Winter Patterns Have Emerged
  |  First Published: July 2006

Welcome readers to the biggest range of lakes to ever hit QFM. My goal over the coming months will be to include more new locations that cover a wider area. Feel free to send me an email if you have any contacts that are interested in including their area in future issues.

Now that the colder weather has set in across the state, the freshwater impoundments start to fish differently. By now, fish have made their transitional changes (adjusting to the cooler water temperatures) and are far more predictable. Typical winter patterns have emerged throughout the lakes.

Bass have continued to be tough adversaries with most lakes suffering from low water levels. A conclusion that can be made is that the best results are coming from the lakes that receive the least angling pressure. Here bass are much easier to tempt and can be caught in big numbers.

More and more anglers are getting barra fever. Once they’ve experienced the awesome fishing our lakes have to offer their addiction grows. For this reason, many anglers are continuing to fish right through the winter period. This time was once considered too hard to catch barramundi. Now as we learn more and adapt our approach to suit the mood and habitat of the fish, they have become a year round option.

Check out all the area reports and see what’s biting. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Town/s: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

As the water level continues to fall, some changes may occur in fishes’ habits. For the past few winters, a lot of bass have stayed in the deep thermoclines in the middle of the lake. This pattern will remain the same. With the lower water levels, these deeper fish are likely to hang around the ledges and be more active near the old creek channels than out in the open water. Soft plastics like 3” Slider Grubs rigged on 1/2oz jigheads are ideal to target these fish. Casting over schools or retrieving the plastic vertically through them will draw strikes. If the bass schools are hard to locate, slow trolling with an electric motor or drifting with a strong wind while using a soft plastic will help to locate active fish.

Further up both arms of the lakes, there are now flats that extend well into the lake before dropping into the old creek channels. These are ideal locations to target active bass. Casting soft plastics like Sliders or 60mm Squidgy Fish rigged on 1/2oz jigheads will often do the trick. If the fish are finicky, and are hitting the lure but failing to hook up, opt for a Mask Vib Jackall. Hopping Mask Vibs across the flat and off the drop-off is a great way to cover plenty of water in search of hungry bass.

The edges have started slowly this winter. By now, there should be a lot more bass and golden perch prowling the shallows in search of a feed. These fish respond well to paddle tailed plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads and worked erratically. Use a lot of rod twitches and a steady retrieve to keep the lure mid-water on its path back to the boat.

Suspending lures are another option when working the edges. Husky Jerks work well in the mornings and as the day wears on, present deeper lures like Jackall Squirrels or C’ultiva Rippin Minnows. The deeper suspenders can work extremely well when there are fish showing beneath the boat on the sounder. Jackall TN60’s and beetle spins rigged with 3” paddletails are worth a try as well.

The boat launching at Cressbrook is fine. A steep gravel ramp makes it easy to launch bigger boats even with 2WD vehicles. Don’t forget your $2.00 entry fee which is payable in coins at the boom gate.

Closest Town/s: Esk, Kilcoy

Last year’s great winter bass sessions seem to have failed to repeat themselves. The bass have been quieter and are yet to bite well in the schools. It’s possible that this could change within days, weeks or even not at all. Keep listening to reports to see if the bass schools fire up because if they do, it’s something you don’t want to miss out on. Schooled bass are most likely to congregate in the water between the wall and Pelican Point. When concentrated, they will eat lures like soft plastics, lipless crankbaits and ice jigs.

Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the lake’s edges is the next best option if the schooled fish fail to respond. The shallower water to the north of Kirkleigh has been holding quite a few bass and golden perch. The main channel that leads through the trees has been a popular spot in past weeks. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to drop-offs and trees in this area can entice some quality fish. Take care when navigating this stretch of water, as there are areas of submerged timber.

Closest Town/s: Fernvale, Ipswich

With the falling water level, Wivenhoe is becoming hard to navigate and boat launching is difficult. There is a possibility that an extension will be made to the current boat ramp at Logan’s Inlet, which is high and dry. Until then, carrying boats to the water is the best way to safely get them on the water. Trailers and cars are too easily bogged on the soft edges.

The best action is a long run from the launching point. Under electric motor power, it takes around two hours to reach the best fish holding areas between Platypus Cliffs and Billies Bay. Some shallow stretches need to be negotiated carefully unless you stick to the old river channel.

Reaching the spot may sound like a major effort but huge bass make it all worthwhile. The flats that border the river channel between Billies Bay and Platypus Cliffs are a haven for what could be described as Queensland’s best winter bass fishery. During the warmer months, fork-tailed catfish play havoc with anglers munching their lures before bass have the chance. Now, the bass have schooled up and the catfish have slowed down, so it’s easier to target bass.

Wivenhoe isn’t as pressured as its neighbour Somerset. Once schools are found, they respond well to a variety of deep lures. Lures like Mask Vib Jackalls, tailspinners, Cicadas and the new Sasuke Blade Baits from the Jackall stable are excellent for covering the water quickly. Fast sinking lures like these help to deter the catfish that still want to get in on the act. Hopping these lures across the flats or fish holding areas should do the trick.

Trolling deep diving lures in the same area or working the river channel up towards the buoy-line closer to the wall will produce some bragging-sized bass. Remember to keep enough battery reserves and time up your sleeve for the long trip home when you’re fishing this lake.

Closest Town/s: Nerang, Gold Coast

Mid-morning will be the best time to hit the water. The fish will be lethargic in the early part of the morning until the weather warms up. There have been plenty of bass holding off all the major points throughout the dam and the majority of these fish are schooling in 10m of water. The western side of points seem to produce better in the mornings - possibly because they receive the morning sun.

When working the deep schools, Sliders or deeply presented flies are top producers. Slow retrieves seem to get the best response from the lazy fish.

Closer to the shore, active fish are likely to be hunting. Covering plenty of water is the key to catching these specimens. Often these fish will hang around their schooled mates that are positioned out from the points. The top lures for catching these cruising fish have been Jackall TN60 lipless crankbaits and the new Sasuke Jackall Blade Baits.

For the latest information on Hinze or the fishing on the Gold Coast, call in at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle in Nind Street, Southport. They have a wide range of tackle and fishing gear to suit all styles of fishing and expertise to share.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Town/s: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Launching of boats at Cooby is restricted. Only those that can be launched by hand (not trailer) are permitted. All craft on Cooby need to be powered by an electric motor or paddle. The lurefishing has slowed down and fish are now difficult to entice with artificial offerings. Murray cod are still a possibility for anglers using lures as they can deal with the cooler water better than other species.

The banks along the walking tracks up towards the wall are still popular with the shore-based anglers. Baitfishing with live shrimp or worms will pick up a few golden perch and jew though the action can be steady. The best time to have a line in the water is in the afternoon - especially on the warmer, still days.

Take a plastic bag along to pick up any rubbish at the end of the day. I’m amazed to see people leave it behind. Don’t forget your $2.00 to gain entry through the boom gates.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

Ever since Coolmunda rose earlier in the year the fishing has been excellent. Most anglers are finding it quite easy to reach their bag limit of golden perch. Trolling lures has been steady for a while due to the lower water temperature, while bait continues to produce the goods.

The main creek channel has been the best place to anchor up and fish livebaits. Shrimp are the number one bait followed by worms and small crays. The area straight out from the concrete boat ramp is one of the most reliable areas.

There is camping at the lake’s edge or you may prefer to fish and relax in style at Coolmunda Caravan Park. The park is only 2km from the boat ramp and offers four cabins and powered and un-powered campsites. Take advantage of some great fishing and give them a call on (07) 4652 4171.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Town/s: Murgon, Goomeri

Although the water level is low, now is a good time to target bass and golden perch by casting lures. The shallow flats that border the creek bed in the lower parts of the lake are prime fish holding territory. Casting soft plastics like Slider Grubs or Jackalls across the flats and working them back over the drop-off to the old creek bed is the best way to lure fish. It may be necessary to work a bit of water to find good concentrations. This shouldn’t take too long considering the fish are confined to a small area.

Jew and golden perch will be taking livebaits. Live shrimp are normally the standout bait but of late, worms are producing even better results.

Boat launching can be carried out from the shore below the far ramp. As the dam’s level has stabilized, the bank is solid and cars can quite easily launch bigger boats. The kiosk at the lake is still operating so you can pick up any fishing accessories or a feed and cold drink when your tummy starts to growl.

Closest Town/s: Proston, Kingaroy

Locating schooled fish in the deep water is the best way to guarantee results. Sounding around areas like Pelican Point, The Islands and between the second and third marker buoys should reveal the location of schooled bass. When travelling through the area around The Islands, take care as the water is now quite shallow, especially over some of the points.

Fish that show on the sounder in the deep water are most likely to be bass. Occasionally, golden perch will hold in the same area. When fish are located, try using lures like soft plastics, Mask Vibe Jackalls and spinnerbaits to tempt them. Use long casts over the schools and try to retrieve the lure at the depth the fish are holding.

For bait anglers, it’s worthwhile trying for golden perch in the first stretch of the Boyne timber. Live shrimp fished close to the trees seem to be the go.

For any of your fishing supplies or some extra hints on how and where to catch the fish at Boondooma, call in and see the guys at Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. They have a huge range of freshwater tackle and a wealth of knowledge to share.

Closest Town/s: Maryborough

Lake Lenthalls fishes well throughout the year. In winter, bass tend to hang around the weed edges or school up just out from them. Schools can often be found holding out from the major points. Keeping your eyes on the sounder while you’re casting to the edges is the best way to locate schools. Once you’ve found them, try casting soft plastics or deeply presented flies.

When working the edges, reaction lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits cover the water quickly. Try to explore any pockets or unusual weed formations as these areas are more likely to attract fish. Don’t be surprised if you get busted off when fishing for bass.

Barramundi are still a possibility right through winter. To target the lake’s barramundi use slow presentations close to the weedy edges. The shallower water that warms more quickly during the day is the best place to try. The average sized barra is now over 60cm with the chance of bigger specimens a possibility.

Paul Dolan is a fishing guide specialising in impoundment barramundi and the Hervey Bay area. He’s dedicated to putting clients onto fish and passionate about the sport he loves. For more information check out his website at www.frasercoastsportfishing.com or give him a call on 0407 674 350.

Closest Town/s: Monto

Cania is one of the lakes where the fishing hasn’t suffered during low water levels. There will be plenty of bass and golden perch on the bite and the best way to target these fish over the winter months is by casting or trolling lures.

The main basin area has been holding a lot of schooled fish. The narrower water that looks more like a river doesn’t seem to produce the numbers that can be found in the main body. Trolling the steep banks with medium running lures is a good way to locate active fish. Jackall TN60s are a great trolling lure as when fish are found, you can pull up and cast back into the school with the same lure. The shallower humps, points and drop-offs up past The Quarry area are certainly worth a look. In this part of the lake, you’ll find plenty of undulating bottom that tends to hold good schools of bass and goldens. Green lipless crankbaits have been working well on the lake’s schooled fish. Another lure that’s also scored well in recent times is a simple 2” white curl-tail grub.

The shallower banks are ideal for casting to. In winter, bass and goldens move right up into the shallow water. Casting spinnerbaits, beetle spins or lipless crankbaits up into the shallows and working them back to the boat should produce some hefty fish. Cania is a lake where shallow water doesn’t seem to deter fish. It’s possible to catch big bass a long way from deep water when they are cruising across shallow expanses.

The boat launching area, which is a few hundred metres to the right of the concrete ramp, is fine for launching. Take care if the shore looks muddy. There is a chance more water will be released in the near future.

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.

Closest Town/s: Eidsvold

At less than 2% capacity, there isn’t much deep water to be found in the lake, however, there’s still a big expanse of water to explore and the opportunity to catch several species. Wuruma’s most common species are barra, golden perch and bass. The bass have been a bit quiet, possibly due to being threatened or even eaten by the big barra in the lake.

Trolling lures in the deeper holes of the main channel will account for some big golden perch. Alternatively, try hopping lipless crankbaits or baitfishing with live shrimp.

By now, barra will be more difficult to tempt due to the low water temperature. Since the lake is low and isn’t very deep, the cold will be noticed more by this lake’s barra. Up until now, they have held on well and therefore there should be a few willing to bite for the diehard barra fanatics. Casting Squidgy Slick Rigs in the Drop Bear colour is the most proven method. Wuruma’s barra love these soft plastics far more than hard bodied lures. As the action has tapered off, now is also a good time to stock up on lures and check those lines for next season.

Closest Town/s: Bundaberg

Jason Medcalf reports that the Isis Balancing Storage (Lake Gregory) has been producing some big bass with fish around 50cm being taken on plastics and spinnerbaits around the weed edges. Anglers casting lures into the weed pockets and to the edges of the weedbeds have had the most success.

Another option is to motor around in the deeper sections of the lake looking for bass showing on the sounder. Dropping plastics or lipless crankbaits into the schools and slowly working them through the schools will also produce fish, but most of these fish are smaller versions and usually under 40cm.

If casting isn’t for you, try trolling the drop-offs in the main basin. Use slow troll spinnerbaits, which don’t get clogged up in the abundant weed, and still produce plenty of bass. Otherwise stick with medium to deep divers and troll reasonably slowly.

For the latest up to date information on the Isis Balancing Storage, call Salty’s at Bundaberg on (07) 4153 4747.

Lake Moduran
Closest Town/s: Bundaberg, Gin Gin

Rob Wood reports that Monduran’s fishing was expected to slow down in June but after anglers managed to pull a few fish out recently it appears that the fish will go off the bite in early July instead.

On a recent trip up to the dam we decided to troll three lures out the back. We were fishing in 20m of water with one lure around 6m and the other around 10m deep. I also had a small Tropic Angler lure in the centre of the spread that was only 75mm long and dived about 1m. We only went 500m before a large 1m+ barra breached like a whale 10m from the back of the boat and attacked the lure before missing the hooks as it splashed back into the water.

If you need to catch a barra this is a great place to come. You can make the most of this by organising a trip to coincide with the MASA competition later in the year. This is one of the best comps in Australia with volunteers doing supplying all meals and services to the anglers. It’s the easiest camping you will ever do with showers and bar facilities also available.

If camping isn’t for you can stay 14km away in Gin Gin which has plenty of motel and hotel facilities. This year they expect 1000+ competitors and with such great prizes including boat, motor, cash and tackle on offer. There are prize giveaways each night, which will keep the kids busy while Mum and Dad sit back and enjoy the facilities. The tournament coincides with the barra starting to bite, as the water warms in October 14th and 15th – don’t miss it.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town/s: Benaraby, Gladstone

Trolling deep diving lures in the main basin will be one of the most reliable methods to catch barra during the colder weather. The middle of the day and the afternoon will be the better times to be on the water as the action can be slow early in the morning. Once the days heat up, the barra become more active and although the action will be steady, a few fish can be expected.

There are a few tricks to get the lazier winter barra to take lures. Trolling fast seems to draw more attention than trolling slowly. By travelling at least 3 knots (6km/h) lures will be pumping out more vibration, reaching their maximum depth and ringing the dinner bell for barra. Even when the barra are holding deeper than the lure can be presented, they will rise to take such an offering. Big lures that are easily seen and make plenty of noise and vibration will get more strikes. Provided that you have ample line on the spool of your reel to hold a big fish, leave out a lot of line. This gets the lure well behind the boat, away from the wash and noise created by the motor.

Lures that can reach 8m are ideal. The 8m Poltergeist and Scorpion Crazy Deep are ideal as they can handle the extra speed well which helps prevent line tangles.

Casting shallow diving lures around the warmer, shallow bays should work well. Despite the weather being colder, barra can be caught throughout the year. The middle of the day is the best time to be on the water. Barra will be sunning in the shallow water so a stealthy approach is needed. Cast your lure close to the weed, which generates warmth. Keep your lure in the zone by imparting maximum movement with minimum distance travelled.

For any accommodation bookings, give the caravan park at the lake a call on (07) 4975 0155. Now is the time to book before next season so get in early to secure a cabin. Matthew Mott has been running barra tours for some time now on Awoonga and has gained a wealth of information. To learn how to target impoundment barra and for the chance to tangle with Awoonga’s mighty fish, give him a call. For booking enquiries call (07) 4168 4811.

Closest Town/s: Biloela

Callide’s barra have slowed down for the cool months. The warmer days are the ones to get out on the water and try your luck. Casting lures into the shallow, sheltered areas that receive plenty of sun will do the trick. Shallow running minnows like Sand Vipers, B52s and Daiwa Shoreline Shiners are ideal in the shallows.

Trolling the deeper water along the edges of the creek channel is a more laidback approach. Trolling is likely to produce barra and the chances of hooking one of Callide’s monster golden perch is quite high. Big golden perch are often a by-catch when chasing barra. One of the best lures for both species is the Killalure River Rat.

Despite some rumours that were doing the rounds a while ago, Callide has plenty of water, making it safe for boating. Callide supplies mines and a power station and water is pumped across from Awoonga to keep it at a fairly stable level. For some time, this has been around 8% which means boat launching is easy.

During the cooler months, red claw crayfish are an option and can be caught in 4-5m of water. Opera house traps baited with rockmelon or KFC chips are some of the favourite local baits.

Callide is a short drive from the town of Biloela. Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle can be found on the Dawson Highway in town and it specializes in a variety of freshwater gear. All the dams in the region (Callide, Cania and Wuruma) are well catered for. The guys in the store can put you on the right track.

Central Coast
Proserpine (Peter Faust)
Closest Town/s: Proserpine

You can experience some great fishing in winter in Lake Proserpine. The shallows are the place to find the big barra at this time of year. The action can be dependant on the weather as when it’s windy, the lake tends to blow up and get too uncomfortable or unsafe to fish.

Look in the warm, weedy bays for fish. One of the best ways to find barra is to drive through the shallow water using your outboard while looking for any signs of spooked fish. These fish will leave bow waves and stir up mud as they hurry for cover. Return to these fish holding areas half an hour later when they’ve had time to settle. By doing this you’ll know that the fish are in the area.

There’s no rush to be first on the water as the action is generally slow in the early morning. It isn’t until the water warms by mid-morning that the fish stir up and start to bite. Casting soft plastics like Squidgy Slick Rigs or Berkley 4” Swim Baits is a good way to cover the water quickly. A fast retrieve is needed to keep the lure out of the weed and slime on the bottom. As it is worked into deeper water, the speed can be slowed down to let the plastic swim deeper.

Tango Dancers, large gold Bombers and Big B52s are ideal when the water is too shallow for plastics. When using these lures, allow them to pause for a while but use aggressive rod lifts to impart action to the lure.

When the weather is glassed out, fish can be targeted in the tops of deeper trees. Look for the trees that look like carrot tops. These trees have masses of spindly sticks coming out of the water. In such ideal conditions, the barra will laze in the sun in the tops of these trees. Big diving minnow style lures that run 1-1.5m deep should reach these fish and hopefully get the desired response.

If you’re fishing the lake or stocking up your supplies, be sure to visit Proserpine Bait and Tackle. Store owner Lindsay Dobe runs charters on the lake and can certainly point you in the right direction.

Central Highland Region
Fairbairn (Lake Marraboon)
Closest Town/s: Emerald

The difficult barra in the lake are even scarcer over the winter period. This is the time of year that other species become a better option. Trolling deep diving lures along the steep rocky banks in the sheltered areas can produce reasonable results. Golden perch are the most common species encountered although Murray cod are certainly worth a mention. Although it’s a huge lake, Fairbairn has developed its own breeding population of cod and golden perch with the help of the local fish stocking group.

Drowning a bait can also pick up a mixed bag. Worms, shrimp and crays will all catch fish with the most common species being golden perch, jew and black bream. When bait fishing, try areas in five to eight metres of water and move around if you fail to get a bite.

The red claw crayfish have been everywhere. The recommended depth to catch them is in 4-5m of water. They will however, venture into shallower water over the winter period, so be sure to set your traps at a variety of depths. Baits like partly boiled potatoes, rockmelon or cat food all seem to work.

Boat launching from the bank is easily carried out with a 2WD vehicle.

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