We’re already well into autumn and the shorter days will soon mean cooler air temperatures as well. If you’re into freshwater fishing, now is the time to make the most of it. Soon the cooler weather will have an influence on the core temperature of the freshwater lakes and rivers. As the water cools off, it will become harder to lure quite a few species. Golden perch and barramundi are prime examples of fish which have a slower metabolism over the colder months. If these fish are on your hit list, get stuck into them now before they get tougher to catch on lures.
Apart from some rain delivering low pressure systems which arrived last month further north, it seems like we may be in for some dryer times ahead. This can influence the fishing, especially in the dams. The lack of inflows will mean stable or falling levels over the months to follow. When the water remains stable, the fishing can be exceptional. Stability in the water level gives weed beds a chance to develop and fish the opportunity to enjoy the one environment.
Lakes hold water for town use as well as irrigation purposes. Sudden drops in level can change the comfortable environment, making the fishing tougher.
Receding water levels do have their advantages as well. As lake levels fall, there is far less area covered by water and therefore the fish drop back closer to the lake’s main basin and become more concentrated and easier to find.
It looks as though it may be a year of constant change for our freshwater fisheries. Anglers who are able to stay on the ball and follow fish movements will be rewarded. Hopefully the following reports will help you on your way to boating more fish. Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!
Reasonable numbers of quality bass continue to be caught from the deep water. This has been a continuing pattern over the last few months. The water straight out from the picnic area has seen bass to 45cm being caught regularly. These fish should continue to bite in a similar fashion over the coming month.
Trolling deep diving lures has been the most effective way to locate and catch these fish. Working along the red buoys and circling back a couple of hundred metres into the middle and staying in over 8m of water has been the key. Drop-offs in the bottom contour seem to hold better numbers, and there are two distinct drop-offs in the area. One occurs in around 10m of water and the other is in about 23m. The bass can be spread out, but at times they clump together in a nice school.
If you chance upon a school, the fish will be reasonably easy to catch on a cast lure. The tricky part is counting it down and keeping it at the right depth to stay in the suspended fish. Spinnerbaits and blade baits should produce the goods, provided you place them in front of the fish.
The point opposite the Eagles Nest rock wall up Cressbrook Creek is holding a few bass and golden perch. Live shrimp will account for both species. Again, you need to find fish to catch them; it isn’t just a case of trying your luck at random spots. A quality sounder is the only way to guarantee you’ll catch enough to keep it interesting.
The entry fee at the boom gate has been removed but the 8 knot speed limit is still in place. Hours for boating and day use of the recreation area are 6am to 8pm until they shorten in May. 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.
Bass and golden perch are still being caught at Somerset although the action has slowed down quite a bit. Lure casters have had success on spinnerbaits and blades fished to the schooling fish which hold in the deeper drop-offs and flats around Pelican Point, Bay 13 and Queen Street. At times these fish have been hard to find but once located, they are usually in good numbers. Both bass and golden perch have been holding together and tend to school up under the boat once you enter their area.
Over the next month or two, the lack of rain should see the fish flock together once again and start schooling in better numbers. The usual spots will be worth a look. If I’m searching for fish, I always have a look around The Spit, Poly Pipe Point, Pelican Point, Red Rock, Bay 13, Eagles Nest, One Tree Point, Queen Street and the flats south of Kirkleigh. Some days it can take up to two hours to find numbers of fish but the work spent searching can pay off within the first half hour of fishing on a sizeable school.
While a lot of anglers are targeting bass in the open water, golden perch have at times outnumbered the bass being caught. Even bigger numbers of goldens can be caught on blades and ice jigs in the timbered areas. The mouth of Wyangi Creek, below the houses at Queen Street and around the Junction north of Kirkleigh have dead standing timber where goldens can be caught in bulk numbers. Sounding up a school has been just like finding a school of bass. The fish are in numbers and once found they tend to chew hard. Trolling deep diving lures like the Blitz Baga, Golden Child and Smak 18 will also see quite a few golden perch taken in these areas. A few snags may be encountered so a lure retriever is a handy item to carry as chances are the lure will be stuck down deep.
Bait fishers will be able to catch their share of bass and goldens from either the schooling fish in the basin of the lake or from the timbered areas. When fishing around the timber, golden perch will be a lot more common, but the odd bass may turn up. Try live shrimp fished in 8-10m of water.
Lure casters and trollers have been nailing quite a few bass. Fish have been caught around the edges on reaction baits like lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits early in the morning. The numbers of edge-dwelling fish may increase with the shorter days and cooler weather, and this can also extend the bite time. When choosing an edge to fish, try one that has some deeper water nearby. Even though fish may be up in less than 1-2m of water when you are catching them, they like a deeper water retreat during the heat of the day. If you have water over 4m deep nearby, chances are you are in a good spot.
Schooling fish can be found in the basin of the lake and up in the timber. These fish were suspending at about 4m deep last month but as the water cools they may spread out more through the water column and venture deeper. Keep a close eye on the sounder for any clutter lines indicating a thermocline or algae growth and bait. The fish will usually sit somewhere around this depth, and pinpointing their holding position will make catching them a whole lot easier.
Trolling diving lures like the Smak 12 or 3m RMG Poltergeist 50mm will see you in the right depth to hook some of these fish. Another good option is to troll a blade bait or a vibe like a Jackall Mask 60. At a pace of around 3-4km/h these lures will track at the right depth when towed on 20-30m of line. Experimentation is the key to getting your depth right, and once you have the knack for it you can pull plastics, spinnerbaits, beetle spins and all sorts of sinking offerings at the depth you desire.
Lure casters will need to locate these schooling fish on the sounder for the best results. Even though bass suspend, they will often do so over ridges and drop-offs to creek channels. If you notice a few fish in an area, pull up and have a few flicks as often a few scattered fish will turn into a horde which schools right below the boat. When scattered, deep diving crankbaits fished around the tops of submerged trees have fared well.
Another top way to extract bass from tree tops is to use a plastic rigged weedless on a standard jighead. I recommend a 1/4oz-3/8oz head with a 3” paddle-tail plastic. Rather than the normal rigging method, feed the hook in the nose of the plastic and exit 15mm down under the belly. At this point roll the hook 180 degrees and measure where it needs to re-enter. The hook then goes through the tail section on the correct angle to keep the hook point resting right on the back of the plastic. Rigged in this fashion, you can bump right through the tops of trees and the solid strikes will still hook up. You’ll still snag a few lures if you spend a bit of time bouncing over trees, but plastics are a lot more inexpensive than other lure types and you can guarantee you are right in around the gnarly stuff other lures would just hook up on. This technique works well when casting out over fish or dropping down and winding vertically. Be sure to give it a go.
As the bass school up, try using blade baits and soft plastics fished through the concentration. With the blades, mix it up and use retrieves and hops. The plastics perform well on a slow, steady retrieve with drop backs every 10 or so winds of the reel.
There have been some smaller bass caught at Maroon. Reaction style lures have worked well around the edges with the TN60 Jackall performing well. With the shorter days approaching, I’d start to make my presentations a little more subtle.
Fish the weed edge with silent lipless baits and beetle spins. Working around the Nursery, and inside the bay just before it, should see you hooking into some bigger bass. Fish as tight to the weed as you can and you should be rewarded with some of the better bass around 40cm.
Schooling fish should be found on the points in the main basin. Areas like in front of Pointro and the points to the right of the main boat ramp should hold these schooled bass. Last month they were smaller fish and I don’t think much will change in the coming month. If you are after quality, head to the edges.
Surface lures early in the morning will draw some strikes. Lures like the C’ultiva Zip’n Ziggy, Halco Roosta popper 60 and O.S.P. Bent Minnow are all worth throwing. Look for surface activity as it can indicate bass keen to take topwater offerings. However, just because there aren’t any surface takes going on around you doesn’t mean fish won’t feed on top, so persist with it until the sun breaks over the horizon. If the action continues, stick with it until the bites taper off.
Cooby Dam has been fairly quiet over the past month. Prior to that, there were big numbers of goldens being caught in the northern arm. These fish were holding in deep water on the humps between the deeper water of the old creek beds. Elsewhere, there has been the occasional fish landed from different spots all over the dam.
Trolling hardbodies has taken a few fish and it’s always a good way to have a look around. Since only electric motors can be used, it always pays to have a lure in the water and an eye on the sounder when moving about.
If numbers are found, try hopping a blade or ice jig through them. The most effective method is still bait fishing though. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies both do the trick and if you are serious have both in the water to see if the fish prefer one over the other.
As the weather starts to cool off, the golden numbers are likely to taper off even more. They may have one last serious bite before winter so if you want to catch some, now is the time to do it.
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. 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.
There are still a few golden perch being caught at Coolmunda. These fish have fallen to lures and baits over the last month but expect bait fishing to start producing the better results over the next month or two. Goldens tend to become more lethargic as the cooler water temperatures kick in so if you are into lure fishing, make the most of this month as it may be too hard by May.
Casting lures in the creek bed up in the timber is an effective way to catch fish. Working sinking lures like lipless crankbaits right on the drop-off should get their attention. There are many lipless baits out there but I like using the gold/black TN60 Jackall in the stained water of Coolmunda. Sinking these lures to the bottom and using a very slow retrieve should see you getting more bites. Wind the lure just fast enough to have it swimming then after 6-12 winds, drop it back to the bottom and repeat. You can give the odd quicker wind or rod twitch to make the lure rattle but it will draw most strikes on the slow wind or even during the pause.
Trolling medium diving lures on the flats out from the rock wall between the boat ramp and dam wall should still see a few goldens boated. Lures which dive to 5m will put you at the right depth for a bit of action. Stay close to the drop-off and you are likely to encounter better numbers. A big Murray cod is always a possibility. These fish are more likely to come on cast or trolled lures than on bait.
Bait fishing in the timber or along the drop-off to the old creek bed will see better numbers of golden perch caught. Try to accurately anchor the boat right on the ledge and if you aren’t having any luck after half an hour move on to greener pastures. When you find the fish, the bites will come.
The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km 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.
Quality golden perch are being taken up the back of the lake. Trolling lures around the boulders opposite the Black Boys has been fooling some of the larger fish. Bait fishers have found this action as well and scored with numbers of big goldens and silver perch. This would be my first port of call this month.
Casting lipless crankbaits to the banks in this area may also be worth a shot first thing in the morning. If you don’t get any bites, head for the deeper water and work around the granite boulders.
Other spots around the dam should produce but in the main basin smaller golden perch seem to outnumber the quality ones. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies will be the pick of the baits.
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.
Last month, the fishing turned a bit patchy at Boondooma. There were still quite a few fish being caught but the result of all the fishing pressure slowed the action to a steadier pace. Now it has had a rest from competitions and the intense pressure, the place should start to fire up again.
Trolling hardbodied lures around the points in the main basin is a great way to hook into some bass and golden perch. Deeper diving lures like the Smak 19, Blitz Baga and Golden Child are perfect for this approach and if you could choose only one colour, it would be purple.
Lure casters will start to see more action casting to the edges. The shallow banks should fish well with plenty of fish from The Junction up to the start of the Stuart timber and also towards Pelican Point. Lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and blades will fool these fish. Both goldens and bass will be caught and there is a good chance of big fish.
Deeper fish may school up in a few areas throughout the main basin. Bouncing ice jigs off the bottom in 8m of water can see bass and golden perch being caught. Quite a few bait fishermen have woken up to this technique and happily jig away with these small lures while soaking their baits.
There have been lots of fish caught at BP over the last couple of months. The dam continues to fire and with signs of the fish moving back to the edges, it looks like we are set to have some more great action this month.
Casting blade baits and spinnerbaits into the edges will account for plenty of small bass and monster golden perch. Most of the bass are around legal size with the occasional bigger fish around 40cm. The goldens on the other hand can be monsters. There are some cracking fish over 3.5kg and well over 50cm in length being caught.
If fishing blades, try casting into the edge and rolling them out into 2-3m of water. Sink the lure to the bottom and start hopping it back along the bottom to the boat. Smaller blades around 1/4oz are ideal for this type of fishing.
Spinnerbaits have been successfully worked along the edge as well. Due to the smaller size of the bass, tiny spinnerbaits work well. The 1/2oz Smak Mini-Coop S is ideal for this style of fishing, and the smaller profile will turn a lot more strikes into hook-ups.
The horse rig is another option. This is simply a beetle spin frame fitted to a blade bait. Blades around 3/8oz track well through the water when rigged in this fashion. The beauty of this set-up is it looks a bit like a spinnerbait but is loaded with hooks to ensure a much better hook-up rate on the smaller fish.
There should also be a fair few fish in areas like Lightning Ridge and The Island for the lure trollers. These fish will be sitting a bit shallower this month so try lures like the Smak 12. Dark colours should work best as they have over the past month. Purples, dark green and black should all get a run over the underwater flats and around the edges of the dam.
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.
Lake Gregory (The Isis) has lost a lot of its lush weed beds. The dam is still full and the water very healthy and clear indicating the surviving weed is in good condition and not dying off. With the weed dying back to its normal condition, the lake is fishing a little differently. Bass can be caught using several different methods.
Schooling fish can be found in the middle of the lake. These fish move around the flats and will often bunch up close to the drop-offs. Once found on the sounder, they can be caught on ice jigs and blade baits. The majority of these bass are smaller with the better quality ones around 40cm.
With the weed dying off, boats can venture up into the timbered arm where the water is around 3m deep. Normally this area would be choked with weed but now the bottom is clear in most areas. Bass can be found around the trees in this open water, and if you can find the deeper hole of the creek the numbers are often better. Casting spinnerbaits around the trees and rolling them back close to the bottom should produce some solid whacks. Try using 1/2oz and 5/8oz tandem bladed spinnerbaits. Downsized models to suit our Australian bass are ideal, and make sure you fish a stinger hook behind the main hook to turn short strikes into hook-ups. Again, most of the fish in the timbered area are on the smaller side but there could be the occasional big fish to 50cm mixed in.
There are still some areas where the weed is thicker. Most of these are hidden with the weed well below the surface. Locating these requires you to fish along the edge of the weed using the sounder. This is where a side scan unit really pays off as the weed can be picked up out to the side of the boat. I like to run my sounder on a split screen (half side scan, half normal sonar). I try to keep the boat right on the edge of the weed where it drops off from clumping to a clean bottom. If I lose the weed edge, it is simply a matter of picking it up on the side image and heading back in that direction. It takes a bit of practice and boat manoeuvring on the electric motor to keep the boat running along a hidden edge of weed, especially when it is well away from the nearest bank and doesn’t run parallel to the shore.
When the edge of the weed is found, try casting blade baits and soft plastics to it. Plastics can be fished tight to the weed with a slow retrieve. When the weed is felt, rip them out and keep rolling slowly. Blades can be fished over the top of the weed or right on the edge. If you can locate the edge, sink the blade to the bottom and hop it back.
As for plastics, I recommend a 1/4oz rigged 7cm Ripple Shad smeared with some scent like the Halco Freshwater or Pro Cure Gel. My pick for the Pro Cure gels is the mullet flavour as I like strong natural smells rather than garlic or aniseed. For the same reason, I like Halco’s scent, which sticks well and has a strong fishy smell.
With blades, opt for smaller, lighter ones to prevent them fouling in the weed as much. You can also refit the trebles with one set of assist hooks (two singles which attach via braid to a split ring) fitted to the tail of the blade. Stingers trail in behind the lure and therefore pull through the weed a little better. Using blades can be frustrating but once you explore the weed with casts, you will get better at locating the edge, getting the lure deeper and keeping it free from fouling in the vegetation.
Bigger bass can be expected when fishing around the weed. There are a lot of 40cm sized bass but it isn’t uncommon to nail a 50cm model or even those cracker 53cm fork length trophy fish.
Topwater action will be at its best early in the morning before the sun rises and the wind picks up. With the lack of weed around the edges, you can get right up on top of the existing weed and even in behind to the lilies along the edges. Ideally you want to be fishing either in the lilies or on top of weed, which is less than a metre below the surface. Walk-the-dog stickbaits like the C’ultiva Zip’n Ziggy smash the bass in The Isis. Twitch the lure along the top for a metre or two before pausing. Give a twitch or two during the pause and then walk it again before repeating.
Some of the biggest bass can be caught on surface. They are dark coloured fish which live shallow and deep in the weed. Before the sun is up, they will be out hunting and surface is a top way to excite them. Once hooked, go hard, keep the rod high and try to keep them out of the weed for as long as possible. The last thing you want is a fish with all its energy driving you into thick weed and pulling the hooks.
The guys at Salty’s Tackleworld Bundaberg have all the gear you’ll need to fish Isis and of course all the other great spots in the area. There are several guys working in the store who regularly fish the dam and love to catch bass. Call in and see them to find out what is working best and ask them for their secret spots.
The Kolan River to the north of Bundaberg continues to fish exceptionally well for barra. With over 40km of water between Monduran Dam and the saltwater, there are stacks of spots to catch a barra. As the river winds its way to the salt, the fish habitat changes as do the techniques used to catch them. In the weedless snaggy areas, the barra seem to hold close to the fallen snags. Big trees in deeper water are usually prime barra haunts. The smaller creeks and gullies which feed into the Kolan are a good place to have a cast as well. Here the fish tend to move around more in the open and can be caught on soft plastics as well as hardbodies.
The weed and lilies have started to take hold in some areas and here the barra mooch around the weed edge and are sometimes found in better numbers. I had a session about a month ago where the fish were cruising around out in the open about 10m outside the weed edge at the mouth of a small creek. Here the fish were suckers for hopped Transams and soft plastics rolled off the weed edge. This just goes to show you can’t have too many lures when it comes to barra fishing.
The weedy areas and snags can be fished with surface lures early and late in the day. The C’ultiva Tango Dancer is one of my favourites. In more open areas you can walk the dog with this lure for a few metres before pausing and twitching. If you are working a hole in a snag or specific area, just shorten the walk and give a lot more pauses. The Rapala Skitter Pop also works great in these smaller fish-holding areas. You can’t beat seeing a barra boof a topwater lure down.
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.
The dam has been fishing a bit tougher over the last couple of months. The good reports I had earlier in the year came from some switched-on anglers and they haven’t been there for a while. Their hot spot is the timber around the Gold Mine point area. The barra seem to congregate here and cruise through the trees. Medium diving hardbodied lures are the go. Suspenders like the Jackall Hank Tune are perfect for this spot, although if the fish are on, be prepared to get stitched up in the trees. I have found the RMG Scorpion 90mm to be an awesome barra lure when you add some stick-on lead tape. The lure dives fast and can be made to suspend, sink or slow rise depending on the hook upgrade and amount of lead tape you add.
There have already been a couple of releases of barra fingerlings into Lake Awoonga this year. Gladstone Area Water Board conducts these releases with stock left over from their breeding program after orders to other lakes have been filled. Hopefully they’ll pump heaps back in throughout the year. DPI has the maximum number for release per year set at 450,000. If they keep getting close to this number the dam will soon make a comeback as the fish mature.
Barra continue to be caught in the river above Pikes Crossing. These fish receive a lot of pressure but continue to chew. Soft plastics and hardbodied lures are both effective on these fish. This section of water is ideal for kayaks or smaller boats to 4.5m in length. Bigger boats can be used but are harder to launch from the bank and take a bit more work when negotiating the shallow sections of river.
If you are keen to try 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.
The barra have been doing some weird things in Proserpine. Usually the fish which venture out into the basin of the lake around Christmas would have retreated to the timber by now. The timber is holding some fish but there were bulk numbers sitting in the deep water within a few hundred metres of the buoyed area near the dam wall last month. These fish had just returned so it will be interesting to see what they do in the coming weeks, given there is more rain forecast for the area.
If these deep, basin dwelling barra stay in the area, they can be caught by trolling diving lures like the RMG Scorpion, Storm Deep Thunder and Classic Barra. It pays to run lures at a range of depths to see where the fish are feeding. I use an 8m and a 5m 125mm or 150mm Scorpion and keep an eye on the sounder to see if the fish move in the water column. At times even shallower lures can be effective so keep this in mind.
In the timber, barra can be caught off the points or in the trees marking the edges of the creeks. Bigger lures are good on the points in the northern part of the dam. Sitting out wide and tossing 140cm Rapala X-Raps, 140mm Halco Laser Pros and Reidy’s Big B52s into the edge and rolling them out has been the way to get strikes from the fish patrolling the area. Side imaging the point you are fishing with the sounder will soon tell you just how many barra are moving through the area.
In the deep trees marking the edges of the creeks which run through the timber, hardbodied lures are again the best option. Proserpine Bait and Tackle recommends lures like the 3m Scorpion or 12ft Barra Bait. Big fish over a metre are common and require some heavy-handed tactics to extract them at times. Fishing with hooks upgraded to the Owner ST66 and a quality 50lb braided line will boost your chances. My heavy barra tackle consists of a Revo baitcast reel spooled with 50lb Spiderwire braid and topped off with a 60lb or 80lb Vanish fluorocarbon leader. The leader is attached via an FG knot (Youtube – Fast and Easy FG Knot) which sails through the guides and allows you to fish the braid and leader to the max.
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.
The rising water level in the dam has flooded new grounds over the last couple of months. This has left a lot of weed beds submerged. The barra action has been taking place around the flooded banks where any new weed growth has started. Already lilies are starting to come back and there are a few places where the weed is to the surface in the shallows.
Locating this fresh weed is the key to success. Local angler and barra gun Daniel Grech has been finding a lot of his fish around the weed growing in the bays closest to the boat ramp. The new XXX-Rap, which is a 10cm hardbody, has been his stand-out lure. The smaller profile seems to be the key to getting the bites, with the fish not responding as well to larger lures. Daniel said every time he’s come across some weed almost to the surface, they’ve pulled a barra out of it.
With more rain forecast at the time of writing, the dam may have even more water in it this month. The weed will be quick to grow so keep this in mind and try to locate it and fish it.
For accommodation at the lake give Kinchant Waters a call on (07) 4954 1453.Reads: 1370