Fish now before the water gets cold
  |  First Published: June 2016

Despite the start of winter, some of the lakes are still fishing well. There has been a run of bass at several spots, as well as a noticeable increase in barra captures from Monduran. If only the impoundment Murray cod would fire up, we would be all set.

A lot of anglers hang their rods up over winter but there really is no need. Freshwater fish need to eat to survive so they can still be caught, even when things get really chilly. The warmer weather leading into winter has kept the lake’s core temperatures warmer and so it will take a while to see any dramatic changes. The first fish to respond to the cooling water will be those found closer to the surface layers that are exposed to the elements more. Fish caught out in this water can suffer from a cold snap and the sudden change can be enough to kill them if they are caught out with nowhere to go.

Deeper areas will hold a more constant temperature and will tend to fish well over the cooler days. Keep this in mind if you are chasing bass, golden perch and even sooty grunter further north. Cod tend to tolerate the cooler temperatures well and can actually fire up during the colder months. Last year, Coolmunda Dam fished exceptionally well through winter and into the start of spring for the big green fish. Barramundi can be caught in deeper water over winter but are best targeted after a run of warm weather up in the shallows where they will feed more happily.

There are no secrets to chasing freshwater winter fish, you just need to put in the time to locate them and then find what they want to eat. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!
South East Queensland
Closest Town: Crows Nest

Quality bass are still on the chew at Cressbrook. There have been a few fish about earlier in the day around the lake’s edges. These bass are quite fond of 1/2 and 5/8oz small profile spinnerbaits. To start the day, flick around the edges of the lake up near the toilet point in Bull (Beams) Creek. There is a nice bay either side of the point and the shallow edges quickly drop into deeper water as a feeder creek runs through each bay. Spinnerbait action tapers off early in the morning but the cooler and shorter days may see the bite time extended.

Schooling fish can also be found in this area. When the fish are packed tight, it is hard to beat a tail spinner hopped through the school. The 18g Jets have scored some great fish over the past month with a few up around the 50cm size. Small bass are also holding in the bay between the boat ramps and the buoy line near the pumping tower. These fish are keen on the same tail-spinner approach. Enjoy the reaction bite action as it may steady up as things cool down even more, making soft plastics a better option.

Trolling hardbodied lures has been one of the most effective methods to produce quality bass consistently. Deep diving lures like the Blitz Baga and Golden Child work well but my favourite has been the Little Rippa. These are a locally made timber lure stocked at Highfields Bait and Tackle and Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba. Trolling lures in the two arms up Bull Creek has scored some of the bigger fish.

You can cover plenty of water on the troll and you’ll find fish in many pockets throughout the dam. Some of the bass have been of exceptional quality with plenty in the high 45-50cm size bracket.

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.

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 change this month and will be 7am-6pm.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset has fished well for bass over the past two months. They are stubborn fish at times but there has been the odd day where they turn on the action a little better. These fish take cast lures if you put in the effort, but some of the better catches have been on trolled deep diving hardbodies. The hardbodies seem to be able to produce the bites when casting lures fails. This is most likely due to the bass clueing in and refusing to bite when a boat sits on top of them.

Trolling Blitz Bagas, Little Rippas, Poltergeist 50 Crazy Deeps and other divers capable of reaching 10m deep will see you in with a good chance. To get your lures down to this depth, fish with lighter braided line of 4-8lb. I usually run 6lb Spiderwire braid or Fireline for my deep water bass fishing and have found that its fine diameter slices the water and punches lures way deeper than they could probe on thicker lines. In a deepwater bass dam like Somerset, this is critical if you want to consistently catch fish trolling and casting. The edges of the Pelican Point flats have held good numbers of bass. Try to follow the drop-off to the old creek bed and you should be in with a pretty good chance.

Lure casters have found the bass in the same area with the occasional report of fish on the flats at Bay 13 and Kirkleigh. Tail-spinners have been the standout lure and are capable of enticing bites when the fish are tough. The 18g Jets has accounted for quite a few of these fish. Soft plastics and Jackall Mask Vibe 60s are also doing the damage. Between these three offerings you should get some action. Continue rotating lures and moving the boat to get bites when the fish won’t cooperate. The longer you sit on a school, the tougher they can get. I like to work a fresh school at about a 45° angle from the bottom to the boat. Fishing lures through this section of water seems to pick up the more active fish. The ones directly below the boat are the hardest to fool but those on the perimeter of the school are a little more willing to bite.

Lure casters should get into the action now, as these deep schooling fish can get tough over the winter months. Some winters, they are near impossible to get a response out of but we won’t really know what is to come for another month or two.

For the latest reports, check out Somerset Fishing Tackle online and on Facebook. The store is in Kilcoy but they mail order fishing gear all over the place. For some of the most competitive prices around visit the website www.somersetfishing.com.au.

Closest Towns: Boonah, Aratula

Bass have been the main attraction at Moogerah and fish have been found around the weed edges and out in the deeper open areas. The big point between the boat ramp and the dam wall will be worth inspecting this month. The bass here are suckers for slow rolled soft plastics. Rig plastics, paddle-tail grubs and shads on 1/2oz jigheads to get them down deep and keep them in the zone. Sound around to locate fish before you start casting and you will be in with a good chance.

Schooling fish can also be found on the flats just outside the timber out from The Palms. Inside the trees, bass schools can be located but these fish seem to be more mobile and move around to different areas from day to day. Search shallower water around 7-8m deep inside the timber. These deeper fish will fall for the usual presentations of vibes, spinnerbaits, soft plastics and tail-spinners. If they are particularly stubborn, try hopping small blades (1/6 and 1/4oz) around the boat. Fish the blades no more than 20m from the boat and use small, sharp hops to get the bites.

Good numbers of fish have been found closer to the weed edges. These bass bite spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics. The cooler weather should see this shallower bite pick up even better with fish catchable for most of the day in this area. Try fishing shallower early in the day and follow the fish out to the edges of the weed as the day brightens up. Through the middle of the day the bulk of the fish are likely to be outside of the weed edges where they can be caught with blades, plastics and tail-spinners. Some stragglers may stay up shallow and these are often bigger fish.
Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

There was a flurry of golden perch caught only a couple of weeks ago. It’s as if the fish know winter is here and want to get a gut full of food before it really gets cold. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies have done most of the damage but there have also been quite a few fish caught on hopped lures.

Bites have come from deeper water, so try your luck out in around 10m. Be prepared to move around and try different water depths to see where the fish are. Jigging ZX40 blades has been a deadly approach but other sinking lures can work too. Lipless crankbaits, ice jigs and soft vibes will all produce the occasional bite.

Local angler Ray Bass, scored a cracker of a golden up near the buoy line at the wall end of the lake on a tail-spinner last month. A few small Murray cod have also been on the prowl, so make sure you release any that are undersized with care.

Cooby Dam’s proximity to Highfields and Toowoomba makes it a very popular fishery. If you are looking for somewhere close to home to drop the boat or kayak in then Cooby is definitely worth a visit. The dam hours are now 7am-6pm. Remember; outboard motors are banned from use on the dam. 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.

Closest Town: Warwick

The fishing has fired up at Leslie Dam over the last month. The lake level is still very low and water releases seem to have slowed, which has kept it at a more stable level. The main basin is the place to hit with the lower levels and boaties and shore-based fishers have been getting into the fish.

Jigging small blades like the ZX40 will be the way to go over the cooler months. Locate structure or even the drop-offs to the old creek on the sounder is the trick to finding productive water. Drop the blade to the bottom and vertically jig with small sharp hops and the bites will come. Last month, some of the experienced jiggers nailed dozens of goldens in a session.

Baitfishers have had fun in the deep and shallow areas of the main basin. Boats seem to head for deeper water and produce good numbers of goldens on live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. Land-based fishers have nailed a mix of golden perch, silver perch and catfish on baits fished opposite the Washpool Camping Reserve.

Take care when boat launching. Due to the low levels, the edges are boggy. There is a sandy spit that runs out on the dam wall side of the high and dry concrete ramp that serves as one of the better launching sites. Other peoples’ wheel ruts will give you an indication of the bottom hardness.

Along with getting a fishing report, stock up on all your gear while at Warwick Outdoor and Sports 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.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The fishing has been a bit slower at Coolmunda than some of the other lakes. The golden perch have been tough to tempt with live shrimp one of the best ways to score a few. The old creek beds will be the best spot to head to with the lower dam levels. When the water level is shallower further up the lake, try the drop-offs (if the water is around 3m deep) on the outside of the creek or inside the actual creek bed.

Murray cod fired up last winter, so hopefully we will see a repeat of this big fish action. The lower water level compared to last year means the cod will be in new areas. With less water to fish they should be more concentrated; it will just take some time to work out where they are holding. Look around the deeper water of the creeks. The cod may venture from there up onto the flats, especially if there is nearby structure. A side imaging sounder is a great way to locate sunken trees and stumps and the cod shouldn’t be too far away. Troll big hardbodies on a short line to cover plenty of water and locate cod. Casters will need to concentrate on the fishiest areas with spinnerbaits and big swimbaits.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway but far enough away from the noise of trucks to get a good night sleep. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. The park now has extra 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.
Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma has really turned on some great fishing for casters, trollers and baitfishers. Earlier in the mornings, the timber has been productive for tossing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits into the edges. Sink the lures to the bottom and slow wind them out from 2-5m of water. The bass and golden perch can be a handful, especially when they take lures close to the trees so up your mainline to at least 10lb and fish a 14lb or heavier leader.

The edge bite in the timber usually dies off mid-morning, so it may be time to work deeper into the trees or head to other areas. The weedy edges of the lake’s main basin will also be worth investigating earlier in the day. Tossing spinnerbaits or suspending divers around the weed beds will score a mix of bass and golden perch.

For better numbers of fish, the schools should produce the goods. Schooling bass will be found in 5-9m of water out from the edges of the lake. Look from the start of the lake’s second basin all the way up to Pelican Point. These schooling bass are suckers for soft plastics rigged on 1/2 or 3/8oz jigheads. Other lures will also get results, so rotate through the tackle box and test out tail-spinners, blades and soft vibes until you find what they prefer.

Lure trollers are still whacking a few bass and golden perch. This month, try contour trolling the edges of the lake in the second basin. Stick to around 7m of water and pick a lure that almost bounces off the bottom. The steep banks closer to the dam wall are also worth a troll, especially around the rocky points. This area is home to heaps of golden perch, but don’t be surprised if you nail a bass as well.

Baitfishing with live shrimp in the timber will pick up a mixed bag. Golden perch are likely to be most common but bass and eel-tailed catfish will also want a taste of juicy shrimp. Tie up to trees and keep moving every 10-minutes if the action doesn’t eventuate.

Boondooma is a great place to camp right near the water and sit by the fire while enjoying the view. Pack some warmer clothes, as the nights will start to get rather chilly. 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.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The cooler conditions should see a few fish holding around the edges of the lake early in the day. Cast spinnerbaits and blades to weed beds and drowned saplings to produce both bass and golden perch. If there is a severe cold snap, this action may die off as the fish get a shock from the colder water. On the flats, cast soft plastics, vibes, tail-spinners and blades for reasonable numbers of bass and the occasional golden perch. Treasure Island, Bass Point and Lightning Ridge have all held scattered fish over the past month. Find the fish on the sounder and then experiment with lures to see what they want to eat.

Up in the deeper water in the timber, golden perch should still be willing to take a spinnerbait fished around the drowned trees. If spinnerbaits slow down due to the cold, switch to live shrimp and you can just about guarantee results.

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 chasing freshwater fish and the staff have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it. You’ll find the stores in Kingaroy and Dalby. Matthew Mott also runs fishing charters on the dams and you can reach him through the Kingaroy store.

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.

Closest Towns: Gin Gin, Bundaberg

Some of the barra lakes have slowed down already due to cooler conditions. This is the time of year to plan your trips around good warm weather and a constant wind direction. The barra at Monduran fired up a bit last month with quite a few visitors landing or at least hooking the target species. There is a lot of water between fish so sounding them up is almost critical. A side image sounder will reveal the hiding barra in bays, around points and near islands. Most of the action is coming from windblown shorelines in the upper part of the dam above the junction of ‘B-Arm’ and the Kolan River. When the southeasterly wind funnels into Jacks Bay, the barra can sometimes be found along the western shoreline.

Casting hardbodies is still one of the preferred methods. Bigger fish may destroy these lures, but there are quite a few smaller models mixed in with the 80cm+ fish at the moment. The new Hot Bite Kamikaze 96S swimbait is sure to be a hit with lure casters on this lake. In testing, the prototype scored heaps of hits and hook-ups. This lure can be slowly wound like a soft plastic or hopped like a vibe, which makes it very versatile. You can check them out at Foxies.

Foxies tackle store in Gin Gin 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 houseboats 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.
Whitsunday Region

The barra were tough to catch last month. Quite a few fish were still holding in the main basin and hadn’t yet made the move back across to the western side of the lake. The last two full moons have fished well at night so if you were planning a trip this would be a good time to do it.

With the fish moving back to the timbered areas and creeks, Proserpine Point, which juts out hundreds of metres into the main basin just before the tree line, will be worth a look. Barra should use this area in their transition, as it is such a prominent feature.

Flicking soft plastics up to the weed edge and slowly rolling them back is one of the easiest ways to fish this point. Lindsay Dobe, the dam’s guide, has played with the new Kamikaze swimbaits so hit him up to see how they perform. These lures can be hopped and jigged, but are also perfect for slow rolling retrieves just like a plastic. Lindsay owns the tackle shop in Proserpine right beside the highway.

The shop has always been known as Proserpine Bait and Tackle but has just undergone a name change and will now be known as Barra World. As you can imagine, they carry plenty of the best barra lures and gear available. The store also caters for the close-by saltwater fishing in the estuaries and offshore. Call in to see Lindsay or Dane and check out what they have done with the place after the renaming. You can call them for all your barra needs or book a charter on (07) 4945 4641.
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