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Falling water levels a problem but fishing good
  |  First Published: April 2006



Some of our best bass lakes are starting to struggle with water levels, but the fishing has been surprisingly good in many of the worst affected lakes. However, the barra lakes that are still proving to be the fishing hot spots with anglers connecting to plenty of good barra.

Cressbrook

Falling water levels haven’t helped the fishing at Cressbrook. Small bass are usually quite easy to catch, but the bigger ones are difficult. The launching area is still okay and it shouldn’t be a problem launching boats to 5m even with a 2WD vehicle.

Casting lures around the edges is a good option as the day progresses. Fish favour the shorter, cooler days that autumn and winter bring with them and will hold in the lake’s shallower water. Lures like Jackalls (TN60 and TN50) are ideal for exploring the edges quickly to locate bass and the occasional golden perch. If the fish refuse to take Jackalls, try a soft plastic like a 3” Slider a run on a 1/4oz jighead.

In the mornings and afternoons, try using surface lures. Cupped faced poppers like Kustom Lures Pro X Topwater 63s are ideal. For a more silent presentation try the ‘walk the dog’ style action of an Eddy’s Surface Buster. April is the last month before winter to take advantage of the lake’s longer open hours; gates to the ramp area open at 6am and close at 8pm. This will change from May-July when the new times become 7am–6pm. If you’re planning a trip try to get to the lake early or stay late to try your luck on the surface.

If the water is clear, suspending minnows can work well. Both shallow and deeper running types work well. If using a shallow runner, try a Rapala Husky Jerk 7cm. For deeper water, opt for a C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnow or a Jackall Squirrel 67. Worked with a darting, stop-start retrieve, these lures can attract fish prowling the weed reefs or suspended only a few metres deep.

Bass schools can be found in a number of locations. Places to look are directly in front of the boat ramp, wide of the big dead tree on the eastern bank of Bull Creek, the toilet point up Bull Creek and the many points in the Cressbrook Creek arm. Sounding in water 5-7m deep should reveal big schools of small bass. A good quality sounder can actually determine the size of the bass with a fair amount of accuracy.

When schools are found, try casting TN60 Jackalls, spinnerbaits or beetlespins into them. Trolling these lures over and back on top of the fish can work quite well. Most of the bass caught from these schools are small so if you’re keeping any for a feed stick to the legal size limit of 30cm.

In the deeper water, where there are thermoclines, bass can be found suspending in the open water. The depth at which these fish hold varies from 6-10m and trolling deep diving crankbaits through concentrations of fish should produce a few. Alternatively, try slow trolling a Jackall using an electric motor.

If you’re targeting golden perch, try live shrimp fished close to the steeper banks. In these spots, the bass population isn’t as high so under-sized fish shouldn’t bother you.

Somerset

Although Somerset’s water level is low, there’s still enough water to find plenty of fish holding locations. Bass have been scattered over February in the area from the bay opposite The Hump right through to Bay 13. As the days get shorter, the scattered fish should school up, making them easier to find.

The drop-offs and flats in the Pelican Point area are always a good spot to start. This area seems to be reliable when others fail to produce. Another good place to look is in the bay opposite The Hump. The underwater topography here is ideal for holding bass with plenty of flats, drop-offs and submerged humps.

When choosing lures, it’s hard to beat a hopped Mask Vibe Jackall. The 60mm size is ideal. This lure comes in two weights and the heavier of the two is almost always best for Somerset.

Trolling less conventional lures like plastics, spinnerbaits and Jackalls is the best way to tempt bass into taking a trolled lure. The same areas mentioned for casting will yield a few on the troll. If you’re trying to single out some golden perch, try a medium to deep running crankbait. Selection will depend on the depth of the area being fished and remember that the lure should be fished close to the bottom. Goldies tend to hang close to the drop-offs in the middle of the lake. Try the Pelican Point and Bay 13 areas. Bay 13 seems to hold a lot of goldens and has a lot of structure on the bottom before it drops away into the old riverbed.

Bjelke-Petersen

It’s hard to predict the how the lake will fish in April due to its low (6% in February) and falling water level. Tarong Power Station has been relying on Bjelke and Boondooma for some months now since it stopped drawing water across from Wivenhoe and this has made a major impact on the lakes levels.

If the water stops dropping at Bjelke, the fishing should be okay. Trolling lures in the deeper water at the wall end of the lake is the best way to put fish in the boat. Jackalls, spinnerbaits and Smak 16s have been the gun lures.

If low water level affects visibility, then fishing livebait in the deeper water may be a better option. Golden perch can’t resist a live shrimp dropped down near their nose.

Bjelke certainly needs some rain without it Bjelke and many other lakes in SEQ could suffer drastic consequences.

Boondooma

The water level at Boondooma has been dropping fast while the lake is supplying the demands of Tarong Power Station. When this happens, the fish tend to shut down but because this has been an ongoing thing, the fish may adjust and start to bite better.

The fish that school in the deeper water are least likely to feel the effect of the falling water level. These fish are mainly bass that suspend in some of the lake’s deeper areas. Schools can be located in the water from the wall right down to The Junction. Once found, they can be targeted with a range of casting lures. Between soft plastics, Jackalls and spinnerbaits you should find a lure that the bass will take. Trolling these same lures can also work well.

Trolling the rocky points in the main basin should account for some golden perch. Medium to deep running lures are ideal for this area.

Normally, bass and goldens would be cruising the banks at this time of year. As the water is falling, their presence here is unpredictable. I’d suggest spending an hour or so casting spinnerbaits and Jackalls to a few different banks to find out if there’s anything active moving around in the shallows. If not, move to the deeper water.

Lake Proserpine (Peter Faust)

Peter Faust has turned on some good fishing in the past couple of months. Trolling and casting lures have both been catching fish. Unfortunately, it looks like the lake will be closed soon due to the poor state of the boat ramp. Proserpine is also struggling with low water levels.

Some predict that the ramp will be upgraded before the lake actually closes. I certainly hope this is the case – especially when big barra are playing the game.

For further information on the lake, give Proserpine Bait and Tackle a call on (07) 4945 4641. Lindsay, from the store, has had some great sessions at the lake with charter clients getting onto some prime fish.

If all is well and the lake is open, give trolling a go. Trolling lures near the tree-line, around weed edges and in the main basin seems to produce well. In the deep water of the main basin, try using lures that push as deep as 8m. When working the tree-line or weed edges, run a shallower lure. Lindsay chooses to run lures like the 5m Scorpion, 5m Poltergeist and a 6m Bandit from Gillies. Running these lures only 15m behind the boat keeps them off the bottom and gives the angler a better chance when starting to battle a big fish.

Awoonga

Lake Awoonga has continued to deliver and live up to its reputation as Australia’s best barra fishery. The huge expanse of water holds thousands of these great sportfish.

The beauty of Awoonga is the diverse range of habitat that barra choose to live in. This gives all anglers of varying skill levels the chance to tangle with the famous big fish on offer.

Trolling lures in the open water at the wall end, up toward Dingo Island and in the mouth of Iveragh Creek is an easy way to target the fish. Barra move around in this big expanse and often hold above flats or close to the drop-offs to the old creek and riverbeds.

A good sounder will help you find the better concentrations of barra and what the best depth is to run your lures. Throughout the day, deep divers are generally the best lures to run. Storm Deep Thunders, Mann’s Stretch 20+, Scorpion Crazy Deeps and 20+ Barra Baits will all probe the deeper water and produce the goods. If the fish move shallower, as they often do around dark, shallower lures can be more effective. Try the popular Predatek Viper, Classic 10+ or 8+ Barra Bait.

Trolling shallower lures across the flats past Dingo Island can turn on some good action. Lures that run 3-5m deep in water of the same depth are ideal. Keep a short line when trolling this area as there are quite a few snags around and you don’t want to give a big barra too much of a head start.

Cast lures to snags and the edges to get the fishing really firing. The mouth of Futter Creek is one of the hot spots for this type of fishing with an increase in the number of big barra taken casting lures. This will be the case even during the middle of the day.

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