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Experiment is the key
  |  First Published: August 2015



Last month I had a shocker fishing the freshwater. We hit four different destinations and all we could manage were four bass, a couple catfish and some spangled perch. I’m sure if we knuckled down and persisted by experimenting with different techniques we would have caught more fish but we were looking for a particular type of bite.

I have some new tail spinners (Hot Bite Lures). These 12g pieces of bass candy have a tiny profile and great action. We are almost at the time of year where they will work exceptionally well. As soon as we come out of the winter cold, the bass will fire up and it will be game on. This bite can occur at different times through the different lakes. The Sunshine Coast lakes fired early last year and the bass went absolutely nuts late in August. By September, you can just about guarantee the action will be red hot all over the place.

Now is the time to stock up on gear if you are planning on fishing this period. When a particular lure is doing the damage better than any other, the tackle stores right around South East Queensland have been known to sell out and that’s the last thing you want; fish chewing their heads off and you don’t have the right lure in your box.

In the meantime, you can sit back and wait for the action to pick up or go out and work for the bites. While it has been tough, the fish have been changing from day to day. You can score 20 bass one day and return to the same school the next and struggle to get a bite. That is the joy of fishing in winter. Tough fishing has taken the edge off my enthusiasm. At least I know the boat still runs well and all my gear is in good condition for when I do find a hot bite. I think I’ll be squeezing in a few saltwater trips until the bass fire up and there’s a pretty good chance I’ll tangle with some big Murray cod. It’s going to be hard to fit it all in because when those big bass start chewing, I’ll be spending most of my days chasing them.

The rivers and dams have still been fishing quite well for cod and golden perch. The goldens are a little slower but on a warm day are lining up to eat hopped blades and lipless crankbaits. Murray cod have been turning up in the dams closer to the border. The rivers are again surprising this year as the cod have stayed pretty active. Last month there were still plenty crunching surface walkers. Some of these fish were monsters too.

Hot Bite Fishing

My little hobby of lure making has started to grow. I went crazy making tail spinners to fill a void in the market at this time last year. The JETS tail spinner certainly caught a stack of bass and we had a ball experimenting with different designs until we came up with one that seemed to work best in most conditions. That model weighed in at 16g. I have now added a new tail spinner to the range. It is called the Willy Willy and is a lighter model weighing 12g. This is a downsized tail spinner comes in four colours. The body has a tiny profile that will easily slide straight down the hatch of a hungry bass. The Willy Willy casts like a bullet, hops nicely and can be retrieved at dead slow speeds. Testing has proven it to be a winner and it rarely fouls up during the cast and when being vertically hopped which in my opinion is very important.

Hot Bite Fishing has also introduced fish necklaces. Ideal as a gift or for wrapping around your own neck, these beauties look cool. I wanted to wear a necklace that showed what I love to do – fishing. I looked around and there just wasn’t much of that sort of thing out there. The hinged jaw, alloy, Hot Bite fish necklace is a pretty cool looking piece of gear. I wear mine every day; in the shower, swimming, sleeping and of course fishing and it’s still looking like new after 6 months.

For more information on Hot Bite Fishing, check out the Hot Bite Facebook page or email me at --e-mail address hidden--

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Toowoomba, Crows Nest

Lure fishing has been slow at Cressbrook but live shrimp are taking quite a few bass and the occasional golden perch and catfish. The deeper points around the Eagles Nest rock wall up Cressbrook Creek have been holding a few bass. These fish are suckers for live shrimp but you can also nab the odd one on tail spinners, soft plastics and blade baits. If you find them hugging the bottom, try bouncing an ice jig up and down on their heads. Ice jigs tend to account for the smaller models at Cressbrook but you never know your luck there may be a monster waiting to pounce.

Brendan Deurloo took his kids out last month and they had a great session on live shrimp and the occasional hook-up on blades as well. All up, they boated over 40 bass with the bigger ones well over 40cm in length. Mixed in were some huge eel-tailed catties to keep the kids happy and guessing what they’d next pull up. Brendan didn’t head out too far; he was fishing one of the points within sight of the boat ramp.

The Cressbrook fish schooled up really well last year at the end of winter. This should be the case again this year and if they decide to bite there will be some great action. The bass don’t like a lot of fishing pressure so we were hitting them early until midmorning, bagging 20-30 fish and then heading to Somerset for the rest of the day. You can certainly fish all day and keep catching but when the action is red hot, it spoils you with double hook-ups and fish cast after cast. This good fishing is just around the corner and you’ll want to be there when it first happens to enjoy it at its best. Usually it will only last for a week or two before the fish get tired of the boats and their mouths get too sore.

There is no longer an entry fee at the boom gate but the 8-knot speed limit is still in place. Hours for boating and day use of the recreation area are 7am to 6pm until September. Tackleworld in Toowoomba is a great place to stop and grab your supplies for a trip to Cressy or any of the other dams and rivers. You can check out their latest fishing reports on the Tackleworld Toowoomba Facebook page or online at their website.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset has fished tough over winter. The bass schools have played hard to get but positive things started to take place last month. The schooling bass that are hard to tempt were more responsive to lure offerings on a few occasions. Tough fishing over the winter months isn’t unusual for Somerset Dam and when the bass fire up it as if someone flicks a switch. The schools will go nuts when they start to chew. August may be a little early but once September rolls around it should be great fishing.

Rolling 3” plastics close to the bottom is a great way to tempt the big fish. A dead slow wind with the plastic rigged on a 1/2oz jighead will see the lure subtly swimming close to the bottom. This is too much for big fish to resist. This method can be a slow way to fish but often results in some of the biggest fish. Hopping tail spinners in around 10m of water will also account for plenty of bass once they turn on.

If the schooling bass continue to be tough to turn on, head to the edges and try working spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. The edges around the basin of the lake can fish okay at this time of year and most will hold a few smaller active bass. Big, chunky fish will be mixed in with the smaller ones with a lot of the better quality specimens coming from inside the timbered reaches north of Kirkleigh. It can take a while to locate a productive edge and it is a matter of trial and error to eliminate the barren water. If schools are seen on the sounder, there is a good chance active fish will be looking for something to munch in the shallows nearby.

While downsized spinnerbaits are popular for chasing Australian bass, it doesn’t hurt to toss one with bigger blades in Somerset to turn on the bigger fish. Big bony bream are a substantial part of their diet at this time of year and the stronger vibrations given off by bigger blades can be the answer. Rigging blade baits and crankbaits on beetle spins is another proven technique. The beetle spin blade adds size to the profile of the lure and also creates more noise imitating bigger bait in the water.

Moogerah
Closest Towns: Aratula, Boonah

Moogerah has been one of the most reliable bass dams over winter. Due to the fishing being good, it has copped a fair flogging. Early morning starts to get to the fish first usually ensure a good start to the day. The action can taper off quickly once the fish get hammered.

With spring just around the corner, these bass should fire up even more. This could see the bite time prolonged and bass may even chew well right through the day when boats are sitting on them. Soft plastics are a good way to bang the fish and it’s hard to beat a 75mm Powerbait Ripple Shad in the cappuccino colour rigged on a 1/2oz Dam Deep jighead.

Hopping small blades close around the boat can pick up some of the fish that school up below you. Ice jigs will also take their share but often tempt the smaller fish before the big ones get a chance.

Maroon
Closest towns: boonah, rathdowney

Maroon’s weed edges will be where the action is taking place. The better quality bass will be using the weed to hide and ambushing smaller fish as they dart out for an easy feed. Slower presentations should produce the goods. Lightly rigged soft plastics will be ideal around the shallower areas. Stick with 3” plastics that have a good tail action at the slowest of speeds. Plastics like the Powerbait Ripple Shad, Keitech and Slider Grub are perfect.

Casting deeper diving jerkbaits to the weed edge and ripping them out will also work well. Jerkbaits are a top lure when the water is clear as when paused, the fish have plenty of time to come in and make the kill. There are plenty of suitable models out there. Look for Jackall Squirrels and Cultiva Rippin’ Minnows or something very similar.

Dyer
Closest Town: Laidley

The bass at Lake Dyer have been tough to find but willing to bite at Dyer. Some of the best action has been closer to the rock wall. You’ll need to cover plenty of water to find the fish as they can be found from the edge of the rocks right out into 10m of water. Trolling has been slow. Cast soft plastics and small blades are all you’ll need until the water warms and the fish are willing to take other offerings.

Finding bass on the sounder can be tricky in Dyer. There are stacks of bigger bony bream in this lake. Based on the returns on my sounder, some of these fish must be around 30cm long. When you mix thousands of bony returns like these with the bass, it makes pinpointing the bass schools a lot harder. A lot of the bony bream schools are in deeper water (over 8m deep) so the fish found shallower than this are more likely to be bass or golden perch.

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

The fishing is still slow at Cooby. The cod have been quiet but there are still a few golden perch about for those willing to put in the hard work. The goldens are falling for hopped blades and vibes in the deeper water closer to the dam wall. Casting blades in to the weed edge and hopping them slowly down the contour should also account for a few fish.

Bait fishers can expect to catch the occasional golden perch on saltwater yabbies and live shrimp. It is going to be at least another month or two before the fishing picks up.

The dam hours are now 7am until 6pm right up to September. 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. Tackle, lures 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

Most reports indicate the fishing is tough at Leslie Dam. Lure fishers are struggling while bait anglers are pulling up a few golden perch. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies have been tempting them to bite with quality goldens coming from closer to the boat ramps. The back of the dam is still producing a few fish too but not in the same numbers.

Small blades and vibes have been the most successful lures. These vibrating lures should be hopped on the bottom around structure or close to ledges where the flats drop away into the old creek bed. Toowoomba-based angler, John Schwerin and family were at it again over the last month landing dozens of goldens as well as the occasional cod using this method. His success just goes to prove even when the fishing is tough, with the right technique, you can put the fish in the boat.

John fishes from a Legend bass boat and due to the lower water level, hasn’t been able to find a section of bank solid enough to back it in deep enough to float it off. Bigger boats like this could have problems launching until the dam drops more and the solid banks have deeper water to launch into. It would probably be worth checking in with the local tackle store, Warwick Outdoor and Sports at 115 Palmerin Street Warwick, to see if bigger boats are able to launch.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

Fishing for goldens has been slow at Coolmunda but the cod have still been quite active. Last month, trolled lures were accounting for some nice Murray cod to around 90cm in length. When trolling, choose a lure that dives close to the bottom and work it at a slower pace. The fish will be a bit more lethargic in the colder water so slowing it down seems to get a better response. Using an electric motor to tow the lures along stealthily is the best way to go about this.

Try working along the old creek bed drop-offs and the deeper edges inside the timber. Locating structure on the sounder will certainly increase your chances. Fallen trees and old stumps are where the Murray cod will be holding and they should be thoroughly worked over if you locate them. I like to split the screen on my Humminbird sounder running normal sonar as well as side imaging to pick up structure well out to the sides of the boat.

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. The park now has an extra two new wheelchair friendly cabins to add to their older ones. Camping is also available near the boat ramp with toilets and hot showers to make your stay more comfortable. 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.

Sunshine Coast Region
Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

The fishing at Borumba slowed down last month. The bass have been stubborn refusing to eat lures but are still taking live shrimp. The shrimp population is out of control so it only takes a couple of traps left in overnight to secure enough bait for a good session.

Schooling fish have been holding in the deeper water around the main basin. Try sounding around the points and yellow buoys to see if the fish are home. Inside the start of the timber at the junction of the Yabba and Kingham should be some schools of quality bass. These fish have been hard to coax but once they feel spring coming, the action should go nuts with the possibility of boating in excess of 50 fish a session. This change happens just like flicking a switch. One day they will be near impossible to interest and the next they will bite their heads off. Depending on the severity of the winter cold, this change could take place towards the end of the month or early in September.

There are awesome weed edges through the main basin which extend well into the dam off the shallower points. These weedy edges will be worth a look if the bass schools aren’t firing. Try casting soft plastics rigged on 1/4oz heads into the weedy edge and slowly rolling them back. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits may also work but the bass can be fussy so play around with all options. If you have two or more anglers in the boat mix it up until you find what they want.

Bait fishers have been nailing some quality bass and the occasional golden perch up in the Yabba arm. The flats area around the trees just before the second big left hand bend was producing last month. There were signs in both the Kingham and Yabba arms that the dam would roll over. A lot of gas bubbling to the top and a bit of floating scum on the surface were good indicators of an imminent roll over. The bottom layer of water rolls and rises to the top not long after this (usually in winter) and dirties the water up. It can take a week or two for the fishing to return to normal after a big roll over event. It did look like this was only going to take place in the shallower water of the timbered arms so it will still leave the main basin to fish until it all settles down.

MacDonald
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

The bass have been tough but there are still a few being taken closer to the weed beds. The trick is to slow presentations down and fish tight to the weedy cover. Working suspending hard bodies down the face of the weed is one of the most successful ways to fish. Allow a good pause between rips and twitches. Dane Radosevic fished the dam last month and had good success using the Jackall Squirrel 67SP and lightly weighted soft plastics.

When fishing the weed edge, keep a close eye on the sounder for schooling fish. They will let you know when they are ready to eat. Casting soft plastics and hopping small blades through them will score heaps of fish once they feel the schooling urge and some warmer weather arrives. The Botanical Gardens area was first to kick off last year with reasonable numbers of schooling bass with a suicidal tendency to be caught on the 44mm Berkley Powerblade. This isn’t likely to occur until the end of the month. If hard to tempt schools are found, try working the weed edges nearby as the more active fish will leave the school and feed in the shallower water.

Baroon Pocket
Closest Towns:
Maleny, Landsborough

This beautiful little lake has performed quite well over the winter months. The bass have been easy to find when using a sounder in around 10m of water. In typical bass fashion, once you find a few and pull up, they have been flooding in to school up below the boat.

Baroon pocket is an electric only dam so there is plenty of time to focus on your sounder as you move around in search of fish. The points seem to hold good numbers but they can also turn up across the flats as well. It can pay to use a slow troll and heavy (5/8oz) jighead rigged plastic as you move about.

When schools are located, try ice jigs and vertically fished soft plastics through them. When the action fires up at the end of the month or early September, the bass will be more responsive to other techniques like hopped vibes, blades and tail spinners.

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

Bigger fish have been coming from the lakes edges over the past month or two. Big bass were nailing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits worked around the lush weed edges. The cold weather last month will dictate how these shallower holding fish respond and what they do for the rest of winter. If the cold has zapped the life out of the weeds and killed it off, the bass will quickly retreat to deeper water. If it maintains its health, a good percentage of the fish are likely to stay close to the weed edges.

The deeper flats are likely to hold smaller bass that may yet be joined by the bigger edge dwellers. These fish can be found in 6-10m of water in the dam’s middle reaches. Once a good school is found, try holding off it and casting blades, soft plastics and tail spinners through the fish. On occasions, the fish may be slightly shallower in 5-7m of water between the weed and deeper flats. Here they should take vibes and blade baits.

Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits inside the timbered arms has been producing fish for months and is likely to continue. Extreme cold might shut the fish down but always keep it up your sleeve as another option to explore.

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-petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The fishing at Bjelke has been pretty slow and won’t fire fully until September. Late August may see the action pick up a little. Try the deeper areas until the fish move up to the shallows in spring.

Look for fish from the boat ramps up to Bass Point and once found, try hopping small blades, tail spinners and soft plastics. Bass will be most active with only a few golden perch braving the cold. If you want to chase goldens on lures, opt for a vertical presentation with small blade baits. Use small, sharp hops allowing the lure to touch the bottom and puff up the mud each time it’s hopped.

Bait fishers have found the action quite slow. Even when using live shrimps, the action has been steady. A quality sounder to locate the better concentrations of fish is certainly beneficial.

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.

The Yallakool kiosk is all set up with a great range of tackle if you don’t happen to have the right lure or lose one. Be sure to call in and check it out. Give them a call for accommodation and camping bookings on (07)4168 4746.

Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

Isis has been fishing well in the deeper areas as well as up on the shallow weeds. Being one of the most northern bass lakes, the water stays slightly warmer and the fish therefore play harder than their southern mates.

Even surface lures are producing through winter in Isis. A few quality bass can be caught by working topwater offerings over the tops of the submerged weed beds early in the morning. Bass will explode on topwater offerings like the Zip’n Ziggy. They love the subtle walking action of this topwater lure. If the surface fails to draw any interest, switch to subsurface and try your luck.

Some of the better quality bass have been falling for spinnerbaits worked down the weed edges. Plenty of these spinnerbait munchers are over 40cm in length and there is the potential to score fish over 50cm using this approach. Downsized 1/4oz to 1/2oz spinnerbaits from makers like Smak, Bassman and O.S.P. are ideal.

In the deeper areas of the lake, bass schools can be a lot of fun. Most of these schooling fish are small at the moment with most just around the 30cm legal size. Blades have been the most successful lure on these fish and should be used with a hopping action. Cast over the fish, allow the lure to sink to the bottom and hop it back. Vary the size of the hops from a short sharp lift to a full draw of the rod to see what the bass want. Tail spinners don’t get as much use on this dam as they probably should. Smaller profile models like the Jackall Deracoup and new Hot Bite Willy Willy would be awesome on the smaller class of bass schooling in Isis.

The boys at Saltys Tackleworld in Bundaberg are bass experts. They love to fish the dam on their days off so will be able to steer you in the right direction. Saltys has an excellent layout and an awesome range of tackle suited to freshwater fishing as well as catering for the endless fishing opportunities in the surrounding area.

Lenthalls
Closest Towns; Maryborough, Hervey Bay

Lenthalls Dam has been closed to fishing and camping while work is undertaken and the area is a designated construction site. The closure started on 28 April and is expected to be in place for 5 months. For further information visit: www.widebaywater.qld.gov.au

The fish will be ready to chew after such a big rest so keep an eye out for a confirmed reopening date.

Mackay Region
Kinchant Dam
Closest Towns: Marian, Mackay

Barra anglers will be looking for a winter option and Kinchant is probably your best bet. Further up in the hills, Teemburra Dam barra, which usually play hard will be feeling the effects of the colder temperature.

Kinchant barra will be nosing around in the shallows during the day. Forget frogging or other fast presentations. You’ll need to offer presentations to suit the mood of the fish. Working shallow diving hardbodies or walking Stickbaits through the tops of the weed or near weed clumps will tempt timid biters. Use plenty of stealth (no banging the boat, dropping things or loud talking) as these fish in shallow water are easily spooked. If you are sneaky enough, you may even spot the barra before they are aware of your presence. Sight casting big fish; it doesn’t get much better than that.

During the lower light periods or even at night, the barra are likely to be moving around the edges of the weed in deeper water. Keep your eyes glued to the sounder and you should see barra passing through. The side image feature on upmarket sounders is perfect for this. The beam shoots well out to the side of the boat and as barra pass through, they leave an unmistakeable shadow. If the fish are there, persist with slowly twitched hardbodies or a steady roll with a soft plastic.

The fish haven’t been out of control with their fighting ability. The cold seemed to have slowed them down. While still powerful, their energetic and aerial displays are somewhat subdued during the colder months.

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