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Finding the winning ways in winter
  |  First Published: June 2017



Like it or not, winter is here and with it, changes will occur on the freshwater scene. Water temperatures will already be cool, but expect even colder frosty mornings to drop the temperatures more. It’s not all doom and gloom. Bait fishers will be able to keep catching fish and lure tossers will still be able to get into some action.

Keep in mind that some species slow down over winter. Golden perch are one fish that become harder to tempt on a lure. Barra have always been considered tough to catch over the coldest months, but anglers are proving this theory wrong. Just last year, some exceptional barra fishing was experienced in Monduran Dam. The key seems to be fishing those warmer days where the weather pattern is stable. When a cold snap is upon us, you may as well forget it.

Bass will be a bit tougher. Adapting techniques to suit them when the action is slow will see the bites keep coming. Reaction lures like tail spinners worked well for most of last year and when the fish were really tough, ice jigs were a standout. If you like waving the long wand, deep water fly techniques can also be deadly.

For some, the standout fish over the winter months will be the mottled green monster. Murray cod seem to tolerate the colder conditions well and will not hesitate to grab a lure. There has been a growing trend to throw big lures and anglers have now armed themselves with the gear to present these offerings. Expect to see plenty of big green fish this year.

Copeton has been the standout destination. As more people learn how to fish big for big fish, we will see these bigger cod coming from many more locations. Like dozens of other fishos, I have been playing with big lures and working on my own wakebait. It’s a little different to the others, but is still a handcrafted piece that ticks all the boxes. I can’t wait to see them hanging from the lip of a 1m+ cod! Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!

Cressbrook
Closest Town: Crows Nest

Cressbrook will be a harder lake to predict this month. With bass coming from deeper schools closer to the edges last month, are we starting to see the fish moving to shallower water? I don’t think so. This is pretty typical of Cressbrook fish. The main schools will stay together and can be very hard to entice over the cold months. The nearby edges are often the place to hit, as more active fish venture up into the shallows to feed. With this in mind, it pays to have at least a couple of rods rigged to cover the fish in deep and shallow water and quickly make a switch at each spot you try.

Approaching a new spot, I would opt to fish the edges first. Lures like spinnerbaits and deep diving suspending jerkbaits are ideal for this. Just like the deeper schools, as the boat gets close, the fish tend to move out and sit below it. This only gives you a few casts at each new area before the bass move back out into the deeper water underneath you.

Once in over 5m, switch to lures like tail spinners, and soft plastics. Spoons and blades can also work, but the bites will be less aggressive. Ice jigs fished vertically below the boat can sometimes be the only way to get the bites.

Bait fishers will be able to score bass and eel-tailed catfish on live shrimp. Another bait worth using is a peeled crayfish tail. In years past, we had awesome bites late in the afternoon from catfish in the big bay to the north of the boat ramps. These catfish like the shallower water, so try fishing in 3-5m just as the sun sets. A live shrimp dangling below the boat is still worthwhile, as a bass may be cruising the same area.

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, Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street have a great range of lures and fishing gear. At Highfields you will find Highfields Bait and Tackle at the Coles shopping centre. Doug has a top range of freshwater gear and plenty of hand-crafted timber lures. Support these tackle stores because they will be able to direct you to where the fish are biting and offer invaluable advice.

Just remember there is a speed limit of 8 knots and a restricted area at Cressbrook Dam. Check out the signage to ensure you stay out of trouble and abide by the rules. The gate hours for the boat ramps and day use area are 7am-6pm over the winter months.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The hot bass bite seems to have finally slowed down. Good numbers of fish are still being found in the schools around Pelican Point. These fish were whacking tail spinners and blades, but the fishing is now tougher. It’s hard to pick the most successful lure when this is the case. The lack of bites as you rotate through your offerings doesn’t help piece together any pattern. In previous years, a couple of methods have been standouts.

Sitting on top of the schooling bass and jigging ice jigs to fish sitting close to the bottom is sometimes the only way to tempt a bite. Deep water flyfishing with fast sinking lines and clouser patterns or the old faithful Bass Vampire is also a good way to switch on the reluctant fish.

The other option is to persist with reaction style lures. As frustrating as it can be to fish to heaps of fish without a nibble, persistence with the one lure will see it in front of their faces more often, and eventually, the bite will come. Last year, the same approach with tail spinners was also a winner.

There were already reports of bass and golden perch being caught around the lake’s edges last month. The slightly coloured water is ideal for an early shallow water bite. This style of fishing is usually at its best in July. I’m tipping the coloured water could see these fish happily feeding up in the shallows all day. I had a mate who had a good run trolling and casting hardbodies on the steep banks south of Pelican Point over a month ago.

The fish he targeted were shallow, so it seems a lot of these fish may have stayed in this shallow water. For lure casters, spinnerbaits will be worth tossing. Some anglers like to mix it up and fish a hybrid bait. A beetle spin frame fitted to a lipless crankbait or blade bait can be a standout lure when fished to the edges.

For the latest reports, check out Somerset Fishing Tackle online and on Facebook. The store has now closed in Kilcoy and moved to the dam. The trailer can be located in the day use area at Kirkleagh. The opening days could change to include more weekdays and you can expect them to be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. Somerset Tackle has a great range of lures and gear suited to fishing the dam. They also have the knowledge and skills to help steer you in the right direction. Call in and see them or consider doing a phone or internet purchase, as they mail order fishing gear all over the place. For some of the most competitive prices around, visit the website www.somersetfishing.com.au.

Hinze
Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

Despite pouring over the spillway only a couple of months ago, the fishing is still pretty good at Hinze. The coloured water is fishing best around the edges of the lake. Exploring this area with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will see you in with a good chance of nailing some fish. Barry Oxford had some success on a Bassman Spinnerbait and found rolling the lure out from the edge and then dropping it to the bottom before retrieving again was the trick. Most bites came as the lure started to work after coming off the bottom. There have been quality bass mixed in with the smaller ones too.

As the water clears over winter, keep an eye out for schooling fish, especially around the main lake points. Until then, enjoy the fishing on the lake’s edges.

Sporty’s Fishing at 32 Strathaird Road, Bundall has one of the best ranges of lures on the Gold Coast. The staff specialise in lure fishing, so they know all about the products they sell. Call in to see the cool stuff they stock. While you’re there, pump some fishing information and secrets out of them.

Maroon
Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The cooler months will see a bit of change at Maroon. Rather than tossing your favourite spinnerbait at the weed edge, tie on a suspending jerkbait and venture right up on top of the weed or closer to the steep weed edges. The mood of the fish will see them hunting more slowly. Quality fish will still be found in around the weed. A more subtle approach and slower presentation should be the answer.

Try starting the day off on top of the weeds with shallow diving jerkbaits. As the day brightens, switch to deeper diving models or a lightly weighted soft plastic.

Moogerah
Closest Towns: RAThdowney,Boonah

The dam is coloured after the rise a couple of months ago, but the fishing has been good in the upper part of the lake. Inside the timber, bass have been schooling across the flats. Rather than looking in the deep water, concentrate your efforts in 3-6m. If you’re running Insight Genesis maps on your Lowrance or Simrad, it will be worthwhile doing an update. Barry Oxford has been at it again and is working on delivering even better detail in this area. These contour maps are very valuable and help to locate the most likely areas.

The bass are taking lipless crankbaits, blade baits and spinnerbaits rolled slowly through the schools. If trolling is your cup of tea, try slow trolling a TN60 Jackall across the flats with the electric motor to help locate active fish. Trolling shallow diving lures is also worth a shot.

MacDonald
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

Early in the morning, there have been bass caught around the bubble trail and in the bay at the Botanic Gardens. The higher water level is allowing access right up into the back reaches of the lake. This area is a great place to explore with surface lures like the Jackall Pompadour Junior and Storm 60mm Floating Pencil. Unlike a lot of other lakes where the surface bite slows down, MacDonald should produce fish well all winter on topwater offerings. Get your lures in amongst the weed and any fallen timber and hold on.

Davos in Noosaville is just a short drive away and they carry all the right lures to use on the toga and bass.

Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Noosa

Some schooling fish seem to be forming around the start of the Kingham Arm in the deep trees. Here they can be caught by fishing the structure with soft plastics. As the water temperature gets colder, these fish may relocate. Sound around the Junction and the first kilometre of the Kingham Arm to see if you can locate them.

In the main basin of the lake, bass have been caught around the edges of the lake. Spinnerbaits have been a standout lure. Further up the lake in the back sections of the arms, saratoga should still be a realistic option. Get into them now before the cold water makes the fishing even tougher. Surface lures, plastics, beetle spins, spinnerbaits and small hardbodies can all deliver. The important thing is to explore heaps of water and place the lure in front of them. Keep in mind that toga love structure. Lilies, weed, snags and overhanging trees are all drawcards that attract these great sportfish.

Davos at Noosaville has all the gear you’ll need to tackle the fish at Borumba and Lake MacDonald. The store caters well for fresh and saltwater anglers. They can be found in the Homemaker Centre on the corner of Mary and Thomas streets.

Cooby
CloseSt Towns: ields, Toowoomba

Last month, a few goldens were still being taken on lures. Hopping blades in the deeper sections was the way to produce numbers. With even colder water this month, the blade bite will be tougher. Expect bait to produce some fish.

Live shrimp are usually the prime bait during the colder months. A pack of frozen saltwater yabbies is all you’ll need. The yabbies are soft and the goldens love to come in and gently suck and pick at them. It’s a bit like me and a box of KFC chicken nuggets – they can’t stop until they’re all gone. They are too hard to resist. When using saltwater yabbies, use the correct hook. They are a soft bait so a sharp baitholder style hook is perfect.

Murray cod have been on most of the local fishers’ radars. Cooby has been producing a few smaller models and also holds a few metre plus giants. There have been a couple of whoppers caught over the last two months. As more anglers target them, we should see even more of these monsters landed. They don’t come easy, so be prepared to work hard for them.

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, Cooby is definitely worth a visit. The dam hours are 7am until 6pm during the winter months. 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. A big electric powered boat can still be launched with care. Outboard motors can be left on the boat and must not be used. Tackle, lures and saltwater yabbies can be purchased from Highfields Bait and Tackle at the Coles Circle Plaza Shopping Centre in Highfields. Call in and see Doug and check out the great range of fishing gear, kayaks and accessories he has on display.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

One of the best golden perch winter fisheries, Leslie should continue to produce on bait and lures this month. Rather than trolling, switch to hopping lures like blades, lipless crankbaits and soft vibes. This presents the lures right in the fish’s face and gets way more bites than a trolled lure, which is there one second and gone the next. Hopping was already producing some better quality golden perch last month.

Bait fishers will score reasonable numbers when using live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. Fishing in 3-7m of water and moving every half hour until fish are found is the trick. Keep baits fresh and change shrimp often to ensure you stand the best chance.

Murray cod will still be suckers for lures. Trolling hardbodies and lipless crankbaits is a good way to tempt them during the day. If casting, work bigger spinnerbaits in around the rocky granite areas. At night and during the low light hours, try bigger lures like swimbaits and wakebaits fished around the granite structure.

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 ten minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

Despite being dirty with fairly poor visibility, Coolmunda has been producing a few Murray cod. Plenty of anglers have visited and left empty-handed, while some seem to be picking up more than one or two fish a session. What is the secret?

Having faith in your lure and persisting is part of it, but knowing where to place those lures and not giving up plays an even bigger role. Coolmunda has heaps of standing timber. When the cod are on the prowl they will take lures all over the surrounding flats. With limited visibility, casting accuracy needs to be spot on and positioning the lure next to structure so the fish can easily find it is important.

Much of the structure in this lake lies below the surface. Old stumps and fallen branches and even whole trees are hidden below the surface. There isn’t much of this type of fish-holding habitat. Locate what you can and mark it on your sounder. I run 3D Structure Scan on my Simrad and set it to scan 80ft either side of the boat. If I see a tree I can place a cursor on it and create a GPS mark right on top of it. This is how we have found a lot of the productive spots we fish.

While the water is dirty, big spinnerbaits with big soft plastic trailers will make their presence felt. Bright colours, coloured blades and scented plastics can all help the fish find your lure and commit to striking at it.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only 1km away from the lake. The park is just 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.

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.

Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The dirty water is starting to show signs of clearing up and the cooler water temperature should only help this. The fishing has been a bit tough, but those putting in the time are finding fish and getting some to bite. Up the back of the dam in the timbered arms, bass and golden perch should respond well to spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Lure trollers have also produced a mixed bag of bass and goldens in the timber. Expect to get snagged, so keep a lure retriever handy. Bait fishing in the same area has been slow. If you put in the time, you should get some action.

Hopping soft vibes and blade baits through schooling bass has produced a few fish. Slowing down is the key. Smaller hops with aggression will see more bites. Look to the points in the main basin for bass schools and keep the lure close to the bottom.

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 an excellent range of proven fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms, call (07) 4168 9694.

For the latest information, jump onto Facebook and check out Matthew Mott Sport Fishing for Motty’s latest fishing reports.

Bjelke
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The fishing has been a bit steady. Bass and golden perch are still being caught. Smaller fish have been common. If you persist, a bigger model could be the reward. Slow winding blade baits and keeping them close to the bottom is the way to get the bites. You could also try a slow retrieve with a tail spinner. Use less of the big lifts and hops associated with these lures and just keep them working slow and steady to suit the mood of the fish.

Look for schooling fish in the lower half of the dam around Bass Point, Lightning Ridge and in front of the wineries.

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. The staff 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) 4162 7555.

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, call in and check it out. Give them a call for accommodation and camping bookings on (07) 4168 4746.

Cania
Closest Town: Monto

Up the back of the lake, the water is clearer and the action has been good for lure casters chasing bass. These fish have responded well to a mixture of lures with lipless crankbaits, small blades and downsized spinnerbaits all producing.

Cania can experience some very cold snaps in the weather and when this is the case, reaction lures can almost be a waste of time. If this is the case, make a switch to a slowly wound soft plastic or an ice jig.

Wuruma
Closest Towns: Eidsvold, Monto

A few anglers have headed to Wuruma and experienced some great edge fishing with big bass and monster golden perch. Motty went there for a couple of trips and managed bass over 50cm. Wuruma is one of those lakes where the bass just seem to be supercharged. For some reason they peel line and pull harder than fish of similar size in other dams. If you are fishing the edges, don’t be surprised if you get busted off by a chunky winter fish.

Monduran
Closest Town: Gin Gin

Keep an eye out for Rob Howell’s regular reports in this magazine. Last year Monduran fished well over the winter months. Provided the days were warm and quite still, the fish fired up. If you can get a run of good weather this action only seems to improve. Once you locate some active fish, they become more predictable from day to day.

Soft plastics have scored well over the warmer months. Now that it’s cooler, make sure you have all your hardbody boxes packed. A suspended hardbody is hard to beat during the winter months.

The escaped fish below the dam wall in the first section before the first weir will be subject to some cooler weather over the coming months. They too will bite if the weather and water stays warm. The first cold snap will change this and could actually see some die due to the drop in temperature. Let’s hope that isn’t the case and they are still there to chase after winter is over.

For all your barra fishing supplies and tips on the lake, call into Barra Havoc at 26 Mulgrave Street, Gin Gin. If you are after specialized tackle for impoundment barramundi, this is the store for you.

AWOONGA DAM
CLOSEST TOWN: BANARABY

After the dam ran over a few months back, reports have filtered through of smaller barra being caught in the dam. The action has been slow, but this is good news for spring, once things warm up again. With the dam no longer pouring water over the spillway, anglers have stopped flooding in to fish the Boyne River above Pikes Crossing.

There were hundreds of barra caught in this section of river after the last flood. These fish will still be there if you are willing to have a crack in the cooler weather. They should continue to bite well this month or at least until the next really cold snap. This will be a hotspot again as soon as things start to warm up in spring.

For accommodation when fishing the dam or river below, book into Awoonga Gateway. The Gateway Lodge is on the way to the dam after turning off at Benaraby. The accommodation is great with plenty of boat parking space right beside the comfortable air-conditioned, self-contained cabins – each with its own veranda. To book in a stay give Mark or Lyn a call on (07) 4975 0033.

Teemburra
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

After the big rain the dam has again started to produce. Ash Simms went for a sooty grunter session and managed several sooties as well as five barra throwing a TN70 Jackall and Arashi crankbait. I’ve heard similar reports and all anglers have encountered smaller barra with most under 80cm with only the occasional larger fish.

With this in mind, I would be fishing slowly with smaller lures to get the bites, especially while it’s cooling down. Transam soft vibes were dominating barra catches when it was warmer. They might not get the same response now. Work the edges rather than staking out a point and keep on flogging the water until you find fish.

If you are planning on fishing Kinchant, Teemburra or Eungella, be sure to call in and see Bruce and Ash at Nashy’s Compleat Angler on Harbour Road, North Mackay. Ash works in the store and also as a fishing guide on the lakes. Some firsthand 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) 4957 2272.

Eungella
Closest Towns: Eungella, Finch Hatton

Known for its sooty grunter fishing, Eungella Dam is a great winter option for Mackay-based freshwater anglers. The sooties continue to bite all winter and tend to move a bit higher in the water column for warmth. Here they are easier to catch. It’s as simple as dropping in the electric motor and firing casts around the shoreline or shoreline structure. Just like bass, the sooties love lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics.

Sooty grunter feel fishing pressure. When they are hit hard, they tend to shut down. Eungella is a fair drive away from Mackay in the hinterland, which makes it remote enough to keep all but the most dedicated away. For a sneaky spot to fish in the winter, pack a jumper and head up to experience this gem of a lake.

Peter faust
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

For the last month, the fishing has been hard due to the relentless wind. Lake Proserpine is a big open lake and fishing the basin in an unprotected area in anything over 15 knots becomes hard work. Fish have been holding up in the river and they have been hard to tempt.

Use your sounder to your advantage to locate schooling fish or areas that have better numbers rolling through. Stake it out while the fish are there and keep casting. The barra were feeding in very small windows last month. Lindsay Dobe had a charter where they threw everything in the box at the fish until they woke up midmorning and bit surface lures out in 6m of water.

As it gets colder, the western side of the dam will fish well. Clear sunny days with little wind are the best during winter. If you can string several together, you’ll improve your chances even more. The cooler water will call for the typical winter tricks. Look for areas of warmer water.

Work edges that lead into the gullies with the boat in up to 5m of water and rotate between surface lures, hardbodies and soft plastics. Out in the deeper water, the old creek and river bed tree tops will be worth exploring. Cranking down hardbodies and floating them back up in the trees is a good way to wake up fish and make them rise to the lure.

There were still scattered barra down towards the dam wall out in the middle. These fish were eating deep trolled hardbodies like the Halco Scorpion Crazy Deep. With quality fish finders, you should soon be able to see just how many of these fish are still there and if it is worthwhile putting in the time on them.

For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake, call Lindsay or Dane at Barra World on (07) 4945 4641. Barra World is right on the highway in Proserpine and specializes in barra fishing tackle as well as catering to the needs of anglers fishing the nearby estuaries and offshore.

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