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Spring action fires up in the fresh
  |  First Published: October 2014



Last month I was suffering from a severe case of bass fever. I’ve had it before and the only cure is to get out on the water and try to whack as many big, fat bass as you possibly can.

At this time of year, bass are still carrying their roe making them really fat and heavy. Bass in the impoundments can’t complete the breeding cycle with the lack of brackish water. They do, however, school up in numbers and now we’re well into spring, they feed more voraciously. This makes it an ideal time to get out there and whack a few monsters.

Other species can take a little longer to get into full swing. The warming water should see a big increase in the action from other species this month. The dams, rivers and creeks will fire up with plenty of golden perch, saratoga, sooty grunter, barra and Murray cod in Queensland where the season isn’t closed (closed in the border rivers and south into NSW).

There will be plenty of species to chase over the next few months so start planning your next trip. Hopefully the following fishing reports will help you decide where to head to next. Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

There are a few schools of bass around the lake. The toilet points up both arms have held fish at times. Deer Island is always worth a look on the point extending out towards the rock wall and closer to the campground are also holding bass.

The schooling fish are holding deep with most life showing on the sounder at around 10m. These fish, in typical Cressbrook fashion, have been difficult to entice. Holding off the school and using long casts is the best way to get the bites. Tail spinners and blade baits are great for getting a reaction. Soft plastics can work well and when the fish school up under the boat are often the only way to tempt them.

Bait fishing with live shrimp will be slow unless you locate the schooling bass. A shrimp dropped onto their noses will be hard to resist and you will almost catch a bass with each one dropped over the side.

The entry fee at the boom gate has been removed but the 8kt speed limit is still in place. Hours for boating and day use of the recreation area are 6am-8pm. For all your supplies, expert advice and to check on the boating restrictions, 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.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

It’s on! The bass fired up last month as expected and plenty of 2kg plus fish were caught. Some of the better quality fish were 50cm to the fork and weighed over 3kg. The flats around Kirkleigh have been holding good numbers of bass in around 10m of water. Plenty of fish were found opposite the point at Kirkleigh and to the north last month. These fish are likely to head south and visit the flats and drop offs as they work their way towards the main basin. If the Kirkleigh area is quiet, try the flats out from Queen Street, One Tree Point, Bay 13, The Eagles Nest and Pelican Point. The fish can be tough to locate when they move but if you put in the time sounding around to locate them, the rewards will come.

Casting soft plastics and using a dead slow retrieve will account for some of the biggest Somerset bass. These fish tend to hug the bottom and a plastic rolled past their nose will often get them to bite where faster presentations fail to get a response. Smaller fish around 40cm will love faster hopped offerings. Mask Vibes and blade baits bounced past them will see them reacting in the desired way. Aggressive strikes and repeated hits are common when the fish get fired up. Tail-spinners have been very popular and are smashing the bass around the lakes. I guess they are a lure the fish haven’t seen for some time and have a unique action and vibration. I have had a lot of success on 12 and 18g tail-spinners. I have also been rigging 1/2oz blades on beetle spin blades and getting a similar response when I hop these over schooling fish.

While these lures are great for covering water quickly, they can also be used in other ways. My son has been fishing them vertical quite a bit and gets lots of enquiries even when letting the lure sit on the bottom or suspended below the boat (dead sticking). A mate and I had a hot session where we jigged them up and down about 0.5-1m off the bottom as you would with an ice jig. The fish went nuts on them and refused to eat an ice jig worked in the same school. The spinning blade’s vibration and flash is ticking the right boxes to make them eat.

Golden perch have been a bit slow on lures but the action will fire up more this month. Trolling the creek beds in the northern part of the dam will account for bass and golden perch. Deep diving lures like Blitz Bagas and Golden Childs are ideal.

There is now a speed restriction in place in the timbered water north of Kirkleigh. Boats must travel at 6kt or below when venturing past the buoy line. With the warmer days now here, the place will be busy on holidays and weekends. With more than a hundred boats on the water on busy days, care should be taken and courtesy shown to others using this popular lake.

Wivenhoe
Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

The fishing at Lake Wivenhoe has been pretty tough. The bass and golden perch, which were chewing around the steep banks have gone a little quiet. There are still a few being caught from these areas in the lower part of the lake by anglers using spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

Bass schools are sure to turn up somewhere and hopefully with the ABT Bass Grand Final held on the lake last month, these spots will be revealed soon. Wivenhoe is a massive expanse of water to search on your own but with a fleet of boats searching for fish in the competition; someone is likely to come across numbers of fish out on the flats in the open water.

Wivenhoe has been opened to powerboats. Only 4-stroke outboards or low emission 2-strokes are allowed to be used on the lake and boats must not exceed the 6kt speed limit. Even with these restrictions in place it is much faster to get around the lake than using just your electric and you don't have the fear of running out of battery power.

Moogerah
Closest Towns: Boonah, Aratula

After a series of competitions and heavy fishing pressure over the past couple of months, Moogerah bass will finally have a little reprieve. This will mean the action will pick up and the fish will bite even better. The schooling bass can be found at the spit near the dam wall and inside the bay to the east. There are also good numbers of fish on the flats out from The Palms and at the entrance to the timber in the middle of the lake.

Like most schooling bass, the fish will respond to different presentations. There will be days when everything you throw at them works and others when they are very picky about lure type and the way it is presented. If you are heading to the lake you’ll need a few lures in your kit. Tail-spinners in 12-18g, 14-21g blade baits, 12g ice jigs, lipless crankbaits and 1/2oz jighead rigged paddle-tail plastics will ensure you have all the bases covered. Switch between these lures to see if one is working better than another and you’ll soon put the fish in the boat provided you locate the schools.

Maroon
Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

Maroon has been a bit quiet for some time but last month, the bass fired right up in the shallows. There have been some great reports coming from Maroon with some exceptional bass to 50cm boated. There seems to be more and more reports of quality bass coming from this little lake, which has been well known for its smaller class of bass for several years now.

The weedy edges of the lake are firing with bass smacking deep diving jerkbaits fished down the face of the weed. Soft plastics around 70mm long rigged on 1/8-3/8oz jigheads are also catching their share of bass.

The warmer weather and high numbers of fish in the weed will see some great surface action this month. Throwing surface lures to the weed in the early morning and late afternoon is sure to entice some quality bass. Based on last month’s subsurface action, I wouldn’t be surprised if topwater lures pull several bass over 40cm over the coming months.

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

Lake Cooby has been a bit tough over the past month. There are a few guys who regularly fish the lake still catching the golden perch on bait and small blades but the majority are finding it hard to boat a fish.

The deeper areas seem to fish well when the action is tough and most of the goldens will feed close to the bottom. This makes trolling hard work and is the reason hopping lures off the bottom or dropping bait down to the fish works well. As things heat up towards the end of the year, the fishing action will only get better. Last year we had a taste of the great fishing Cooby has to offer so let’s hope the fish turn it on again.

If you are heading to the dam try using live shrimp and frozen saltwater yabbies for bait. If you have a spare rod for luring, stick with blades or ice jigs. Both bait and lures can be used at the same time and often the pair work better together than on their own. The commotion caused by jigging a lure draws interest as does the smell of a bait in the water.

Being a small lake, Cooby is ideal for kayaks. Kayak sales are good in the Toowoomba and Highfields area yet you don’t see all that many out on the water. If you are looking for a place to enjoy some kayaking and fishing close to home then head to Cooby for a paddling and fishing session. Be sure to take a life vest when paddling out into any open lake or body of water and learn how to get back into your kayak if you fall out. This can be a bit of fun and is best done in a pool or other safe, shallow area.

Cooby is an electric motor only dam and is well suited to kayaks and canoes. The concrete boat ramp is on a shallow angle and 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 fishing gear, kayaks and accessories he has on display.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

There have been plenty of golden perch caught over the last month at Leslie. Lure fishermen have had success in the deep water as well as around the lake’s edges. In the deeper areas target the creek bed drop off or any of the underwater rocky structure. Rocky bottom is easy to find on a fish finder and shows up as hard uneven bottom. The deeper water areas can be fished with lipless vibes. Hopping small blades fitted with assist hooks rather than treble hooks is also very effective. The bonus of using the larger profiled lures is the by-catch of Murray cod. Cod have been quite common over the last year with some of the regulars to the lake boating them almost every trip. While most of the cod are smaller specimens, there is the occasional one caught or at least hooked which is over 1m.

Around the edges, structure has again been the key. The rocks are easily visible on the banks and often the ridges continue down into the water. Landing lures close to the rocks and winding them back will see goldens whacking them. This shallow water action is best in the morning and afternoon. Lipless crankbaits are popular but hardbodied lures would certainly be worth a go. Flicked into the crevices of the rocks or working them down into shaded areas will not only fool golden perch but cod, which are sitting right up in the shallows.

Bait fishing with live shrimp and saltwater yabbies will produce very good number of golden perch. Try fishing the drop off to the creek channels and around the rocky structure. Fish can be caught all over the dam if you look for these areas.

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 bait and freshwater gear, which is well suited to catching our Australian natives.

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

The bass and golden perch have been going off for the last month. Soft plastics, tail spinners, blade baits and ice jigs have been doing the damage with plenty of bass to 2.5kg being caught. Schooling bass have been lurking around the dam’s main basin, Pelican Point, and the start of the timber in both arms. These fish may venture out into deeper water over the next couple of months where they will suspend about 7m down in up to 25m of water. Keep this in mind when sounding around for fish if they aren’t in the usual spots, which are less than 10m deep.

Trolling will catch heaps of golden perch. These fish have been taking deeper lures like the Brolga and Blitz Baga. Colours like purple and dark green are very popular but don’t be devastated if you lose your favourite lure, as most of the colours in the range will produce fish. Golden perch can be caught off the steeper rock banks and points in good numbers but will turn up all over the place when trolling in 6-10m of water.

Bait fishing will be a bit slower with the fish responding to lures better. At this time of year, the fish are active and quite willing to chase down a feed. Moving lures excite them while bait just sitting there can take some time to get their attention. Having said this, you will still catch fish on bait especially if you can position yourself right over the top of a school of fish. Both bass and goldens will take baits with live shrimp being the best for a mixed species bag and frozen saltwater yabbies ideal for golden perch.

Boondooma is a great place to camp right near the water and sit by the fire while enjoying the view. You could also stay in more style and comfort by booking into one of the cabins overlooking the dam. The kiosk at the main office does hot food and other basic items. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms call Corey and Niki on (07) 4168 9694.

Bjelke
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

There will be plenty of quality golden perch and small bass to catch at Bjelke this month. This fish will move wider to the middle of the lake around the creek beds in the second basin area before the timber. The golden perch are of exceptional quality with quite a few fish measuring up to 55cm and weighing around 3.5kg. Blitz Bagas in darker natural colours have been performing well on the deeper holding fish.

There are lots of small bass in the low 30cm bracket, which will be willing to take a lure. These fish can be caught around the lake edges and points as well as out in the deeper water areas near drop offs and flats. At this size, the bass will respond well to soft plastics and 1/4oz blade baits.

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. Bass 2 Barra stores stock an awesome range of gear suited to chasing our freshwater fish and the boys have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

The Isis Balancing Storage has been fishing quite well all over the lake. There are bass coming from the weed, timber and the deep open water.

Around the weed beds, bass are taking soft plastics worked down the face of the weed. The weed has died back a bit so look for the fresher stuff. This may mean examining weed when it comes in on fouled hooks. If it looks half dead or unhealthy, chances are it won’t hold as many fish.

Because the fish holding weed is below the surface, you’ll need to rely on using a sounder to find the edge of it. Try to position the boat outside the weed face and work along it. If casts foul up, place a cast out wider or reposition the boat. It can be tricky fishing a weed edge, which isn’t visible to the eye and learning its shape by fee may be the only way. The fish hiding in there will make the effort worthwhile. While soft plastics have been performing well, other lures like lipless crankbaits, small blades and spinnerbaits will also take a few fish from the weedy edge.

Surface luring will be very successful this month. The warmer days and nights will see the bass more willing to rise to take topwater lures. Walk-the-dog style lures are ideal for walking over the top of submerged weed. Poppers are perfect for a slower presentation around the lilies or inside weedy pockets.

In the timber, bass are responding to olive coloured spinnerbaits fished in the deeper unweeded areas. Gary Leather from Salty’s Tackleworld has a secret spot inside the timber, which he fishes regularly and catches some thumper bass. Slowly rolling spinnerbaits through a deeper hole is his secret. The timbered area isn’t very big so chances are you’ll find his fish holding spot.

Out in the deeper water, there are still a few scattered schools. These fish are suckers for hopped blade baits. You can try tempting the larger models by using a bigger profiled lure. I’m sure these fish would also love tail-spinners, which are performing so well on the southern lakes.

The boys at Bundaberg’s Salty’s Tackleworld fish the dam on a regular basis. Being so passionate about their bass fishing, they are the ones to talk to if you are heading to the lake for a fish. Salty’s stock a great range of lures for both fresh and saltwater fishing and the Bundaberg area has plenty to offer.

Monduran
Closest Town: Gin Gin

Monduran was tough last month. There were some barra over 80cm caught but they took a lot of effort. Some of these fish were caught after a run of warmer days so it will only get better from now on as the water temperature warms up and becomes more stable overnight.

Hardbodies have still been the most effective lure style. The spindly trees are holding the fish and anglers scoring fish have placed their casts past the trees and pulled them back through close to the base of the trees. As you could imagine, when you hook a big powerful fish so close to structure, the fight doesn’t always end up with the angler smiling. The Monduran barra are big, fat and deep fish with heaps of power.

If you are heading to the lake, try fishing areas up past White Rock or back in Bird Bay. There is a lot of water between the fish so look for points, bays, healthy weed, lilies, wind-blown areas or combinations of these which may attract better numbers of fish.

Below the dam, the Kolan River was quiet last month. There were a few caught after a run of warm days but otherwise the action was slow. I expect this to change big time this month and the Kolan will be one of the hottest barra spots around. Fishing the deep snags lining the banks will see rods bent and barra dancing around. In the lower part of the river, the weed beds and lily pads will hold plenty of fish. These fish can be caught on topwater lures, lipless vibes and soft plastics. Take care when navigating this waterway, as there are plenty of submerged hazards including, rocks, trees, logs and shallow ridges out in the middle. It is the perfect home for kayakers who want to tangle with barra in a crocodile and shark free environment.

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. I usually stay at the Gin Gin Hotel, which is about 20 minutes from the boat ramp. The rooms are very affordable and pretty basic but you can get a great feed and cold beer. To make a booking, call (07) 4157 2106.

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 at www.lakemonduranbarracharters.com .

Capricorn Region
Awoonga
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Big news this month! Awoonga has started to produce reasonable numbers of barramundi. In September, 3 different groups staying at the Awoonga Gateway Cabins over 3 different weeks all managed to catch fish from the dam.

The barra being caught have been a bit over 80cm in length with a few bigger fish following lures all the way to the boat and shying away at the last minute.

Hardbodied lures fished to thick trees in 3-4m of water have been the secret. The water temperature last month in Awoonga was reported at 22-24°C, which was warmer than the barra lakes further north. This may explain the early action.

It’s hard to predict but this looks like the start of what may be a good season in Lake Awoonga. Fingerlings have been going back into the dam each year since the floods, which allowed so many to escape. Things are looking good for the future.

With some early action it will certainly be worth visiting Lake Awoonga over the coming months. If the lake fails to fire, you always have the Boyne River below the dam as a backup.

From October through to January, Awoonga Gateway Cabins are offering a meal deal with accommodation. Visitors staying for 3 days or more can get a meal package with their room meaning more time for the important things like fishing and drinking refreshments.

If you are keen to try to tackle some fish in the river or 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. Make sure you tell Mark I sent you and pump him for the secret spot.

Whitsunday Region
Proserpine
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The barra fishing picked up last month with quite a few fish being caught during the day and even more at night. The nights and low light periods have been productive in the shallows around the western banks of the dam. Point, bays and lily pads are all worth prospecting.

While some fish are being taken on slowly wound soft plastics, plenty are falling to a slow, steady retrieve with a shallow running hardbody. Surface fishing early in the morning in the shallow areas is sure to get some explosive bites if the fish are in the area. A weedless-rigged, lightly weighted soft plastic can be used if the area is very weedy.

During the day the shallow water action has been slow. The better fishing takes place out in the deeper water. The trees lining the old river and creek courses always seem to hold fish. Casting deep diving lures around these trees can see you connected to a big barra in tight country. Heavier line to 50lb may be needed to extract these fish and endure the rubbing on trees as barra weave their way around while stripping line from the reel. Strong split rings and solid trebles will give you the best chance of staying connected. Terminal upgrades can be made to successful lures like the Barra Bait and RMG Scorpions, which dive to 5m.

If you are heading out to the dam make sure you call in at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. The store is on the highway through Proserpine and stocks all the barra gear you could possibly need. The guys will be able to send you in the right direction and help with nailing the lake’s big fish. The storeowner, Lindsay Dobe runs charters on the lake and bookings can be made through the store on (07) 4945 4641.

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