Tough Times Across the Lakes
  |  First Published: May 2008

Over the last month, some of the lakes have provided tough fishing. In most cases this has been due to poor water quality as many of the lakes have risen after the heavy rain, flooding the grass and weeds. This caused the water quality to deteriorate making the fish feel uncomfortable – a small price to pay to finally get so many lakes topped up.

The good news is that the water quality will improve over the coming months in most lakes. The result will be hungry fish that are ready and willing to play. I’m tipping some hot fishing, despite the coldest water temperatures of the year aren’t far away.

Lately I’ve been keeping busy with the design and testing of a new barra lure. It’s been a long process that started early last year. After experimentation and running different models, I’m finally happy with the end result. The Reaper 110 is specifically designed for impoundment barra, and after the final testing stage, the lures should be available in a store near you.

You can always reach me at my email address --e-mail address hidden-- with any of your freshwater fishing reports.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Plenty of small bass have been plaguing lure fishers all over the lake. The bigger fish have been tough to tempt, so most fish caught have been undersized.

Better quality bass have been scattered through the deeper water in the middle of the lake. The triangular shaped area between the ramp, pumping tower and the steep rock wall on the opposite side of the dam seems to be holding the best concentrations of legal bass. In this deeper water, casting, trolling or bait fishing can catch these fish.

When casting, try Evergreen blade baits. The 3/8oz and 1/2oz sizes work well when retrieved or hopped through the fish. Keep an eye on the sounder, as it will often show fish that schooled below the boat. When this happens try a vertical presentation. Other lures worth trying are beetle spins, soft plastics and lipless crankbaits.

Trolling deep diving lures that have a small profile will also score these fish. Use fine braided lines that offer less resistance and allow lures to plummet to their maximum depth. In such open water, you can leave out plenty of line without the fear of snagging. With around 50m of line trailing behind the boat it’s surprising how deep a small lure rated to 10–15ft will dive.

Trolling shallower lures around schooled bass on the flats just before the rock wall up Cressbrook Creek will score plenty of smaller fish. Lures that dive to 3–4m are ideal. Opt for natural colours and baits that look realistic, as the fish can be fussy. These small bass will also take blade baits retrieved through the school. At times it can be a fish per cast but expect lots of small ones in this area.

Surface lures are great fun and will catch bass throughout the day. Again most fish holding in the shallows are small. Lures such as Rapala Skitterpops and Zara Puppies are excellent choices. Bass will take these in the mornings and afternoons all around the lake’s edges. During the middle of the day, the fish will still respond to surface offerings if you use a smarter approach. Move your boat into the prime areas with stealth and use long casts to reach your target. Some of the steeper gullies have a green weed that stretches out from the banks and floats on the surface. This weed will hold bass willing to strike a surface lure all day long. An accurate cast and painfully slow retrieve should draw some interest.

If bait fishing, the small bass will be a problem. Target the fish in the deeper water out from the boat ramp. Try suspending your bait vertically below the boat at the depth the fish are holding. Live shrimp are the best bait and can be purchased from Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba. Fish’n’Bits is in Alderly Street and the staff there will help you out with all the right gear and advice for Cressbrook and other fishing destinations in the area.

Don’t forget your $2 entry fee at the gate. This allows you to access the boat ramp and BBQ, picnic and playground facilities. The ramp is still in good condition with gravel all the way into the water.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

After a steady period where the fish slowed right down due to poor water quality, the fishing is showing signs of making a recovery. If this continues, the action should once again be good all over the lake.

Schooled bass have been holding in different areas between Bay 13 and The Spit. These fish have been pretty small but there is the odd bigger one still around. Once located on the sounder the fish can be cast to with a range of lures. Soft plastics, lipless crankbaits and bladebaits are all good options.

Trolling lures around the schooled fish can also produce. The key is to run small lures as deep as possible using fine diameter lines. Berkley 4lb Fireline is perfect for this. The thin diameter allows lures to run far more deeply than their rating.

At the top end of the lake north of Kirkleigh, there have been some quality bass and golden perch taking reaction baits fished in the shallow water. Use an electric motor to work along the lake edges and explore the banks. Place casts up into the shallows and retrieve to deeper water. Lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits should produce the desired results.

Closest Town: Boonah
By Chris Galligan

Moogerah’s fishing continues to be a little too unpredictable for most anglers. The prevailing winter patterns on the lake will hopefully make it easier for anglers to find and target fish.

Generally bass will hold on the flats not too far from creek bed drop–offs and other underwater features. Some schools of fish are likely to appear around the Coulson Flat and can be targeted with the use of a good quality sounder. Baits such as jighead rigged Sliders or Ecogear Powerworm Powershads can be mastered by anglers of any ability and are standout fish catchers this month.

Other techniques like hopping Mask Vibes can also be used to target more active fish. Even ice jigs might make their way back into the lake. I am hearing more stories of successful trips to the lake since the rise and would like to thank everyone for their emails.

Launching boats of any size is easy with the aid of a two-lane concrete boat ramp. If you have any questions or would like to tell me about your freshwater trip I’d love to hear from you. --e-mail address hidden--

Closest Towns: Boonah, Rathdowney

Last month I had the great opportunity of taking Mike Young (the Australian cricket team fielding coach) to Lake Maroon for a mid-week bass fishing session. Mike originates from Chicago, USA and is an ex-baseball pro. Mike is a fun, humble Aussie (with a different accent) and let me tell you, it didn’t take long before some sledging started.

We arrived at Maroon around 11:00am and I decided to target transient fish, hitting major points on the lake. After a couple of hours of hard fishing we had only a few fish rolling our spinnerbaits. I took the opportunity when some cloud cover descended to target some shallow bays and flats in areas where bigger resident fish would be holding.

Fishing Jackall Brothers Mask Frogs right up in the brush I positioned my boat with my sounder showing only 0.7ft. Mike was quick to learn the draw and pause topwater technique with the Frogs and we finally hit a string of active fish. Mike was definitely not afraid to show how excited he was as fish boiled and loaded.

I will put down the session as one I will never forget.

As we move into May the reaction bite on Maroon will slow as fish start the early stages of pre-spawning. Most fish will move to deeper water and schools of fish will not be uncommon. Points and the entrances to bays are prime areas to target. Subtle presentations like 3” Sliders and Rubber Skirted Jigs will be good options.

With so much sunken brush, Sliders can be Texas rigged or pegged Texas rigged to help prevent snagging. With some clearer water conditions, jerkbaiting around structure can also be a great way to target bass in low light periods.

Don’t forget your freshwater fishing licence (SIP) and take care on the water. – Chris Galligan

Closest Town: Gold Coast

Bass have been going off at the Hinze. It is one lake that has fared well after a significant rise earlier in the year. This may be due to the dam’s water level fluctuating so regularly.

The tower area will be holding bass around the banks. These fish will take reaction baits. Lipless crankbaits are a good option in both the rattling and silent versions. Spinnerbaits have been a standout fish taker in the past weeks with purple being one of the hottest colours.

Saratoga have been around in pretty good numbers. These primitive looking fish are patrolling the shallow grassy banks. At times the toga can even be spotted cruising around in the submerged vegetation. Fly anlgers are finding that their subtle and stealthy approach is just what is needed to tempt these awesome fish.

Boat launching is from the area near the tower. There is limited parking so the best option is to be at the dam early or try a mid-week trip. Remember Hinze is an electric motor only dam and all petrol engines must be removed from the boat.

For all your tackle needs, call in and see the guys at Tackle World in Nind Street, Southport. The store carries one of the best ranges of bass, freshwater and saltwater gear around. The guys at the store will be able to help you out with a few tips and give you the most up to date information.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

After flooding rain, the action has steadied down at Borumba. This is likely to be caused by rotting vegetation making the water quality a bit ordinary. Even in this state, there are still some fish to be caught. Bass and saratoga are the main species making their way into the boats exploring the lake. The water will start to improve this month and the action will pick up too. Once this process starts the dam will make a quick turn around and there will be plenty of action so this month could be really good.

The main basin of the lake will be holding plenty of schooled bass. Fishing the edges and the quiet bays with reaction baits like lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits should produce plenty of bass. If this fails, try casting and retrieving lures in deeper water. At times the fish will school up and hold in 3–4m of water. The same lures can be used here. Other options are soft lipless crankbaits soft plastics and blade baits.

Further up into the sticks the bass action may be a bit slower but saratoga should be patrolling the shallows. The occasional toga will fall for lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits aimed at bass. To specifically target them you could try lures that appeal more to their feeding style. The MegaBass Anthrax has proved a deadly weapon on Borumba’s toga population in the past months. These surface presentations can be fished slowly around areas where fish have been seen feeding or close to fishy structure. Another option is an EcoGear Power Worm rigged on an unweighted worm hook. These lures can be rolled across the surface and allowed to slowly sink during a pause.

Davo’s Bait and Tackle can provide all the gear and advice to ensure you enjoy a great day’s fishing on Borumba Dam. With the ordinary weather being experienced along the coast this year, more and more are heading to the lakes to get their fishing fix. Davo’s stock a great range of fishing gear that caters for both fresh and saltwater anglers. The store can be found in the Homemaker Centre in Noosaville.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Some beautiful looking weed beds have developed all over Cooby Dam, but despite looking so fishy they are failing to produce the expected results. The action has been slow. Lure fishing has been really tough with only the odd golden or cod being caught while most other fish are falling for baits fished from boats. Areas of deeper water or close to drop–offs are the most consistent. Live shrimp are by far the best bait. These can be purchased from Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba. There are some shrimp in the dam but these are hard to acquire.

It’s strange that the fish are being so uncooperative. Unlike other dams in the South East, Cooby didn’t have a big rise followed by a steady period. The steady fishing must be related to something else. It’s possible that the fishing will pick up with the cooler weather and shorter days.

Only electric motors can be used on Cooby although an outboard can be left on the boat. The boat launching is pretty good from a temporary gravel ramp. There is a boom gate at the entry to the dam that requires $2 in coins to open. For information on the dam and all your supplies, call in and see Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street Toowoomba. When Cooby is quiet, the staff will be able to tell you which of the local dams is fishing best.

Closest Town: Warwick

After its rise, Leslie dam has continued to produce plenty of fish. Golden perch have been abundant and Murray cod of all sizes are making regular appearances. Bait fishing has been delivering consistent results for some time and in the past month, lure fishing has picked up.

One of my work mates visited the dam a few weeks back and came back with a funny story. His kids went out with one of his friends and they got onto some yellowbelly. Some of the fish were close to the minimum size so they were doing the responsible thing of measuring them to make sure they were over legal size before keeping them. As the kids were pulling them in the bloke was putting them onto the tape. He’d say “that one’s a keeper,” before chucking it in the esky. As one of my mates kids pulled in his first yellowbelly, he turned to the bloke and asked, “Is this one a keeper or a yellowbelly?” Obviously his old man has never caught enough fish to explain the difference!

The area to the left of the dam wall is one of the hot spots. Fishing close to the bottom in 5-7m of water with live shrimp or frozen prawns will score golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and even cod for those lucky enough. One of the secret baits that never seem to fail at Leslie is saltwater yabbies. I’ve heard a few different methods of keeping them fresh. Some guys boil them and roll them in salt before refrigerating or freezing them – though the fresher they are the more they will appeal to the fish.

Trolling lures that dive to around 5m deep will also score some fish. Purple is a good colour to try. Plenty of anglers are also having success when trolling TN60 Jackalls. Goldens will be the main catch but the odd Murray cod will take trolled lures too.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Coolmunda Dam should fish really well over the next month. Some anglers are easily catching their limit of golden perch at the moment while others miss out. The most logical explanation for this is that the fish are holding in tight concentrations and you need to be over the right spot to catch them. The answer: be prepared to move around until you find them.

Golden perch are being caught have been full of shrimp when they reach the cleaning table. This suggests that live shrimp would be the number one bait. The alternative is to use frozen prawns. Live shrimp can be caught in baited traps. In the past, anglers have got away with catching shrimp at the dam wall. This is an illegal practice and some guys have been in trouble from fisheries inspectors.

The area out from the dam wall and the creek channel straight out from the boat ramp are two of the hot spots for both bait and lure fishing. When the lake is busy with boat traffic it could be worth venturing up into the mouth of the creeks. The deep channels here will hold quite a few golden perch. The trees in the creek are also worth targeting. Try casting lures to these, as there’s a chance a Murray cod will be lurking around them.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only a few kilometres away from the lake. The park is 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. It’s the ideal place to relax with the family while being able to catch a few fish as well. 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.

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

Bjelke rose and flooded lots of vegetation a few months ago. Last month the negative effects of this started to take their toll on the fishing. The dying grasses have made the fishing rather tough. As the water stabilizes itself over the coming months, the fishing should start to improve.

Trolling is one of the most reliable ways to score both bass and golden perch. The deeper water around the boat ramps and up towards Bass Point will be holding the majority of the fish.

Casting lures around the edges will pick up as we approach the colder weather. The more the water quality improves the more fish will move into the shallows to feed.

By the time spring rolls around the fishing should be awesome. Both ramps can be used. Launching is from the gravel below them. Unfortunately, there is still no camping and no cabins available at the lake.

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

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The edges of the lake should start producing a lot more bass and golden perch this month. Casting lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits around the weedier areas will draw the strikes. With a lot more water in the dam, the fish will be spread out so hop around to different spots to try and locate the best patches of fish.

Around this time of year, the bass can school up in areas like The Islands, Pelican Point and in the horseshoe shaped area of the Stuart arm. When this happens, try catching them by casting soft plastics, lipless crankbaits and ice jigs. Trolling lures can also work well on the schooled bass. The trend has been to use spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits rather than conventional hard bodied lures.

Trolling deep diving lures such as Golden Childs and Blitz Bagas close to rocky points should attract the attention of some quality golden perch. These areas have always produced well when the water level has been at its current height. When trolling try lures which are predominantly coloured with purple or green.

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 help you out and offer some useful advice. Bass to Barra Marine can also be found 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 the managers a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins, powered sites and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable. Boats can be launched below the far boat ramp from a reasonably hard bank.

Closest Town: Monto

After the rise some time ago, the fishing has gone quiet by Cania’s high standards. The fish were a bit sick looking last month but there were no reported kills. This is a positive sign as Cania has lost some fish over the years when the lake level has risen.

Despite the fish feeling the effects of the poor water quality, a few are still being caught. These fish are coming from all over the place. Some are being caught on bait in deep water. Others are taking lures in shallow water around the edges. Trolling lures along the steep walls is also scoring suspended fish. The main basin of the lake has been the most reliable area. With the fish taking a range of offerings in different depths of water, it shouldn’t be long before the dam starts to fire up again. A notable increase in the numbers of fish being caught should occur this month.

To find out more about the lake or to book some great accommodation nearby, call the Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park on (07) 4167 8188. There are excellent facilities including campsites, cabins, a playground and a swimming pool. It’s worth a visit to the park just to see some of the rare and beautiful wildlife that regularly drop in and live in the area.

Closest Towns: Gin Gin, Bundaberg

A rising dam triggered some of the hottest barra fishing on offer up until early March. The action slowed down and the barra became tough nuts to crack once the flooded banks of vegetation started to reduce the water quality. I hit the dam at the end of March and there were a few fish being caught by those willing to put in the time and explore all avenues.

With tough fishing, it was a great testing ground for a new barra lure I’ve been working on. These hardbodied lures redefine the way impoundment barra are fished for. Fast, steady retrieves make them easy to use and give them the ability to cover stacks of water. Already tested and proven on a number of barra lakes, they should be available in a store near you in the next couple of months. Look out for the Reaper 110.

As the water quality improves the barra action should start to pick up. Productive patterns will start to emerge and the action should be good again. If you find the fishing tough when you’re at the lake, here are a few options that were working when the fishing was at its toughest at the end of March.

Trolling lures has been one of the most reliable methods to catch fish. Trolling contours in the main basin of the lake is a good option. Here the open water allows you to follow specific depths and work along drop–offs. This isn’t always possible in the timber as the openings in the trees dictate which way you have to manoeuvre your boat. In the basin, run lures to cover different depths. Probe closely to the bottom and also explore the middle of the water column you are fishing.

Trolling has also been productive in the timbered areas around the “J” tree. Both sides of the creek channel can be fished here. The trees on the left hand side as you are heading upstream mark a great drop-off that is easy to follow and fish. This is an area also worth casting into. Long casts made from the deeper water back up into the trees will see you working your lure back through water that ranges from 4–10m deep. The Reidy’s Judge has been one of the better lures for casting and trolling in this area. The time of day you are fishing can be crucial when the barra aren’t cooperating. Try the early mornings and late afternoons. The hours between total darkness and first light and vice versa are often the best times to be on the water. This is also a time when a lot of other anglers are still enjoying the warmth of their beds so the fish are less easily spooked. Be careful when navigating the dam at night. If you rely solely on GPS to navigate you wouldn’t be the first boat to run into trouble.

During the prime times of day, the shallow bays are also worth casting into. Lures like the Big B52 and the Halco Laser Pro are ideal for working this shallower water. If the barra fail to cooperate just remember to keep an open mind and explore all other options.

If you’re on your way to Monduran, be sure to call in at Foxies Barra Pro in Gin Gin. The store has all the gear you’ll need. The staff here will be able to give you a few tips and steer you in the right direction.

Accommodation can be booked through Lake Monduran Kiosk and Tackle Shop. They look after all the cabins, houses, powered and unpowered campsites as well as the houseboats and boat hire. Bookings with Guide Lines, which is a guiding service specializing in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 4157 3881.

Capricornia Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

With more water in the lake, some anglers have been puzzled by where to start fishing. Old spots are now flooded and it’s necessary to look for new barra holding areas. The barra have been willing to play but persistence is important if you plan to crack the best patterns. The fact that there is less boat traffic on the lake during May can be used to your advantage as the fish are often more active. My best ever trip to the lake was in May last year.

The use of a quality sounder is a big step in the right direction. Following bottom contours, locating features and finding concentrations of big fish arches will ensure you are spending time in the right areas. Trolling lures around these areas has been producing quite a few fish. Both day and night sessions will produce at this time of year. The influx of water has spread the barra out into new areas and trolling is again one of the most productive methods to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Casting lures is another good option. The shallow tapering banks of the main basin can be fished with soft plastics like the Berkley Mullet or Squidgy Slick Rig. Long casts over the shallows will ensure you are working plenty of water. If you come across any submerged trees or bushes, a slower presentation with a hardbodied lure can be a better option. The 3m and 5m Scorpion divers are ideal for this. Cast the lure accurately at the structure and pop it on top for a few seconds. Then slowly work the lure down into the structure using lots of rod twitches.

Even when the dam is being blasted by wind, the river and creeks are good options. Plenty of barra will take lures in the flooded areas. Use the same combination of presentations as mentioned for the main basin and you should locate some quality barra.

The houseboat crews have been busy over the past month. Of course, some anglers are having more success than others but it sounds like boats are averaging about three fish per day. Persistence and an understanding of the lake’s barra will certainly bump these figures up if you are planning a trip to the lake.

Central Coast
Proserpine (Peter Faust)
Closest Town: Proserpine

There is now plenty of water to explore after the rise earlier in the year. The barra have had time to settle into new habitats throughout the lake. Early indications have indicated that the dam will produce fish in the same areas it did last time the water was at this height.

The timbered area will be popular as it is more protected from the wind and holds plenty of barra. The sheer amount of trees will leave a lot of anglers confused about where to start casting. It’s a good idea to locate the creek channels and follow them. The channel drop–offs can be fished or move up onto the shallower flats that border the creeks. This is an ideal location as the fish have deeper water nearby to retreat into should they feel the need.

There are plenty of proven lures to try. Shallow diving Rapala X-Raps, Laser Pros and Barra Baits in 8ft and 12ft models all deserve a swim. For the plastic anglers, try working Slick Rigs and Berkley 5” Mullets through fishy areas. Plastic toads have also started to bag quite a few fish. The Zoom Horny Toad and Berkley 5” Batwing Frog can be buzzed along the surface or pulsed along and fished subsurface.

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.

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