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Improving Dam Action
  |  First Published: September 2007



Spring is one of the most exciting times for freshwater anglers. After a dormant period for species like golden perch, saratoga and barramundi, the lakes should be ready to fire up. Warmer water temperatures will see these fish species far more responsive to lure presentations. Be sure to get your gear ready and make the most of it as each lake starts to fire up.

Unfortunately, low lake levels combined with one of the coldest winters on record caused the loss of many stocked fish in several Queensland lakes. Barramundi were one of the most heavily affected but numbers of bass, bony bream and tilapia also died. Despite the attention the death of these fish drew through the media, it needs to be stressed that in no lake did all the fish die.

It was certainly a tragedy and it saddens me to think about the loss of monster barra and bass, but only a small percentage of the fish population suffered.

I believe the fish most heavily affected by the cold winter snap were those living in the shallow water. In deeper water, the fish would have noticed little change as the larger volume of water takes a long time to be influenced by the air temperatures. This means that a big portion of fish would not have suffered nearly as much as their mates who didn’t pull through. I can guarantee that there will still be metre plus barra pulled from all of the lakes that lost fish of this size.

The loss of fish due to the elements should make us realise just how vulnerable our fish stocks are. We really need to appreciate what we have and never plunder or destroy it.

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

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The fishing at Cressbrook has been hit and miss and quite slow by this lake’s standards. Hopefully, the warmer spring weather will be the trigger needed to get the fish moving.

Even though there are plenty of bass schooled up in the deeper water, they are scattered and some work will need to be done to locate them on the sounder. These bass will take lures like lipless crankbaits, soft plastics and ice jigs. Bait fishers can also try tempting the deep water by suspending fish with live shrimps straight below the boat. Drop the bait to the same depth where the bass are holding.

Casting lures to the edges has been slow. Spring should bring the start of more surface action. Small surface lures worked around the edges in the mornings and afternoons should produce some reasonably sized bass. Suspending jerkbaits, lipless crankbait and spinnerbaits are also worth a try throughout the day.

Even when the action is slow, fish can always be caught on live shrimp. The shores on the western side of Bull Creek arm are worth a try. Many of the steeper banks here drop straight into the deep water of the creek channel. Bait won’t produce stacks of fish but you can catch a variety of species. Bass, golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and freshwater eels are all possibilities.

Boats can be launched easily from the gravel ramp. Avoid using any of the other edges as they are boggy. And don’t forget to bring your $2 worth of coins to open the boom gate at the entrance.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset has been very quiet over the winter period. Lure fishers have been struggling but those using bait have been doing reasonably well.

Bait fishing with live shrimp in the deeper water of the river channel in the Kirkleigh area seems to be one of the most productive methods. Try positioning the boat in around 6-8m of water and fish baits directly below. Golden perch have been the main species caught, with the odd bass and eel-tailed catfish.

As the weather warms, trolling the same channel and its edges will produce more golden perch. In late winter, the goldens are starting to move on trolled lures. Spring will turn them on as they get more excited about breeding. And all the activity will require them to use extra energy, so they should be on the lookout for a meal.

The bass schools can be found in the lower part of the lake. Closer to The Spit is likely to hold the majority of bass. When these fish fail to bite it can pay to explore and look for smaller schools that are less pressured. The continually falling water level has made the fishing tough.

Casting lures will be a bit hit and miss, but Mask Jackalls are a good option. They have sharp trebles and when you do get a hit, there’s a good chance you’ll stay connected. Soft plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads can also do the job. Rather than the popular t-tail style plastics, show the fish something different. I like to use 3” Gulp Minnow Grubs in pumpkinseed colour. They have a pulsating tail that sends out plenty of vibration and they look a bit different to what the bass are used to seeing.

Launching boats is still possible at both Kirkleigh and The Spit. Take a bit of care, especially with 2WD vehicles, as the edges can be a bit boggy in places. Due to the falling water level, the 6-knot speed limit has been extended right down to Pelican Point. This is well defined by marker buoys. If the level continues to fall, the next step is likely to be a speed limit enforced on the entire lake.

Wivenhoe
Closest Towns: Fernvale, Ipswich

Bass schools should be easy to locate along the drop-offs to the old river and creek channels. Launching at the Sailing Club is the ideal way to access the best water between Billies Bay and Platypus Cliffs. To enter the Sailing Club you need to have a special key and be a member.

The bass schools will respond well to trolled lures. Trolling the ledges is an effective way to locate fish. Slow troll using Jackall Mask Vibes or speed it up more and run some deep diving minnows. Once bass are located, they can be caught by hopping the lure through the schools. They will also take soft plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads and 5/8oz spinnerbaits.

A Bass Electric held in late July failed to produce a lot of fish. Don’t let these ordinary results stop you visiting the dam; make the most of the bass action while the water is still cool enough to slow down the hoards of fork-tailed catfish.

If you haven’t been to the dam for a while take a look around before launching and choose a suitable piece of shoreline. Several roads lead to the water once inside the locked gate at the Sailing Club. The alternative is a long boat drive all the way from Logan’s Inlet. Even though it is possible to launch there with care, the boat trip is a disadvantage. It takes over 2hr on electric-motor-only dam to reach the best water.

Some boats that have attempted to make the trip have found scattered schools at the drop-offs on the way. This has kept them busy enough not to be bothered with travelling all the way to the Platypus Cliffs area.

Moogerah
Closest Town: Boonah

Lake Moogerah sits at a stable 3% capacity. There is still enough water to have some fun fishing sessions; it’s 10m at its deepest part near the wall. This month the fishing will tend to follow the patterns of previous years and it will pay to be on the water early for some fast fishing action.

Concentrations of fish can be found close to the original creek bed and they’ll be responsive to fast, aggressive presentations. Casting lipless crankbait lures onto the flats and working them into the creek bed will catch fish. Using a sounder helps to judge how active the fish are and it will also help to keep within range of the fish. When fish have moved on or shut down, other similar areas of the lake are worth exploring with the same lure.

Chris Galligan loves to fish this lake when it fires up. There’s a fair chance you’ll find him there over one of September weekends. Galligan recently had an excellent session with Luke Clark drop-shotting 2 ½” Team Daiwa Edim Sluggers (bass minnows). They used these on a range of structured areas that generally hold a good number of fish.

Drop-shotting can really pay off on a tough bite. The rig is similar to a paternoster rig. The sinker is tied to the bottom of the rig and the plastic is fished above it at the desired depth on a small hook.

August saw the lake temperature around 10oC and in some other lakes, numbers of bony bream died. This resulted in huge numbers of pelicans, cormorants and other bird life taking advantage of the easy fodder. The temporary boat ramp on the spit remains solid and it is quite easy to launch boats with 2WD vehicles.

Maroon
Closest Towns: Boonah, Rathdowney

Chris Galligan has reported that Lake Maroon is fishing consistently and September is one of the best times to be on the water. Bass will be moving up into 1-2ft of water in the afternoon and staying in the shallows until early in the mornings. Out wider in the deeper water, captures of golden perch will be on the increase.

A mixture of reaction and finesse techniques can be used to catch fish and, as a general rule, bass won't be too fussy about anglers’ offerings.

Surface baits, shallow running crank baits and jerkbaits will produce some fun fishing in the early mornings and late afternoons. Daytime fish can be caught more successfully using soft plastic techniques. Structure friendly plastics can be Texas rigged. Although not as productive on the strike as an exposed jighead hook, fish will not spook when nipping at the bait and will generally engulf the whole presentation.

An advantage of the Texas rigged soft plastic is that it can be cast hard into any of Maroon's weed beds and twitched through without fouling up. With some patience and timing fish can be solidly hooked.

Suspended algae has been floating in the water recently which, coupled with some windy days, has given the lake’s water a dirtier appearance. This has not affected the fishing.

Launching all types of boats is still easy from the solid bank.

Lake MacDonald
Closest Town: Noosa

The bass population in MacDonald has been only suffered mildly during the cold months and are actively taking an assortment of lures. This is probably because the dam is at full capacity and rich in nutrients, making the whole ecosystem healthy.

The bass are likely to stay in the same area as last month but some changes may start to occur as the month warms up. Schooled bass can be located in 7m of water between Bass Bay and Gazebo Bay. These fish will be suckers for jighead rigged soft plastics. Jigheads from 1/4-1/2oz will do the job, but experiment to see which weight the fish prefer. The quality of the bass will be exceptional, with most being between 40-45cm in length.

When the days and water warm up, the bass will again start taking surface lures. One of the prime times for topwater action is just before daybreak. The key to experiencing the hottest action is to be on the water before dawn. A similar bite can also be enjoyed late in the afternoon at sunset, and into the twilight hour.

Towards the end of the month, the edges of the lake may fire up. Casting reaction baits such as Jackalls will put some quality bass in the boat. Other options may be small spinnerbaits or beetle spins.

Spring will signal the start of a run of golden perch. These fish can be taken randomly around the lake. Anglers wishing to target them should try fishing the bubble trail with live shrimp.

To fish at Lake MacDonald, you will require a Stocked Impoundment Permit. Outboard motors are not allowed to be used on the lake; however, they can be left on the boat. Most anglers opt to use an electric motor and with the lake being full, launching at either of the two boat ramps is a breeze.

If you’re thinking of fishing the lake, Mark Pertot can provide all the information you need on the lake and how to catch fish there. You can call in and see him at Davo’s Bait and Tackle. It is on the corner of Mary and Thomas Streets in Noosa. Give them a call on (07) 5449 8099.

Lake Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

After a quiet period in the latter part of winter, Borumba should return to a more normal fishing pattern. The extreme cold snap shut the fishing down for a while. During this period, fish were still responding well to live shrimp but lure fishers struggled to produce the goods.

As the fishing improves, bass should be reasonably easy to find and catch from the lake’s edges. These fish are likely to be in the top 2m of the water column. Plenty of locations in the main basin will hold scatterings of bass. And sometimes you can find decent schools.

Saratoga, silver perch and golden perch will again start to make their presence felt. Toga can be caught casting smallish lures and flies to the structure in the timbered arms. Golden perch can be caught as a by-catch from those targeting bass with lures or on baits like shrimp or prawns.

Mark Pertot from Davo’s Bait and Tackle can provide all the latest information on the lake. The ramp has been upgraded with gravel and launching can be carried out from the old ramp back towards the wall for several metres. Borumba will be a great springtime option with the possibility of landing four species in one day.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Bjelke’s water level has remained steady at around 2.5%. The fishing has improved in the past month and this action should continue right into spring. There’s been a good mix of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish. The quality of some of the fish has been exceptional and they are all healthy looking, despite the low water level. Always stick to the bag and size limits and release fish that you don’t need.

Casting lures is a great way to catch both bass and golden perch. Due to the deeper water of the old creek bed being so close to the edges, fishing from the shore will be very successful. September has always been an awesome time for targeting fish close to the banks. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics and lipless crankbaits are all worthwhile lure selections. By alternating between these you should be able to find a lure style that the fish can’t resist.

Anglers fishing from the edges can also opt to use baits. Live shrimp and frozen prawns are great baits and you can expect to catch a mixed bag.

The area below the far boat ramp is still closed. This is also the case with all camping and other accommodation at the lake. Boats can be launched with care from the area below the boat ramp near the unused camping area. Bigger boats will require a 4WD but smaller vessels can be backed into the water using your standard 2WD car.

Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Just like during the winter months, plenty of smaller bass will be found in the deeper parts of the lake in the lower section. These bass need to be located on a sounder and may be suspended or holding close to the bottom. Once located, they can be fished using an assortment of lures. Lipless crankbaits and soft plastics are good choices for working across an area. When the bass are directly below the boat, ice jigs are the better option.

Position the jig at the same depth as the fish. With the lure directly below the boat, use small jigs and allow plenty of pauses to entice a strike. Once the first fish is persuaded to take the lure, the rest will get excited and become more active.

Towards the end of the month, the edges should start to fire up. Casting lures to the weedy banks will produce both bass and golden perch. The success using this method will really depend on the weather. When the weather warms up during the days, it should trigger better weed growth and in turn attract the fish to the shallower water.

When casting to the edges try spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and silent lipless crankbaits.

Silent lipless crankbaits can be hard to find at some stores but Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy and Dalby should have a good assortment. The silent offering can be the answer when fish are refusing to take other lures. They are a more natural and a subtle presentation for wily fish.

The water level will continue to fall but launching boats won’t be a problem. There are well defined boat launching areas below the main boat ramp. A 4WD would be handy to pull bigger boats out of the water. If you do get into trouble, there’s nearly always someone around to offer you a hand.

`For the most up-to-date information, give the guys at Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy a phone call on (07) 4162 7555. If you’re passing through Kingaroy, call in and say hello. They have an awesome range of freshwater fishing tackle and specialise in providing the right gear and advice for the local area.

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.

Capricornia Region
Callide
Closest Town: Biloela

Norm from Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela is predicting a screamer of a start to the barra season. September has always been a great month in the past. Norm reckons that after the cold winter, we’ll see a season which will warm up quickly and get the fish moving. If he’s right, we’d better look out. After such a cold winter, the barra won’t have fed much and are bound to be very hungry.

Casting lures is the best way to target barra during September. Trolling will produce a few and is a better alternative late in the season. September has always been the best month for casting lures from the banks. Many of the banks are easily accessible by vehicle due to the lake’s low water level. Even boaters will often opt to travel to their destination and then jump out of the boat and do their fishing on foot. The bank fishing can be spectacular – even better than from boats.

The shallow edges are the places to target barra. Shallow running hard bodied lures like B52’s, Classic F18’s and Rapala X-Rap Slash Bait 120’s are perfect for fishing in the shallow areas. Soft plastics are also popular and these lures are capable of covering the water more quickly in search of a strike.

To slow your retrieve speed down, you may need to remove some of the weight from pre-rigged plastic. Both PowerBait 5” Mullets and Squidgy Slick Rigs can have some of the lead cut out of their belly weight using a pair of side cutters. Remove around half of the lead taking small pieces at a time. This will give you a lure that can be worked slower and kept off of the bottom during the retrieve. By doing this, barra will have more time to pursue your offering. Whack a stinger hook over the main hook to improve the hook-up rate. A 3/0 Gamakatsu Saltwater Fly Hook or something similar with a big eye will do the job. Keep this stinger hook in place with a suitably sized soft glow bead placed over the soft plastic’s hook preventing the stinger from falling off.

Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela stock a great range of tackle. The store services the lake which is just a short drive away. For any tips, tackle or the latest information call in and say good day at the shop. There are no camping facilities at the lake but Biloela is close enough to be a great home base for any trips to Callide.

Cania
Closest Town: Monto

Cania was off to an early start and began to really fire up last month. Bass are the main species being caught but don’t be surprised if you encounter golden perch, silver perch, saratoga and eel-tailed catfish.

There will be plenty of quality bass caught on soft plastics over the coming month. Rig these on a 1/2oz jighead and fish them to any areas of schooling fish throughout the dam. If you are new to soft plastic fishing and locating fish on the sounder, don’t despair. Get the guys where you purchase your tackle from to show you how to rig up the plastics and get you started.

With the lures ready to go, cast them out about 40m behind the boat and slowly troll them around the lake, trying to stay in 5-8m of water. When in front of the boat ramp try the deepest water as well. When you find an area that has produced a few fish, try your luck at casting the plastics. Cast out and let the lure sink before retrieving. Give it a pause every few metres to allow it to sink again. If you locate the fish, you will be surprised at how simple soft plastic fishing can be. Just remember to stick to your bag and size limits.

Trolling small diving crankbaits that run between 5-8m deep will also produce fish. Try a few different colours, brands and depth ranges until you find the right one for the job.

Casting lures to the edges and schooled bass will be awesome. When working the edges and structure throughout the dam, expect other species like golden perch, silver perch and the beautiful saratoga.

Cania is the ideal place to learn how to use different lure styles. At times there isn’t much the fish will refuse when presented in the right fashion. One of the best lures to produce some crunching strikes is the Jackall Water Monitor. This lure is worked in a similar fashion to a walk the dog surface lure. The sinking stickbait is counted down to the right depth and made to swim in a tight and slow side-to-side action. The result is usually a smashing strike that will pull the slack line caused from twitching the lure tight. In one motion the line pulls, the drag wails and the rod jars in your hands – it’s just excellent fun.

Bass, spangled perch and the other odd species thrown in are easily targeted by those fishing with bait. Bait is a worthwhile option from a boat or from the shore. Worms and prawns will do the trick and everyone can enjoy the fun. There’s simply no excuse to miss out on the action Cania has to offer.

Accommodation is available a few kilometres below the dam wall at the Cania Gorge Caravan Park. This beautiful place is one of my favourite destinations. The park has abundant wildlife that interacts with people and is an ideal place for families. Camping and cabins are available. The kiosk can be contacted on (07) 4167 8188 to make enquiries or bookings.

North Qld
Koombooloomba
Closest Town: Ravenshoe

After managing to get through some freezing temperature drops in preceding months, September heralds the start of warmer weather and the commencement of some crazy fun with the sooties.

Sooty grunter can be caught by fishing the deep points, particularly those with horizontal timber or rocky boulders. Lipless vibration baits and spinnerbaits are awesome in these areas as sooties respond really well to them.

The nights will still be cool so if you plan to stay be sure to pack the winter woollies. – James Coate

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