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Smashing start to spring
  |  First Published: October 2013



After a smashing start to spring last month, we look set to have a cracker for the rest of the year in the freshwater. The bass were first to start smashing lures and the golden perch and barra are likely to follow suit this month.

It’s been a while since the dams and river have been so stable. With lower rainfall over the last few months, everything has had a chance to settle down and give the fish time to adapt. The result is clear water and fish that will be easier to catch.

I have really enjoyed heading out on the dams chasing bass over the last couple of months. You can’t beat the spring bite when the fish school up and are in top condition. As we move into the year, I’ll have my sights set on catching some barra. These have to be my favourite impoundment fish. Combine their power, size and aerial antics and you have an amazing fish.

Things have really started to slow down for me at home and getting all the man jobs done is now a lot easier. This of course means more fishing time so I might see you out on the water.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Like most of the bass dams across the state, the fish schooled up prior to spring. Unfortunately, Cressbrook’s fish have been hard to tempt. The fish being caught are of great quality so they are certainly not going hungry. Schools have been turning up all over the dam. Some of the better shows have been around the toilet point up both arms, out in front of the steep boat ramp, the second point to the west of the ramps and right up the back before the buoy-line in Cressbrook Creek.

Some of the better quality fish were holding around the toilet point up Beams (Bull) Creek. These fish were being fooled by slowly wound soft plastics. With fish up to 1.6kg coming from this area it will again draw much attention from anglers this month.

It’s good to see more schools popping up as Cressbrook is the type of dam not to handle fishing pressure well. With more fish scattered around the dam, you can fish one spot for a while before giving it a spell and trying another.

While hard to catch, the fish can turn it on at times. Soft plastics will be great when the action is slow. If the fish fire, they will take 1/4oz and 3/8oz blade baits rolled up off the bottom. Ice jigs can also do the trick but tend to produce the smaller fish in this lake.

Redclaw crayfish action has been steady but may pick up with the warmer weather so it doesn’t hurt to drop in a few pots while you’re fishing.

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.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The big bass are back at Somerset and this will be the last month to whack the big girls before they start to lose their post spawn condition. Some absolute monsters have been pulled from the lake over the last month and a half. With average-sized fish weighing around 2kg – there have been plenty of smiles.

Congregations of bass have schooled up across the flats of Pelican Point and The Spit. At first these fish were hard to tempt with the best action coming from the ones holding close to the bottom in around 10m of water. Slow rolling soft plastics across the bottom and hopping smaller blades was the way to get these fish biting. As the weather continues to warm, the schools should remain in the same areas but be more willing to chase down their feed. With several competitions held on the lake in the last couple of months, fishing pressure will probably have slowed the action to what it could potentially have been.

At The Spit, bass have been holding in a big school in about 10m of water, which seems easiest to find in the mornings. Usually the fish will find you if they are there and will bunch up under the boat in numbers. This can be a bad thing as once the fish pack tight under the boat, they can be tougher to catch. Slow rolling soft plastics, hopping blades around the fringes of the school and jigging ice jigs vertically can see a few bass making a mistake and ending up buckling some rods. If possible sit wide of the school using long casts or try constantly moving to keep the fish away from your boat and more active.

At Pelican Point the bass have been schooling right along the flats and drop off ledge from the northern side right out to the point’s most eastern extremity. These fish are favouring 9-11m of water and the bulk of them can be quite mobile as they wander around the flats. If the sounder isn’t revealing much, be prepared to move around and find the bulk of the fish. Don’t drive past bottom hugging fish. While they may not look active on the sounder screen, they can be more responsive to slow rolled soft plastics and hopped blades. These bottom hugging bass are often the bigger models we all love to catch.

When casting plastics, try using heavy jigheads to keep the lure down in the zone. Opt for a 1/2oz or 5/8oz and rig up with a paddle-tail plastic. I’ve found the 90mm Powerbait Ripple Shad to be a winner on the big bass. The larger tail must be sending out the right pulses to get them interested. Cut about 15mm off the head of the lure and trim the belly down so it fits nicely up against the jighead. The beauty of the Powerbait Ripple Shad is it can be loaded with scent. The plastic is already scented but the cavities between the ripples on the underbelly are perfect for loading with paste and gel type catch scents. I have always loved the natural smell of Halco’s paste style scents and have been experimenting with great success with the new TT range of Pro-Cure Scents. A mouthful of flavour certainly can’t be a bad thing when fish are just tapping away at the plastic's tail.

Schooling bass have also been reported out from Queen Street, spread across the flats. These fish may be the first to disperse and head down towards Pelican Point but they also seem to be the most active. It will be worth a look to see if there are still some in the area this month.

The schools of bass should be more willing to take lures fished up off the bottom. Slow rolling 1/2oz blades for 6-12 winds off the bottom will draw some smashing strikes. Vary the number of turns to suit the depth the fish are holding. Hopping smaller 3/8 and 1/4oz blades will also get the strikes. The deeper fish tend to like the smaller blades and I have had a lot of success trialling the new 40mm Berkley PowerBlade. Hopping the lure only 50cm off the bottom and allowing it to pendulum back to the bottom on a tight line has hooked some real crackers.

There will be plenty of other options for tangling with Somerset’s bass this month including jigging ice jigs, hopping vibrations and trolling deep diving lures. Regardless of technique, stick with using 4-8lb braided lines as the main line to ensure your lure is swimming deep enough.

Golden perch numbers will be on the rise. Bass anglers will be encountering these fish across the flats and drop-off ledges. Lure trollers can try the steep rock banks towards the dam wall for a mixed bag of big goldens and smaller bass.

Up to the north of Kirkleigh in the timber, the goldens will take trolled lures and live shrimp.

Banded grunter can be annoying when bait fishing and once they find a school will soon decimate your shrimp supply. If this is what’s happening, it’s time to move on. As for lures, try deep divers like the Smak Golden Child and Blitz Baga.

Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

Not much has changed at Borumba. The bass have fired up around the start of the timber at The Junction area. Rolling soft plastics and working blade baits through them are the most reliable methods. Other options can include ice jigging and hopping soft vibes.

When the fish are found, the action has been furious. Callum Munroe was out at the dam last month and had a 50-60 fish day last month. Callum certainly knows how to catch them but with numbers like that the rest of us could surely expect to nail a fair few.

Saratoga numbers will be on the rise. These fish can be caught by casting lures to the edges of the lake. Work around the bottlebrush trees, snags and lilies. Toga are fond of surface lures, especially the Megabass Anthrax and Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy. When surface presentations aren’t doing the trick switch to a spinnerbait or beetle spin. Being an ambush feeder, toga will pounce on many lure types; the trick is putting the lure in front of them. With this being the case, soft plastics and hardbody lures can also do the trick provided they are fished at the depth the fish are feeding. With toga this is usually pretty close to the surface.

MacDonald
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

This will be a prime month for tossing surface lures to bass at Lake MacDonald. Poppers and walk-the-dog style stickbaits will both tempt bass to rise to the surface in a smashing strike. A couple worth trying are Halco’s new Roosta Popper 60 and the Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy.

The Roosta Popper is ideal for a slow retrieve around weed pockets and spends a lot of time in the zone when lightly twitched. The Zip’n Ziggy is ideal for walking to cover more area and is great for big long exploratory casts. Some days you will find one style of popper works better than the other.

A good starting place for poppers is up Borer Creek. Early and late in the day is when the bass will be most active.

Up around Three Ways there will be bass to be caught around the weed edge. Working blades out of the weed and down the face of the weed is the way to fool these fish. With weed stands popping up all over the place, it can take a while to figure out where to cast and how to work the lure so expect to get fouled up until you work out the taper of the weed beds.

Maroon
Closest Town: Boonah

Surface activity will be improving and bass will be nailing topwater lures early and late in the day this month. This action can last for only a short period and as soon as it slows down, switch to deeper lures. Suspending hardbodies around the weed has been quite effective throughout the day but with the warmer, brighter days, the fish will be sinking deeper into the weed as the day wears on. Suspending lures will still be worth a go but make the change to even deeper lures if they fail to produce.

Soft plastics rolled down the weed and twitched out when they foul up are a proven winner. Blades are another option but are harder to fish. Trebles tend to bury into the weed more and the lure needs to be ripped out hard to free the lure up and get it working again. The trick is in fishing the lure within a whisker of the weed without it fouling. The reward will certainly be fish. Try 1/4oz blades and if you are having trouble with weed fouling on the hooks, consider removing the trebles and replacing them with a set of Ecogear ZX style assist hooks.

Moogerah
Closest Town: Boonah

Moogerah has really impressed bass anglers so far this spring. Bass have been schooling up in numbers in several locations around the dam and there are still a few stragglers left around the edges willing to ambush a stray lure.

The submerged ridge which runs from the northern boat ramp almost all the way across to the dam wall has been holding its share of fish. At the end of winter the bigger bass seemed to move on but there are still plenty of bass between 30-40cm to be caught across this sunken point. Soft plastics, blades and ice jigs have been the way to entice these fish.

At times the bigger bass will suspend along the drop-off edge and a mid-water retrieve will produce the better quality fish but on most occasions, hopping and rolling lures across the bottom will suffice.

Up at the start of the timber, the flats in the middle of the dam seem to be holding some of the better quality bass. These fish have been responding best to soft plastics and at times will school up under the boat and wreak havoc on ice jigs.

On the edges of the lake, there are some bass around the steeper timbered banks. The shoreline to the left of the dam wall, which runs back towards the gorge, has held quite a few of these fish. Working soft plastics out from the edge is one way of hooking these fish. Deep diving suspending hard bodies can also be effective. Don’t be afraid to get your lure right in amongst the structure along the bank. The fish here have been big and will often win the fight by burying you back into the timber.

I’ve fished the dam several times over the last couple of months. My standout lure has been the 7cm Powerbait Ripple Shad in the lighter colours like cappuccino, copper minnow and ayu. I rig these lures on a 1/2oz Nitro Dam Deep Jighead, which easily gets down and stays near the bottom during the retrieve. I sound around until fish show on the sounder before placing a cast back over a nice show. The lure then sinks to the bottom before the retrieve commences. Usually we take 6-12 turns before dropping the lure back to the bottom. When the bites come, just keep winding and allow the fish to hook up on their own. To strike at a bite will usually spook the fish away. We load our Ripple Shads with either Halco Freshwater Scent or the new Pro-Cure Gel and sometimes both.

When fishing with my son Blake, he kicked my butt until I started copying his technique. The fish had stopped biting for me and he kept getting heaps of bites by slowing his retrieve right down. So slow in fact that I’m sure the paddle-tail of his plastic would hardly even be moving. The wake up call came when I realised I was doing around two casts to his one. The change soon paid off and we were both catching fish.

Hinze
Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

The fishing at Hinze has started to fire up. While the schools around the dam wall points have started to break up, the action has fired and there are now more fish being caught throughout the dam. Most of the action has been from 35-40cm bass but there is the occasional big girl in the midst of them so stay prepared for a line burner.

Soft vibes, have worked well when hopped through the schooling bass. Soft plastics are also effective. Casting to the edges has nailed some of the better quality bass. You can start out with surface and shallow presentations early and probe deeper as the day wears on before going shallow again in the afternoon.

Surface lures have been scoring fish around the flooded shrubs. Most of these have been in the mid 30cm but I have heard whispers of some crackers close to 50cm in length. As the fish move deeper, try beetle spin rigged soft plastics and spinnerbaits.

John from Go Camping/Fishing at Nerang reports anglers doing well on the baby bass coloured Vortex spinnerbait in 3/8 and 1/2oz. Another downsized spinnerbait, which is worth a try is the O.S.P. High Pitcher.

Between using plastics, soft vibes, blades and ice jigs on schooling bass and exploring the edges with spinnerbaits and beetle spins, you should be able to produce some quality bass and there is always the chance of hooking a saratoga.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Cooby
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

Despite fishing so well prior to winter and continuing to produce through the cold months, the action has died off at Cooby Dam. Golden perch are still being caught but no longer in the double figure numbers experienced by most boats earlier in the year. Fishing live shrimp and saltwater yabbies has been the best approach.

The late afternoon seems to be producing the best action and a few fish are still being boated. Try fishing in 5-8m of water out from the sailing club, along the bank opposite the boat ramp and along the bank opposite the steep rock wall up towards the dam wall.

Numbers may increase with the warming weather. As the dam is electric motor only, take advantage of moving slowly and keep a close eye on the sounder. Sometimes when the action dies off, the golden perch move out to deep water. Here they will hold in 10-15m in big numbers. When in this water, they can be caught on bait or slowly hopped blades and lipless crankbaits.

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 to open and the dam hours are 7am-8pm. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies can be purchased from Highfields Bait and Tackle on the New England Highway in Highfields.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

The fishing at Coolmunda has fired up with plenty of golden perch caught. Bait fishing with live shrimp and saltwater yabbies has been the most reliable way to produce fish over the last month but with the warming water temperature, lure fishing will only get better.

Trolling medium and deep diving lures around the flats and creek beds in the main dam basin will score some goldens and may even tempt a Murray cod. Up in the timber, lures can be trolled and casting lipless crankbaits is also an option. Black or gold and black TN60 Jackalls work extremely well. The goldens should be holding in concentrations at this time of year so once one is caught keep working your lures around the same area.

The Lake Coolmunda Fishing Competition will be held on Labour Day weekend, which is the 5, 6 and 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.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

Bait fishers using live shrimp and saltwater yabbies have fared reasonably well over the last month. Luring has been slow but will be rapidly on the improve. The rocky structure on the bank opposite the dam wall has been a hot spot for bait fishers.

The warmer weather will see an increase in fish throughout the dam. Targeting goldens with bait or lures out from the major points in the main dam and further up the creek near the black boys should be rewarding.

There were quite a few cod caught earlier in the year and these Murray cod should be starting to fire up even more. In Queensland there is no closed season on these fish but be aware that NSW is midway through their closed season.

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 that is the main street running through Warwick.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma is still a tough dam to catch fish in. The water - which is still dirty - is the main reason for the slow action. On the bright side, lure trollers have started to pull bass and golden perch in the Leisegangs Ledge area. The Smak 16 hardbody has accounted for these fish and would also be worth a troll past any other schools that turn up over the coming month. Schooling fish numbers are increasing but they remain frustratingly hard to tempt.

In the timber golden perch and the occasional bass are being caught on live shrimps. Redclaw numbers have dropped off but warming weather may see them rise again.

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.

Bjelke-Petersen

It’s been a while since Bjelke has made it into the report but there are still fish in the dam and there are some being caught. Reports have been sparse but as more anglers fish the dam, news will filter through.

Up in the timber, plenty of average-sized golden perch have been caught on live shrimp and frozen saltwater yabbies and prawns. The occasional bass has been caught in the area but they have been a lot harder to find on baits.

With the weather warming, lure fishers have been trying their luck and are bagging a few golden perch and bass. Trolling has accounted for these fish but casting to any schools would certainly produce the goods if fish can be located.

With a couple of fishing competitions being held at Bjelke there will soon be a lot more reports as anglers flood back to the dam.

Cania
Closest Towns: Monto, Biloela

It’s a little tough to get an accurate report out of the guys lining up to fish the Bass Pro Grand Final at Cania Dam. This competition will have been held by the time the magazine is released so a great way to find out where the fish were caught will be to jump online and go to www.australianbass.com.au and read all about it.

Word is most of the bass action is taking place up past the start of the timber at the back of the dam. Plenty of bass have been holding around the lake edges and these fish will take reaction style lures like crankbaits, beetle spins and spinnerbaits. At times the fish have been schooling up in 3-4m of water and can be tempted with plastics and blades.

Saratoga are becoming a more frequent capture. These fish will take lures cast to the edges that are intended to catch bass. To specifically target them, work edges with plenty of structure or shallow bays as the toga won’t be too far away.

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.

Monduran
Closest town: Gin Gin

It’s shaping up to be a good year on Monduran’s barra. The fish have been fairly wide spread and quite a few anglers are either catching or having close encounters with the prized fish.

The average barra has been in the high 60cm and fish around 80cm are not uncommon. Some serious bust offs and sightings of bigger fish hooked have been becoming more frequent. It will only be a matter of time until someone boats a metre-plus barra from Mondy.

Casting hardbodied lures seems to be the best method and it is even more successful if these lures suspend. Jamie Bein from Monduran Barra Charters recommends making the Yozuri Crystal Minnow suspend or tinkering with Jackall Squirrels and MJ-1DD 90F Marias. These lures can be fished with plenty of pauses to excite the barra into striking. He also offered two valuable tips: fish with the wind at your back; and learn to read your sounder!

Most of the action has been taking place up past White Rock. Barra have been caught from there right up to F and in both the north and south arm of B. Don’t forget to grab a Monduran map from Foxies in Gin Gin to be sure you know where all the hot spots are and can also find your way home. I haven’t fished Mondy a lot but on two separate occasions I have been asked the way back to the boat ramp.

The Win Television Family Fishing Classic is being held at Monduran on 19, 20 October. With $1,000 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 campsites, 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
Proserpine
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The deep trees lining the old creek beds have remained one of the most reliable areas to target the barramundi. Despite being very deep in places, the barra will sit fairly high in the water column and can be tempted with 3-5m diving lures. The RMG Scorpion and Barra Bait ranges seem to work well and the lures are marked with the depth they dive to.

Cast past the tree and crank the lure down into it before pausing and letting the lure slowly rise back to the surface. Once in the zone around the tree, adopt a stop-start retrieve to entice a strike. The average size of the barra has been around the magic 1m mark. This has left a few punters complaining as 1m long fish around the treetops can take a bit of stopping and will quite often win the battle for freedom.

Given the underwater structure these fish live around, it’s time to muscle up and fish 50lb braid and upgrade hooks on lures to the likes of the Owner ST66. Go hard on the fish but if they do manage to get you around a tree lighten up and follow the fish to try and untangle it. Going hard on barra will see them fighting close to the surface and spending quite a bit of time in the air. At least here they can be unwrapped from any branches but they do run the risk of throwing more hooks.

The shallows will definitely be worth a shot this month. The action has been picking up with more fish being taken on plastics and surface lures. The weed died back this winter but will already be doing a good job of growing back. Look for the healthiest weed beds as these are more likely to create oxygen and hold bait and barra.

Barra have already been turning up in the deep water of the basin of the lake. At present, these fish are very scattered and can be found around the bait schools and creek bed drop-offs. Lure trollers can pick up a few of these fish if they can locate a concentration. Another alternative is to work soft and hard vibes through barra seen on the sounder. It will be another month or two before these fish congregate closer to the dam wall providing some great full moon action.

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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