Freshwater season kicks off with a bang
  |  First Published: September 2013

This has to be one of the best times of the year for freshwater fishers. Winter sees the action slow down and as the days get longer and warmer, the action really heats up in the rivers, creeks and dams. The bass season is again open, making the river and creek fish a target species once more. My kayak has collected some dust and is somewhere under the pile of gear sitting on top of it – I hope.

This winter was a mild one and as a result a lot of systems have fished well right through. Barramundi and golden perch, which usually slow down, continued to bite right through the winter months. This can only be good news and help them fire up even more this month.

Prior to winter, we were experiencing one of the best years for cod and goldens in the western and border rivers. Luring these fish is high on my list of things to do and I’m sure they’ll provide plenty of action just as they did before winter arrived.

If you want the opportunity to catch up and say hello, or rip it into me for all the bad reports I’ve collated, you’ll have your chance at this year’s Brisbane Boat Show. This year the venue has changed to the RNA Showgrounds and I’ll be at the Fishing Stage over the whole four days of the show. I’ll be doing talks on bass fishing as well teaming up with fellow QFM writer, Jason Medcalf for the Berkley Kids fishing show on Saturday and Sunday. For a list of what’s happening on stage, jump online or check out the program in this month’s magazine. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Cressbrook has been hit and miss, with the bass chewing one day and tough to catch the next. The key seems to be sitting well off the school and making long casts. Soft plastics and blade baits have been producing the bigger fish from areas like the toilet points up both arms and Deer Island. If fish are under the boat, ice jigs have been tempting some of the smaller ones. Most of the fish are healthy and sporting their winter condition, making them solid balls of fat and muscle that are capable of pulling hard.

Trolling deep diving lures has accounted for a few fish. Normally I would say it is best to run a small profile lure but lately, bigger bodied lures have been accounting for the fish. The deep diving 80mm Boomerang (B80UD) has been smacking a few quality bass around 40cm in length.

Bait fishing will pick up with the warmer days and live shrimp will account for plenty of bass when sitting on the schools. The occasional golden perch and pickers like banded grunter can also be expected.

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 that 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

The fishing at Lake Somerset has continued to frustrate anglers. Hard work is rewarding a few with quality bass around the lake edges. The schools that have been present have been tough and it may just be the spring weather that will get them chewing more often.

The lake is looking very healthy in the main basin with bait and fish scattered in shallow and deep water along the edges and way out in the middle. This makes the fish more spread out and harder to catch in numbers but is an indication the dam is boasting healthy water right through the water column. As the water warms over the next couple of months, the bass should retreat back to deeper water and hold around the strengthening thermocline and signs of algae growth and bait, which can be seen on the sounder.

One of the most reliable ways to entice the bass has been casting along the dam edges with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. The shallows have been quiet but once the water drops to about 3m deep, the number of fish increases dramatically. Casting at an angle into the bank will keep lures in the strike zone longer. As I said, the fish are very spread out and a big bass can turn up just about anywhere. Some edges have been holding schooling fish in 4-7m of water and working the banks near these fish could see you putting your lures in front of more fish.

Bait fishers will be able to catch bass and golden perch in reasonable numbers. Because the fish are so scattered, bait anglers have a good chance of picking up fish all over the dam. Try using live shrimp in 5-8m of water.

There have been a few redclaw about in the deeper water over winter and numbers should start to increase. Don’t expect to catch hundreds but if you work your pots, you’ll get enough for a small feed.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

Bass have been common around The Junction on soft plastics and blade baits. When the fishing is tough but bass are still schooling below the boat, try dropping an ice jig into them.

Bait fishers using live shrimp will be able to catch plenty of bass and golden perch all over the dam. The Kingham and Yabba arms will produce and numbers of fish will come from The Junction and steep rock walls in the main basin.

Up the creeks, saratoga are still a proposition. Casting spinnerbaits to the structure around the edges is the way to connect to one of these prized sportfish. The shallow bays will also be worth a look, especially if they are warmer and hold a little structure.

Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

The weed edges at MacDonald have continued to produce the goods. Plastics rigged with spinning blades were popular last month and this reaction style approach will be well suited to the start of spring. Beetlespins, Rev Heads and Owner Flashy Swimmers are great components to rig with your favourite paddle or curl tail bass plastic.

Try working these lures down the weed face and any deeper pockets in areas like Borer Creek and the Three Ways.

Surface activity should be on the rise and an early morning surface session can see some of the best fish of the day hitting the deck. Don’t be afraid to get right up into the weedy pockets with your surface lures. Try poppers like the Halco Rooster popper 60 in small tight areas where the lure can be blooped slowly in the one spot or the Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy where the water is more open and suited to a walk-the-dog retrieve.

Closest Town: Boonah

Fishing plastics tight to the weed edge has been accounting for some of the better quality bass. The change in season will see the fish more responsive to a range of offerings. Maroon is a great place to rotate through several lure patterns during the course of the day. Surface lures can be worth a shot early in the morning followed by suspending jerkbaits.

Soft plastics rigged on 1/4oz jigheads are then ideal to fish the taper of the weed where it drops away to the bottom as the bass move deeper with the increasing light. Reaction baits, like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will soon start to work but in the meantime, opt for something in between. The beetle spin is ideal for this and is one of the best lures for fishing tight to weed beds.

Rig plastics on a 1/4-3/8oz jighead and use a small or medium sized spinning blade. Other options are TT’s Rev Heads or the weedless Owner Flashy Swimmer.

There have been some smaller schooling bass holding around the dam wall. These fish may start to move back to the points near and opposite the boat ramp but can still be targeted. Hopping ice jigs in the schools should produce a few but their size may not be too exciting.

Closest Town: Boonah

Mixed reports are flowing in from Moogerah. While some fish continue to be caught around the lake’s edges, it is the schools that are producing some of the best action. Dozens of bass have been lured by anglers when they’ve found the schooling bass.

The western shoreline in behind the timber has produced some quality bass on spinnerbaits and silent lipless crankbaits.

With the longer days, the better action around the edges will be early and later in the day. The bright part in the middle of the day will be best suited to chasing schooling bass.

Bass schools are likely to turn up on along the point and drop-off between the boat ramps or off the points and humps in the first half of the timber. Try sounding around in 7-10m of water. When they have been chewing, reports suggest they will take all manner of lures. Ice jigs, plastics, blades and vibes would be my first choice. Most of the schooling fish are of a medium size and will be around 35-40cm in length.

Bait fishing in the timber has accounted for plenty of bass and you can expect the occasional golden perch as well. Live shrimp have been the best bait to use and will almost guarantee success when fished in 6-9m of water. If the action is slow, move on every 10 minutes until you find a sweet spot.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

With the mild winter we have experienced, the golden perch at Cooby have been caught on bait right through. Good numbers were taken last month on shrimp and frozen saltwater yabbies late in the day when the sun was setting. The action should begin to ramp up this month and the bite time will be extended. Expect to see more goldens falling for lures as well. Jigging ice jigs and small blades will be the most successful way to entice them while they are still a bit lethargic.

The bank opposite the boat ramp and up Cooby creek in 6-10m of water will be the place to target them. In the Cooby Creek arm, the fish can seem to turn up right out in the middle of nowhere. Often they will congregate not far from the old creek bed on adjacent flats.

Cooby is an electric motor only dam and 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 $3.00 to open. The dam hours have extended and are now 7am-8pm as of the 1 September.

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

Closest Town: Inglewood

The golden perch have been firing up at Coolmunda and there have also been a few Murray cod about.

The goldens have been caught on bait and lures. The timbered area has been the most reliable area for bait fishing. While worms and yabbies will do the job, you can’t beat the flicking of a live shrimp when it comes to tempting fish to bite.

Lure fishers have nailed some goldens while fishing along the rock wall leading to the dam wall. Casting lipless crankbaits to the rocks was the key to getting these fish to bite. Changes will start to occur with the onset of spring so be prepared to look around and try different things. The action should only get better from now on. With several cod over 60cm landed in the last month, you can expect more to be caught in September.

The Lake Coolmunda Fishing Competition will be held on Labour Day weekend, which is the 5-7 October. The event is shaping up to be bigger than ever with prizes and cash on offer. Camping will be allowed at the lake or you might enjoy the comfort of a cabin or powered site at the Caravan Park. For any enquiries, call Lea Price on 0488 652 136.

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

Closest Town: Warwick

Bait fishing for golden perch will account for plenty of fish this month. Shrimp and saltwater yabbies will work well in the deeper water across from the dam wall. Luring was tough last month with a few caught by casting lipless crankbaits around the Ski Club Point. The luring should start to pick up, with better results when casting and trolling.

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 river, 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

The golden perch have been slow at Connolly but expect the action to improve this month on bait and lures. Murray cod are always a possibility in this dam and it is a great place to chase them on surface lures. Explosive strikes make the effort all worthwhile and the spring weather should have these brutes more active and willing to belt lures.

Surface walkers like the Halco Nightwalker are ideal for the medium-sized fish encountered in Connolly. There is also the occasional larger specimen so be prepared for a battle with a 20lb+ fish. During the middle of the day switch to deeper lures like spinnerbaits and chatterbaits if you have your sights set on cod.

The guys at Warwick Outdoor and Sports will be able to set you up with all the right gear for tangling with the golden perch and Murray cod in the area.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma has been the slowest dam to recover from the flooding earlier this year. The water is still dirty but is finally showing signs of clearing.

Last month saw an increase in the number of fish boated on lures. Golden perch and bass were caught but they are still very hard work. Trolling deep diving hardbodies in the main basin is likely to produce a few golden perch and maybe even a bass. Golden perch numbers have picked up on live bait. With the action tough, it is best to use the best live bait available, which is live shrimp.

Redclaw crayfish have been about in reasonable numbers in the upper reaches of the timbered arms. Morning, afternoon and overnight are the best times to have the pots in the water.

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 at it again, harassing Cania’s bass population. The dam has dirtied up from a flow a bit over a month ago but the action has continued in the coloured water, which should now be clearing.

Casting spinnerbaits, beetle spins and lipless crankbaits to the edges up past the start of the timber has been rewarded with quality bass. The odd golden perch and silver perch have also been caught. Be prepared to cover plenty of area in search of fish and keep a close eye on the sounder to reveal the presence of any schooling bass. There is quite a bit of barren water between the most productive areas. Once located the action should be pretty hot with anglers boating up to 20 fish per session.

Back in the main basin of the lake, the fishing has been pretty slow. Cameron called into a bay for a flick last month for no reward other than to see quite a few saratoga. This is great news and the toga should be more willing to take lures after their breeding cycle has finished this month.

Bait anglers have been picking up a few fish in the main basin of the lake but the best action on bait is also in the timbered areas. Live shrimp fished around the trees in 5-7m of water will tempt bass, golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish.

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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The bass were a little sluggish at the end of winter and the best method seemed to be using suspending crankbaits and jerkbaits. Another hot performer was the sinking Rapala Countdown. These lures twitched and paused down the weed edges were enough to tempt the bass.

Now spring is here we will see a quick change, with the bass again responding well to blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Surface fishing in the mornings and late afternoons will also be worth a shot. The Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy and Halco Roosta Popper 60 are ideal and it pays to try both as they have very different actions.

The best action should continue on the weed edges which have remained very healthy this winter with only smaller fish coming from the schools holding outside the weedy margins.

The boys at Saltys, Tackleworld in Bundaberg will be able to set you up with all the right gear to go and smash some Isis bass. It makes a good change from fishing the salt water and is a reliable spot to hone your bass fishing skills.

Closest town: Gin Gin

The mild winter has seen the barra activity continue right through the colder months. This will see them off to a good start for the start of spring. Quite a few fish were caught last month in the shallow, warmer bays. Insane Bay and the top of the north arm of ‘B’ have been producing the goods.

Small hardbodied lures have worked well and will be the best bet this month as well. Suspending varieties are perfect with models like the Halco Hamma, Ecooda Jerkbait and YoZuri Crystal Minnow working effectively. Slow retrieves should see a response and with the barra now averaging 80-90cm in length you can expect a decent fight.

With the bass season now open in the rivers and creeks, it’s probably worth mentioning there are numbers of these fish to be caught in the area. Gin Gin Creek and the Kolan River have been well stocked with these fish after the flooding experienced over the last few years. An exploratory kayak trip on these waters could prove worthwhile.

Gin Gin and the surrounding areas and towns have had it pretty tough since all the flooding and damage caused at the start of the year. With good fishing on offer be sure to go and check it out for yourself and support the communities in the area.

The Win Television Family Fishing Classic is being held at Monduran on 19-20 October. With $1000 up for grabs for the longest barramundi and $500 for the heaviest bass it will attract some serious competitors. Families can enjoy the fun too with a boat motor and trailer package up for grabs in a lucky draw for the seniors and a kayak for the kids, not to mention all the other prizes.

The tackle store in Gin Gin, Foxies, stocks a range of effective 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 or pick up one of the detailed maps.

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 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.

Paradise Dam
Closest Town: Biggenden

The Paradise Stocking Association Catch a Catty Day Family Fishing Competition is being held on 5-6 October at the Paradise Dam recreational area near the dam wall.

In the past the event has been held at Mingo Crossing but due to the flooding wiping this area out nine months ago the venue has changed. There will be prizes for heaviest fork-tailed catfish, golden perch, bass, eel-tailed catfish, garfish, spangled perch and barramundi. Nomination fees are $15 Adults, $5 Juniors and $35 (2 Adults, 2 Juniors).

With a crowd of anglers enjoying the camping, BBQ’s and fishing, it will be interesting to see what species make it to the weigh-in. To find out more details you can call Lefty on (07) 41271294.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The lake has fished consistently for barramundi for most of the year. During winter, the fish continued to bite when the wind allowed anglers to get out onto the water. Reports have been coming in from all over the dam indicating the barra are quite spread out. There have been fish caught in the shallows on soft plastics and surface lures as well as the deeper tree-lined creeks.

Fishing the trees is quite an art. Look for the trees that line the edges of the creeks and work the tops of these with hardbodied lures. It doesn’t matter what depth the boat is in as long as you stay close to the tree line. At times, this can see the boat hundreds of metres from the nearest bank and well out in the open. Despite the deep water, most of the action takes place in the top few metres.

Choose a diving lure that casts well and can be cranked down into the tree fast. The Halco Scorpion or Barra Bait range is ideal in the 3-5m models. Upgrading the hooks to a heavier gauge will give you a better chance of extracting big fish as well as making the lure float more slowly. It seems lengthy pauses and allowing the lure to float up in the zone is what really rings the barra’s dinner bells.

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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