Have a crack in the cold
  |  First Published: May 2014

Shorter days and the colder months ahead certainly shouldn’t deter anglers from getting out and having a crack this month. Because I love to fish, I find it easy to put in a whole day of fishing during the daylight at this time of year and you can enjoy both the morning and afternoon session. For fish that bite better in a short window of time, this means you’ll have a lure or bait in the water when they are most responsive.

Soon the water temperature around most locations will start to drop considerably. This has fish starting to think it’s time to relocate to a more comfortable location. It’s transition time. Fish that were biting in the deep water last month might migrate to shallower areas where they can lap up the warmth of the sun during the day and stay more relaxed. The other thing, which can change is the fish’s response to different lures. Reaction style lures that worked great through the warmer months may need to be replaced with a more subtle and slower presentation to suit the mood of fish with a slowing metabolism.

Keep these things in mind. Changes don’t often happen quickly and will take time so anglers who are lucky enough to wet a line often in the same area will be able to read these movements and keep catching good numbers of fish. For the rest of us, hopefully my predictions for the month to come will be close to the money and see a few fish hitting the deck of our boats.

Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Like last month, there are still quite a few scattered bass holding in the deep water out from the picnic area in Bass Bay. Boats are finding it is easiest to troll these fish up on deep diving lures. Blitz Bagas, Golden Childs and 50mm Poltergeist Crazy Deeps have been pulling quite a few fish.

A popular trolling run is up the red buoy line towards the big yellow markers out in the middle of the dam. Scouting around in the fishing area to the west of the buoy line should also produce quality bass to 45cm. Take note of the bottom undulation as you travel this run as there are two distinct drop-offs. Even though the fish are suspended and holding nowhere near the bottom, they usually hold somewhere above these changes in bottom depth. In previous years, the fish have stayed out in the deep water right into winter months. They should therefore provide us with some fun for some time to come.

A good sized school of fish has started to respond better to lures on the sunken point opposite the rock wall up Cressbrook Creek. The point extends out from the toilet and runs three-quarters of the way to the rock wall. It then drops off into the main creek channel. Trolling the creek channel and deeper water around the point can produce a few bass but it is the schooling fish that hang around the end of the point which draw most attention.

These bass still exhibit the painful reaction of shutting down once a few boats turn up or a few of their mates are caught. The only answer I have for this is to sit wide of the school. If you have fished them in the past, don’t even use the sounder to see if they are there. Rely on your GPS, deliver 60m casts and try to explore the area with your lures. Once you get a bite or tap on the lure, keep hammering the area. In the past, I have made the mistake of sitting in the deep water to attack these fish. Instead, try sitting inside them on top of the point as this way you are more likely to pick up any stragglers sitting along the point and if the bass do move to your boat, which they often do, you can still use the bottom as a gauge to judge your lure’s depth.

Blade baits around 1/4oz and 1/2oz rigged plastics are ideal for this approach. Try slow rolling both lure types. I have a mate who has done quite well in the past, rolling blades so slowly they just drag the bottom and don’t even vibrate.

Bait fishers will be able to whack the fish with live shrimp if they are able to find the schools. To avoid arguments, I wouldn’t suggest sitting on top of where a lure caster is already fishing because they go to such lengths to be stealthy and hold way off of the fish. If the boats move away from these spots, you can have a crack. The points to the west of the boat ramp, which extend into the main basin are all worth a shot.

Redclaw crayfish are still being caught in opera house traps, which are left in overnight. During the day, the crayfish just don’t want to play the game. Size is down a little but there are good enough numbers for a reasonable feed of these freshwater delicacies.

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 will shorten this month until the end of August and are 7am to 6pm. For all your supplies and expert advice, 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

Golden perch numbers have dropped right off but there are still quite a few bass to be caught for lure casters willing to put in the hard yards. Areas like Pelican Point, Eagles Nest and Bay 13 are all worth a look. Sound around in 6-12m of water across the flats in the middle and keep a close eye on the sounder. The bass have been moving quite a bit so it is often necessary to allow an hour or two to find the best numbers. The morning session has been pretty quiet though, so you’ll have plenty of time to locate the fish as they school up and tend to bite better around the middle of the day.

Spinnerbaits continue to be one of the best presentations in the deep water. For those who have not deep water spinnerbaited before, let’s go through a few pointers. The deep water calls for a heavy spinnerbait of at least 5/8oz. Some anglers choose to go even heavier and run 3/4oz models. The important thing to keep in mind is to use a compact model. Bassman and Smak are two Aussie spinnerbait makers that produce lures of the right size to get the job done.

Cast it out, let your spinnerbait sink all the way to the bottom and your line should go slack as it touches down. Give the lure a bit of a rip once you’ve taken up all the slack to ensure the blades are moving and then wind just fast enough to have the blades ticking around. Once you’ve pulled it up through the fish with 10-20 winds, drop it back to the bottom and repeat.

The whole process works well when there is a good amount of wind blowing. The wind pushes the boat along and you fish the lure back into the direction it is coming from. In this manner, you will have to do a lot fewer casts. On still days, you can troll spinnerbaits in the same fashion. Use the winds and drop back approach to keep contact with the bottom.

My last tip is to use a finer line than you would when fishing to the bank. I like to use spin outfits spooled with 4-8lb braided line and topped off with a 12-14lb leader. The fine line creates less resistance through the water and keeps the lure down nice and deep where it needs to be.

Soft plastics rigged on heavier heads of at least 1/2oz should also snare their share of bass. It will pay to fish both in the coming month as the cooler temperatures may actually see the plastics starting to outperform the spinnerbaits. Try plastics like the Powerbait 7cm Ripple Shad or Keitech Fats or 3”.

Closest Town: Boonah

The bass have been firing up around midmorning in the deeper water. Sound the point in the main basin out from the ramp closest to the wall, the point closest to the other ramp at the start of the timber and any of the humps inside the timbered area in search of fish. Quality sounders really do pay off when it comes to locating schooled bass in Moogerah and other lakes.

Once these fish are found, try rolling soft plastics, spinnerbaits and blade baits through them. There have been some quality bass well over 40cm caught in the past month. Moogerah doesn’t seem to receive as much fishing pressure as some of the other SE Queensland lakes and therefore the fish respond well to lures once they are found.

In the morning, there have been quite a few bass taken when fishing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the lake’s shallower edges. The numbers of bass taken here and the window in which to catch them should start to extend over the coming months. An electric motor is the only way to go. Drive along the chosen bank, casting lures in to the edge to explore the water. You can slow down the boat and pepper areas more thoroughly once some fish are found.

Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The water in Maroon is very clear, making the bass a little more shy than normal during the middle of the day. A stealthy approach is the key to getting more bites. I’d forget about rattling lures and go for silent offerings. When the water is so clear the fish have no trouble finding prey with only their eyes and don’t need any unnecessary deterrents like rattles to put them off. Light leaders may also increase the bite ratio.

Spinnerbaits fished around the weed edge will get a few bites but the best lures will be silent suspending jerkbaits or silent lipless crankbaits. In clear water, I like clear bodied lures that don’t standout as much and just add to the whole subtle approach.

The topwater bite has been great in the mornings and afternoons. The bay to the left of the main boat ramp has fished well. Other areas where the water is shaded and the wind isn’t blowing should also produce some good surface action. Try lures like the Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy, Halco Roosta Popper 60 and Bent Minnow.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

The northern arm of Cooby really fired up again last month. There were reported catches of up to 80 golden perch in a day. The best action has been on a combination of live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. The fish are also pouncing on lures hopped off the bottom. Ice jigs, small blades and soft plastics have all scored well. On some days they don’t mind the rattle of a lipless crankbait. Dark coloured Jackalls have been one of the best.

Will this action last? There should still be plenty of fish about next month but the number taken on lures may start to taper off. The live shrimp and saltwater yabbies fished on the bottom in water over 7m are likely to be the best option.

Rather than just trying your luck in a random spot, have a sound around and look for fish. The better spots have been on top of the hump in the middle of the northern arm. Here the fish are in good numbers but the quality can be poor. There are a few other humps throughout the northern arm and if you can sit on top of one of these you should be in for a good run of fish. The spot lock feature on Minn Kota electric motors makes it so easy to try a spot for a few minutes before moving off to another. If you own one of these Ipilot electrics you’ll find you won’t need to touch your anchor, which could scare off the fish when deployed, ever again.

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.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda’s golden perch population has already started to get tough to catch on lures. Trolling is the first technique to steady up once the water starts to cool off and casting will be the next. Lure casters will still be able to tempt fish on lipless crankbaits worked close to the bottom with a very slow retrieve. These lures should be fished around the drop off to the old creek and around any gullies leading into it. The best place to do this is up in the timbered arm.

Murray cod are still a possibility and despite all the other great cod lures out there, heaps seem to be caught on the small lipless crankbaits.

Bait fishing on the drop-off to the old creek bed anywhere between the boat ramp and into the timber can be very rewarding. Two of the better areas are to the left of the boat ramp and out from the rock wall just before the spillway. Use your sounder to find the drop off and try to anchor up on it. An i-Pilot electric can make the job of anchoring accurately easier than using an actual anchor.

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

The lure fishing action should be slowing down in Leslie based on previous years results but it just seems to have picked up again. Last month there was an increase in the number of golden perch caught in the main basin. Mask Vibes hopped off the bottom in 6m of water did a good job of enticing goldens and the odd cod. It seems while trolling hardbodies may slow down, the ability to keep lures in touch with the bottom, keeps the bites coming.

Up past the Black Boys, the same results have taken place only the lures used were blades and spinnerbaits. Bait fishing should start to dominate over the lures as soon as the water cools down. For now be prepared to try a bit of both. While the fish are still hammering the lures make the most of it.

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.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

While in some lakes the bass move shallow in the cooler months, in Boondooma they tend to head to deeper waters.

This month, you can still expect to catch a few fish casting spinnerbaits and blades to the edges but the best results will come from the deeper water in the main basin. Look for fish in 7-10m of water in the middle reaches of the lake's main basin. Focus around The Junction, the start of the Stuart arm and Pelican Point.

Trolling will be little hit and miss and taper right off by the end of the month. Casting is by far the best option to nail higher numbers of fish. If you love your trolling, you can still get into the action by towing 1/2oz blades and soft plastics. Use an electric motor at a slow walking pace or 2.5km/h if you have a GPS. This should have your lures working at around 7-10m deep when they are trailing 50m behind the boat.

Lure casters will have success when hopping and rolling blade baits, rolling soft plastics and jigging ice jigs. The bass should hold in large schools so it is just a matter of putting in the time to find them.

For your camping and accommodation, give the Lake Boondooma Caravan and Recreation Park a call on (07) 4168 9694. You can book your cabin, bunkhouse, caravan site and powered or unpowered campsite. Boondooma is one of the few places where camping is available right beside the water and you can literally step from the camp straight into the boat.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Bjelke has been on fire for the last six months with heaps of small bass and whopper golden perch chewing on lures. Things are about to steady up so if you want in on the action this is the month to do it before the cooler water makes things tougher. Bait fishers will still be rewarded with plenty of fish but lure casters will find it harder to tempt their quarry.

This month there should still be quite a few fish around the edges of the lake. Try rolling smaller spinnerbaits like the Smak Mini-Coop. Hopping blades off the edge and back into around 7m of water can also put fish in the boat. If the action is slow in these areas, head further up the dam and try around the submerged island and the flats leading up to the timber. By winter, a lot of the fish will have moved closer to the timber so keep this in mind and follow their movements.

When fish are found on the sounder, the best way to get them to bite will be jigging ice jigs and working blade baits through them. Trolling will slow down but you can still expect a few fish.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into your local Bass to 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.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The bass fishing at the Isis is still top notch. Weed beds haven’t returned to their former state but there is still plenty of healthy weed holding the bigger fish. Spinnerbaiting to these weed edges is a good way to draw out the quality bass waiting to ambush some prey. The bass will respond to other presentations as well. I like to toss soft plastics, 1/4oz blades and beetle spins when I fish this dam. All are capable of sinking down the weed edge and closely following the contour.

Fishing weed can be tricky if you have never done it before. There are a couple of alternatives. If you head to the timber, there are quite a few bass holding in the deeper areas. Cast spinnerbaits over these fish and allow them to sink to the bottom before slowly winding them back. There isn’t much weed in the timber so it is an easier area to fish. The bass are usually willing to play in the mornings and afternoons and even all day long on an overcast day.

In the middle of the lake, where the three arms meet, there have been plenty of schooling fish. These bass have been stubborn at times, refusing to bite. When they are on the chew, they are some of the easiest fish to catch. Casting blade baits over the schools and hopping them back is probably the most successful technique. You can also play with other techniques like hopping lipless crankbaits, jigging ice jigs and rolling soft plastics. If you are able to locate these fish and target them with live shrimp you’ll have a ball.

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.

Closest town: Gin Gin

The fishing in Monduran is still a bit tough. There are some smaller barra being caught by those who put in plenty of work. Most anglers are taking the easier option and fishing the Kolan River below the dam.

The Kolan had a good fresh around a month ago but the barra stayed and very few took the ride over the last weir wall and into the salt water. This is great news as in the fresh, they are safe from the netters and provide anglers with plenty of fun. There are a couple of spots boats can be launched with 4WD but most of the river is home to kayaks and car toppers.

There is around 40km of water to explore between the saltwater and the dam wall and I have heard of fish coming out of most of the holes over the last month.

Soft plastics have started to take more fish. Hardbody lures fished around the snags had dominated catches so it is good to see the barra falling for a mix of lures. Even in the dirty water, which should already be starting to clear, the barra have been finding lures without a problem. Snag bashing seems to be the way to get the bites in the upper part of the river while in the lower part there is more weed and lilies to hold the 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 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 Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

The reports from Lake Awoonga have been scarce. Big numbers of people are still fishing the freshwater above and below Pikes Crossing below the dam wall. The barra are pressured but they still continue to put smiles on people’s faces. Smaller soft plastics around 100mm and hardbodies of the same size are ideal.

The barra range from 60-80cm and are being caught in reasonable numbers. The fishing pressure should taper off this month as people tend to think the barra stop biting the second summer is over. There should still be another month or two before the action steadies right up.

Because the fish are pressured, use stealth in your approach. I fish from a plastic boat, a 4.1m Polycraft or its smaller sister the 3m Tuff Tender. These boats are so much quieter than a tinny and therefore the fish don’t hear the hull slapping noise or bangs from moving around inside the boat. The same can be said about fishing from a kayak.

If you are keen to try to tackle some fish in the dam or the river, 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

Over the last month, the barra have been spread out making them hard to catch in good numbers. They should be starting to bunch up more in the timbered areas so hopefully there will be a flurry of fish before the weather turns cold in a couple of months’ time.

Fishing 3-5m diving hardbodies like RMG Scorpions and Barra Baits around the creek channels which run through the timber is a good way to hook the big beasts of Prossy. These barramundi average over 1m long so be prepared for a battle once they are hooked. Usually the fish fight fairly shallow and it is just a matter of chasing them through the tree tops and free spooling the line if they wrap you up.

If you are going to all the trouble of having a crack at these fish, it worthwhile upgrading your trebles to the Owner ST66. Barra are known for straightening hooks on hardbodies so you may as well use the toughest and sharpest there is.

In the mornings and afternoons or at night around the full moon, it is worth rolling some hardbodies out from the tea tree points inside the timber. A lot of these points are shallow so there is no need to use a deep diving lure. Try a Halco Hamma or Rapala X Rap. If you want to have a crack at nailing one on the surface, try a Cultiva Tango Dancer or a Rapala Skitterpop.

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.

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