Fish still around but we need rain fast!
  |  First Published: February 2007

February will see the crowds thin and the fishing get a little easier, but we still need lots of rain in some catchments to get water levels up and fish feeding hard again. But it’s still worth a trip to the freshwater lakes, so get out there and get into a few good fish.

If you have any information about lakes that aren’t covered in QFM or even those that are, then please send me an email at --e-mail address hidden-- .

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Town/s: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

It would be nice if Cressbrook and other dams throughout the state have risen by February. Low water means there are fewer places to fish and that fish are more confined. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the fishing any easier. A flush of fresh water will bring nutrients that make the lake’s inhabitants thrive and the fish bite better again.

Cressbrook’s smaller bass have been active over the last few months. Many of these fish have been holding in the shallow water around weed beds. It’s just a matter of sorting through the smaller fish to catch a few bigger specimens. Spinnerbaits, beetlespins and Jackalls cast into the weed pockets and retrieved back to the boat will entice any bass in the area. The best times are the morning or afternoon but occasionally bass can be caught all through the day. Surface luring is also an option during morning and afternoon sessions.

The creek channel drop-offs and the deeper water of the creek also hold bass. Here the fish can be found on a sounder and targeted in different ways. Casting soft plastics like 3” Gulp Minnow Grubs rigged on 1/2oz Nitro jigheads will give you a good chance of bagging a few fish. Hopping Mask Vib Jackalls is another reliable way of enticing the deeper fish. When they are difficult to tempt, deeply presented Clouser or Vampire pattern flies can get them to bite. Try flies tied in combinations of black, purple and green.

Live shrimp will catch plenty of bass when they can be found holding in schools. Look for fish out from the points or close to the creek bed drop-offs. There are plenty of small bass on offer so you’ll need quite a few shrimp for a decent session. If you persist, you should get some better quality fish. Even if the fish are small, the action will keep the family interested.

Be sure to stick to the size and bag limits. The legal size for bass is 30cm to the tip of the tail and anglers must only have two in their possession. To access the ramp and other facilities at the lake you must have $2 for the boom gate. Launching boats from the gravel ramp can be tricky if you need to float your boat off the trailer. If you have a roller trailer set-up, you shouldn’t have too much trouble even with a 2WD.

Closest Town/s: Esk, Kilcoy

Anglers who want to fish Somerset in February should try casting lures to the bass schools in the lower reaches of the lake and trolling medium diving lures for golden perch in the middle reaches.

Bass can be found in their usual haunts close to drop-offs and in the deeper water. Areas like The Spit, the bay opposite The Hump, Brads Bank and the mouth of Beams Creek are all worth a look. Bass can be found throughout these areas and exploring 7-11m of water should uncover some decent shows. Somerset’s bass is that they are quite shy and will soon move once you’ve hooked a few; sometimes it’s even hard to get them to bite at all. Early starts or getting to schools when there is very little boat traffic will help anglers to overcome this problem. The best time for this is during the middle of the week.

When bass are located, they can be caught on soft plastics. Recent standout performers have been Sliders, 3” Berkley Gulp Minnow Grubs and Bozos. When casting, try rigging these lures on a 1/2oz jighead and the imported range of Nitro heads will take care of the job nicely. They are cheap and, being fitted with Owner hooks, are of the best quality.

Trolling the same plastics with an electric motor is another option. At a steady speed, plastics can be worked close to the bottom. Upsizing the jighead to a heavier model seems to draw more attention. I’ve been running some of the older Nitro Dam Deep heads in 5/8 and 3/4oz rigged with 3” Sliders in smoke/yellow core colour.

When the fish are more active, hopping Jackall Mask Vibs will attract more strikes. It’s a good idea to try Masks and plastics on the fish you’re targeting before moving to another area. Masks are also handy when you’re getting a lot of missed strikes on soft plastics. Armed with two sets of trebles Masks can hook and hold fish much more effectively than a jighead rigged plastic. They will even foul hook a fish on the outside of the mouth and head when they are being too inquisitive.

If the bass refuse to bite, you can resort to ice jigging for fish holding close or hard on the bottom or flyfishing with fast sinking lines. The Bass Vampire is always a good fly to start off with. Experiment with sizes to see if you can work out what’s working best.

Golden perch are active throughout the warmer months and trolling medium to deep diving lures is a good way to target them. The creek bed drop-offs in the Bay 13 and Eagles Nest areas are well worth a look. The bottom here is quite rough and submerged structure can be seen on the sounder. This is the ideal habitat for goldens.

Closest Town/s: Boonah

Chris Galligan has compiled a detailed report on fishing Moogerah Dam. His advice should be able to help anglers of all skill levels improve their catches at the lake.

Lake Moogerah’s water level continues to fall. In recent times, this has made launching and retrieving larger boats difficult so vehicles with 4WD are recommended. The bank on the spit has a harder rocky bottom where larger boats can be launched using 2WD vehicles; take caution as the edge is very soft in places.

The fishing has been hot and cold. Some excellent Australian bass and golden perch will still be on offer this month for those willing to test their skills. The fish will hold on drop-offs, near structure and on the nearby flats. Fishing across the flats requires searching techniques like slow rolling lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits. These lures can cover a lot of ground when searching for fish.

Casting crankbaits along the drop-offs and near structure is another good way to catch fish. Areas shallowing off into 1-3m of water will hold decent concentrations of fish. Using 5-10ft diving crankbaits with internal weight balance systems works best as these lures offer greater casting distance and accuracy. They are able to dive quickly and rise vertically, which means more time in the strike zone. Bouncing the lure along the bottom during the retrieve gives out distress signals and induces savage strikes. Variations from a standard slow rolling retrieve can also produce more captures. Try cranking the lure down and adding short pauses. This will allow the lure to slowly float; fish will follow the lure up and most strikes will occur when the lure begins to dive again.

Lure trolling on the dam will also account for good captures. Trolling lures in 5m should produce good numbers of fish. Always test lure action and adjust the boat speed to suit; generally a slow walking pace is right. Keep the line 10-15m behind the boat. This shorter length will stop the line bellying from the water pressure. An electric outboard is a great advantage when fishing this way. Try a variety of lures. Deep divers, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and even trolled soft plastics can do the job.

Fisheries Officers have been patrolling on the lake so do the right thing and carry your up-to-date Stocked Impoundment Permit and abide by the bag limits.

Closest Town/s: Boonah, Rathdowney

Chris Galligan predicts that Maroon’s good surface action will continue. Other changes however, may change the way we fish this lake.

Maroon’s water has cleared right up in the past month, providing anglers with an average of 5m of visibility. With no influx of water, it should stay like this for several months.

This will slightly change how bass behave in the lake.

During the low light periods of the day fish will be at their most active, holding closer to the surface. Here they search for insects and small baitfish. Around mid-morning and later in the afternoon, fish sit on the fringes of the weedy cover in 2-4m of water. During the heat of the day when the sun warms the water, bass will move into deep cover and become quite shy.

A typical February day at Maroon will involve surface luring, rolling crankbaits and lipless crankbaits along weed contours and finesse presentations such as fly or soft plastics. Catching fish from the deeper water is quite visual due to the water clarity and adds an extra thrill to the fishing. Choosing techniques specific to light conditions is vital to successfully fishing Maroon during the day. Concentrate around weed beds, points and hard structure.

Lure trollers can expect to catch golden perch, bass and silver perch from the lake this month. Try running lures as close to weed beds as possible. A good depth to work is between 5-7m. It can also be worthwhile trolling across points and drop-offs in the open water.

ABT is holding two evening Bass Electric rounds on Maroon Dam during the year. Keep an eye open for tips on the latest techniques used and the best fishing locations on the lake.

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

A late troll in the afternoon will see anglers score some nice golden perch. Just on dark is the best time to be on the water to take advantage of the hot bite time. Fishing with lures during the day can be very tough.

Baitfishers have been collecting shrimp from the dam’s weed beds. This live, fresh bait has been working well in the deeper water. Fishing the creek bed drop-off at the wall end of the dam has been working well. I’ve heard of anglers easily catching their bag limits; just don’t take more than 10 golden perch over 30cm per person. Breaking the limit is selfish and illegal.

There has been the odd report of big Murray cod being landed on both lures and bait. There are plenty of small cod in the dam and the possibility of catching big ones will keep anglers coming back.

The dam has a gravel boat ramp where small to medium sized boats can be launched easily. Be sure to stick to the centre of the ramp, as the edges are very boggy. You will need $2 to get through the boom gate to access the dam. Being so close to Toowoomba, I’m sure Cooby will be popular on the weekend afternoons. Keep in mind that it will often fire up around periods of storm activity.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

Lake Coolmunda’s exceptional fishing continues to impress anglers with both lure and baitfishers catching plenty of golden perch. At times it’s easy to reach the bag limit of ten fish so don’t be tempted to take any extra.

Live shrimp are the best bait. These are available in the lake and can be caught in collapsible traps. Baits like cat food, pilchards, meat or fish frames will lure shrimp into the trap. Shrimping is usually better at night when they move around a lot more.

The drop-off to the old creek bed is still the best spot for bait and lurefishing. A sounder will reveal the sudden depth change so try to position the boat right on the drop for the best results. If you have no action, move around after half an hour to find a different spot.

Medium to deep diving lures can be used to probe the water along the drop-off and golden perch won’t hesitate when eating these. Big Murray cod also inhabit these waters so don’t be surprised if you connect to one of these beasts. Good luck landing them and please let the big girls go.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only 1-2km away from the lake. It’s off the Cunningham Highway and 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. Why not take advantage of some great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below and give them a call on (07) 4652 4171?

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Town/s: Murgon, Goomeri

Although the dam is low, the water level has remained stable. This has been accomplished with recycled water that is pumped from the Tarong Power Station.

Trolling lures will be one of the best ways to get amongst the action over the coming month. Look for the deeper water and try to pull your lures down the middle of the old creek channel. Trolling with Jackalls and heavy spinnerbaits will usually pull more fish than when using diving hard-bodied plugs. It’s good to experiment and try a few different lure types.

Boats can be launched below the far boat ramp. There is a good, hard bank between the old ramp and The Quarry (off to the right below the old ramp).

The shore of the lake can be walked and vehicles can access many spots. Baitfishing from the banks will catch a mixed bag of jew, golden perch, spangled perch and bass. Baits of forms, frozen prawns and shrimp will all work. The best time to wet a line will be in the morning and afternoon. The action will be slower during the middle of the day.

Closest Town/s: Proston, Kingaroy

Trolling Jackalls or hard-bodied lures that dive around 5m will catch a mixed bag of golden perch and bass. The deeper water in the middle of the dam is the place to look for bass. The main basin where the water is deepest is likely to be holding the majority of the schools. The fish will be suspended in the deep, which is why lures that run around 5m below the surface will produce.

Golden perch can be caught on the same lures, however they prefer to hold closer to the edges of the lake. The major points that extend into the main basin of the lake are worth exploring. Spend some time trolling these and trying to follow the contour of the bottom with your lure.

Casting is also an option and schooling bass in the deep water are good targets. These fish can be caught casting soft plastics, Mask Vib Jackalls, spinnerbaits and by bouncing ice jigs.

Closer to the edges, the weed beds will hold their share of fish. Both bass and golden perch will fall for cast lures around the weed. Again spinnerbaits and Jackalls are the preferred lures. Try using some of the silent running models from the Jackall range. These lures draw more strikes when the fish are shy.

There are golden perch, bass and jew on offer for those fishing with live bait. The timbered areas in both arms of the lake are popular with baitfishers. Worms and frozen prawns will work but it’s best to source a supply of live shrimp for the best results. Shrimp can be caught at the lake around the weed beds with collapsible traps.

The boat launching area is quite shallow now so take care and look for the harder bottom. Stay away from any of the deep wheel tracks where others have had trouble.

Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy can look after all of your fishing needs. Call in and see the guys. The store is in Youngman Street and the guys can always offer some useful advice. Bass to Barra Marine also has a store in Dalby. This shop stocks a great range of quality gear for bass and barra fishing. It’s located in Shop 2 Drayton Street so be sure to check it out.

For accommodation at the lake, give Bob and Deb a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable.

Closest Town/s: Maryborough

More work is being carried out at Lake Lenthalls and some changes have taken place – the dam now has opening hours (6am-4pm). There is a gate, which is under surveillance and is closed out of hours. Security guards are also in place to enforce the regulations. These hours aren’t the best for fishers who want to take advantage of the morning and afternoon bite.

The outboard motor restriction (6hp) is also being enforced. I’m not sure how you would go with larger motors that can’t be removed if you plan to use only your electric motor. I guess you need to negotiate with the guy at the gate and be prepared to abide by the rules.

The fishing has been quite good. Lenthalls has a great surface bite that continues well into the morning. Both bass and barramundi can be taken on surface lures. Lures from 7.5-10cm will interest both species. I’ve heard reports of barra to 87cm, with the average being around 60cm.

In the hotter part of the day, fish will go deeper or hold closer to cover. Casting and trolling Jackalls and spinnerbaits will fool both bass and barra. Whilst the barra are still young, they are more foolish and will take stranger offerings than their older mates in other lakes. Trolling 4” plastics beside the weed drop-off is another proven method when targeting Lenthalls’ barramundi.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town/s: Benaraby, Gladstone

On most days, Awoonga would be Queensland’s busiest lake. Dozens of boats head for this awesome fishery to try their luck at catching the mighty barramundi. The lake will be extra busy over the next couple of months as lure trolling picks up. This is an easy way for anyone to connect to a barra.

There are a couple of options when lure trolling. You can head for the deep water in the middle or troll shallow drop-offs and weed edges. Braided lines of 30lb are ideal in this open water as they allow lures to work deep as they experience less water resistance. It’s a good idea to run a few lures at different depths to see where the fish are most active. I would normally run them at 10ft and 20ft. Troll with around 50m of line out behind the boat as this seems to draw more strikes than trolling with a short line. Trolling speeds of 4.5-6km/h will give the lures plenty of action and get the barra more excited than dead slow trolls. If I had to pick two lures for this work, they would be the Classic Barra 10+ and the new Rapala X-Rap 20+. Upgrade the hooks to Owner trebles of a size similar to the existing ones and you’ll stand a better chance of landing fish.

Barra can be found anywhere in the deep water and random trolling will produce fish. It pays to watch your sounder, looking for bait high in the water column and big fish arches. Troll water between 10-20m deep and try to work drop-offs. After an hour or so, you should be able to work out the better areas. A good place to start is in front of the wall; work lures in a 4km radius of here.

Trolling weed edges and shallow drop-offs is another option. An electric motor gives the advantage of stealth, although fish will still bite when using an outboard. In the shallower water, the boat speed can be slowed down until the lures are just vibrating the rod tip nicely. The idea with this type of trolling is to keep the lure in the zone. You need to be aware of the shape of the weed edge or drop-off. The secret is to follow it with your lure not your boat. The influence of wind and thirty metres of line trailing behind the boat means that the boat and lure don’t always travel the same path, especially when you are constantly altering direction to follow a path.

When trolling drop-offs, it’s a good idea to select a lure that runs close to the bottom. Many of the drop-offs upstream of Dingo Island have snags lining them so a lure retriever is a handy accessory. For working weed edges, you can’t go past the Classic Barra 10+. These lures don’t seem to pick up as much weed when they bump into it as some of the other lures I’ve used.

My barra outfit consists of an Abu Garcia Revo SX, which is a new low profile baitcast reel capable of holding plenty of line. I have found the new Stren braid excellent for barra fishing. After putting it onto one reel, I liked it so much that I’ve now spooled all of my baitcasters with it. I use 30lb on the Revo and top it with around 120cm of 80lb leader. I team my reel with a Berkley Dropshot baitcast rod, either a 6’6” 6-12kg or a 6’2” 4-8kg.

Matthew Mott runs barra tours on Lake Awoonga and has a wealth of knowledge to share. To learn how to target impoundment barra and for the chance to tangle with Awoonga’s awesome fish, give him a call. For booking enquiries call (07) 4168 4811.

Closest Town/s: Biloela

Despite being well into the hotter part of the year, the surface water temperature in Callide didn’t rise much above 26 by the end of last year. This unusual pattern meant that the lake’s big barra favoured the shallower water around the lake’s edges. It’s most likely that water temperature will be well up throughout this month and the fish will head for the comfort of deeper water.

The drop-offs in the main basin and the deeper water of the creek channel will hold good numbers of barramundi. These barra can be targeted by trolling diving lures and lures that run 5-7m are perfect. A couple of lure models worth trying are the new Nil’s Master Jumbo and the old faithful, Classic Barra 15+.

Casting hard-bodied lures and soft plastics will also fool some of the lake’s big fish. There may be a few patrolling the shallower water in the morning, afternoon and throughout the night. It’s more likely that the majority of barra will be holding a little deeper in 3-7m of water around drop-offs and structure.

The lake has been holding around 8% of water for some time. With this steady water level, the fishing has been consistent and fairly easy to predict. Boat launching is fine from the gravel below the old concrete ramp.

If you need any help with fishing the lake, get some local advice on lures, locations and the best times. Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela is just the place to do this. The store stocks a great range of tackle. It services the lake, which is just a short drive away. Biloela is close enough to be a great home base for any trips to Callide.

Noosa Region
Lake Macdonald, Borumba Dam
Closest Town/s: Cooroy

Dominic Fry says Lake MacDonald continues to fire well early in the day for big bass on the surface and some anglers are having a ball. Fly and lurefishers are getting amongst the good early fish, but be sure to get stuck into the fish straight away as they are heading into the choking weed and busting off unprepared anglers.

Later in the day bibless lures and spinnerbaits rolled through gaps in the weed and bounced along the bottom are delivering the goods, but it’s much harder and less rewarding than the powerful surface explosions of dawn.

Saratoga have come on the chew at Borumba Dam, particularly late afternoon.

Spinnerbaits and beetlespins have been the best lures. Try fishing around structure such as lantana and drowned timber for the best results as the fish are located under cover when the sun is high. Most small bays are worth a few casts too and some of the saratoga have been great fish so it’s well worth the effort.

New England Ranges (NSW)
Closest Town/s: Inverell

The Family Fishing Festival held late last year was a success. Over the three days of fishing, there were 715 fish caught and released. Making up these numbers were 130 catfish, 574 golden perch and 10 Murray cod.

There is still water being released from the lake and when it is falling, the fishing can be tough. The level now will be around 15% but there is still a huge area of water to explore. For information about fishing and camping at Copeton Dam, contact the Copeton Waters State Park Administration Centre on (02) 6723 6269.

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