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Mixed action around the lakes
  |  First Published: March 2016



There has been a bit of rain over the past month. While there have been heavy falls in some areas, the bigger falls haven’t been widespread enough to affect the lake levels too much. The ground is soaked and the feeder creeks to the lakes are mostly trickling in. All it will take is a good rain event to top the lakes back up. Keep an eye on the weather if you are planning a trip to make sure you aren’t heading to a full lake or running river of dirty floodwater.

While the storm rain we experience at this time of year can fire up the fish just prior to the downpour, we need to exercise caution. The season may start to change but if it’s hot there will still be a few storms about. Some of these storms can be wild out on the water and back at the campsite. A tranquil lake can whip up into a sea of rolling waves in a severe weather event. If you are miles from the boat ramp and have a smaller boat, the best option can be to head to an area protected from the wind and away from any trees. This includes dead trees in the water as they have a habit of snapping off in strong winds or even when given a good nudge with the boat. Sit out the storm and protect yourself the best you can. Severe storms rarely last more than an hour and are often over in minutes.

When camping in wild weather, consider the surrounding trees. A shady tree can be great on a hot still day but a killer when the wind howls. Gum trees have a habit of losing big branches and even snapping trunks in strong wind. Expect these timber missiles to fly through the air with the wind, not fall at the base of the tree. If the camp is in a dangerous area, move away and take shelter in a vehicle or safe building.

We are pretty lucky these days as a lot of our fishing destinations have mobile service to check in with the weather radar and see what is coming. This is a good way to prepare and not get caught out when weather is approaching.

Enough about the weather, and onto the fishing! The lakes still produce plenty of fish across the state. Some have performed better than others, so it always pays to do some homework before you head out if catching good numbers is your objective.

While the reports here are a good source of information, you can get weekly updates from the tackle stores in the areas you intend to fish. Jump online to see if they have a Facebook page or a website where they provide a weekly update on the action. Even better, go and visit to talk to them directly and stock up on all the goodies you need for your next fishin’ mission. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!
South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Town: Crows Nest

Cressbrook has fished a little better for bass over the past month. These fish come from deep water where they are suspending as well as in close to the banks earlier in the mornings.

Tossing spinnerbaits around the edges of the lake has been a great way to tempt some better quality fish early in the day. Try heavier spinnerbaits like 1/2 and 5/8oz models. Small profile lures will produce the best results, and these lures can be fished on spin or baitcast tackle. If this is your style of fishing, plan to be on the water as soon as possible to experience the best bite period. The gates at Cressy will be open from 6am this month. I like to pull up outside the gates before they open and ensure all the rods are rigged and the boat is ready to dump into the water. If you are first in line you can be fishing less than ten minutes after the gates open.

In the main basin out from the boat ramp, the bass roam the deeper areas where they suspend up to 10m down. These fish can be found by sounding through areas out from the boat ramp, across the buoy line, near Deer Island and up around the Eagles Nest rock wall up Cressbrook Creek. Trolling deep diving hardbodies is an effective way to target these fish.

Forget everything you’ve read on lure colours. Bass can be fussy and some days you can catch almost every fish on one lure while the others go unnoticed. It’s a good idea to rotate colours until you find what the fish want. When they are on the job, they won’t care and they’ll eat anything that swims past them, but unfortunately these days aren’t as common as the tougher ones.

Suspended fish can also be caught by casting lures. Find the better patches of fish and work them over with spinnerbaits, blade baits and tail-spinners. If the bass follow the boat and school up below, switch to soft plastics and work them vertically through the fish.

For all your fishing supplies and the latest reports on Cressbrook and the surrounding dams, call in to see the specialist tackle stores in Toowoomba. Tackleworld Toowoomba in Ruthven Street on the north side and Fish’n Bits in Alderly Street closer to the south side have a great range of lures and fishing gear. Support these tackle stores because they will be able to direct you to where the fish are biting and offer invaluable advice.

Just remember there is a speed limit of 8 knots and a restricted area at Cressbrook Dam. Check out the signage to ensure you stay out of trouble and abide by the rules. The gate hours for the boat ramps and day use area are 6am until 8pm.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Mixed reports have come in from Somerset Dam. The schooling bass have held around Bay 13 and Pelican Point. Find them in 10-17m of water. The fish have been pretty easy to locate and have been schooling up below the boat when you sit stationary for any period of time. Some days they are easier to fool than others. There are several ways to catch them, it really depends on their mood as to what will work best.

Casting spinnerbaits, blade baits, soft lipless vibes, tail-spinners and soft plastics will all produce at this time of year. When the bass cooperate, you could land a fish on every one of these offerings in a session. When they are tight-lipped, experiment and see if you can crack a pattern. On tougher days, there will often be a standout presentation and technique that produces more bites.

Lure trollers can get into the bass action where the schooling fish are found. The benefit of lure trolling is the moving boat doesn’t draw the schools over to the boat so they tend to stay more active. Hardbodied lures that reach the depth the fish are schooling at will work well. If these lures have a smaller profile, they will often catch more fish. For this reason, opt for lighter line classes so the thinner diameter of the line can send smaller lures deeper. Black and white or black and red are my preferred colours, but you can experiment as they will prefer certain colours at times.

Up at the start of the timber north of Kirkleigh, there have been schools of bass and golden perch. These fish can be trolled up on hardbodies or cast to with tail-spinners, blades and smaller profile spinnerbaits. This mixed bag action should continue for another month or two.

Venturing further up into the timber, bass numbers tend to drop off but golden perch become more common, and these fish can be caught by trolling around the dead timber close to the old river and creek lines. Working around these drop-offs with medium diving lures like the Smak 16 or Golden Child is bound to produce quite a few fish. If the water is dirty due to rain, move downstream until you find the clearer water. If there has been a significant inflow, luring the timber might be out until it clears to around 50cm of visibility.

Bait anglers can try their luck up in the timber. The start of the trees is usually a good place to drop a live shrimp. Look for water that is 6-8m deep and move often if you don’t getresults.

Maroon
Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

If you’re looking for some bass surface action, Maroon will be a good place to head this month. Bass can be caught on topwater lures early and late in the day. The surface bite doesn’t usually last too long, so make sure you’re set up and ready to go for the prime times of daylight and dusk.

Try working poppers and walk-the-dog action stickbaits over the top of weed beds or around the edges. Bass can often be seen whacking insects and small fish on the surface and this gives away their location. If you see a rise within casting distance or close by, get a lure in the area as soon as possible to nail the active fish.

During the daylight hours, try spinnerbaits around the edges of the weed. The middle section of the dam before and just inside the timber is a great place to work over. This area has some big weed formations to probe with your lures. Better quality fish tend to come from the weed beds rather than out in the deeper schools.

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

The golden perch have been a bit quiet but anglers are still getting a few for their efforts. The best report I heard last month was a fifteen fish afternoon session. Hopping lipless crankbaits and small blades seems to be the way to attract most of the bites. If you can pinpoint the location of schooling fish, you are far more likely to get good numbers. Trolling and baitfishing still produces a few fish but you need to put in the time to get results. There haven’t been many reports of Murray cod over the last month.

The dam hours are now 6am-8pm. 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. The action could pick up suddenly, so drop in to any of the local tackle stores in the area to check how the fishing is going.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

The golden perch action seems to have slowed right down. There are still a few about in the afternoons on frozen saltwater yabbies. Luring them has been hard work and small cod have been outnumbering golden perch captures at times. A good way to score some cod is to troll a spinnerbait and a lipless crankbait while on the electric motor to control depth and speed. Work these lures at 2-3km/h. Run the lures beside the boat to ensure they kick into action at the speed you are travelling and then increase it just slightly to keep them working.

Hopefully the goldens have another flurry before the colder weather arrives. It will be worthwhile checking in with Warwick Outdoor and Sports to see if they have fired up.

Along with a fishing report, stock up on all your gear. Warwick Outdoor and Sports is located at 115 Palmerin Street Warwick. For a small store, it carries a great range at a very competitive price. Warwick is only a 10-minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

Cod and golden perch numbers have tapered off at the dam. The falling level is making fishing the standing timber much harder. There will still be a few cod holding near to the old creeks, which run through the timber. I don’t expect these fish to venture too far from the comfort of this cooler water. Take care in the timber as there are trees on the bottom which could wreck your prop. Try moving quietly through the creeks and work the best structure with spinnerbaits. A lot of trees have their tops missing and these are usually not too far from the base of the tree. This horizontal structure holds fish so try working it over with a few extra casts.

In the main basin of the lake, try to stick to the old river and creek channels. The cod and golden perch shouldn’t be too far away from the deeper water. Trolling medium and deep diving hardbodies is a good way to entice the fish.Bait anglers will pick up a mixed bag of fish, but don’t expect big numbers. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies are the best baits for golden perch. Worms will pick up catfish and the occasional silver perch.
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 has wheelchair friendly cabins. 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.
Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma has been one of the better bass and golden perch lakes to fish lately. The spinnerbait bite in the timbered arms has been great for quality bass. Try casting 1/2 and 5/8oz spinnerbaits to the edges of the lake. Most of the bites will come as the lure is worked back into deeper water so ensure the boat is in at least 5m of water. Try to follow the contour of the bottom closely and if you can work the lure past trees and you will increase your chances.

In the basin of the lake, there are good numbers of schooling fish. Soft plastics have been the best presentation for these fish, which are still out in the deeper areas most of the time.

Trolling medium diving lures will see you at the right depth. Keep an eye on the sounder when you are trolling and consider pulling up to cast a few plastics if you hook a fish.

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 including fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms call Corey and Niki on (07) 4168 9694.

Bjelke
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Bass numbers have been good at Bjelke. These fish can be caught around Bass Point and Treasure Island. Try working blades and tail-spinners in the more open areas. Casting spinnerbaits to the edges is a good way to get the bites as well. Smaller profile spinnerbaits work well on Bjelke’s bass. Golden perch will be mixed in with the bass and there are some monsters among them.

Lure trollers should try shallower lures at Bjelke. Light line of 8lb or less will produce more bites than thicker lines. It allows smaller lures to dive deeper and work with a better action.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into your local Bass 2 Barra store. Bass 2 Barra stores stock an awesome range of gear suited to chase 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.

Capricorn Region
Awoonga Dam
Closest Towns:
Benaraby,
Gladstone

Against my prediction, the barra failed to fire up over the last couple of months. Fish are still being spotted on the sounder but refusing to eat lures. Only the occasional fish has been caught from the dam. Fork-tail catfish are in plague proportions and at times it’s hard to get a lure past them.

In the river below the dam, anglers still manage to score some quality barra in the freshwater above the weir. Launching either side of Pikes Crossing will give you a good chance of nailing a barra. These fish are heavily pressured but they just seem to keep getting caught. Slow trolling shallow hardbodies at night is one of the proven methods. Casting soft plastics in the mornings, afternoons and at night is the other way to entice these fish. Hopping vibes in the deeper sections would be worth a go as well if the fish are spotted holding deep on the sounder (don’t let the catfish fool you).

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.

Mackay Region
Teemburra
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

Teemburra’s water level was still down last month. At around 74%, it had plenty of islands in the middle reaches. These islands form long points and there are also a few other humps that are just below the surface, which attract feeding barra.

During the daylight hours, there are several points that hold barramundi. These fish cruise around and can be tricky to entice. Hopping vibes past these fish is a good way to fire them up, but make sure you have a lure retriever as snags are inevitable. Suspending hardbodies worked around the timber on these points is also worth a shot.

At night, the barra tend to cruise in the open water and work the points looking for a feed of bony bream. Position the boat in deeper water and cast up into the shallows to score bites when the fish move through. At times, the bite window when the fish chew can be short, so persist as you don’t want to miss the insane action that can take place when the fish are fired up.

Casting soft plastics will give you a good chance of getting the bites. Make sure you add a treble belly stinger to your soft plastic to increase the bite to hook-up ratio.

Kinchant
Closest Towns: Marian, Mackay

Kinchant will remain quite low and until the Pioneer River flows it won’t receive any water. When the Pioneer floods, big pumps suck the water up into Kinchant. Hopefully, like the dam receives a top up.

Without the inflow, the weed beds look pretty poor. There is still weed around the perimeter of the lake but it isn’t in healthy condition. Rather than forming nice thick weed clumps, it mainly consists of scattered long strands reaching to the surface. There are still some better patches and these are easy to find by watching the birds. The water birds can be seen feeding in the healthier weed and this is often where you’ll find a barra up in the shallows.

Weedless rigged soft plastics are perfect for tossing up on top of the weed beds. Weedless rigged plastics and barra weren’t exactly made for each other, and you tend to miss bites due to the hook not being exposed. I run a 6/O wide gape hook for 5 and 6” swimbaits and drop down to a 4/O when skimming frogs over weed.

Outside the weed, there have been plenty of fish. These barra are easy to mark on the sounder when using the side image feature. It’s important to have fish moving through if you are sitting in the one spot. Getting the barra to bite can be tricky at times and the best way can often be to speed up the presentation. The bites you do get will be more likely to stick as well, as the fish needs to put more effort into hitting a faster moving lure.

In the deepest part of the lake, which is between the boat ramp and the eastern half of the dam wall, barra have been cruising the open water. On a recent visit, this is where a lot of the bigger fish were holding and we witness plenty over the 110cm mark caught. These fish tend to be quite pelagic and roam this water. They can be found in one area in good numbers only to move hundreds of metres in the course of an hour.

Side imaging sounders can be used in this water effectively by extending their range. I run mine shooting 90ft (27.5m) to each side. This is where you really see the benefit of using a larger screen sounder. On my Humminbird 1198 the fish returns are very clear and look like barra shapes whereas on a smaller unit, they would be harder to identify.

Side image shows far more fish than normal sonar or down imaging. It also reveals which side of the boat the fish are holding. This is very handy when trolling, as the boat can be turned to the direction of the fish prior to the lures reaching them. Trolling deeper diving hardbodies accounted for some of the biggest barra while we were at Kinchant. All of the big fish we saw caught were on deep divers. Big soft plastics also caught a lot of fish. At times, trolling a soft plastic while using the outboard to move along at 4-4.5 km/h caught way more fish than towing a hardbody. We didn’t have a lot of heavy plastics so we added big bean sinkers in front of the ones we did have to get them down. At this speed the big sinkers (which were 5cm long) had the lures wiggling away at around 5m deep.

The lake has copped a flogging and the barra are more pressured than in any other fishery. It is only high fish numbers that ensure anglers still get their barra fix. Thinking outside the square to show the fish something a little different may be required to get the bites. I can see this lake getting tougher and tougher if this pressure continues. But if you’re like me, you won’t mind the challenge.

Whitsunday Region
Proserpine
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

Proserpine has been impressing barra anglers with monster fish. The barra can be hard work at times but around the full moon, the action picks up during the night time sessions. Fish have come from all over the lake but you will need to find the areas that are holding them as there is plenty of barren water between the hot spots.

Lure trolling in the basin still produced fish last month. These fish are tricky to locate as the basin is such a big area. Work from the boat ramp to out in front of the dam wall rope is a good place to start. Troll deeper diving lures at around 5-6km/h. This allows you to cover plenty of water in a trolling session and hopefully find a few fish. The barra will show up on the sounder as big arches and if you find them, work the area thoroughly.

Lure casters are scoring fish from the weed beds in the timber and off the big weed point in the main basin. The weed beds that form points or the islands on the northwestern side of the dam are some of the best areas to position the boat for an extended casting session. Watch the sounder to see if the barra are moving through while peppering the area with lures.

The creeks which run through the timber are also worth exploring, especially during daylight hours. As you explore these creeks, look for any humps outside the creek edge where the bottom comes up to 2-3m deep, as barra will often move out of the deep water to feed here.

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

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