Fresh back on the chew
  |  First Published: September 2016

This is the time of year all freshwater anglers love. Winter can be tough and depressing, but as spring rolls around, the days get longer and warmer. With these seasonal changes, freshwater fish tend to fire up and make up for being so lazy over the winter months. Sometime throughout the month, it will be like someone has flicked a switch and the fish will start chewing their heads off.

Expect bass to be tightly schooled in most lakes. Their breeding instincts bring the fish together and make it more important to find their location. Once these schools are found, it’s just a matter of working out what they want to eat. If they’re cooperative they’ll take all manner of lures, but when they are tougher, stick to a slowly wound soft plastic. Bass are very well conditioned in spring. Females carry roe (which will never be spawned in the freshwater environment) and are much heavier than other times of the year. In the big bass lakes like Somerset and Wivenhoe, there’s a good chance of nailing a bass over 3kg.

On the golden perch front, fish will be a bit slower to respond to the changes. It can take another month or two for them to really rev their engines and turn on the action. Still, there will be a noticeable increase in their activity. The lakes below the range and further north will generally fire first as they tend to warm up that little bit faster.

Murray cod closed season will be in place from the September 1 until November 30. This applies to the rivers but the stocked lakes are exempt. For more information on closed cod waters, visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website. Lakes like Coolmunda, Leslie and Glenlyon will see an increase in cod activity. There were fish caught over the winter months, but these lakes perform better throughout spring. Copeton Dam in Northern New South Wales produced countless big cod encounters over the winter months and gave anglers a chance to hone their cod catching skills. It will be interesting to see how well Queensland’s cod respond to similar techniques.

Barramundi also fire up in the dams this month. The fish are lazy over winter and as the water hits the right temperature, they are less lethargic and make up for the slow cooler months. Expect the barra to fire up sometime in September or early October in most of the lakes. The full moon period seems to be the most popular time to chase these big impoundment fish. Casting lures well into the night will see some great catches and happy anglers.

Dust off your rods, lures and boat. There are plenty of options this month if you are wanting to catch a few freshwater battlers. All species will be more willing to play the game and it won’t be a case of wondering where to go to get the results like it has been over the last few months. Just about every lake in Queensland will be turning it on so get to it. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!
Closest Town: Crows Nest

Cressbrook Dam was one of the best places to chase bass over the winter months. That was for everyone apart from me. I tried on a couple of occasions to tempt fish, but only managed a pair of smallish bass for my efforts. Word on the street was the fish were shutting down after anglers caught some from their schools. This is not uncommon and some days they are quicker to shut down than others. When you strike a good day, they can bite all day long from the same school, but these days are few and far between. Spring is the time to strike the fish in a more cooperative mood so we should see prolonged bite times before the inevitable happens.

Most of the bigger bass action has been coming from the points and bays up Cressbrook Creek, just past the Eagles Nest rock wall. These fish have been heavily pressured, but have stayed in the area for the last month. Ice jigs work well when the fish are willing to bite and sitting below the boat, but tail-spinners have been the standout offering. Firing casts ahead of the boat and working them along the points, or out from the edge to deeper water, has been very successful. The 18g Jets tail-spinner was doing a lot of the damage. It didn’t seem to matter the colour when the fish were on. Adam Krautz from Toowoomba had a lot of success on the swamp monster colour. He kept catching fish by moving along the bank to find new schools and then moving the boat out wider to fish deeper as fish moved out towards the boat. Hopping tail-spinners rather than winding is the best method.

With spring here, we may see some changes. It’s likely the bass will form bigger schools. While this takes place, the fish may have to move from their current locations. Look around the same areas, but also in the main basin of the lake, and even straight out from the boat ramp. Focus on any of the prominent points, which extend out into the dam. Once you’ve found the bass, try catching them with soft plastics and tail-spinners. There is a good chance the fish will be in over 10m of water and they will often suspend in the deeper parts. Bring your lure up to the depth they are suspending when fishing deeper water.

For all your fishing supplies and the latest reports on Cressbrook and surrounding dams, call in to see the specialist tackle stores in Toowoomba. Tackle World 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’ll 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 will be extended this month from 6am-8pm.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset has been very slow for the last month, but with spring this should change. Bass fishing should pick up and some years the bass respond best to very slowly wound soft plastics. Rig these lures on 1/2 or 5/8oz jigheads, cast far, let them sink and then wind steady to keep them close to the bottom. The Squidgy fish is a good performer as it has a strong tail-thumping action at slow speed.

Another big tailed bass plastic comes from the Reflexion brand. Look for similar shad style lures with bigger tails as they can make a lot of difference. Just remember at the start of spring, the slower the fishing is, the slower you wind the lure. Once the fish fire up, this won’t be a problem and there will be better options than rolling plastics.

The bass will become more responsive to reaction lures like tail-spinners, blades and soft vibes and when using these lures, you are more likely to nail better numbers. Often these lure munching fish will be smaller unless you are able to source a patch of better quality fish, which often hold together.

Look for schooling fish in the lake’s middle reaches. There have been good numbers out from Queen Street on the flats for a few months but this is still only a small percentage of the lake’s bass. This month should see them group together in huge numbers, it will just be a matter of finding them. Other areas worth looking are The Spit, Pelican Point and Bay 13. The humps, flats and creek bed drop offs in these areas can all hold bass. Start your search in around 10m of water, but be prepared to look a few metres deeper and shallower. Once some fish are pinpointed, use their holding depth as a gauge to find more. Don’t dismiss the tiny bumps you see on the bottom as these are usually fish sitting tight to the bottom. These bottom huggers can be the big girls, so make sure you try your luck on them.

The golden perch were responsive over winter, so the action should only increase. Goldens will be encountered while bass fishing but those who specifically target them will have better results. A few of these yellow demons will fall for trolled lures but the better options are live shrimp and hopping small blade baits. Golden will be found around structure, so try any of those snag piles you have found by sounding on the drop-offs in the dams middle reaches. Other places worth a try are the sunken trees around Queen Street and the timber north of Kirkleigh.

There were a few fish taken casting lures to the edges last month. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits enticed the bites when working the edges in the timber and also in the main basin. The action was slow using this technique but while the fishing was tough, it was sometimes the only way to cast up a fish. With increased activity imminent in the schools out wider in the deep water, the edge fishing will remain a last resort.

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

Moogerah action picked up last month with an increase in bass captures. Soft plastics and tail-spinners were the best performers with fish sitting in 7-10m of water in the dam’s main basin.

The action should only improve, provided the fish don’t receive too much pressure. Stick with soft plastics and tail-spinners as the lures of choice but also consider hopping a 1/4oz blade close to the boat when the fish are schooling below you. Small sharp hops at about a 45º angle around your boat will pick up the more active fish cruising the edge of the school.

Look for bass in the usual haunts. The flats out from the palm trees just outside the timber are always worth a look. From here take a quick look all the way to the boat ramp below the main camp ground. Follow the 7-10m contour line as the fish are most likely to hold here. Explore the spit point that extends from the ramp out towards the dam wall and also the flats and points which protrude from the eastern shoreline nearby.

Closet Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

We should see a transition take place at Maroon. The fish living in and around the weed beds are often the bigger specimens but I’m tipping a big percentage of them will join the schooling fish outside the weed this month. With this in mind, look for schools just outside the weed edges. These fish may be located along the straight weed formations but are more likely to reside around any points that jut out into the main basin.

Once schooling fish are located, try working soft plastics and small blades through them. The same lure styles can also be used to work the weedy edges nearest the schooling fish. The more active big fish may still be lurking a little shallower inside the weed clumps in close proximity to the rest of their mates.

Surface luring may be worth a go at the end of the month but won’t peak for at least another month. If you are on the water early enough, it is always worth a quick try to see if they are tuned in to topwater offerings.
Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields,Toowoomba

Fishing at Cooby has been really tough for the last month. Lure anglers have had a hard time trying to entice a bite, with bait being the better option. When it is like this, even live shrimp can be out-fished by using frozen saltwater yabbies. The soft, succulent build of the yabby is a little too much to resist for even the laziest yellowbelly.

Try bait fishing in 6-8m of water and move out into the deeper parts and try in over 13m closer to the roped off area near the dam wall if you can see fish on the sounder. Keep the lines almost tight and hanging vertically below the boat. This will allow you to feel the timid bites of the fish and give you a better chance of setting a hook in their mouth.

Plenty of local anglers have stocked up on big cod lures over the winter months to use in lakes and rivers further afield. I’m tipping we will hear of a few big cod captures from Cooby when they get bored and start tossing their big topwaters and swimbaits closer to home. The cod are nowhere near as plentiful as the lakes further south but Cooby does hold some monster fish.

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, then Cooby is definitely worth a visit. The dam hours are now 6am until 8pm, which is perfect to fish into the dark for a late arvo cod. Just remember no outboard motors are allowed to be used 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

Bait fishing has been the way to go for most anglers at Leslie. Saltwater yabbies were the best bait last month with golden perch landed from boats and off the bank. As the water warms a little more, live shrimp will also be a good option. Last month, a lucky angler managed to land a cod over a metre long on a live shrimp fished from the shore.

Lure anglers gave mixed stories with some catching good numbers and others missing out altogether. This should change a little more this month with a slight increase in fish activity. Trolling medium diving lures will start to pick up more fish and you can always rely on hopped blades and soft vibes. When hopping lures, you need to locate fish or structure. Sunken rock piles or even the drop-off to deeper water can be enough to congregate the fish. The new Kamikaze 80S was scoring goldens through winter so will excel once the water warms even more.

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

There has been very little to report from Coolmunda on the golden perch scene. Apart from a few fish taken on baits, the fishing is slow. Murray cod on the other hand have been becoming a more frequent capture. With the closed season in the rivers, Coolmunda gives a great playground to target some oversized greenfish.

Cod can be caught casting bigger spinnerbaits around any structure. With the timbered arms hard to access due to the water level, you’ll need to use your sounder to locate fishable structure. The sunken trees and stumps around the drop-offs to the main river will show up easily on normal sonar if you are right over them but you can scan well out to the sides of the boat if you use a side imaging unit. The side scan feature is invaluable for finding fishable structure. If possible, try and locate fishy areas in under 5m of water. The cod can be found in only 1-2m at this time of year, so use stealth and cast well ahead of the boat.

Lure trollers are also in with a good chance of whacking the cod. Last year was an outstanding year for cod fishing. The best method was to troll bigger deep lures on a short line. On occasions only a few metres are needed to keep the lure off the bottom but alter the amount of line out to suit the area you are fishing and keep the lure near but just off the bottom. Trolling will cover heaps of water, so keep an eye on the sounder as it is a great way to learn where all the best fish holding structure is.

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.
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The action has fired early at Boondooma. Bass have been going nuts on tail-spinners around the Junction area. Locate the fish in just over 10m of water and start hopping lures through them and you’ll score plenty. This action should continue into this month with plenty of fish to be caught. You can also try your luck with blades like the Little Max or 75mm soft plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads.

The bass may move around a bit but if you put in the time to find them, the results should be awesome this month. With more attention focused on this deeper bite, the reports on golden perch have been fewer. You can still expect to land plenty of golden son bait or fishing the edges with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

Good numbers of red claw have been reported throughout the dam. Try tossing your traps out in under 7m of water and check them every few hours. If you’re not catching, move the pots to different locations.

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.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The bait brigade have been smashing plenty of golden perch. Live shrimp and saltwater yabbies are the best baits. Goldens have been taken closer to camp at The Quarry and near Bass Point, but if you head up to the timber at the back of the dam, the action is much better. It seems if you are fishing near trees, you are almost guaranteed to catch them. Shrimp numbers are scarce in the dam and fishers have been trying to find them in the local creeks. Some tackle stores sell live shrimp and although expensive, $20 spent on these tasty morsels is a worthwhile investment.

The luring scene has been a lot slower. Last month there were a few fish being caught by trolling spinnerbaits around the edges of the dam. September will be the month this bite fires even more. The bass tend to gorge themselves and will usually move up closer to the edges. Here they can be caught by casting blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into Bass 2 Barra. The store stocks 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. You’ll find the stores at 119 Youngman Street Kingaroy. Matthew Mott also runs fishing charters on the dams and you can reach him through the store for bookings and enquiries on (07) 41627555.

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 Towns: Bundaberg,Childers

There was a big drop in water level last month with some locals reporting the dam the lowest they have seen it. This has made launching boats quite difficult. The hard gravelly surface at the ramp is out of the water and trailers and cars have churned up the mud beyond that. You need to travel a long way out into the water to reach the deeper stuff so please take care if the level is still low. It might be better suited to kayaks and car-toppers until the water level rises again. The level is controlled by pumping in from the Burnett River, so hopefully it will be close to full again soon.

On the fishing scene, the dam has gone through some hot and cold phases. At times the bass have been suckers for spinnerbaits and soft plastics. When they are tougher, smaller plastics seem to be the better option. While the level is low, the fishing is likely to remain tough but with the arrival of spring, the action may pick up a notch.

The boys at Tackle World 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. The store 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.

Closest Towns: Monto, Biloela

Of all the bass lakes, Cania has been the standout destination for the last month. There were plenty of stories of 50+ fish sessions during that time with some anglers reporting the lake was fishing the best it ever has.

The bass seem to be all over the place with some coming from the edges and heaps of fish in deeper schools. Pack every lure you own as the fish have been eating a bit of everything with plenty of techniques working. This is a great time to try new things out. It’s always easier to gauge a new technique’s effectiveness when you know the fish are in the right mood. Jordan Stoddard had a cracker 60 fish session managing to score fish hopping a Kamikaze 80S stick bait. It’s a new offering the bass have never seen before and with a little experimenting will catch plenty of fish.

The stock standard presentations are also working well. Tail-spinners, soft vibes and blades are ideal in the deeper areas over 7m. Closer to the edges, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits are excellent performers. You can also expect a few other species to get in on the action if the bass back off for long enough.

Cania is home to golden perch and a surprising number of lure crunching silver perch. In around the edges or closer to structure, you may also encounter the lake’s saratoga. There are some big toga in the lake so good luck staying connected to these bony-mouthed brutes.
Closest Towns: Mackay, Mirani

With the warmer weather on the way, expect the barra population to wake up a little more. There were quite a few big barra landed last month along with plenty of sooty grunter, so get ready to hear your drag scream.

Casting 6” plastics will be the way to go. Use long casts along the weed edges and wind them slowly back. The Reflexion Swimbaits have been accounting for plenty of fish along with Gulp Jerkbaits and Squidgy Slick Rigs. Try taking the time to rig these lures with treble belly stinger hooks as this, can make all the difference to staying connected. Barra have the ability to throw lures during their jumps and violent head shakes. If you don’t want to bother with making your own stinger rigs, check out the ones in stores, which cater to the impoundment barra market.

Barra will be catchable for most of this month, but you can bet your last dollar, the full moon period will see them fire up a little more. Night sessions around the moon are always worth a shot. If you don’t have this advantage, then look for the warmer water areas. Windblown banks, later in the afternoon, can turn on the action. I also like to fish the more protected shallow bays, which receive a good dose of sun throughout the day. Weedless rigged plastics are perfect in these shallower (often weed filled) areas. The Owner Beast hook in a 6/0 is my go to hook for plastic swimbait rigging as it has a massive gape. Provided you don’t put too much pressure on the fish, they are up to the task.

If you are planning on fishing Kinchant, Teemburra or Eungella, be sure to call in and see Bruce and Ash at Nashy Compleat Angler on Harbour Road, North Mackay. Ash works in the store but also as a fishing guide on the lakes. Some first-hand information as to where they are biting always goes a long way. Nashy’s has a great range of tackle suited to the dams as well as all the other fishing options the Mackay area is blessed with. You can call the store for more information or to put some gear on hold on (07) 49572272.

Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

It’s the time of year when the barra fire up. After talking to local fishing guide Lindsay Dobe, it sounds like it will be an awesome time to try your luck. September is his favourite month to fish because once you locate the fish, they are usually holding in the area in good numbers.

The tops of the trees lining the creeks, which run through the back of the dam are prime areas to target. The warm sunny days with little wind are perfect for this approach. The sun heats up the surface drawing the barra closer to the top and they can be lured from very shallow water even out in deeper parts of the dam. Lindsay prefers to fish wider in the creeks when the weather is favourable. If the wind blows up, he then moves in closer to the shore.

Hardbody lures like Scorpions and Barra Baits are ideal for fishing the tree tops. Cast the lure past the target tree and crank it down so it is 2-3m deep by the time it reaches the structure. Pause and allow the lure to slowly float up and give a few small twitches as it floats to attract the fish. Slow is the key. It can often take half a dozen casts at the same spot to persuade the fish to strike.

Closer in, the points in the timber can also perform well. The gradual tapering, sandy points that are close to the deeper water of creeks are perfect for surface luring. September is a great month for using surface lures like Cultiva Tango Dancers and Rapala Skitterpops. It would also be interesting to play with some of the trendy cod wakebaits, which have had success further south. If there is any weakness in them, barra will be the fish to expose it.

For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake call Lindsay or Dane at Barra World (formerly Proserpine Bait and Tackle) on (07) 4945 4641. The store is right on the highway in Proserpine and specialises in barra fishing tackle.

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