One Dozen Freshwater Destinations
  |  First Published: December 2006

The start of a new year is perfect for change, so this month I’ve decided to structure my report a little differently. I’ve reviewed quite a few of Queensland’s lakes and included plenty of interesting facts for those who might like to visit them.

Many of Queensland’s lakes require a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) for fishing. These permits can be purchased to cover you and your family for a week or a year. Permits are available through most tackle stores. You can also use a credit card to order one online from www.qld.gov.au/fishing or over the phone by calling 13 13 04.

I plan to travel around a bit more this year as there are a lot of lakes that I don’t get to fish as often as I’d like to. Quite often these lakes are far from my home and SEQ’s big cities. This means they receive less angling pressure and often produce exceptional fishing. My travelling plans mean I will do less fishing, but the quality of fishing and the action encountered will hopefully make my adventures worthwhile.

Some of the lakes will be feeling the effects of the heat over the summer months. Early starts or late afternoon sessions are the most comfortable times to be out on the water and are generally the best to target fish.

Remember to protect yourself when you’re out in the sun. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and a long collared shirt are a must. Last year I had my first skin cancer removed. It was pretty nasty and involved some reconstructive surgery to fix the hole they made in my lower eyelid. I’ve learned my lesson and stress to everyone out there, especially all the kids – cover up!

Closest Town/s: Imbil, Gympie
Permit/s: SIP

This magic lake is only 12km southwest of Imbil. There are three main arms that lead into a deep main basin. The whole lake looks fishy with prolific weed beds, steep rock walls and heavily timbered creeks. In these beautiful surrounds, you can enjoy the thrill of catching golden perch, bass, saratoga, eel-tailed catfish and the occasional Mary River cod or silver perch.

There are two campgrounds at the lake and a caretaker looks after the area below the dam wall on Yabba Creek. These camping grounds consist mostly of unpowered campsites, but Borumba Deer Park is only 2km away. Here, you will find campsites, on-site vans and cabins. This park can be contacted on (07) 5484 5196.

The Fishing

Fish can be caught throughout the lake, and those baitfishing, trolling and lurecasting can all expect pleasant results. The points in the main basin are worth a try with baits such as live shrimp, worms and frozen prawns.

Trolling the edges in the main basin or working the tree lines in the creeks will entice golden perch, bass and even saratoga. Bass Vipers, or medium to deep diving pink lures are a favourite with some of the lake’s regulars.

Technique for casting lures varies throughout the lake. You can fish deep plastics and jigging lures to schooled bass in the main basin. Further up the lake in the timbered areas, you can work standing or fallen snags or lush weed beds, which flourish when the lake is close to full capacity. Casting in the timber will produce mainly bass and saratoga as well as the odd golden perch. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are good options.

Saratoga are a regular capture in Borumba. The lake supports its own breeding population of these prehistoric looking fish. They can be targeted in the quieter areas with surface and subsurface flies. Small soft plastics rigged on light jigheads can be cast around areas where fish have been seen rising to feed. Occasionally, toga will fall for presentations meant for other species. If you are lucky enough to enjoy the thrill of catching these pretty freshwater fish, handle them with care and release them safely.

Closest Town/s: Boonah
Permits: SIP

After a few quiet years, Moogerah is again making a name for itself as one of the state’s great bass fisheries. The lake has been stocked with bass, golden perch, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga.

Camping is allowed at the lake, and showers and toilets are available. In the warmer months, the lake is popular with water skiers. The noise generated by ski boats tends to make the fishing tougher. Early morning starts or mid-week trips are the best way to guarantee success.

Most boats can be easily launched from the shore, though the concrete ramp is well out of the water. When boating, be aware of water levels and keep an eye out for stumps in the shallower areas.

The Fishing

Chris Galligan regularly fishes Moogerah and has a good understanding of how the fishing changes throughout the year.

Over the summer months, there are a couple of options. In the mornings and afternoons, bass can be tempted around the shallow flat areas in the lower part of the lake. They will respond well to spinnerbait and lipless crankbait style lures.

In the middle of the day, the deeper water becomes a better option. Bass and golden perch can be found suspended out from the flats where they drop off into deeper water. Spinnerbaits and Jackalls can be rolled off the edge of the flats and into the depths to tempt these suspended fish. Trolling the same lures is another option worth trying.

Closest Town/s: Boonah, Rathdowney
Permits: SIP

This small lake is located around 25km south of Boonah. It has been stocked with bass, golden perch, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga. One of the lake’s major attractions is the spectacular surface fishing. Bass will often feed off the surface in the lower light periods of the day and right through the night. Most of the bass caught in this lake are small but they are around in good numbers. This makes Maroon a great destination for those starting out or when you want to try or refine different techniques.

There are no problems with boat launching as the concrete ramp is still in the water. If the water level falls below the ramp, you can still launch off the bank though care needs to be taken - especially after rain which makes the bank slippery. No camping is allowed where the main boat ramp is positioned, but sites are available at an area called Pointro on the opposite side. This area can be accessed by road.

During the summer months, severe storms can hit this area, so keep an eye on the weather and be ready to head for cover if storms look like they’re approaching.

The Fishing …

Maroon is an excellent place to try different techniques. Different lures and styles of fishing can all catch fish on the same day. Starting out with topwater or surface lures is a good way to get the heart pumping. As this action slows, opt for shallow to medium diving jerkbaits and Rippin’ Minnows. Later in the day the fish tend to move deeper and look for cover in the many weed beds. This is the time to switch between lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics to see what is working best.

Schooled fish can often be sounded in the deeper water outside the weed edge. These bass will respond to ice jigs, tailspinners, Mask Vibe Jackalls or plastic stickbaits like Berkley PowerBait Bass Minnows rigged on light jigheads.

Closest Town/s: Nerang, Gold Coast
Permits: A special permit is required to fish Hinze.

Hinze Dam, or Lake Advancetown, is located 10km west of Nerang. Boats using the lake are restricted to using electric motors or paddles; petrol motors must be removed before launching.

Hinze is stocked with bass, golden perch, silver perch, Mary River cod and saratoga. Unlike other dams that have been stocked with all these species, Hinze produces reasonable numbers of all these fish.

Due to regular rain in the Gold Coast Hinterland in the last couple of years, Hinze Dam is close to full capacity. This makes boat launching from the concrete ramp easy.

Permits can be obtained from the Ranger or the kiosk at the lake, or from the council office at Southport.

The Fishing

Hinze Dam fishes well on the surface in the mornings and afternoons. Small surface poppers or flies cast into the grassy shallows will see feisty bass attacking them. Saratoga will also fall for surface offerings. Lightly weighted soft plastics delivered to the shallows can fool toga into striking. These fish will often be found around some form of structure.

When the day is hotter and brighter, deeper lures need to be offered to the fish. Soft plastics, Jackalls and small spinnerbaits can all be experimented with until you find the best pattern for the day. Schooled fish will hold out from the edges and should fall for slow presentations.

The fishing can be tough during the middle of the day. Most of the local anglers prefer to fish the morning or afternoon. With the Gold Coast so close, the Hinze could be a good option for any vacationers in the area. Even if you don’t have a boat, flicking lures from the edges in the early morning can get you hooked up.

For all your tackle needs, call in and see the guys at Tackle World Southport in Nind Street. The store carries one of the best ranges of bass, freshwater and saltwater gear around. They’ll certainly be able to give you some advice in regards to fishing the lake and other surrounding areas.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Town/s: Meringandan, Toowoomba
Permit/s: SIP

Like many of the lakes in SEQ, Cooby is suffering from low water levels. This dam is one of three catchments that supply Toowoomba and its surrounding areas. Cooby rests on the western side of the range and is only 20 minutes drive north of Toowoomba. It is stocked with several species including golden perch, silver perch and Murray cod.

To access the picnic and boat launching facilities, $2 needs to be deposited into the automatic boom gate. Boats can be launched from a temporary gravel ramp. Vessels using the lake are restricted to the use of electric motors, paddles or sail. Unlike some of the other lakes in the state, petrol engines can be left mounted on boats – provided they are not used.

There are toilets at the lake although due to low water, they are quite a walk from the water’s edge. Camping is not permitted and the closest accommodation can be found in Toowoomba.

The Fishing

In the summer months, Cooby’s fish shut down during the heat of the day. This shallow dam has two feeder creeks. There is plenty of weed growth around the edges and shallower regions within the lake. The edges of these weed reefs fish well on dusk and for a short while after dark. Small lures trolled slowly in close proximity to the weed will produce golden perch and the odd cod. Black and white patterns seem to be one of the best performers.

Bait fishing from boats in the deeper water around the old creek drop offs can be very successful. Live shrimp are the best bait to use. Worms and prawns will also catch fish, but not in the same numbers. Bait will produce a mixed bag comprised mainly of golden perch and eel-tailed catfish, with the occasional Murray cod or silver perch thrown in.

There are walking trails that lead toward the wall. From these banks, anglers can cast lures or set baits. The shore to the west of the boat ramp is safe for families and is a good place to fish from.

Storm King Dam
Closest Town/s: Stanthorpe
Permits: SIP

Only 12km southeast of Stanthorpe is Storm King Dam. This shallow and snagless lake is home to golden perch, silver perch, eel-tailed catfish and Murray cod.

There are no restrictions on the lake. The foreshores have BBQs, toilets, picnic areas and there is a ramp for launching. There is no camping at the lake but it is only a short drive to Stanthorpe.

The Fishing

Summer is one of the most productive times to fish Storm King. Bait fishing is popular with worms, crayfish and shrimp being the baits of choice.

Trolling lures will also tempt the lake’s fish. Trolling is a great way to locate fish concentrations. Work the contours using your sounder. For example, if you’re using a lure that dives to 5m deep, try to follow the bottom in 5-6m of water so the lure swims just above it. Lures will also work well when fished close to the drop-off to the old creek bed.

Leslie Dam
Closest Town/s: Warwick
Permits: SIP

Leslie is only a short drive west of Warwick. Follow the Newell Highway for around 10km before turning left at the sign to the lake. Follow the signs the rest of the way to the dam. The level at the lake is low so launching needs to be carried out from the bank. This isn’t a problem with smaller boats. When launching bigger boats, care should be taken to find some solid ground along the edge, as plenty of cars get bogged when they back too far into the soft mud. Sometimes there’s a crust on top and once you break through this you are well and truly bogged. If there are any deep tyre marks left in the dirt, chances are the ground is soft in that area.

Golden perch, silver perch, Murray cod and catfish inhabit the lake. There are two camping grounds, BBQs, showers, toilets and cabins. There are no trees in the lake however it’s a good idea to navigate carefully as there are some huge granite boulders in some sections of the lake. You can see evidence of this by the ones on the bank that would usually be submerged.

The Fishing

Early mornings and late afternoons are the prime fishing times on Leslie. Bait fishing will generally produce better results than lure trolling. The best baits are shrimps, crayfish and worms. Fishing these in five to eight metres of water should score some nice fish. If your spot is quiet, relocate every half hour until some fish are found.

Trolling lures close to the bottom will tempt golden perch. The benefit of lure trolling is the increased chance of hooking a nice cod.

Wide Bay Area
Isis Balancing Storage (Lake Gregory)
Closest Town/s: Bundaberg, Childers
Permit/s: SIP.

This tiny lake produces some excellent bass fishing. If traveling the main road from Bundaberg to Childers, turn left onto Voss Road (24.5 km south of Bundaberg). Then head 2km until you cross a one lane causeway and make a right turn next to the pump station. This unnamed roads leads directly to the lake.

The main species you’ll encounter on Lake Gregory are bass and silver perch. Lake Gregory has a dirt boat ramp and bigger boats may need to be backed in some distance to get them deep enough to be launched. The bottom is hard and there is no risk of getting bogged. However, cars could get wet inside if you need to go a long way back and float your boat off the trailer. The lake is always close to full capacity. It is a balancing storage used for irrigation. When water is pumped out it is replaced to keep it at its usual level.

Once on the lake there is a speed limit of 6 knots. It doesn’t take long to explore the entire lake even at this speed. The main dam is in the shape of a horseshoe and there is a smaller arm off this that has some timber at its very end. The abundant weed beds are home to many quality bass.

If you plan to stay for a couple of days, the closest accommodation is at Bundaberg. There is no camping or any facilities at the lake.

The Fishing

Lake Gregory has been very well stocked for a lake of its size. The fish are in good condition and 50cm plus bass are not rare. The average sized fish are around 40cm or a little bigger.

Casting is the most exciting way to catch the lake’s fish. Better quality bass tend to hold close to the weed beds. Here they can be caught on many styles of lures. In the summer months, they will take spinnerbaits, beetle spins and Jackalls. When the action is slow a soft plastic or fly cast into the weed pockets can do the trick. Other artificials to try are suspending minnows, crankbaits and surface lures.

Schooled fish can be found in the deeper water between the weed formations. These fish can be located on a sounder. Trolling small deep diving minnows will tempt these fish which are often smaller. If you choose to cast to them, try soft plastics or deeply presented flies. Ice jigs can also tempt these fish at times.

Closest Town/s: Howard, Maryborough
Permit/s: SIP

Lake Lenthall has its place in the heart of many keen bass fishers. In more recent times the successful introduction of barramundi to the system has excited those who fish it. Barra over legal length are now a common capture. The dam also contains silver perch, eel-tailed catfish, spangled perch and possibly saratoga.

Lenthalls is a picturesque lake that has more similarities to a river than a lake. There is vegetation close to the edges of its narrow, winding arms. These edges are fringed with lush weed beds, water lilies and submerged snags.

There are plenty of spaces for car parking and boats can be launched from a concrete ramp. There is a speed limit of four knots on the lake and boats with outboards are restricted to 6hp. There are showers and toilets at the lake but no camping is allowed. It’s just over half an hour’s drive to head south to Maryborough. To reach the lake, take the turn-off about 20km north of Maryborough or 8km south of Howard. Once off the highway, the remainder of the road is dirt. Take care as sometimes it is corrugated and there can be cattle roaming around.

The Fishing

Some of the best action in this beautiful lake can be experienced when casting lures. Early mornings and late afternoons are the ideal times to throw some surface offerings. Surface strikes will often occur well into the day when the fish are in the mood. Healthy bass and barramundi will tackle these lures when they are fished close to the weed, lilies and structure.

Casting soft plastics, spinnerbaits and Jackalls into the weedy pocket will also produce both bass and barra. It’s likely that as the barra continue to grow they will dominate and scare the bass into holding closer to some form of cover and protection.

The many sunken snags that can be found further up the arms of the lake will hold some quality bass. Slow rolled spinnerbaits and Jackalls in these fish havens are sure to draw the attention of any hungry predators. Sometimes it’s necessary to bump into the deep snags with your lure to get the fish to strike.

Closest Town/s: Monto
Permit/s: SIP

Travelling 37km north of Monto through the Cania Gorge will lead you to this relatively untouched fishing destination. Cania is famous for its year round ability to continually produce excellent catches of bass, saratoga and other species. Golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish are other targets.

The water level is low but boats can be launched from a hard dirt ramp with little fuss. Shaded areas around the car park are ideal for picnicking. There are shelters and electric BBQ’s for visitors to enjoy.

There is no camping right at the lake. The Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park is located only 4 kilometres away. Here, you will find camp sites, cabins, phone, kiosk, fuel and hire boats and kayaks. The park can be contacted on (07) 4167 8188.

The Fishing

Throughout the year, most styles of fishing will produce. It is best to get out onto the water in a boat but some fish can be caught from the banks that are accessible below the car park.

Bait anglers will find there is no shortage of eel-tailed catfish, golden perch, spangled perch and bass. Trolling along the steeper banks and in the open water out from the boat ramp will produce plenty of bass. Trolled lures will also account for the odd golden perch or saratoga as well. Medium to deep diving lures are ideal for this lake. Other options include trolling spinnerbaits or TN60 Jackalls. These lures will often outfish all others. When fish are located on the troll, you can stop and have a few casts with the same lures.

Cania is an excellent place to hone your lure casting skills. There are many species on offer and you never know what you’ll hook next. The beauty of this lake is there are times when the fish will eat all types of offerings. It isn’t uncommon to catch fish on surface lures, shallow jerkbaits, deep suspending lures, soft plastics, Jackalls and spinnerbaits all in the same day in different areas. If you could only select a couple of lure types, you should try a TN60 Jackall and a packet of Gulp 3” Minnow Grubs rigged on ½ ounce Nitro jigheads.

Closest Town/s: Biloela
Permit/s: SIP

Lake Callide is one of Queensland’s younger barra lakes. Having said this, barramundi to 120cm have already be caught and fish over 1 metre are common.

Callide is only 12km drive northeast of Biloela. The dam has toilets, picnic tables and a playground – although this is a long way from the water due to its low level. Launching can be carried out from the shores with one of the better places being below the old concrete boat ramp. The dam’s main use is to supply the nearby power station. With a constant demand for water, the level is kept around 10% with water pumped across from Lake Awoonga. Even at this level there are plenty of places to catch fish.

The lake is stocked with barramundi, golden perch, silver perch and Saratoga. There are also breeding populations of sleepy cod, eel-tailed catfish, spangled perch and eels.

Barra are the main species targeted although monster golden perch often fall for lures intended for barra.

The lake is quite small and once you learn where all the shallower areas and snags are, it’s quite safe to navigate at speed. The main basin can get busy with jet skis and ski boats during the warmer months.

The Fishing

Callide offers a range of options for those chasing barramundi. There are plenty of snags above and below the water throughout the dam. These can be cast or trolled with diving lures that suit the depth of the area they are in. There are also plenty of long submerged points, rocky outcrops and shallow bays. These areas can be cast and trolled. Popular lures for casting are B52s and soft plastic pre-rigged swim baits.

The deeper water of the main basin is the ideal place to troll some deep diving lures. Try to follow the drop offs to the old creek beds. When using a sounder, you’ll see the occasional submerged snag. These hidden attractions will often hold plenty of barramundi.

The water bubbler which is located out from the pumping tower often attracts bait and barramundi when it is operating. If it is turned on, you can’t miss the bubbles rising to the surface. You are able to fish the end of the bubbler without entering the 200m exclusion zone extending out from the wall. Trolling or casting will produce fish here. Soft plastic swim baits are one of the best options when casting.

Barra can be caught throughout the day, though the preferred time is late afternoon right through to the early hours of the morning.

Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela stock a great range of tackle. The store services the lake which is only 13km away. For any tips and the latest information on how to catch the lake’s big barra, call in and say hello at the shop.

Central Queensland
Closest Town/s: Mt Isa
Permits: No permits required.

When anglers from SEQ think of catching impoundment barra, they usually think of the many lakes close to the eastern coastline. Anglers in the centre of the state are also lucky enough to be blessed with some great barra fishing in the lakes. The closest lake is Lake Moondarra which is located 17 kilometres to the north-east of Mt Isa.

Moondarra has plenty of species including barramundi, sooty grunter, sleepy cod, long tom, spangled perch, rifle fish and big yabbies. The lake has four boat ramps that give access to fishing areas such as rocky ledges, weed beds and the river channel.

There are toilets and showers at three of the parks around the dam. Accommodation can be found a short drive away in Mt Isa. Some restrictions apply to boats using the dam. There is no boating allowed at night. Speed restriction applies when travelling near the pumping station and the park is locked after dark.

The Fishing

The main species targeted is the barramundi. Other species in the lake fall for baits like prawns and ox heart.

Barra can be caught around the many weeded edges. Rocky points are also popular. Trolling is one of the main methods used by locals targeting barra. Another technique is to cast soft plastic swim baits in the same areas or specifically aim to cast into the weedy pockets. Trolling the drop off ledges and deeper water in the creek bed with deep diving lures is another option.

Some lures worth trying are the new Rapala 15’, 20’ and 30’ models. Classic Barras are another one of my favourites. Squidgy Slick Rigs are a popular plastic. Other plastics that work well are the Berkley PowerBait Mullet and PowerBait Swimmin’ Pogy.

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