Dynamite Dams in December
  |  First Published: December 2007

It’s almost Christmas again so it’s time to submit your orders for new rods, reels and lures for under the tree. It’s a busy time of year but if you fish smart, there are still plenty of fish to be caught. Try to avoid the busiest places, or at least the busiest times, and you should be rewarded with some top summer action.

I’d like to raise a topic that irritated me a while back when fishing the BASS Grand Final at Lake Somerset. The BASS Grand Final is the pinnacle of the fishing year for most of the 60 anglers competing. Many have invested thousands of dollars to earn their place in the final round. It’s a passion for tournament angling and the mateship revolving around it that keeps them coming back.

While fishing, several anglers experienced interference with their tournament plans, from other boats. Now I’m not talking about boats actually fishing the tournament, but other anglers who were visiting the lake on the same weekend. Some of these anglers were actually guys who have fished tournaments before; others were mates just out for a day’s fishing. I have no issue with guys wanting to head to Somerset on the day of the grand final. My issue is that they were interfering with the tournament competitors.

I’ll explain what I mean by interfering. Most competitors have an etiquette that they stick to. If someone finds their own patch of fish, then that spot ‘belongs’ to that person and other competitors give them a wide berth. If everybody wants to fish the same area, competitors accept this fact and allow a reasonable distance between boats. Some of the visiting anglers were crowding individual boats that had managed to find hot spots. These areas of fish were only small and casts needed to be accurately placed over the school. I experienced it myself at one time. I looked up to place my next cast with a fly, to see a boat on top of the fish I wanted to cast to and another in the way of my backcast. Now I’m not the world’s best fly fisherman; my casts are quite short, so those boats had motored in pretty closely. Once I even had to warn the boater about the location of my line – only to watch him drive straight over the top of it. Boaters continued to follow me when I moved about to relocate new schools. Discussion with other competitors revealed that many of them had experienced similar interference.

Another instance concerned a tournament boat not competing on this particular weekend, which motored over the top of a fish patch another angler was fishing to. Not only this, but it travelled inside the small space between the angler and the bank he was casting towards.

I’m not criticizing people who want to fish the lake on the same weekend a tournament is being run. We all deserve to be able to fish the waterways whenever we like. I just ask that we all consider others. I wouldn’t do these sorts of things when on a social trip, let alone during a fishing tournament, unless I asked for permission first. I guess that’s just my angling etiquette. I’ve probably been guilty of bad etiquette myself in the past but one thing I have learned is that it pays to ask first. If you’re polite enough to do the right thing and ask for permission to fish somebody’s spot, usually you’ll be invited in to fish nearby anyway. Please consider the hard work – and the cash – that go into preparing for a tournament so you don’t interfere with an angler’s chances.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The fishing at Cressbrook has been very hot and cold. When the fish are in the mood, great numbers can be caught but when they choose not to bite, the action is slow. It might be worth the gamble if you’re into casting lures.

Lure casting is one of the most reliable ways to boat Cressbrook’s bass as these fish will fall to a variety of presentations.

Casting to the weeded edges will improve your chances. There are some good weed formations in the Bull Creek arm. As these have flourished quickly, it won’t be long before others pop up around the rest of the lake. The weed provides a shady ambush point for bass to use. From here, they’ll pounce on any lure that is temping enough.

In years gone by, when the weed was present over the summer months, the fishing was pretty good. Casting a range of reaction lures was the way to entice the fish. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are ideal for this type of work.

The bite can continue right through the day even when it’s stinking hot. The trick is finding the biggest weed beds in the lake that have pockets of deeper water in the weed reef. To find such areas requires a bit of exploration and fishing by feel. This means having a few casts to judge the depth of the weed below the surface. The ideal weed structure would have a gentle taper rather than a vertical edge. Such formations are usually found around the shallower tapering banks rather than the steep ones.

In the morning or late in the afternoon, surface lures are worth a shot. The topwater action will be best when the light level is low. Target the same areas you would during the middle of the day. Lures like the Zara Puppy and Rapala Skitter Pop are ideal. It pays to try these two different types as they both create different disturbances on the water’s surface.

If weeded edges fail to produce, look to deeper water. Fish may be holding around the more prominent points or the drop-offs to the creek channels. In the deepest water there are likely to be some bass suspending as well.

Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

There have been plenty of golden perch biting on lures and bait over the last month. Anglers have been scoring fish from the shore and boats. Cooby has been quite reliable and should continue to fish well this month. With the hotter days, the fishing will be better early in the morning and later in the afternoon.

Fishers using bait have been scoring fish from the gravel boat ramp to the end of the walking track leading to the rock wall. A mixture of baits will work including shrimp, prawns and small crays that are ideal for golden perch. Live worms will pull the odd golden but are preferred by eel-tailed catfish, spangled perch and silver perch.

Fishing from a boat has a lot more advantages. It means you can access the deeper water close to the drop-offs to the old creek bed. These areas will produce fish on bait and trolled and cast lures.

Lure trolling is the most likely method to tempt one of the lake’s many Murray cod. A lot of these fish are below the legal size limit but every year some monsters are caught. They are a majestic fish and highly prized. Big cod are old and are becoming harder to find so they are best handled with care and released.

The gravel ramp at Cooby is in good condition and boats can be launched easily. Only electric, sail or paddle powered craft are allowed on the dam. Petrol outboards can be left on provided they aren’t used. There is a boom gate at the entry to the lake that requires a $2 coin (or coins to the value of $2) to open.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Golden perch have been active at Coolmunda. Just about everyone who has been to the dam has been catching some and quite a few anglers are reaching their bag limits in their first session of fishing.

Live shrimp are top bait but they are hard to come by. Frozen prawns make a good substitute, are readily available and easy to keep. The humble worm hasn’t being doing that well, pulling mainly eel-tailed catfish.

There have been a few cod on the move and some of these have been well over 20lb. When the cod are active, it’s not uncommon to catch several on the same day.

Trolling lures is the best approach when targeting Murray cod. Working big lures that dive close to the snag-lined creek bed drop-off will ensure your lures are invading cod territory.

Boat launching is from the bank below the concrete boat ramp. There are plenty of other areas so be sure to launch and retrieve. Take care as once the hard crust of dirt on the top breaks, it can be impossible to get out of the bog. Usually 2WD vehicles will manage the job with smaller boats but a 4WD will be needed for larger boats. There is some shallow water in close to the lake edges and the odd shallow section in the middle, so take it easy if you’re new to the lake.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only a couple of kilometres away from the lake. The park is off the Cunningham Highway on the way into the dam. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. Take advantage of some great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below and give them a call on (07) 4652 4171.

Closest Town: Gold Coast

It’s been a while since a Hinze Dam report has made an appearance in this column. This is a shame as the action this year has been great, with some awesome bass being caught. There have been plenty of fish over 50cm with a report of the biggest being 57cm to the fork of the tail. Thanks to the guys at Doug Burt’s Tackleworld, we can once again see what’s been happening at Hinze.

The dam is undergoing a wall extension that has limited access to the lake. The area around Advancetown will be closed so the most likely entry point will be near the ramp near the water tower. For more detailed information, it would pay to check what’s happening with the Gold Coast City Council.

Despite it being more of a hassle to get onto the water, the effort is certainly worthwhile. Anglers hitting the water early can expect some surface action from quality bass. Small poppers worked around the edges before the sun gets up will almost guarantee some action. Poppers like the Yozuri 50mm model and small Jitterbugs will draw plenty of interest and it’s quite a rush landing any bass on the surface. Hinze fish add even more to the thrill as there’s a good chance of boating exceptional quality specimens.

As the day progresses the surface bite will slow down and the fish will move to deeper water. Bass can then be caught on lipless crankbaits, soft plastics and spinnerbaits.

Hinze also has a reasonable population of saratoga. These fish can be specifically targeted with unweighted plastics. Toga will also fall to other lures aimed at bass. Saratoga will be found cruising around the lake’s shallow grassy edges. It’s likely that the lake’s level will rise and fall over the summer period. After a rise, the freshly flooded vegetation will be the best place to cast for saratoga.

With the warmer weather this month, it’s certainly worth putting in some time trying to lure a Mary River cod. These fish are reasonably common in Hinze and it would have to be one of the best lakes around to actually target the species. Rolling big, heavy spinnerbaits over the top of submerged structure is a good way to go about luring a cod. Try working the bottom by casting parallel to the rock walls. The ideal location would have some form of structure across the bottom.

A license is needed to fish this electric motor only dam. Licenses are available from the council office in Davenport Street, the Kiosk at the lake or the ranger. Note that all outboards must be removed from boats that are fishing this lake.

For all your tackle needs, call in and see the guys at Doug Burt’s Tackleworld in Nind Street at Southport. The store carries one of the best ranges of bass, freshwater and saltwater gear around. You can also check out their awesome range of fly fishing gear and supplies.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

It’s likely that December will be the last month to target the schooling bass until they regroup. After Christmas, the bass schools tend to break apart and the fish scatter in the water column. This may not be the case this year because of the significant rise in water level earlier in the year but past trends indicate the schools will bust up.

There have been good schools of quality bass in the area between Pelican Point and Bay 13. These fish are pretty mobile and can move a lot even in the course of a day’s fishing. Be prepared to move once the fish disappear and use your sounder to relocate them again. Poly Pipe Point is another bass hotspot and to achieve the best success, be prepared to move around checking drop-offs and flats areas that are between 5-8m deep.

When bass are located, there are a few lure options to consider. Soft plastics, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits have all been working. When the action is hot, the fish aren’t too fussy about the type of presentation. If they are more tight-lipped, try different lures and vary retrieves until you crack a pattern.

Slow rolling spinnerbaits has been a standout technique in the last month. There have been other summers in the past when spinnerbaits have really stood out as well. Fishing them on light lines, like 4-6lb Fireline, will ensure they can be fished effectively and kept deep enough for the duration of the retrieve. If casting isn’t up your alley, they can also be slow trolled using an electric motor. Ensure the boat speed has the blades oscillating nicely and then vary the length of line out to suit the depth you are fishing.

One of the hottest performing baits has been the new Nitro Spinnerbaits in the 5/8oz size. With a tantalizing skirt action and inbuilt rattle system the Nitro range is likely to shine above the rest.

Trolling the drop-offs to the river bed in the Pelican point and Bay 13 with deep diving lures will produce plenty of smaller bass and some golden perch. On occasions, the bigger bass, which are holding in the same area, will decide to have a crack at a trolled lure.

Closest Town: Boonah

Lake Moogerah can be quite busy throughout December. Many people visit the popular lake during the school and Christmas holiday period.

Anglers can expect consistent fishing this month. Warmer water temperatures mean that Moogerah’s fish population will hold shallow on edges and structure. Crankbaiting the edges are a good option that can produce bass, goldens and silver perch. Crankbaits such as the 55mm (11.2gm) Jackall Bros DD Cherry are an excellent choice. Slow rolling the crankbait will entice any active fish to strike. Lipless crankbaits can be used on the lake’s edges and drop-offs. Retrieves can be varied to suit the fish’s mood.

Land-based lure fishing is another good option throughout December. The old road and rocky point at Haigh Park has excellent access and suitable open banks (take the Lake Wall entrance road). Fishing from land can be done using the same lures and tackle as from a boat. Recently a local angler caught five golden perch between 2-3kg by fishing with rubber-skirted jigs in an one hour period.

If you are fishing the Lake don't forget your SIP and if you plan to keep fish don't take more than the legal limit.

Launching boats is best done from the temporary ramp on the spit. When the bank is dry, boats can be launched using 2WD vehicles. – Chris Galligan

Closest Towns: Boonah, Rathdowney

Lake Maroon’s changing conditions are testing anglers’ skill and how well they can adapt. Smaller weed bed areas, water level and less clarity are contributing factors influencing the mood of the lake’s fish. With the warm weather, the lake’s weed beds should start to flourish and clean up the dirtier water.

Fishing patterns this month will be different to previous years. Anglers will be required to search new areas to find fish. Concentrations of fish are more likely to be around the wall area of the lake. Try fishing around the rocky outcrops for the more dominant bass.

In the past, fishing Maroon with reaction baits during the low light periods and the use of more subtle approaches during high sunlight periods produced good numbers of fish. With the changing conditions, anglers will need to experiment with different baits throughout the day.

Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are excellent searching tools. Jerkbaits or small swimbaits can also be used. My choice bait for December will be 3" Berkley Power Hawgs. Texas rigged in the heavy cover and jighead rigged on the open banks, the Berkley Hawgs are fished best with a variety of hops keeping them close to structure or the bottom.

December can be a busy time on the lake and Maroon still holds enough water for skiers. Weekday or early morning sessions will be the best times to miss the traffic.

The launching of smaller boats is okay with a 2WD, however it is advisable to use a 4WD to launch larger boats due to the changing water level and soft edges. – Chris Galligan

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

It is amazing that Bjelke can keep delivering such good fishing with such a low percentage of water. Fishing from the banks is still producing mixed bags of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish. With such great bank access, Bjelke is a great place to take the family for a fish. The deeper water of the channel is only a short cast away from many areas. Baits like frozen prawns or live worms can deliver the goods. Be sure to stick to bag and size limits if you plan to take home a feed.

Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits from the bank will also produce fish. Wandering the banks while casting lures will eventually put you onto a hot spot. This method works better than staying in one spot hoping that the fish will venture past. Bass will be the predominant species with a few golden perch thrown in.

Boats can still be launched below the first ramp. Small boats won’t pose a problem but bigger boats may need a 4WD to pull them out. Once on the water, take it easy as there’s no need to rush around in such a small area of water. Trolling spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and shallow to medium diving lures will draw the strikes.

To check up on the fishing or boat launching, give Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy a phone call on (07) 4162 7555.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Trolling in the lower part of the lake between The Islands and the wall is a good option at this time of year. Medium diving lures like Smak 12’s and 16’s are ideal. Colours with purple, pink and green are popular and seem to do the trick. When trolling, work closer to the points when targeting golden perch.

If you move out into deeper water and around the channel drop-offs, you will begin catching more bass than golden perch. Bass in Boondooma prefer the open water when the lake is at this level during the summer months.

Lure casters can get into some action if they use their sounder to look for suspended bass in the deeper water. Once located, they can be caught by casting lures.

Trolling casting lures can also work well. If using an outboard, opt for a heavy jighead with the right profile and hook size. Nitro Dam Deep jigheads come in a 3/4oz size that is capable of running around 20ft deep when trolling with an outboard. If the bass choose to move deeper than this, some anglers run a no. 5 sinker around a metre in front of their plastics, rigged on 1/4oz jigheads.

Even though the weather will be hot, some fish can still be caught on bait. The prime times will be morning and afternoon. Target fish in around 5m of water in the main basin or head up into the timber. There will be plenty of smaller bass around so watch the minimum size limit of 30cm.

Boats can be launched from a gravelly bank below the main boat ramp. 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 the new managers Roy and Pamela a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins powered sites and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable.

Closest Towns: Gin Gin, Bundaberg

This year, Monduran has been more popular than ever with anglers trolling for barramundi. Squadrons of boats have been trolling the main basin of the lake for good results. Only a month ago there were plenty of barra coming on lures trolled between 1-4m deep. As the water and days get hotter, the barra are likely to move deeper.

The increase in boating pressure over the coming holiday period will also force the fish to deeper water. One of the hottest trolling colours has been the psychedelic pink head (R19) in the RMG Scorpion. The shallower running models like the 0.75m in the 125mm size were producing well, but now running the same colour between 3-8m deep may be the key to success.

Even though the lake’s basin has been busy, Monduran has loads of snaggy fingers to fish. There have been some good weed beds starting to form further up the lake. These will continue to grow well if the lake level doesn’t drop too fast. If the weed is present, try fishing it with hardbodies or soft plastics. The upper reaches will also produce fish around the timber. The timber is everywhere so try to work out where the barra are most likely to be. A couple of options are casting around fallen trees or trolling over the top of submerged ones.

Hardbodied lures have always been a great choice in Monduran. Lures like the Classic 10+, B52 (sail colour), Rapala suspending X-Raps (12’s and 14’s), Vipers and the Laser Pro 120’s are some of the regular fish producers.

Foxie’s Barra Havoc is a tackle, camping and boat bits store located in Gin Gin. The guys in the store have an excellent knowledge of Lake Monduran and can ensure you stand a better chance of boating more fish. Call in and say hello and take advantage of their hospitality and willingness to share information. The store carries a huge range of tackle suited to extracting the mighty barra from the lake. Pick up your last minute fishing supplies, secret lures, replacements or even the full set-up when you next visit the lake.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town: Monto

Bass continue to be the highlight at Cania Dam. Quality bass have been taking an assortment of lures. Trolling medium running crankbaits has been producing well.

Bass are likely to be holding out from the bank directly opposite the boat ramp and along the buoy line up near the dam wall. It’s also worth trolling some 5/8 ounce spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits. These lures can then be cast into any areas where the fish are schooled thicker.

Schooled bass will be holding right through the main basin area and a good sounder should reveal their location. Once found, start firing different lures over them. Soft plastics, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and beetle spins can all work well.

Lure casters can also toss lures around the lake’s edges. The shallower water here will usually produce better in the mornings and afternoons. This style of fishing will usually provide some hook-ups on the lake’s awesome saratoga.

Anglers who aren’t lucky enough to have a boat can still enjoy the fishing at Cania. Bait fishing from the edges will produce bass and some monster-sized eel-tailed catfish (jew). Frozen prawns are good bait and these can be purchased along with live worms from the kiosk at the Cania Gorge Caravan Park just a couple of kilometres below the lake.

There is a new concrete ramp which is suited to launching smaller boats. An area of hard bank can also be used and is fine for launching bigger boats that need to be floated off the trailer. Some work has been carried out in the boat launching area and graders have cleaned up the area making it more user-friendly.

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. Take advantage of some great fishing and combine it with a family holiday exploring any of the gorge’s walking tracks.

Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Lake Awoonga has turned on and the fishing has been hot over the past month. Casters and trollers can enjoy the action with plenty of 80-90cm barra on the bite. The bigger models are still around and making regular appearances as well.

The hot weather so far this year has already pushed the water temperature up. By late December, there will be plenty of barra in the deeper water for lure trollers to target. These deepwater fish will be scattered around the dam. The area in front of the dam wall has always been a Christmas hot spot for anglers trolling deep lures out in the open. This section of water will hold fish but it would be worth looking around the drop-offs and deepwater on the run up toward Dingo Island (no longer an island).

If any flocks of birds are noticed working the bait schools, then head over and troll the area. Barra are hooked in the vicinity of working birds too many times for their presence around the bird and bait activity to be a coincidence. Boat traffic will make the barra flighty and push them deeper. Running extra deep diving lures that are capable of swimming 8m deep may improve the strike rate. Be more stealthy by running your lures a long way behind the boat. Just ensure you have enough line left to battle a big barra.

Working the full moons is likely to present some of the better fishing and both day and night can produce fish. A late night session on a full moon can be one of the most pleasant times to be out on the lake. The night temperatures are more comfortable and the boats disappear off the lake around eleven o’clock. Casting plastics will be an option. When the action is slow in the shallower water, try casting hardbodied lures that are able to achieve 20ft on the retrieve. Cast these lures around any structure known to hold barra.

With the falling water level, there are a few trees almost exposed in the main basin of the dam. This hasn’t been a problem in the past as boats were able to drive across the tops of submerged structure without a problem. The extensive weed beds will give away the presence of any of the shallower areas. Once the water is less than 3m deep, the weed reaches the surface giving away the presence of the shallows. Trees on the other hand are too tall for the weed to beat them to the surface. Be careful from the middle of the main basin right up into the Boyne River as this is where the trees will start to appear.

There has been gravel placed at the end of the boat ramp to make launching easier. As the lake level drops more gravel will probably be placed at the end of the ramp. Always take care that the ramp doesn’t drop away when backing in for the first time if you haven’t been to the dam for a while.

Ross Pearce from Awoonga Houseboats and Leisure Craft had an interesting story to tell. Ross said a gentleman hopped out of his boat at the end of Futter Creek hoping for better mobile telephone coverage. While walking, the man stumbled upon a landlocked billabong and saw something swirling in the water. He went back to his boat and grabbed a rod before heading back. He fired out a cast and landed a barra over a metre long. The kind man then proceeded to carry the beast all the way back to the main dam before releasing it.

A houseboat on Lake Awoonga is one of the best ways to experience the lake. I was lucky enough to spend a few days on one earlier this year. It makes the whole experience more laid back and the fishing is right at your doorstep whenever you feel the urge. For information on Awoonga Houseboats and Leisure Craft give Ross or Michelle a call on (07) 4975 0930.

Awoonga also has a number of fishing guides. John Mitchell is one of the best available, spending most of his days on the water. He has years of experience and has put many clients on to their first barra and improved anglers’ skills. Using a guide for a day or two can save years of practice, experimentation, learning and fruitless trips. To find out more about John’s guiding service, visit his internet site at www.fishawoonga.com.au .

Lake Proserpine
Closest Town: Proserpine

Lindsay Dobe of Proserpine Bait and Tackle has reported some hot sessions over the past month. This action will be likely to continue right through December.

For the best chance of hooking one of the lake’s big barramundi, Lindsay recommends fishing the full moon periods. A few days before and after the full moon are the times to be on the water. Night sessions are far more productive than daytime.

Prime areas to fish are the weedy points. Lindsay concentrates on the weedy points in the timbered areas but says his barra locating approach would work in the main basin as well. It is important when looking for a weeded point, that it has some deepwater access nearby. This could be a creek bed or a steep drop-off – as long as the fish have somewhere to retreat to in the middle of the day or when feeling threatened. Once you’ve selected some points, start peppering them with soft plastic cast lures.

The action has also picked up on the trolling scene. Barra can be taken on the troll right through the night and sometimes during the day. Deeper lures pulled through the main basin will score some quality fish.

A couple of months ago the big barra were being elusive. Now they have made a reappearance, the catch rate of small to big barra has evened out. There’s a good chance that this month, the barra that measure over a metre long will become the dominant catch.

Boats can be easily launched from the ramp at the lake. Take care when approaching or leaving the ramp with your boat as when the dam level was low, stones were piled up on either side of the ramp. You’ll be fine if you don’t come in on too much of an angle.

Lindsay Dobe runs charters on Lake Proserpine. Lindsay also owns Proserpine Bait and Tackle that stocks all the gear to successfully target the lake’s big barra. You can call in to the store on the highway in Proserpine when you are on your way to the dam or give them a call on (07) 4945 4641. Discuss your options with the boys and they’ll be able to help you seek out the big ones.

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