Hard work brings rewards
  |  First Published: August 2013

The effects of winter have kicked in and the freshwater fishing scene has slowed down a lot. Usually there would be a few places where the action continues to fire but this year it is pretty tough going all over. Fish can still be caught but you do have to work for the results.

It’s a good time to check over all your gear and do a bit of boat and trailer maintenance because come spring, the action should fire up and there will be less time for these jobs.

Some places are still producing better than others so read on and pick a reliable location for your next freshwater session.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Cressbrook’s bass have been hard to catch. When fish are found, they are refusing to eat lures and even live shrimp.

The fish are still a bit scattered around the dam but some concentrations are holding around Deer Island and off the toilet points up either creek. One of the last-minute stories I heard before putting the report together was of some quality bass being caught in deeper water around 14m.

At some stage the switch will flick and these fish will start chewing again. The condition of the bass continues to improve as they gorge themselves on the schools of bony bream.

If luring, try rolling 3/8oz blades and jighead-rigged plastics through the schools. If bait fishing, you can’t go past live shrimp. A flick around the edges with a 1/4oz rigged soft plastic or deeper diving suspending lure will also be worth a shot in the mornings and afternoons.

Give the deeper water a go as in past years, the bass have stacked up and gorged on baitfish just prior to spring.

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

Locating the scattered fish seems to be the problem at the moment. With the upcoming Bass Pro in August, more anglers will be scratching their heads and searching for Somerset fish.

Luring these fish can be tough and if numbers are found, try rolling soft plastics, hopping Mask Vibes or bouncing blade baits through them. It will usually be a matter of keeping lures close to the bottom and in their face to get them to bite.

Probably the best option is to use deep fly techniques with a Bass Vampire or clouser pattern fly, or park on top of the fish and jig an ice jig. Sitting on top of fishy areas while ice jigging can attract more fish to the area around the boat and when they arrive they are usually more active and willing to eat. The longer they sit under the boat, the tougher they are to catch.

Casting the edges of the dam with blade baits, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits can produce the odd bass. Keep a close eye on the sounder as scattered fish may school up below the boat and quickly moving off the congregation and casting back into it may be rewarded. If this occurs, try casting out blade baits and roll them up through the fish.

In the timber to the north of Kirkleigh, bait fishers have been catching big golden perch and quite a few bass. If the good results on baits continue, it will be hard to take by all those trying to work them out on lures over the next month.

Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

The action has been steady at Wivenhoe. There have been a few big bass caught around the lake’s edges on spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits when casting. Launching and fishing near Logans Inlet and Billies Bay seems to produce. Be aware a key is needed to access the water at Billies Bay.

Trolling shallow diving lures in under 4m of water around the edges should also produce the goods. Exercise stealth when using this approach to avoid spooking the fish in the shallows. Good lures to try are TN60 Jackalls, 1/2oz spinnerbaits and shallow running hardbodies. The beauty of having a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait tied on is that it can be cast to the edges in the area when a fish is caught or even while exploring on the troll.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

There has been a bit of change over the last couple of months at Hinze. The bass are being targeted in deeper water and the action has slowed right down around the shoreline.

Fishing the major points around the dam wall has been the go. Pelican point, Gordons Gully, Grandmas Kitchen and the entrance to Sheltered Bay have all held fish. If you are not familiar with the names of the points, search for schooling bass around the most prominent ones within sight of the dam wall.

The bass have been taking a mix of lures. Jigging ice jigs in deep water out from the points has been reliable. Casting blades and silent lipless crankbaits has been effective as well. The 1/4oz Little Max blade, silent TN60 Jackall and silent Megabass Vibration-X Powerbomb are all worth keeping in the tackle box for such occasions. Soft plastics have also been popular. The Powerbait 2.6” T-tails in olive pearl or green pumpkin have been popular. These plastics can be rigged on 1/4oz jigheads and rolled close to the bottom for several winds before allowing them to pause and sink again before repeating.

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 knows where to fish and which lures to use.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

There have been a few bass and saratoga on the chew at Borumba. The bass action has been taking place around The Junction. These fish can be targeted with medium-sized blade baits or jighead rigged soft plastics.

When fishing blades, try a hopping technique across the bottom and for plastics try rolling the lure through the fish and dropping it back every 10 or so winds of the reel. Some quality fish well into the 40-50cm size bracket have been amongst the average-sized ones. At this time of year, you can usually locate schooling bass around the second yellow buoy. A quick scout around this area while keeping an eye on the sounder will reveal their presence.

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

Lake MacDonald has gone a little quiet recently. This was a quick change after some great fishing over the last month. Even though tough to catch, there have been some quality bass over 40cm coming from throughout the dam.

The sudden change to tough fishing could soon reverse and the bass may become more active. Hard work will see fish hitting the deck and if the action does improve and the bass fire up, expect some cracker late winter sessions.

Closest Town: Boonah

The action has slowed at Maroon. Bass are still being taken around the edges and weed pockets on soft plastics and suspending lures. If using plastics, try a jighead rigged T-tail like the Slider Grub or Powerbait T-tail rigged on a 1/8-1/4oz jighead. If using suspending hardbody lures, try the Cultiva Rippin’ Minnow SP70 or OSP Dunk.

Be prepared to work the edges of the dam and weed edges using an electric motor until you find better numbers of fish. Once you catch a few from an area, it might be worthwhile resting it and returning an hour later to have another crack at it.

Closest Town: Boonah

I haven’t heard any reports from Moogerah over the last month. The month prior, there were some exceptional bass scattered around the edges. These fish were at the entrance to the creeks up in the timber and inside the gorge. Casting lipless crankbaits and retrieving them as soon as they splashed down was the key to hooking these fish.

Big schools of bass had started to form out from the boat ramp closest to the kiosk. These fish had been small but may be worth a look. Try using blade baits and soft plastics to try and extract a bigger one.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

Cooby has slowed down a bit for most anglers but there are still a few guys whacking heaps of golden perch. Most areas out from the boat ramp and on the bank directly opposite are still producing a few fish on blades and bait. The better action seems to be coming from the northern arm (Cooby Creek) in deeper water. Explore the flats in this area using your sounder and look for signs of schooling fish in 7-12m of water.

Live shrimp dropped into the concentrations of golden perch will soon be rewarded. It also pays to have a packet of frozen saltwater yabbies on board as some days they will out fish the shrimp. Jigging the bait up and down a little has been a big help when trying to get the fish interested.

Jigging seems to be the key when luring too. A vertically hopped ice jig or small blade has been scoring the best results when luring. Small blades are the secret and there is never a need to use one over 1/4oz in weight. Drop the blade to the bottom and give the rod a short sharp lift every time the blade touches the bottom. The lift should be hard enough to feel the blade vibrating through the rod but short enough to have the blade bouncing only 50cm off the bottom.

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. 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.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda has still been producing golden perch and the occasional smaller Murray cod. Bait fishing with live shrimp and saltwater yabbies has rewarded anglers with a few golden perch but don’t expect to bag out.

Jigging lures below the boat has also fared reasonably well. Lipless crankbaits and small blades hopped vertically below the boat have been the trick to exciting the fish into biting.

The action has been steady and consistent so if you are looking to catch a few fish, Coolmunda will be worth a shot.

Closest Town: Warwick

Leslie Dam has quietened down and there isn’t much action to speak of. Having said that, a big cod over a metre long was landed there last month on a spinnerbait.

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

All reports coming from the dam over the last month have suggested the fishing is very tough.

Some small golden perch and undersized cod have been tempted on soft plastics and saltwater yabbies but things are very slow.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Over the last couple of months, there have been a couple of competitions held on Boondooma. The results have showed just how tough the fishing is. The dirty water has kept the fish spread out, hard to find and even harder to catch.

Switched on anglers worked out how to entice a few bass on lures in the upper reaches of the Stuart arm and around One Tree Point at the start of the Stuart. Vertically jigging small blades to scattered fish was the trick. The 1/4oz Little Max and Ecogear ZX40 were the lures doing the damage. It would also be worth considering the Berkley Big Eye 46mm with the inbuilt rattle chamber just to make a little more noise.

Bait fishers have had good results when they are on some fish but due to them being so scattered the reports are good and bad. When parked on top of fish both golden perch and bass are taking live shrimp. A few boys crushed the heads of their shrimp before putting them down and the fish didn’t waste any time eating 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: Monto, Biloela

Cania continues to be one of the most reliable dams to target bass. Cameron Hobson reported catches of around 20 bass per session in the timbered area up the back of the dam.

Lipless crankbaits have been the gun lure in the dirtier water at the start of the timber. These lures have worked well when cast and retrieved around the banks from the timber’s start and up into the middle section.

Further upstream, the water starts to clear and other lures can perform well too. Small spinnerbaits like the Smak Mini Coop or plastics rigged on a beetlespin blade are ideal. These lures are also cast around the edges in search of bass.

By-catch is always fairly common when fishing Cania. Silver perch, golden perch and saratoga are always a possibility and a welcome surprise.

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 campsites, 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

While the weather has been favourable and still, and warm days have blessed the dam, barra continue to be caught.

The morning sessions have been hopeless but the fish tend to fire up between 2-8pm. The dam has maintained a high water temperature for this time of year but this could easily change after a run of cold weather.

Barra have been averaging around 70cm in length with some better fish being hooked and lost or winning the fight by breaking lines. Small lures have been the key to getting bites. Hardbodies about 100mm long, which suspend when paused will do the trick. Jamie Bein from Lake Monduran Barra Charters swears by the Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow and Taylor Made King Prawn. He suggests using bright coloured lures with a slow retrieve with pauses allowing the lure to suspend. The main river between D and I is an area worth exploring for fish.

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 .

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

Lake Proserpine will be one of the better places to target winter barramundi. When the weather is pleasant, the barra fire up and can be caught in reasonable numbers.

Those with some skill and knowledge will be able to extract some quality fish from the deep trees. Working hardbody lures around the trees lining the old creek beds is the key to finding fish. Cast lures past the target area and crank them down into the structure. Pause the lure and allow it to float back to the surface before cranking it down again.

Shallow divers can work at times but to cover a greater area of the water column, try using 3-5m divers. The RMG Scorpion 125 and Barra Bait are proven models.

The beauty of fishing Lake Proserpine is the countless opportunities to target fish around the Whitsundays when the dam action is proving tough.

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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