. These better quality fish may concentrate in an area but they are not usually found in schools.

Redclaw numbers have been good at Maroon. This is one of the few lakes where the redclaw have fired up this year. Setting opera house pots in 5m of water seems to be the best option. Move your traps around until you find the most productive spot. If camping, leaving the traps in overnight will further increase your chances of a good haul. - Chris Galligan

Closest Towns: Fassifern, Boonah

Mixed reports are flowing in from Moogerah with the action being a bit hot and cold. Anglers are finding the fish but having trouble getting them to bite one day, only to return on another occasion and catch stacks of fish. Points have been holding fish and if found here they will take blades, soft and hard lipless crankbaits and soft plastics.

Numbers of fish will make the move to shallower water this month. Here they can be targeted with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. These reaction presentations will perform well and if fish are found in an area, it may also pay to work a deeper jerkbait. When working the edges, look for banks with structure. Even underwater changes in bottom formation can be enough to hold bass.

Don’t forget the boom gates at Lake Moogerah. The dam’s 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

The warmer weather has the fish fired up to take surface lures. Working topwater lures around the weedy edges has accounted for some quality bass in the past month and there has been the occasional saratoga encounter. Borer Creek, Eagles Bay and the Three Ways have been holding some of the better quality bass of 40-45cm.

Later in the day, try working the weed edge and deeper pockets with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Always keep an eye out for deeper schooling bass. These fish can be targeted with soft plastics and blade baits. The Jackall Mask Vibe 60 has been producing some better quality bass but expect most to be smaller at around 30-40cm.

A reliable place to find schooling bass and golden perch is the Bubble Trail. Deeper presentations like blades and soft plastics or even ice jigs will get the job done here. The Bubble Trail is also a popular and reliable bait fishing spot. Look for schooling fish along the edges where the bottom drops away into the old creek bed.

Saratoga will be worth a shot south of the big weedy point on the way to Borer Creek. Toga will take lures intended for bass so you can usually get away with surface offerings early and late in the day then lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits when the sun is higher.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie, Noosa

Callum Munroe has been hassling Borumba’s bass and has offered a few tips to catch them. The water has started to clear up and the lure fishing has picked up as a result. The ever-reliable junction of the Yabba and Kingham arms is holding plenty of bass. These bass are suspending in the tree tops and should remain in the area over the next month. Soft plastics worked through these suspending fish are the ideal choice and if snagged on some underwater structure won’t break the bank if lost. Try 3” paddle-tail shads and grubs rigged on1/4oz and 3/8oz jigheads.

In the main basin around the first yellow buoy have been some decent schools of smaller bass, around 30-35cm in length. Blade baits and soft plastics can be worked through them and will usually produce the goods. A few golden perch have been mixed in with the bass. Bait fishers using live shrimp can expect to catch bass and golden perch around the same areas as the lure fishermen as well as any of the prominent points and steep walls in the main basin.

Up in the Yabba Arm, saratoga have been whacking lures around the water lily islands. Surface lures like the Megabass Anthrax and Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy are a top choice and can bring on those big toga surface boils as they inhale them. If the surface action is slow, try spinnerbaits, beetle spins or shallow diving hard bodies.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Town: Inglewood

Over the past couple of months, Coolmunda has produced some hot and cold sessions for anglers fishing lures and baits. Last year, December was one of the better months and some red hot action was experienced on golden perch. The warmer weather should really have the fish moving.

Trolling medium diving lures like the Kezza Mud Mouse, 3m and 5m Poltergeist and Smak 12 should score some quality golden perch. Fishing close to the drop offs to the creek beds will see you in prime golden territory. There have been plenty of smaller Murray cod to be caught while trolling. Many of these fish are undersized so be sure to release them quickly so they have the chance to grow.

Casting lipless crankbaits to the timber and nearby banks will produce goldens and on occasions Murray cod. Side imaging sounders are perfect for identifying any fallen and submerged timber. If found be sure to work it over thoroughly as it makes an ideal fish holding habitat.

The lure fishing will be good but if this isn’t your cup of tea try bait fishing with live shrimp or frozen saltwater yabbies. The area just out from the boat ramp and off to the left can fish well. If you have a sounder try along the creek bed drop offs, especially if numbers of fish are located.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around one kilometre 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

If you are keen to experience a good spinnerbait bite on bass and golden perch, Boondooma will be the destination to visit this month. Last month good numbers of bass were falling for spinnerbaits in the first few kilometres of the Stuart River timber. Small sized baits with bigger blades seemed to be performing well. The Smak Mini Coop “S” will certainly be worth tossing around the trees and edges.

The Boyne timber has been a bit quieter but just outside at Pelican Point, there are plenty of bass to be caught. These schooling fish can be targeted with soft plastics, blade baits and hopped soft lipless crankbaits.

In the main basin, some of the points will be worth a troll or bait fish for golden perch. Numbers certainly seem to be coming from further up the dam at this point in time. The summer months can see the fish migrating towards the dam wall but so far there is no real indication of this. Keep this in mind if you fail to find fish in the upstream areas and be prepared to sound around to find them.

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

It has been a long time since Queensland impoundment anglers have witnessed the calibre of golden perch coming from Bjelke-Petersen Dam. Big golden perch are being caught on bait and trolled lures. Some of the better quality specimens have been weighing in at an impressive 5kg.

Trolling medium diving lures up around Bass Point and up to the timber has accounted for these big fat fish. The Smak 12, 3m Poltergeist and small StumpJumper have been standouts and are responsible for some of the biggest specimens on offer. In the timber, trolling 5/8oz spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will be worth a shot.

Bass numbers have picked up but the quality is still lacking. There has been the odd big fish caught but most are undersize. Bass have been coming from all over the place in less than 7m of water. They will take trolled lures and can also be targeted by casting blade baits.

Bass to Barra in Kingaroy stock all your fishing supplies and can help you with the right gear and knowledge to ensure you stand a good chance of scoring one of those monster golden perch.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Hitting the weed edge with surface lures for the first few hours of the morning will give you a good chance of luring a monster bass from Lake Gregory. Pencil baits are perfect for this style of fishing. The lure can be walked over the top of submerged weed and given plenty of pauses. The bass use these weed beds as cover when hunting in the low light conditions early and late in the day. Other poppers can also produce but it seems hard to beat the subtle walk the dog action of the pencil bait. Last month, Tim from Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg was skilled enough (lucky enough!) to extract a 54cm fork length bass from the weed on a topwater lure.

Pulling fish from the thick weed beds can require a heavy handed approach to try and take some of the fight out of the fish before they reach the weed. Due to the location it is highly likely the fish will bury you deep in the weed. A leader of around 14lb is good insurance and gives you a chance to break the weed strands and pull the fish free. The next fish I land totally covered in weed won’t be the last at Isis.

As the day wears on, deeper presentations are needed to keep the action happening. Casting spinnerbaits to where the weed drops away into deeper water or into any of the deeper pockets within the weed should see some quality bass belting your lures. The timber arm of the lake has been fishing quite well for this style of fishing lately.

There are plenty of schooling bass outside the weed edge. These fish seem to be mostly small and undersized models. A couple of months ago, there were some whoppers mixed in with them but now these big brutes seem to be favouring the shallow weed beds. For a bit of fun on the schooling fish try hopping and slow winding ¼ ounce blade baits through them. If they won’t play the game, show them a soft plastic rigged on a 1/4oz jighead.

A few of the boys at Salty’s 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. Salty’s 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

There has been some top barra action experienced at Lake Monduran at times over the last month. While some anglers were whacking the barra others were missing out. This seemed not to be related to skill but rather to the weather conditions. When the barramundi are on they are really on. This month should hopefully see more constant temperatures between the day and night and therefore produce better fishing throughout the month.

The quality of the fish being caught is pretty small. Most fish are below 55cm but there are the odd ones up around 80cm. Mixed in with all these smaller barra are some of the unstoppables and there have actually been some metre plus fish boated already this year. Downsizing lures and throwing small suspending hard bodies is a great way to put numbers in the boat. There are plenty of suspending offerings to pick from and I’d consider the Halco Hamma 85 (with 3m bib), the Jackall Hank Tune Squirrel 79SP and Junior B52 with added sticky weight. Gold Bombers and Laser Pro 120s have also been pulling the fish from the shallows when ripped and paused.

While most of the action seems to be coming from the top half of the lake, there have been whispers of fish closer to the boat ramp as well. The lake’s regulars seem to head straight to the top of the dam where they have had success in the past but this is a good time of year to explore the main basin of the lake as well. If there are big fish around they may be holding around this deeper water as they have in past years when the lure trollers have whacked them. If you are unfamiliar with the lake or find it difficult to navigate in the dark, fish closer to the boat ramp as night falls to make the job of returning safely much easier.

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

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

With the river below the dam out of bounds for barra fishers due to the closed season, the dam will be the only option. Luckily the barra have started to turn on the action and there are fish being caught. Anglers need to step back in time and go back to targeting smaller fish with small fish techniques if they want to boat numbers of fish.

Small to medium sized hard bodies have been scoring quite a few fish during the day. The gun areas are around the main basin of the lake. Explore plenty of banks under the power of electric motor until you come across a productive area. If you have a definite barra encounter you can almost guarantee there will be more fish in the same area. Points and bays are prime fish holding spots. With very little in the way of weed beds around the edges, the best structure will be changes in bottom contour. If you can find this in conjunction with snags, no matter how small, you will be in with a good shot.

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

With the warm weather now here, the big fish have started to turn on the action in the main basin. There have been quite a few barra over 120cm long caught from the open water of the dam but expect to put in the fishing hours to find success. Last month the action was a little slow but as the nights warm up more this month, more of the big girls will be found in the main basin. Trolling lures around old creek and river beds is a good way to locate barra. Keep a close eye on the sounder as bait schools tend to hold the best numbers of barra which can be seen as strong, solid arches. The masses of bony bream which school up in the deeper water can easily be found as they blot out big patches on the sounder screen.

The gun lures have been the Laser Pro 190, RMG Scorpion 125 5m, Poltergeist and Reidy’s Big Boss. Run a mix of lures and experiment with shallower offerings at night, dawn and dusk. During the day, deeper lures tend to be more effective. Don’t be afraid to let a lure or two 50m back and run a deeper model in close to help with cornering and preventing tangles.

The period around the full moon should produce some of the best and most reliable action. Fishing through the night a few nights either side of the moon should see the barra with a heightened rate of activity. On the new moon, the middle of the day can actually be the most productive fishing time. Remember to troll deeper lures during the day to ensure you are reaching the deeper holding fish. In the middle of the moon cycles, stick with early morning and late afternoon sessions and you’ll be in with a good shot of landing a massive barramundi. When fishing at night ensure you have working navigation lights. Out in the open part of the dam, boats that aren’t visible at night are just asking for disaster.

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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