Trolling lures produces in the fresh
  |  First Published: December 2013

As we kick off into a new year, the freshwater fishing scene is looking pretty sweet. During the summer months, all freshwater species are more active and willing to munch lures. My favourite style of fishing, surface luring, will certainly be worth a shot in the mornings and afternoons.

Lure casting can be a little tougher across the lakes when fish spread out, but this is the ideal time to troll lures. Trolling covers heaps of water and all you have to do is keep putting lures in front of fish to keep catching them. It’s a great way for newcomers to get stuck into the action.

More experienced anglers can really mix it up and troll sinking lures like blades and plastics through the fish while using a bit of rod work and a few winds of the reel to make the lures look more attractive to the fish.

Thinking back over 2013, we had a good year all round but anglers needed to keep changing their approach to catch fish. This was partly due to the widespread flooding at the start of the year. Things have generally settled now so the fish are a lot more predictable. Keep in mind if big rain hits an area again this year, everything will change.

I love to hear people’s fishing reports as I simply can’t get to enough areas each month. The more I hear, the more detailed the next month’s report will be. Just shoot me an email (and a photo for the magazine if you like) at --e-mail address hidden-- I look forward to hearing form you.

I did have one rather unusual report last year from one of my work colleagues, who is a top bloke. Sam ‘Slippery’ Moyle is a very credible chap… although the guys who were with him on that fateful day in 2013 might disagree. Slippery was checking a redclaw trap not far from the boat ramp at Boondooma when he swears he saw the head of a crocodile slowly slipping back into the water. His mates highly doubt his story. The light was low and the beverages had been flowing all day so let’s hope Slippery was wrong.

Still, I think I’d be watching my back if I was swimming in the lake on a quiet day with no one else around.

Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Despite most anglers doing it tough at Cressbrook, the fish haven’t been all that hard to catch if you go about it the right way. The bass have spread out and suspended in the deep water in a similar fashion to the early days on this lake. If you can remember fishing the lake more than a decade ago you may recall bass being trolled up on diving lures right out in the deepest areas. The depth of the lure will depend on how deep the bass are suspending, but as a general rule, be prepared to fish between 5-10m deep.

Timber hardbodies have been the most effective, probably due to the fact they have no inbuilt rattles. A range of plastic lures which also fits this bill, and is easily accessible, comes from Smak.

When trolling, leave 30-40m of line out and stick to either light mono or braid. Regardless of which one you use, don’t go over 8lb or the lure will lose its ability to dive deeply due to the resistance of the line dragging through the water.

To mix things up, anglers can troll soft plastics using an electric motor. Plastic trolling covers more water than casting and once you achieve the right speed and jighead weight your lure will be continuously in the zone. For starters, troll at about 2.4km/h (a slow walking pace) using a 1/2oz jighead. Experiment with the amount of trailing line as this will alter the plastic's depth. Try using 20-50m behind the boat and remember the amount because when you catch a fish, you’ll want to be able to repeat it.

The schooling fish around the toilet points and Deer Island have been scarce. These are likely to be the fish which are now out wide in the deep water.

Lure casters will do it tough on the lake edges and water less than 7m deep, and the same goes for bait fishermen. Try lures and bait fished vertically under the boat out in the deep water. At times the bass will bunch up under the boat and this is the right time to drop a live shrimp, soft plastic or ice jig into them. Be sure to keep close to the depth of the fish, as in deep water it is easy to be above or below the holding zone.

Toowoomba Regional Council are considering removing the $3 entry fee at the dam, but it might pay to be prepared and have some loose change just in case the boom gates are still in place next month. The 8 knot speed limit is still in place.

For all your supplies, expert advice and to check on the boating restriction, call in at Fish’n’Bits in Alderley 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

Bass and goldens continue to be caught at the lake, and lures have been performing well. While the last couple of months have been hit-and-miss, there seems to have been a change and the action has picked up. How long this activity lasts is anyone’s guess; the fishing pressure over the Christmas week may slow the action down.

Big numbers of bass have made an unusual move to the timber north of Kirkleigh. These fish have been sitting near the start of timber. Trolling diving lures around this area has accounted for bulk numbers of bass and golden perch over the last month. One angler went into Fish’n’Bits, Toowoomba to buy five Smak 19 lures in purple and white after a 70-fish session so there’s a pretty good hint as to what to use. Other lure options are the Blitz Baga, Halco 50mm Poltergeist Crazy Deep, Kezza Freak and Rapala Hot Lips Express 1/4oz.

Lure casters have also been getting into the fish around the Kirkleigh timber. Blade baits and lipless crankbaits are good options at this time of year. It also pays to have a 1/2oz jighead-rigged plastic ready just in case the fish change their mood.

Casting and trolling lures around Bay 13 and Pelican Point should also produce a mixed bag of bass and golden perch. As I stated earlier, it is strange to have such big numbers of bass schooling around the timber so keep the middle reaches of the lake as a fall-back area as they are pretty reliable.

Bait fishing with live shrimp will produce mixed bags of fish while they remain schooled. If the fish scatter, stick to trolling lures if you want to boat numbers. It looks as though trolling, just like in the old days, will be the way to have some fun at Somerset. It’s an easy way to catch a fish for the whole family so hopefully you’ll be able to get out and enjoy it during the holiday break.

Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

A big announcement was made last month which will either excite or frustrate Wivenhoe anglers: as of 14 December, the lake was opened to power boats under restrictions. Low-emission petrol motors (4-strokes and fuel injected 2-strokes) will be able to operate on the dam. While there is no outboard size restriction in place, Seqwater has stated that all vessels are not to exceed 6 knots. This makes me wonder if this speed will apply to tricked up electric boats and sailboats capable of cruising along at greater than this speed.

Boat launching will be carried out from Hamon Cove and Logan Inlet ramps. The restricted area buoyed off 3km from the dam wall is still out of bounds.

With outboards allowed on the dam, plenty of people will explore the lake to find the best fishing grounds. The increase in boating activity will upset some of the lake’s regulars, who have been able to enjoy the fishing in peace over the years. Personally, I believe the lake and the fish are there for all to enjoy. I’d love to hear your reports on the lake at --e-mail address hidden-- .

Closest Town: Boonah

Lure and bait anglers have been hauling in the bass and golden perch at Moogerah. The timbered area has held plenty of schooling bass and these fish have responded well to blade baits. When looking for fish in the timber, narrow the spots down by sounding over the flats less than 10m deep. Trolling a lure through the standing timber may also pay off.

The southern banks have also fished well when trolling lures. Medium diving lures like the Hydrobug have scored well in the past weeks.

Bait fishing around the timber and gorge will produce a mixed bag of golden perch, bass and catfish. These areas will see less ski boat and jet ski action so you will be assured of a more peaceful day on the water.

Closest Town: Nerang, Gold Coast

There have been quite a few bass taken along the eastern side of the dam in the last month. During the day, the action has been around the edge of the tree line. Points have held better numbers of bass than the bays. Beetle spin rigged soft plastics and Berkley PowerBlades have been nailing the fish from this area for some of the dam’s regulars. Most of the bass have been of a smaller class and range from 30-40cm in length.

An early morning start is likely to produce some topwater action. The trick to getting surface strikes is to fish surface lures in close to the edge before the sun hits the water. The eastern bank is great for this attack in the mornings as it takes a little longer for the sun to hit it. On days when the bass are whacking topwater baits, the sun seems to rise too quickly and spoil the fun.

A permit is required to fish Hinze Dam and these are only $5/week or $40/year. These are available through Go Camping at Nerang. No outboard motors can be taken on the dam, so it is electric motors only or paddle power if you want to tangle with the Gold Coast’s fiery little bass. For all the latest information and best lures for the job call in and see the guys at Go Camping, 10 Spencer Street, Nerang.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

The fishing at Cooby has been hot and cold. Golden perch have been caught all over the dam on a variety of techniques but the numbers of fish haven’t been huge. Bait fishing in 7m of water is still probably the best guarantee of a fish. Live shrimp or frozen saltwater yabbies are the top baits. Drop these straight over the side of the boat with a small ball sinker sitting directly above a size 1 wide gap hook (like an Owner K hook).

Trolling hard bodies has scored a few fish and so has hopping blades and jigging ice jigs. Casting to the edges with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits has also picked up a few goldens. Last month I mentioned the increase in cod encounters. A 40lb specimen was landed back in November on a spinnerbait cast to the edge so it just goes to show they are there if you target them.

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, but a big electric-powered boat can still be launched with care. Outboard motors can be left on the boat but must not be used.

The open hours are from 7am-8pm. The boom gate at the entrance may be out of action by next month; Council has considered removing the fees, but bring your $3 just in case it is still in place. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies can be purchased from Highfields Bait and Tackle on the New England Highway in Highfields. Call in and see Doug and check out the great range of kayaks and accessories he has on display.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The golden perch should really fire up this month. Bait fishers have been getting into the fish using the standard live shrimps and saltwater yabbies. Stranger baits like chicken gut have also fared well.

In the timber, the goldens will take lipless crankbaits cast around the trees. Lipless crankbaits like Jackall TN60s and Mask Vibe 60s hopped and retrieved close to the bottom will fool these fish, and there is always the chance of hooking a Murray cod.

Trolling out in the middle around the old river channels with hardbodies will score plenty of golden perch. Lures which dive 5m are ideal in this water. Look for signs of life on the sounder. Even if the golden perch don’t show up, the bait will, and they will often hold around those areas.

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

Leslie has continued to fish quite well for golden perch on lures and bait. There has been a noted increase in the number of Murray cod being caught as well.

Trolling hardbodies and lipless crankbaits in 3-7m of water has scored most of the fish. Try around the major points, the tree line close to the dam wall, opposite the boat ramp and up towards the Black Boys and in Sandy Creek. Purple lures have been a standout, with the Smak Golden Child one of the best hard bodies and the TN60 Jackall the best lipless bait.

Bait fishing with live shrimp and saltwater yabbies will entice some golden perch. The mornings and afternoons will be the prime times to use bait as the fish seem to move around a little more.

For any tips and gear for fishing Leslie Dam or the Warwick area, call in and see the guys at Warwick Outdoor and Sports in Palmerin Street Warwick. The store stocks a great range of freshwater gear which is well suited to catching our Australian natives.

Closest Town: Warwick

Golden perch continue to bite well at Connelly. Trolling lures has picked up and is now producing more fish. The TN60 Jackall has been a standout producer with one angler being busted up by a quality cod in between golden perch.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The action has picked up at Boondooma and the fish continue to move further out into the dam’s basin. The stretch along the left hand bank before The Junction has been fishing well, with trolled lures producing both bass and golden perch. The Barbers Pole section is very popular and is easily found along this bank by spotting the striped pole. The Smak 16 in Gayle colour has been exceptional on the fish in this area.

Pelican Point has produced well over the last month, with lure casters taking plenty of bass. Blade baits will be worth trying here on any schooling fish. The bass will show up well on the sounder so look around the point and also the bank on the opposite side leading up to it.

The lake edges between The Junction and the start of the Stuart arm trees have been fishing well on spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Both golden perch and bass are being caught along this stretch. As the weather continues to heat up, the fish may retreat to slightly deeper water where they can be targeted with blades.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The lake has really fired up over the last month. Big numbers of bass and golden perch are being taken in the timbered reaches. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits were scoring plenty of fish but with the summer heat, blades will probably be a better option. Try casting and hopping1/4oz to 1/2oz blade baits to the steeper points in the timber. The rocky areas seem to be producing better than the shallow, weedy banks. Cruise around in 4-6m of water and keep an eye on the sounder to locate schools.

Trolling the same area with medium running lures should also produce a mixed bag. Once you’ve found a patch of fish, give the blade baits a run as the fish have been crawling over them.

Bait fishing in 5-7m of water in the timber will score a few bass and some cracker golden perch. Live shrimp make the best all-round bait and saltwater yabbies are great for the goldens.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into your local Bass 2 Barra store. You can see Matthew at Kingaroy or Dylan in Dalby and the boys will have you all geared up and ready for action in no time.

Closest town: Gin Gin

Over the last month, the barra bite has died off at Monduran. There is still the occasional fish being taken around places like Insane Bay, the top of north and south ‘B’ arms and inside the Rainforest. Try fishing the windy points and bays with hardbody lures around 100mm long. The fish are still there so it’s just a matter of cracking a pattern. Mix it up. If the standard stop-start retrieve with a hardbody lure isn’t working, try cranking fast. When fishing fast, big lipless crankbaits, Transams and plastics are worth a try. Place long casts across the bank on a more parallel angle.

The fish are still cruising around the dam so it will only be a matter of time until they fire up again. I hope it’s not too long.

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.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town/s: Benaraby, Gladstone

Still only whispers of the odd barra are coming from Awoonga. The thick timber has produced some small fish with Gold Mine Point area being worth a try. If you are heading out, scale down and target smaller barra around 70cm long. This means fishing hardbodies like the Halco Hamma 85, Hamma 105 or Rapala XR10. Cast around tight timber on points and inside bays and keep an eye on the sounder for any signs of fish.

For those who may be wondering about the future of the lake, it is certainly looking positive. The Gladstone Area Water Board hatchery has over 1 million fingerlings in stock. These fish will fill orders from Central Queensland’s stocking groups and SIP funds. Restocking for Awoonga will also take place, with idea being to introduce slightly larger fish. Up to 450,000 barra fingerlings can be introduced each year and the aim is to reach this number so it won’t take long to see the great lake repopulated. The current hatchery will be closed at some point but a new purpose-built hatchery is in the design stages.

If you are keen on trying to tackle some fish in the dam, 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

Big barra have been bashing lures around the main basin for the past couple of months. Trollers had plenty of success with 5-8m divers or shallower offerings fished at a similar depth behind a downrigger bomb. The big barra action is likely to continue until any bulk amount of rain falls and starts to make the fish scatter.

When trolling, try working around the buoy line in front of the dam wall and follow the old river bed drop-off along the northern side. Barra will show up on a quality sounder, and keep an eye out for any nearby bait concentrations. The RMG Poltergeist, RMG Scorpions and Classic Barra lures are all worth a try. The prime times are around morning, afternoon and dark, but fish can be caught right through the day when they are on the move.

Casting soft plastics and vibes to any of the better showings is definitely worth a try. Anglers using Hydrowaves have had success. The sound emitted by these units does an excellent job of pulling the baitfish up from the deeper water and they will then school right around the boat. If the barra are in the mood to feed, they will do so right around you. Using this tool in open water will attract fish life and increase your chances of success.

If the rain arrives and tops the dam up, the fish will fire up in specific areas for a couple of weeks until the edges start to die off. The feeder creeks on the northern side of the dam and freshly flooded ground up the back of the dam will be alive with fish. Surface lures and plastics will be some of the best options to entice these hunting fish.

If the rain stays away, lure casters can try their luck around the tree lines marking the edges of the creeks up in the timber. Casting hard bodies into the thick stuff and floating them up and over the branches calls the barra out of the area. RMG Scorpions and Killalure Barra Baits are ideal for this style of fishing. With the average fish measuring around 1m long, you will need to fish the right gear for the job. 50lb braid and at least 60lb leader will increase your chances of landing a fish around the trees. Fighting the fish hard when possible will keep them shallow where they can be unwound off the trees if they manage to wrap around them.

If you are in the area, 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.

Closest Town: Mackay

Kinchant Dam seems to be drawing bigger and bigger crowds keen to wet a line for barra. The beauty of this lake is it offers so many options and the fish aren’t able to escape in flood events.

The weed beds have been changing on a weekly basis due to the fluctuation in water level but they still hold good numbers of 70-80cm fish. Frogging with weedless-rigged plastic frogs is one of the most explosive and exciting ways to fool Kinchant’s barra. These lures can be fished right over the thickest of weed and into any deeper pockets where the fish seem to pounce from.

When weed is found just below the surface, the Stiffy Bony Bream has been a great lure. These lures are slowly wound over the top of the weed and lightly twitched to entice the barra holding below. This method is very effective after darkness falls and the fish are able to pick up the silhouette of the lure dancing above their heads.

Better quality fish to well over 1m long have been holding out from the weed edge. Water up to 8m deep can hold fish during the daylight hours before they move up closer to the weed during lower light periods. Hopping 130mm Slick Rigs or Transam 95 soft lipless baits off the bottom works well when the fish are sitting deep. As they move into the edges, try sinking the lure before starting a slow rolling retrieve.

For accommodation at the lake give Kinchant Waters a call on (07) 4954 1453.

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