The lakes are heating up. For those lakes with barra the fishing is firing, but the bass lakes are slowing down.
The fishing at Cressbrook has been pretty slow. There are a lot of undersized bass making their presence felt around the lake’s shallow, weedy edges. Casting all styles of lures is accounting for these tiny bass, though the bigger fish have proven to be much more difficult to entice.
Casting surface lures is one of the best ways to excite the bigger bass Cressbrook has to offer. An early morning or late afternoon session will give you the best chance of boating some nice bass.
I’ve found that surface fishing in the early afternoon at this time of year will take some of the better fish. From 3pm onwards is a good time to experiment to see if the fish are willing to take the bait. Cast lures like Rapala Skitterpops or Eddy’s Surfacebusters to the edges in the not so open areas. Bays tend to work well for this style of day time surface action. If you can find bays with other features like sticks, or good weed formations, you’ll increase your chances.
Reaction baits cast to the edges will take some bass and the odd yellowbelly as well. Spinnerbaits, beetlespins and lipless crankbaits worked around the edges in the main body of the dam will do the trick. Plenty of small bass will take a liking to them so be sure to release these fish safely, so they’ll grow up a bit more.
Around some of the more prominent points, schools of bass will hold in 4-9m of water. Casting plastics and reaction baits to these fish and around the school’s edges will soon determine their size. Some of these schools hold mainly legal sized fish so it’s just a matter of moving around to find where they are.
The deep water in the middle of the lake will hold plenty of 30-40cm bass around the thermocline. Jigging plastics and jigs or casting lipless crankbaits will turn these fish on. Flyfishing with a deeply presented Clouser can be one of the best methods at times. But no matter what your method is, the key to success is locating the best concentrations of bass on the sounder.
Trolling deep diving lures or shallow runners behind a downrigger bomb will also tempt the lake’s deep suspending bass. Drifting on a calm day with live shrimp positioned at the depth of the bass will also get them to bite.
The action at Somerset has slowed considerably in comparison to the way it was firing late last year. The schools of bass have become scattered and are much harder to find. There are still quite a few nice goldens cruising along the steep rockwalls and close to the bottom near the old creekbed drop-offs. These goldens can be caught on medium to deep running trolled lures or livebaits.
When the water temperature is hot, the lake’s bass tend to do two things.
Firstly, the majority of bass move to deeper water on the deep side of the drop-off to the old creekbed. These fish will suspend here, and scatterings of fish will be found throughout the lower part of the dam. Casting soft plastics, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to these fish can draw some strikes. Trolling the same lures under the power of the electric motor will keep the lures in the zone for much longer. Trolling also covers a lot of water, increasing the chance of hooking a bass. The troll speed should be kept nice and slow – about the same speed as a steady walk.
The other pattern that tends to emerge is that big bass will move onto shallow flats. This may seem strange considering that the days and water are so hot. The heat causes the thermocline to rise to around 3-5m below the surface, providing the bass with some water that they feel more comfortable in. Explore flats that are 3-6m deep using your sounder. If you mark a few nice fish, give the area a work over.
There are four techniques that I’d try at each area holding fish to see if they are prepared to bite:
• 5/8oz spinnerbaits rolled slowly close to the bottom,
• the same spinnerbaits with a fast retrieve allowing them to fall back to the bottom a few times on each retrieve,
• hopping a Mask Vib Jackall along the bottom, and
• a slow to medium retrieve with a TN60 Jackall.
If you manage to get onto these big bass in the shallow water, be prepared to have some fun. A big Somerset bass can certainly put up a fight when it’s coming in from shallow water.
Trolling lures will produce a mixed bag of bass and golden perch. The area in the creekbed between the two boat ramps is one of the more popular spots. Another good spot to try is the deep water between Bass Point and Lightning Ridge. Trolling is an easy way to lure some nice fish, and most anglers will have success this way.
The warmer water temperatures this month should cause the fish to move deeper, to around 5-10m down. Trolling lures like Blitz Bagas, Golden Childs, Brolgas and Merlins (deep) will get you to the right depth. There have been great results for those trolling 5/8oz spinnerbaits and TN60 and TN70 Jackalls as well. It’s necessary to use a slow troll and have a fine line such as braid to give these lures the best action at the desired depth.
If you need any supplies or more information on fishing at Bjelke, call into the kiosk at the lake. They stock a wide range of tackle and can help put you onto the fish.
Deep diving lures trolled in the more open water at the wall end of the lake will take both bass and golden perch. To increase the catch rate on the goldens, troll closer to the edges. This is where the perch can be found in bigger numbers.
Blitz Bagas and ultra deep Ridgebacks are capable of reaching the deep suspended fish. Alternatively, try trolling with 5/8oz spinnerbaits or Jackalls using light lines so the lures reach their maximum depth.
Casting is another option for catching the schooled fish in deep water. Firstly, locate some good shows of bass around the thermoclines using your sounder. Once you’ve taken care of this most important step, it’s time to pepper the area with lures. Casting plastics, spinnerbaits and Jackalls will all do the trick. Change lures to see which type works best. Some of the better areas to try are the deep water near the wall, wide of the points leading into the main basin and the deep water between The Islands.
The Boyne is worth a try with live bait. Golden perch and jew are likely to play the game. Back in the main part of the lake, the rocky points and banks should hold good numbers of goldens for the bait fishermen.
In December the water level at Lake Callide was low. Care should be taken while boating but there is still plenty of navigable water to explore. On the bright side, the fishing has been exceptional over the last month and this is set to continue.
There have been quite a few barra over the 110cm mark. Fish in the 102-106cm range are an average size and can be caught in good numbers.
The best approach to target big barra in January is to troll big, deep diving lures. The 150 Crazy Deeps, Classic Lures and DK Scalerazers are popular choices as they’ve proven themselves over the past month and in previous years.
It is thanks to the tireless efforts of the Callide Valley Native Fish Stocking Association, that we are all able to enjoy the great fishing this lake has to offer. There are plans and efforts being made to develop a camping area at the lake. This is all still in a draft phase but hopefully, the campsite won’t be too far away.
For the latest information on fishing Callide, call in at Creek 2 Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela. Norm and Marella can point you in the right direction and set you up with the best lures and tackle to handle the lake’s big barramundi.
Lake Awoonga has continued to surpass everyone’s expectations. There have been record catches of barramundi over the past months. The average size barra is now over a metre and in the 12-15kg range. Things are looking great for the future with plenty of smaller barra around the legal size of 58cm being caught. Last year’s heaviest recorded barra weighed 30.3kg but there are even bigger, more challenging fish out there.
Ken’s Bay, New Zealand Gully and Futter Creek are some of the areas worth casting lures. Slowly work the edges concentrating on any of the bigger snags that are laying down offering some horizontal cover. Most of the bigger fish seem to prefer the deeper, more open water. Trolling in the main basin and out from the dam wall will give you the best chance of hooking a massive fish. Try to follow the old creekbed for best results. A good sounder will pick up any barra holding in the area and you can concentrate on these fish.
The Predatek Viper 150’s in chrome, gold or ghost rider colours have been working exceptionally well. Last month, the barra weren’t too fussy about the artificial offerings anglers produced, however when the fishing is tougher they can prefer certain lure types and colours. In the open water of the lake, birds can often be seen feeding on baitfish. Trolling lures around these food rich areas can increase your chances.
There have been a few mangrove jacks caught. It’s good to see that the small numbers of jacks stocked into the lake are thriving and willing to take lures.
The barra open season starts on February 1 and anglers are then able to keep their bag limit of five barra compared to their current one fish from impoundments. Awoonga’s fishing just seems to get better. Over the last two years, barra were caught throughout the year - even in winter. The prime time is now and over the next few months, so give it a go while your chances of landing one of the big beasts are at their best.
The barra fishing at Lake Proserpine has been pretty slow. Locals are hoping for some good run to put some fresh water into the lake and stir the fish up.
Trolling deep diving lures in the open parts of the dam continues to be one of the more successful methods. The 8m diving RMG Scorpion Crazy Deep has been a stand out performer. There are plenty of good weed edges around the lake’s perimeter and casting lures to these edges will be slow but can yield some excellent fish. Away from the trees, the angler stands a much better chance of landing Proserpine’s big, powerful barra. Barra Baits in the 8ft model seem to do well around the weed edges. Bobby dazzler gold is one of the best colours. Work your lures slowly, giving them plenty of pauses, as this seems to get the best response from the big, lazy fish.
There is a good chance that the dam will rise thanks to the heavy rain at this time of year. When this happens, it will change the way the lake fishes. An influx of water will stir the barra up and numbers of fish will move back from the open parts of the dam and open weed edges further upstream. When the water is still running in, barra will head into the flooding creeks. Even though the water is filthy when it is running, casting lures will work well. The water in the creek you choose should just have a slight current to it, which is washing bait and food right past barras noses.
Shortly after a rise, the sticks will fire up. Casting lures around the trees and shallow flats will produce the goods. This is the type of fishing that Proserpine is famous for; big marauding barramundi turning it on in the tight confines of drowned timber. It’s heart in mouth action that leaves your knees trembling.
To wrap it up, your best chances will be around the timber and creeks if there’s a rise in the water level. If the dam fails to rise, target fish on the weed edges or concentrate on trolling the main basin - especially at night around the full moon. Lindsay Dobe is the owner of Proserpine Bait and Tackle and he can set you up with the right gear and advice to tackle the lake’s big barra. Lindsay works the lake as a guide so he spends a lot of time there and knows the area well. Be sure to call in and see him. That way, you’ve taken a step in the right direction towards landing your prize barra.Reads: 750