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Time For Big Barra
  |  First Published: March 2006



The warm weather is starting to leave us and the fishing has been consistent over the summer months. Now is the time to expect big things from our freshwater lakes.

Cressbrook

Low water levels haven’t affected boat launching at the lake whilst efforts have been made to maintain the ramp and keep it in safe order. Catches on the fishing scene however, have been a bit inconsistent. Casting lures to the edges will produce some nice fish on some days but on others, the fish won’t cooperate.

Reaction baits like spinnerbaits and Jackalls cast to the edges will produce bass. Occasionally, the bigger bass tend to play but usually, there are plenty of small ones to sort through. Close to the steep banks or out wide on the shallower banks where there is a nice weed taper are the places to try.

If you have a sounder, look for schooled bass in 4-8m of water. These fish are usually only small but there will occasionally be a bigger specimen lurking in or around them. Reaction baits seem to be best on these fish as well. TN60 Jackalls are one of the best lures to use. They seem to get more hook-ups compared to spinnerbaits, which entice plenty of short strikes. Look in areas like in front of the launching ramp, before and in the last big right hand bend of Cressbrook Creek, the toilet point up Bull Creek and out from the big dead tree on the eastern bank of Bull Creek arm.

The deeper water should be fishing fairly consistently for bass. Locating suspended fish in the deeper water of the lake is the secret to this style of fishing. Look around the buoys out from the tower (inside the fishing area) or the big yellow buoy at the start of the fishing area in Bull Creek arm. Trolling Jackalls has been taking quite a few fish. Casting can work at times – especially if a good concentration of fish is found. When casting, try 1/2oz jighead rigged plastics, Jackalls or tailspinner jigs.

Live shrimp can work well if used at the depth the bass are suspending in the deep water. In schooled bass in the shallower water, shrimp won’t last long before an under-sized bass decides to make it a meal. You can sort through these smaller fish until you catch a bigger one or try other areas with fewer fish in the school. Targeting fish out from the points in 5-7m of water should produce legal sized bass and golden perch.

Cooby

Lake Cooby near Toowoomba is still closed to trailer boats. You can hand launch smaller vessels but as always, you can’t use a petrol engine. Trolling the weed edges out from the launch area and down toward the wall is producing some nice goldens. The golden perch in Cooby are a beautiful colour because they inhabit such clear water.

Casting from the steep section of bank just inside the shoreline fishing area will yield the odd yellowbelly and cod. There have been a few smaller cod caught already this year from this area. Spinnerbaits are a favourite for this style of fishing with purple and black the top colour choice for the clear water. The fishing here is steady but there is always the chance of a monster cod.

Keep an eye on the weather. If there is any rain around, especially storm activity, Cooby often fishes better. Don’t forget to bring $2 to open the boom gate at the entry.

Somerset

There have been some nice bass on the move in Somerset although it seems you need to be on the right spot to catch a lot of fish. Most anglers are catching a few fish but there is also the occasional story of 20-30 bass for a day’s fishing.

Reasonable schools have been holding near the riverbed drop-off in the Pelican Point area. Start looking on the western side of the old river out wide from Red Rock or Wyangi Creek. Concentrations of bass can also be found scattered from here to the buoy line near the wall.

Hopping Mask Vibe Jackalls is one of the most successful methods to target these fish. Check out the Tournament Angler Guide if you’re unfamiliar with this technique.

Trolling soft plastics like 3” Sliders on 1/2oz jigheads is a good way to cover water and tempt bass that are otherwise hard to entice. A slow walking pace with an electric motor is ideal.

Trolling medium to deep running lures around the rocky, steep banks should produce golden perch. Working lures along the drop-offs in the middle of the lake in the Bay 13 area is certainly worthwhile too.

The first bass tournament of the year is a Bassin’ round to be held on Somerset on the 25-26 February. Keep your ears open for the results as these will reflect how the lake is fishing and anglers will reveal the best techniques and spots.

Hinze

Slightly cooler, more comfortable weather will be welcomed at Hinze in March. The hotter weather at the start of the year will still have many of the fish holding in the cooler water in depths of around 20-30ft. Trolling deep divers is a good method for locating these fish.

Surface lures are an exciting way to hook into some of Hinze's feisty bass. Rebel and Cultiva poppers or the Cultiva Zip n' Ziggy have all been reliable choices. Twitching shallow running jerkbaits next to and over the weedy edges is a winner in March.

Spinnerbaits and Jackalls will be the first lure tied on for other anglers as they are an effective searching tool. Once bass have been located, small soft plastics rigged weedless and slowly hopped through the grass and weed should pick up some of the less active fish. Jackall Mask Vibes are a good lure for locations that have been getting pressured. The silent vibration can often trigger these shy fish into action.

With the cooler evenings, March is a great time to hit Hinze and try your luck. Don't forget your fishing permit which is available at the Ranger’s office.

For all your fishing supplies, call in and see Brandon and the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle in Nind Street (Southport). The store carries a great range of quality freshwater lures that can be hard to find elsewhere.

Cania

Cania rarely fishes poorly. This lake in the Monto-Biloela area is a great place to catch bass, goldens and saratoga. As it receives less fishing pressure than other bass lakes, the fish seem far more co-operative.

Fishing to the edges from the middle reaches right through to the timber should stir up plenty of bass. Saratoga are likely to get involved in the action and golden perch are not uncommon. Spinnerbaits and Jackalls are ideal for this work as they’re able to cover a lot of water until you find the hot spot.

Trolling medium diving lures directly in front of the boat launching area is a good way to catch bass. Try the deep water here out in the middle of the lake where the bass will be suspended. Circle around the area right up to the no fishing line towards the wall until the best concentrations of bass are found.

Bjelke Petersen

In February the dam’s level was low and still falling, although launching boats and vehicle access won’t be a problem. These low levels and the speed at which the levels will fall or rise if there is rain, makes it a little harder to predict the fishing patterns.

Matthew Mott, who guides on the lake, has given me some idea as to how the lake should fish if there is no rise in the water level. To check how the fishing is going, just call in and see him or his wife Gayle at the kiosk at the dam where they sell a good range of tackle and bait.

Trolling lures is the best way to fish the lake. Even though there isn’t a lot of water, the fish will remain scattered so a trolled lure will go past more fish than a cast one. Trolling with Jackalls (TN60), 1/2oz spinnerbaits and Ecogear VT65 lipless crankbaits will get a good response. If you prefer the more conventionally styled trolling lures, opt for something like an RMG Poltergeist or Merlin in the shallower models.

The bottom reaches of the lake tend to fish the best due to the low water level. Navigation in the top half of the dam can be dangerous. Trolling in and around the old creekbed from Lightning Ridge through to the wall is the more productive area.

Casting soft plastics to any of the areas holding more fish should produce some bass. Stay tuned to the water levels; the lake is still safe and a good option to fish, but any changes can affect how it fishes.

Boondooma

Trolling, although one of the preferred fishing methods for the lake, can be a bit patchy in March. Deep diving hard-bodied lures, 70mm Jackalls and spinnerbaits are the most commonly used lures for trolling. Many of the fish are still found in the lower reaches of the lake. Bass and golden perch can be found in this area. The bass tend to favour the more open, deeper water where they suspend mid-water while goldens like cruising closer to the bottom nearer to the edges. Further up the lake, goldens can be targeted on the first and second bends in the Stuart Arm near the rocks.

Soft plastics are definitely worth a go in the deep water near the wall and along the drop-off at The Island. Finding schools or concentrations of bass on the sounder is important if you want to increase your catch. One of the best plastics to use is the 3” smoke/yellow core Slider Grub rigged on a 1/2oz jighead.

If you’re heading to the lake, call in and see the guys at Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. They can give you an update on the fishing, which could be helpful if lake levels fall and the fish change their behaviour.

Wuruma

Wuruma Dam can be found on The Bass to Barra Trail. This lake hasn’t received the amount of exposure of some of our other lakes. Wuruma can be found around 20km off the road between Eidsvold and Monto. Those travelling from the south, who have fished Cania’s bass and saratoga population, would realise that this lake is even closer to home.

Wuruma holds a range of species including barra, bass, golden perch, silver perch, saratoga, sleepy cod, gar, spangled perch, eel-tailed catfish and eels. Despite there being so many types of fish to catch, there is one particular fish that attracts most anglers – barramundi!

Barra in Wuruma can be caught from just under legal size right up to around 1m long. Most fish are around 65-75cm long. A stocking of bony bream was released to create another food source for the thriving barra population. All this is thanks to the Wuruma Dam Fish Restocking Association (WDFRA) and the DPI. Their hard work has made this lake yet another awesome fishery.

The lake’s level has been low at around 5%. Launching boats is okay provided that the banks are dry. If there is rain, a 4WD is a must - especially with bigger, heavier boats.

From the launching area, there is a gully that joins onto the main dam body. From here you can see dead, standing timber around 500m up on the right. It’s in these upper reaches that many of the barra are caught. There has been poor weed growth so far this year due to the fluctuation in water level; any other form of submerged structure is worth a try. Casting lures like gold or silver B52’s around the trees or the banks nearby is worth a shot. Barra love soft plastics. The Squidgy 110mm Slick Rig in the drop bear colour seems to be one of the best performers. Don’t be afraid to fish plastics well into the night as this is often when the barra will actively hunt prey. Night, dawn and dusk are prime times for using surface lures like Bill Bugs, 9cm Rapala Skitterpops or my favourite, Tango Dancers.

Although this may be too late notice for some, the Wuruma Dam Family Fishing Competition is being held on the 25-26 February. It would be a great time to check out the lake and have a chance of winning a prize. The prizes include a draw for a tinny with an electric motor and safety gear simply for nominating. For more information on the competition, call Ernie or Glenda Alford on (07) 4165 1202.

Awoonga

Lake Awoonga continues to fish well with around 75% of the barra coming in to the caravan park over 1m. Some mangrove jacks have also been around; the longest landed was 52cm. This fish was caught off the bank in the early afternoon. It seems these fish, like the barra, have an awesome growth rate in our impoundments.

Anglers can cast or troll with good success rates both throughout the day and at night. There is 24 hour access to the lake’s ramp. The free permit which was in place has been scrapped and is no longer required. 

Nugget's Little Tackle Shop, situated at the rear of the Caravan Park Office, has just added Halco and Nils Master lures to its already extensive range of barra lures. Look out for the ‘No Bloke's Barra Bash’ from 3-5 March. This is the 2nd annual competition for female anglers and angler interest is huge; there will be a tagged barra which if caught will win a $30 000 4WD. For further details or campsite and accommodation bookings, call Meg or Merv on (07) 4975 0155.

Proserpine (Peter Faust)

In February it looked as though Proserpine might miss out on any filling rain for some time. If this is the case, not much will change for March.

There have been some big fish taking both cast and trolled lures. When casting, fish to the lake’s weedy edges with shallow diving or surface lures. This works best in the early morning, night and late afternoon. The best days for casting are those with little or no wind when the barra seem more responsive.

Trolling will catch fish throughout the day. Using deep diving lures like RMG Crazy Deeps or 20+ Barra Baits will ensure your lure is presented at the best depth. The barra can be found throughout the dam as they wander the open water. A sounder can be a big help if you locate scatterings of fish. It’s at this time that a GPS can also work to your advantage.

If you’re fishing the lake, call in and see the guys at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. They stock a great range of barra lures and tackle. Store owner, Lindsay Dobe also runs a charter operation on the lake so he can point you in the right direction.

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