Dam hot fishing continues
  |  First Published: June 2013

The cold weather held off for a little while and as a result the fishing transition from warm to cooler water temperatures has been somewhat delayed. This will be a real bonus for golden perch and barra anglers looking to boat numbers of fish before the cold makes the action a little tougher.

Some years you can see a noticeable reaction in fish behaviour when the cold arrives. This year, I have a feeling that things are going to just keep rolling on much the same as they are now. The big rain earlier in the year still has fish in quite a few locations doing things a little differently and not following their normal routine. Minor changes should start taking place and anglers who are able to stay tuned into fish movements or a change in what they want to eat will be rewarded.

The 1 June through to the 31 August is the closed season for bass. Keep this in mind if you were planning to hit the rivers and creeks as the bass are protected at this time of year for spawning. Bass above the dam walls are not protected by this closure and can be caught and kept as normal.

While the bass in the rivers may be off limits, the dam bass will be getting bigger and fatter as they fill with roe. Unfortunately for them, it’s all in vain as they need brackish water to complete the breeding cycle. For anglers, this means impressive, bigger, fatter fish that can really put a bend in the rod and peel some line.

Last year, I never tangled with enough of these dam monsters. This year, I’ll have my sights set on some trophy impoundment bass that can bulk up to over 3kg. Somerset will be one of the best options so I really hope it fires up.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Last month Cressbrook was reopened to boating after a closure, due to the high water level. Anglers were quick to hit the water and expectations were high after the fish had been rested from fishing pressure for so long. Unfortunately the action was pretty tough, with only a few fish being caught for a fair amount of angling effort.

Mixed reports have been flowing in. Some anglers have managed to nail a few bass; they seem to be spread out and coming from plenty of areas using different techniques. Schooling fish can be found around the toilet point up Beams Creek, at Deer Island and around the long point opposite the Eagles Nest.

These schools are quite small so a sounder is necessary to pinpoint their location and expect results. Slowly wound blade baits through the schools have received the desired response while plastics are drawing interest but the small, tentative taps just aren’t enough to find the hook.

Ice jigs bounced around close to bottom have also accounted for a fair percentage of captures. The Smak Glider ice jig in the larger size has been working very well. Bait fishers can drop a live shrimp into the schools and pick through the smaller fish to catch some of better quality.

The edges of the lake have also fished reasonably well at times. Exploring the edge under the power of electric motor and casting fast presentations is the way to cover water in search of bass. Blade baits are ideal for this and can be cast in tight to the edge and worked back to follow the contour of the bottom. For this style of fishing 1/4 and 3/8oz blades are perfect, with the TT and Evergreen models being standouts. Other lures, such as lipless crankbaits may also be worth a cast and don’t discount the 3” soft plastic rigged on a 1/4oz Nitro jighead.

Trollers have also scored the occasional bass. These fish are taking medium-sized hardbody lures capable of diving 5-7m deep. When trolling, explore the points and long straight runs and even venture out into the deeper water between the boat ramps and Deer Island.

Red claw crayfish activity has been high with heaps of big juicy models caught. The boys from my work managed about 700 last month, but expect such numbers to taper off with the cooler weather. Paw paw, rockmelon and chicken necks were some of the standout baits with most of the action being in 2-6m of water.

A disturbing discovery has been the plague proportions of the noxious species, banded grunter. This is the first time I have encountered these fish in the lake and they must be there in the millions. It makes you wonder if they came up from Wivenhoe via the pipeline, which was put in when the dam level was low. If this is the case, it may not be long before tilapia start to appear as well. Cressbrook sits close to the top of the Great Dividing Range and from there it is only a bird crap away from the western rivers. It worries me to think that these noxious species could eventually end up spreading over the range and into our western systems.

If you are heading to the dam, don’t forget your $3 in coins to get through the boom gate and the 8 knot speed limit which is in place. For all your supplies, expert advice and to check on the boating restriction, 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

Somerset has been a tough lake to crack lately. The fish are there but are playing hard ball.

Schooling bass have been holding around Pelican Point, Eagles Nest and Bay 13 area in deep and shallow water. The deeper schooling bass in over 6m of water have been hard to tempt. The change in temperature may see them respond better to lures but it is more than likely these fish will continue to be hard targets. Cycling through lures and tossing soft plastics, lipless crankbaits, blades, ice jigs and deep fly may see them take a liking to one technique. The deep fly can be a real winner during winter when all else seems to fail.

In shallower water, where the bass are holding in less than 5m across the flats, they seem to be far more active. These bass can also be tough to entice and rotating lure selection until you find a type and presentation style they favour is often the key to nailing numbers. Fast retrieves with blades can be a trigger one day while hopping heavy lipless crankbaits in the 60mm size can work the next. Don’t discount soft plastics and fly fishing to these fish as well.

While the Pelican Point area seems to be holding the bulk of the bass population, they will turn up in other areas. While the shallower areas are holding the more active fish, it is a good time to explore some edges with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. The timber to the north of Kirkleigh is a popular winter bass haunt and will be well worth exploring. Try the main arm (Stanley River) around the old cattle yards and further on to the powerlines.

The action may be tough but the rewards are there for anglers willing to put in the time. Somerset can be an unpredictable place at this time of year and will probably remain the same through to spring. The bass can turn it on one day with monsters hitting the deck, but the next day in the same spot it can be tough to tempt even a small critter.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

Hinze Dam has already hit a transition period. Shallower feeding fish have favoured deeper presentations. Surface lures may draw some interest but it is more likely the fish will be keen to whack a deeper lure. Working along the edges of the western side of the dam, bass should fall to spinnerbaits and small blades.

The 1/2oz baby bass coloured TT spinnerbait has scored well in recent weeks. The 1/6oz TT ghost blade or a 1/4oz beetle spin rigged soft plastics such as the Powerbait Ripple Shad and 2.6” T-tail have also been standouts. The fish on the edges have been of better quality than their mates schooling deeper off the major points.

On the points bass have been schooling and will eat lipless crankbaits, and soft plastics. Many of these fish are small and close to the legal size of 30cm.

A boating permit (not SIP) is required to fish the dam and is available from several outlets, including Go Fishing in Nerang. For an up to date report or any tips on catching bass in the area, call in and see John at Go Fishing at 10 Spencer Street Nerang. John has been out on the lake recently and has a good idea where to fish and which lures to use.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

The fishing at Borumba has been slowly picking up, with bass being caught in plenty of areas in the upper part of the dam. Bass can be encountered in numbers anywhere from just before the junction of the Kingham and Yabba arms right up into the creek systems. The Borumba arm has also been holding its share of bass. Schooling fish can be found closer to the edges and will willingly take an ice jig or blade bait. When pressured, these fish seem to disperse and the action can be found along the banks. Casting into the banks using blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will see these fish attack.

Saratoga are always a possibility, especially when targeting the edge dwelling bass. Surface lures are a fun way to specifically target these fish with ideal offerings being the Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy, Berkley 3B Scum Dog 68 and Megabass Anthrax.

Golden perch will be suckers for bait, especially live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. Try along the steeper rocky banks in the main dam as well as up in the creeks. When bait fishing, the occasional bass will be mixed in.

Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Macdonald has been fishing well but it seems only certain areas are capable of producing the desired action. At the time of writing, the Three Ways has been the gun spot with bass holding around the weed beds. These bass can be tempted on blades, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits cast around the weed formations.

There is a knack to working lures around weed and this involves working the lure closely to it for the maximum amount of time without letting it foul up and become covered in the weed. Getting a good visualisation of the weed formation in your head can only be achieved by repeated casts from the same spot. Braided lines offer better feel for what’s going on at the business end and when the lure brushes against weed, the retrieve can be sped up, the rod lifted or jerked to whip the lure up over the top of the vegetation. When lures actually foul up in the weed, a sharp rip of the rod can often free them. Vibrating lures are perfect for this prospecting as the vibrations they transmit to the rod will differ when they are dragging weed on the line or hooks.

While the Three Ways has held some tight weed holding fish of better quality, there are several deeper spots in the dam which will hold schooling fish. While motoring around on the electric motor, pay close attention to the sounder as these bass are hard to miss as they will be holding outside the weed edge in more open water.

Closest Town: Boonah

There has been a steady stream of fish being caught at Maroon. The action isn’t great but persistence will see a few bass flipping around in the landing net. Last month there were still a few bass being taken on surface lures with the OSP Bent Minnow performing well. There will be a bit of a change now due to the cooler conditions and a little more finesse may be required to get the bite.

Spinnerbaits and blades were drawing the strikes over the last couple of months but the cold water usually signals the start of a soft plastic bite at Maroon. Cast paddle-tailed soft plastics around the weed edges and weed pockets, concentrating on the deeper parts of the weed formation. Plastics like the Powerbait 2.6” T-Tail or 7cm Ripple Shad rigged on 1/4oz jigheads will get the job done.

Suspending minnows are another option on the winter fish. Cast these hardbodies to the same areas and work them down into the zone before giving them a pause of several seconds. Use a pause, twitch, wind retrieve to make the lure dart about attracting attention, but then sit motionless between movements.

Closest Town: Boonah

Last month, Chris Galligan spent quite a bit of time exploring the lake before cracking a successful pattern. Chris found bass in the upper parts of the dam in the creeks in really shallow water. These bass were fussy about the presentation and were nailing the lure in sometimes less than a metre of water. Bankside structure seemed to be a big key with the bass holding near lantana and shaly rocks.

Chris chose a Jackall TN50 for his assault but any lure capable of working the edges fast would suit the current conditions. With the water being dirty, I’d opt for a flashy spinnerbait or rattling lipless crankbait. Both of these lures are ideal search baits that will cover barren water quickly between the fish producing areas.

When the water cools down, the fish shouldn’t move too far but may tend to sink a little deeper. The same lures can be used, just be prepared to probe a little deeper to get the bites.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

Insane! That is the only word to describe the catches of golden perch which have been occurring at Cooby Dam for the past few months. At only ten minutes from my home, Cooby is close enough for a session of a couple of hours just before dark. The mornings and afternoons have been firing with golden perch lighting up and taking baits and lures. It is not uncommon to bang over two dozen fish in an hour when they are really on the bite.

This action can’t last forever and the cold weather will certainly steady it up. Luring will become tough but bait at the start of this month should still produce its fair share. Frozen saltwater yabbies have been the most productive, followed closely by live shrimp, worms and crayfish.

Catches have been coming from all over the dam. Boats have scored well in 6-7m of water straight out from the boat ramp and also on the opposite side of the dam. Normally I would say find the fish on the sounder but this hasn’t really been the case. At times the fish are hugging the bottom so tightly they are hard to pick up until they actually rise to take baits or lures. Use trial and error and keep trying different spots.

The prime bite time has been a couple of hours before dark but they can also turn it on midmorning. Once the fish start to bite on baits, try vertically jigging a blade bait or an ice jig as the goldens have been absolutely smashing anything moving.

Cooby is an electric motor only dam but is well suited to kayaks and canoes. The concrete boat ramp is on a shallow angle when the dam is full and can be slippery in places. A boom gate at the entrance requires $3 to open. Don’t forget, the dam hours have shortened and it closes at 6pm until the end of August.

Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies can be purchased from Highfields Bait and Tackle on the New England Highway in Highfields.

Leslie Dam
Closest Town: Warwick

Leslie Dam has been steady over the last month. Golden perch and Murray cod were caught on trolled lures and bait but you’ll have to work for them this month due to the colder water temperature. Bait fishing with live shrimp will be the best way to boat a few goldens and if cod are on your list, target them with deep running lures trolled in 5-8m of water. The western bank opposite the boat ramp will probably be worth a try.

If you are chasing any supplies for the dams in the Warwick area or want to tangle with some of the cod and goldens in the rivers, call in and see the guys at Warwick Outdoor and Sports. The store is in Palmerin Street, which is the main street running through Warwick.

Closest Town: Warwick
Connelly Dam

Connelly will be due to steady up for the winter snap any time soon. Lures were still nailing fish last month. Casting spinnerbaits from boats back to the edges of the lake was accounting for golden perch and the occasional cod.

Expect the goldens to be a tough lure proposition this month but they will take baits if you can find a decent patch. Try live shrimp and saltwater yabbies.

Murray cod will be more tolerant to the colder conditions and will still take subsurface presentations. Spinnerbaits are a great lure for searching the banks but try slowing things down and swimming a big timber hardbody with heaps of action.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Just before the cold set in, there was a hot run of action with plenty of golden perch and even some big Murray cod being boated.

Worms, yabbies and live shrimp have been tempting the fish and will continue to be the best option over the winter months. Luring tends to be pretty slow until things really start to warm up around the middle of spring.

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 water is still pretty dirty in Boondooma and as a result, lure fishing has been tough. Winter temperatures tend to help settle the sediment in the water and we should see the lake really start to clear up over the next few months. With this clearing of the water, the bass will become more active and willing to take lures. Already the water has started to clear right up in the top of the rivers which feed the dam.

Bait fishers will be able to bang a few golden perch and eel-tailed catfish up in the timbered arms. Redclaw were quite plentiful over the last few months but the cold might be making them a little harder to come by. Try baiting opera house traps with paw paw or dog food and try a few different depths to find some more active ones.

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: Monto, Biloela

Cameron Hobson has been lucky enough to whack a few bass in some awesome surroundings up the top of Cania Dam. Cameron reports some hot sessions are taking place, with bass to 46cm being landed right up into the sticks at the top of the lake. The water has remained dirty in the lake’s main basin and starts to clear about midway through the timber. Once the clear water starts, so does the action and there are bass to be caught from the edges and trees in the area.

Casting lipless crankbaits and small profile spinnerbaits seems to work well. Cameron has had most success on Jackall TN60’s and Smak Mini Coops but sees no reason other lure styles won’t work. The cooler temperatures may actually see these fish preferring a silent lipless bait or even a slow rolled soft plastic.

Live bait fishing in the clearer water inside the timber will certainly be worth a crack. Live shrimp can be caught overnight in the dam in traps or even scooped out of the weed around the edges during the day. Try dropping baits to the bottom in 4-7m of water and expect a mixed bag of fish. Bass, golden perch and silver perch are all common in the area and you never know what will turn up next.

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 bush walking through the gorge a must, there is plenty to do when you’re not wetting a line.

Closest town: Gin Gin

There has been some top action on the smaller barra over the past month. At times, switched on anglers are finding patches of fish and when they do they are able to boat around 10 fish per day. Locating fish is the tricky part with so many areas to explore. Stick to the known producing spots or areas which have the same features and you should be in with a chance. Some of the best areas are the bays just off the main channel with areas like Insane Bay, Jacks and the south arm of B all worth exploring.

Casting suspending hardbodies with a small profile to the structure around the edges will see you in with a good chance. Lures like The Halco Hamma 85 and Rapala XR10 are perfect and able to handle what these smaller barra dish out. Target waterlilies, snags and drowned lantana. The barra will be a little slower due to the colder weather but there should still be a few about. When fish are found, slow the presentation right down.

The Kolan River below the dam has been fishing very well but is likely to shut down before the dam due to the colder temperatures. The saltwater section will continue to fire a little longer. Look for deeper schooling fish, which have evaded the netters and try hopping Transam 95 soft lipless baits right in front of them.

The tackle store in Gin Gin, Foxies, stocks a range successful barra lures. The store will mail order and you can check it out online at www.barratackle.com.au . Be sure to call in and get directions to some of the best barra fishing in the area.

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. You can also make bookings for Guide Lines fishing charters through the kiosk, on (07) 4157 3881.

Jamie Bein 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, 0407 434 446 or through his website www.lakemonduranbarracharters.com .

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

There haven’t been a lot of anglers tackling the dam since the flood in January. There have been whispers of barra caught and a filleted frame was seen lying on the edge so there must have been some action over the past month. Things will be even tougher during winter but this is a great time to go and explore and see just how many barra are about. Barra can often be seen right up in the shallows on the warm sunny days and are easily spooked from these areas.

The Boyne River offered some insane fishing over the past few months when the concentrations of barra were found. I was lucky enough to catch my share of fish, with most action coming on the 5m and 8m RMG Scorpion 125. My son Blake nailed the biggest fish on our last trip which went 113cm and still sported its impoundment condition.

Blake was a fish-catching machine on several occasions. He had two rods on the go. I would be unhooking and dealing with one of his fish while he was casting, retrieving and then fighting his next fish. When I was lucky enough to join him, we had multiple double hook-ups. Enjoying such action with your kids creates some unforgettable memories and I know some of my other mates have been taking their kids out to enjoy the barra on the Boyne.

Netters moved into the river at the beginning of May and really took their toll on the fish numbers. I’m not sure what they actually pulled from the river but because the fish were packed into such tight areas, I can only imagine tonnes of barra would have been pulled from the Boyne. This is a real shame but there will still be quite a few fish throughout the system for those prepared to explore.

The area above and below Pike Crossing in the Boyne’s freshwater below the dam has been fenced off while road works are being done through the area. This puts a stop to public access to the water while work is being carried out.

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

Proserpine barra have been slow to make a change to winter patterns. Surely the fish will start to turn up on some of the shallower weed edges soon but for now they are still patrolling the deeper areas in the trees. During the day, trolling and casting medium diving hardbodies to the trees lining the creek beds in the timber has paid off. Working lures like the RMG Poltergeist and Reidy’s Big Boss around the 45 and Barra Alley has seen many anglers connected to the lake’s prized barra.

Early mornings have been a little more productive around the weedy edges and lily banks. Surface lures on a still morning are the way to go with walk the dog style lures most effective. The Cultiva Tango Dancer and Rapala X-Walk are perfect for this subtle surface presentation and can be worked at a speed to suit the mood of the barra.

The colder water temperature could see more fish caught around the lake’s edges right through the morning and into the afternoons. If this transition takes place, have a crack at casting hard bodies and lightly weighted soft plastics.

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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