Cold Freshwater Produces Mixed Results
  |  First Published: August 2006

We’ve almost reached the end of our winter months. This means the fish are now settled into their winter routines. Changes won’t be too far away when the weather starts to warm things up. Be sure to get out on the water and take advantage of the beautiful, sunny days on offer while the fish are predictable.

Some of the lakes are fishing poorly while others are delivering beyond expectations. As with all fishing reports within QFM, writers forecast what the action will be like a month before it happens. So please excuse any inaccuracies, but I do tend get things right more often than the weatherman. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Town/s: Esk, Kilcoy

So far this winter, fishing schooled bass has been tough. These schools have been holding between the wall and Bay 13. Some days the action can be better than others but last year’s pattern of hot bites throughout winter isn’t going to repeat itself. When fishing winter schools, apart from deep water flyfishing, two other lure types stand out above the rest. 3” paddle-tailed plastics rigged on 1/2oz or 5/8oz jigheads will pull bass from the more concentrated schools. Casting or slow trolling with an electric motor is the best approach. Normally, slow retrieves suit the mood of the fish better.

The second stand out lure is Mask Vib Jackalls, one of the best year round performers in Somerset. Each time I visit, these lures spend more time in the water than any other. Hopping Masks across the bottom is the most popular way to fish them. Place a long cast over the schooled bass and allow the lure to sink all the way to the bottom. Using a sharp and aggressive action lift the rod to make the lure hop 2-4ft off the bottom. While the lure sinks back to the bottom, retrieve any slack line and repeat the process. If the fish on the sounder are holding up off the bottom, combine the hopping retrieve with a series of winds to work the lure higher into the water column.

If the action in the schools continues to be slow, working the banks with reaction baits can be the better option. Casting lures like big spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits into the shallows and retrieving them at a medium pace will draw strikes from both bass and golden perch. This style of fishing requires a lot of patience as the bites can be few and far between, but catches of big fish will make the effort worthwhile.

When looking for banks to cast at, opt for gentle tapering ones that have rocky structure or undulations in the bottom. Positioning the boat in 3m of water on the shallowest banks and casting towards the shore can also work well at times. It won’t matter if your cast lands in the open water well short of the shore.

The water to the north of Kirkleigh has been holding some quality specimens. Bass and numerous golden perch can be found on the flats that drop-off into the old river channel as well as the banks and timber. Take care when navigating this stretch of water. There are plenty of submerged objects but the following the speed limit should ensure your safety.

Boat launching at The Spit and Kirkleigh is fine. With care, even big boats can be launched with 2WD vehicles off of the harder shores. Boat permits are available at Kirkleigh, Somerset store and from the rangers when they are at the lake.

Closest Town/s: Fernvale, Ipswich

August is the last winter month to take advantage of the fantastic bass fishing that Wivenhoe has to offer. Once the water temperature warms up in spring, bass will continue to bite but the catfish action will pick up. When it is colder, the fork-tailed catfish become more lethargic, which allows bass more opportunities to attack your lures.

Casting lures to the rocky banks or points can produce some quality bass. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits tossed into the shallows and then wound back to the boat can do the trick. This style of fishing produces bass and the odd golden perch from Hamon Cove right down to the buoyed area near the wall.

Targeting schooled bass is the way to go if you want to put a lot of fish in the boat. Schooled bass are normally easy to locate in the open water between Billies Bay and Platypus Cliffs. At the start of the winter season, there were plenty of bass holding on top of the expansive flats in the mentioned area. These flats vary in depth from 6-7m. If there aren’t big numbers of bass to be found holding on top of the flats, try looking along the drop-off to deeper water found to the south.

Locating schools can be made easier if you troll either deep diving minnows or Jackall Mask Vibs. These lures will often catch fish that the sounder misses. Wivenhoe’s bass are often on the move so it’s easy to miss a school that’s moving around. When bass are located, casting lures is the best way to pull a few quick ones before the school disperses. Soft plastics and Jackall Mask Vibs are excellent for this. If standard plastics are drawing too much attention from catfish, then try to avoid them by using the bigger and faster worked Mask Vib. A great lure for hopping across the bass schools is the new Lake Police Sasuke Blade Bait. These detailed lures are another quality import from Japan. They have a resemblance to the Cicada Blade lures that have been around for years.

The closest public launching point to the area holding the best bass schools is several kilometres away at Logan’s Inlet. All boats on Wivenhoe must be powered by electric motors, paddle or sail. This means the journey to the schools can take around two hours at full speed on an electric motor. Launching of bigger boats is now quite difficult due to the low water level and soft edges. All trailer boats require a boating permit which can be acquired at the Fernvale news and grocery shop, which opens at 5am or the ranger at the lake.

Closest Town/s: Gold Coast

From mid-morning to late afternoon is the best time to hit the water at Hinze. The action can be a bit slower earlier in the day until things warm up.

Bass will be schooling in 7-9m of water. Once you’ve located a school, it’s best to sit off of it and cast back over it. Finesse presentations will receive the most attention. Lately, a few anglers have been hooking quite a few bass by using a dropshot rig. This positions their soft plastic on a small worm hook above the weight, which is hopped along the bottom. This rig allows the plastic to be worked without moving the lead weight. This in-your-face presentation can be what is needed to get inactive fish to bite. Berkley PowerBait Bass Minnows and Gulp Minnows have been doing the damage.

The banks that are close to any schools will usually hold a few bass as well. It can be worth a look as often these shallower fish will be better in size. Towards the end of August, bass should start falling to surface lures more regularly. Buzzbaits, poppers and surface plastics will all produce. It’s a good idea to keep a surface plastic rigged and ready to go as a follow up lure after you’ve missed a strike on a hard-bodied topwater offering.

Saratoga should start to show up more often next month. Mary River cod will be active along the steeper, rocky ledges. To specifically target these bruisers, try using big spinnerbaits. Another lure worth trying is the 4” Storm Shad. These soft plastics can be rigged with a big blade above them to draw the attention of any nearby cod.

For more tips and tricks on fishing Hinze, call in and see the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle at Southport. A license is needed to fish this electric motor only dam. Licenses are available from the council office in Davenport Street, the Kiosk or the ranger.

If you take the time to fill in a catch card and place your license number on it, you’ll be in the running to win a $100 tackle voucher. This will give the guys at the Hinze Dam Fish Stocking association some valuable feedback.

Closest Town/s: Brisbane

Since Noel Frost’s last report in the December issue of QFM, there has been no improvement in the situation at the lake as water levels continue to fall. The invoking of the next level of water restrictions in SEQ is a stark reminder of the dire straits in which we find ourselves, and is a clear indication to anglers that any access to Lake Samsonvale is some time off yet.

The Pine Rivers Fish Management Association (PRFMA), the organisation who manages the boating access scheme at the lake, has not issued permits for the 2006/07 season, which normally would have commenced early in May. The Association is unable to advise when permits will again be available, nor what conditions will apply when they are again released. The PRFMA advice to boaties seeking access to the lake, is to keep an eye on the website (http://prfma.tripod.com ), articles in the local press and QFM, and notices in local bait and tackle stores. When there is sufficient water in the lake to ensure safe access, the PRFMA will determine how the permit scheme will be resurrected and appropriate announcements made.

The Association has continued with a stocking program (though somewhat reduced due to funding restrictions) to ensure the fishery is maintained until the rains return. Noel reports that the three fishing trips he recently had up north were all wash outs, so he thought he should go and camp at the lake for a few weeks so he could actually catch a fish!

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

The fishing around Cressbrook’s shallow edges has improved. For some time it was difficult to lure a fish from this shallow water, but now the winter pattern is more established bass and golden perch are holding close to the banks.

Casting suspending minnows like Squirrel 65s and C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows to the edges is one of the most effective methods. When fishing these lures, take advantage of their suspending ability. Pause them for a second before giving a series of rips to move them another 1-2m. It’s during this pause or straight after the rip that most strikes occur. When fish are showing on the sounder at a greater depth than the lure swims, pause the lure for longer. This gives the fish a chance to rise and take the lure. Most of these strikes occur while the lure is paused – even after several seconds.

The results from exploring the surface with topwater lures in the morning and afternoon should improve as the month progresses. Eddy’s Surface Busters and 5-7cm cup-faced poppers are ideal. Colours aren’t all that important, although I prefer natural colours and patterns.

The bass schools that are holding towards the end of Bull Creek and out from the steep rock wall up Cressbrook Creek have remained in the same areas for the last two months. These bass can be hot and cold. They’re certainly worth a look if you’re at the dam because when they fire up, the action is fast. When these bass are on the bite, they aren’t fussy about what they eat. Soft plastics are the best choice if the fish are spread out or not very active. When the schools turn on, lures like tailspinners, lipless crankbaits, Jackall Masks and beetlespins will all do the job.

Despite the dam being low, there is a good solid bank for boat launching. Take care when pushing the boat off and you shouldn’t have any problems. Don’t forget your $2 entry fee which is payable at the boom gate.

Closest Town/s: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Even though the water level is quite low, the dam has stayed open. There have been rumours of closing the lake so if you are travelling any distance to visit, it may pay to check first.

The fishing has been steady. Lurefishing will continue to be slow this month. Bait anglers can expect better results. Following the walking trails to the steeper banks toward the wall will put you in the best positions for bank fishing.

Boats are still allowed on the lake but must be launched by hand. Only electric or paddle powered craft are permitted. If you’re lucky enough to get a boat onto the water, try fishing in the deeper parts of the lake where the water drops into the old creek bed.

Live shrimp and small crays are the best baits. Golden perch, jew and the odd small cod are common captures. If you do catch a cod, it must be legal size if you plan to keep it.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

The fishing has slowed down a little but it’s still quite easy to fill your bag during a short visit to the lake. Golden perch are the most common fish being caught. Baits of live shrimp and small crays are working best with lurefishing not likely to pick up until spring. The best areas have been on the drop-off to the old creek bed and up in the timber.

If you don’t have the luxury of owning a sounder, then heading to the timber and tying up to a deep submerged tree can make life easier.

There are still a few shrimp available in the dam, though you may have to work hard to get enough. Bringing them with you might be a safer option.

There is basic camping right at the lake or the comfort of the Coolmunda Caravan Park only 2km away. Why not take advantage of some great fishing and give them a call on (07) 4652 4171?

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

Now that the water level has become more stable, the fishing action has picked up. A month after the last release of water, the bass and golden perch have made their presence felt in a big way. Lure casters can take advantage of this great action.

The majority of fish are in the lower reaches of the lake. Here, deeper water has attracted them to the area. There are plenty of bait species in the lake and despite the level being low the fish are in a healthy condition. With a multitude of fish confined to such a small space anglers need to practise a responsible attitude when they are on the bite. Be sure to stick to bag and size limits if you’re keeping a feed.

The low water has made it easy to access the shoreline of the lake. With no weed in the water, it’s easy to cast lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits from the banks. These lures have been accounting for plenty of bass and golden perch. Boat launching is still okay at the far ramp. The bank is quite solid and at a good angle to launch most boats. If fishing from a boat, try the flats areas, points or the drop-off to the old creek bed.

Bait fishing is an option as well. Live shrimp and worms are the best baits to try. Towards the end of the month, the jew and golden perch should become more active. You can purchase live worms from the kiosk at the lake. They also stock an extensive range of tackle suited to the lake. Be sure to call in and get some advice about where the fish are biting.

Closest Town/s: Proston, Kingaroy

The fishing action is likely to be tough due to the falling water levels. The continuing fall in level means that the fish need to keep adjusting and this has made them harder to catch.

Many fish will be holding closer to the wall end of the lake. Here bigger schools of bass can be found roaming the open, deep water. Study your sounder when passing areas like points or flats that extend well out in to the lake. Once found, target the schools with soft plastics, lipless crankbaits or Jackall Mask Vib 60s. If these lures fail to produce, try ice jigs. Ice jigs can work particularly well when the fish are hugging the bottom.

The weedy edges are still flourishing despite the falling water levels. The edges in the middle reaches of the lake back towards the wall will be holding quite a few fish. This will certainly become the case as the month draws on and we approach spring. Casting lures like spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and soft plastic shads into the weedy edge and retrieving them back to the boat will produce mixed bags of bass and golden perch.

The golden perch and jew should become more willing to take baits this month. The prime locations for these fish are the rocky points in the main basin of the lake. Try baits like shrimp, small freshwater crays, frozen prawns or worms.

Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy is on the way to the lake for most visitors. Call in and see the guys and they can help you out and offer some useful advice. For accommodation at the lake, give Bob and Deb a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable.

Closest Town/s: Monto

Cania Dam would have to be one of the state’s most consistent fisheries. This time of year will be no exception. Trolling, casting and bait fishing will produce mixed bags and none who visit will go away disappointed.

Trolling lures out from the dirt boat ramp in the deeper water should tempt some small to medium sized bass. The steep bank on the opposite side of the dam right down to the old quarry area is also worth a shot. Medium to deep diving lures with a small profile will do the trick.

Casting lures like lipless crankbaits, soft plastics and spinnerbaits will catch plenty of fish once they are located. The better areas are normally up past The Quarry. In this part of the lake there are plenty of undulations in the bottom, creating interesting drop-offs and flats. The shallower banks in this area are also worth a look. A few more saratoga will start to take lures meant for bass and golden perch as we approach spring.

Boat launching at the lake is still fine. Take some care if using a car and look for the harder gravel area that most trailers are backed in on. There is a Fly Fishing Classic for all species being held at the lake. It is on the 18-19 November and more information is available from Helen Adby on (07) 4166 3098.

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

The golden perch fishing at Wuruma is brilliant at this time of year. Both bait and lures work well when chasing these fish. The deeper parts of the lake will often produce the best results.

Trolling smaller barra lures like the 4 and 6m Bandits increases the chance of catching a mixed bag of fish. Big goldens won’t hesitate to take these lures and there is always the chance of a barramundi.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town/s: Benaraby, Gladstone

The barra have well and truly settled into their winter patterns. They are searching for food in a laidback manner and are more lethargic when hooked. After a good jump or two, they come to the net quite quickly.

Shallow bays with any predominant winds blowing into them are the ideal places to start if casting lures. Fishing the shallow weed edges where the water is warmest will produce some great winter barra. From 10am-3pm is the most productive time. At this time the water is warmer so you can have a sleep in and head out later on in the morning after a big breakfast.

Shallow diving lures are ideal for this work. The new floating Doozer from Lake Police is a barra-sized lipless crankbait. These tough lures have been turning the heads of quite a few barra over the winter season. Other hard bodies worth trying are the Bomber Long and Short A, Classic F-18 and the B52. Work your lures slowly with good pauses and twitches to entice barra to strike. Electric motors are of great help to position the boat considering the wind can make fishing difficult at this time of year.

The Squidgy Slick Rig in 110mm is a great plastic to use. All colours in the range will produce barra – the most important thing is presentation. There are real bruisers to be caught, try using a slow and steady retrieve.

The bays on the western side in and around New Zealand Gully or in Iveragh Creek are good shallow water options.

On the trolling scene, gold Bombers, B-52s and Mars Kingdom lures will take good fish. Trolling the lake’s fringes with a lot of line out will be the go. In the deeper water, look for the terns and pelicans and the barra won’t be too far away. Trolling in the deep water will require lures that dive over 5m. Trolling faster can turn the barra on and make them rise in the water column to take your lure. Some good lures that can handle the pace are the Scorpion 7m and 8m models, Bandit Prowlers 6m+ and Killalures Barra Bait 20+.

Exercise some caution when launching in a southwesterly wind. This wind blows directly across the open water and onto the ramp. Don’t underestimate conditions in a strong southerly wind. The dam can become quite unsafe and has claimed its share of boats.

For any accommodation bookings, give the caravan park at the lake a call on (07) 4975 0155. Book in advance as the park is always busy.

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.

A special thanks needs to go out from myself and all the readers to Jason Wilhelm. Jason is a local at the dam who manages to catch his fair share of big barra. Jason’s advice and tips over the coming months will help us all to catch more barra. You can check out Jason’s approach to fishing the lake with presenter Steve Starling on the latest Fishing DVD (Volume 4) and also check out his great article on catching winter barra in this year’s Queensland Fishing Annual released at the Brisbane Boat Show this year.

Closest Town/s: Biloela

The action has been slower over winter but there has been a continuous flow of fish caught. There were a few nice barra taken recently casting River 2 Sea 70mm Phantoms to fish boofing the surface and feeding high in the water column.

On the hotter, sunny days the best approach is to pound the shallows. Use shallow diving lures and look for the warmest water. The best time is usually from midday to late in the afternoon. Shallow divers like the B52 or Tropic Angler large floater are ideal.

On the less pleasant days, trolling deep diving lures is a favoured approach. There are plenty of fish that hold in the deeper water. The better concentrations are found in close to the drop-off to the old creek bed. The 5m RMG 150mm Poltergeist is a great contender in this lake. When trolled, it will produce both barra and huge golden perch. The golden perch in Callide aren’t a shy fish and often fall for big lures intended for barra. At this time of year, they are often the main species encountered while trolling. To specifically target golden perch, try using the 80mm RMG Poltergeist.

Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela stock a great range of tackle. The store services Callide, which is just a short drive away, as well as Cania and Wuruma. For any tips or the latest information call in and say g’day.

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

The wind at this time of year can make the fishing difficult. The lake is so open that it makes it difficult to find productive locations that are sheltered when the wind decides to blow.

The warm, shallow water is the place to look for barra. On clear days with little wind, the weed edge is easy to define. The use of polarized glasses cuts the surface glare making it easier to see into the water. The productive areas in the weed are any lane ways or pockets.

There is weed throughout the main basin of the lake as well as in the timber. In the timber, points are formed between the smaller feeder creeks. Work these points with the boat in as little as 2m of water. Use long casts as the fish are easily spooked in the shallows. Even though there are plenty of trees and sticks in the area, the shallows will produce better results as this is where the water is warmest.

Squidgy Slick Rigs in 80mm and 110mm are an excellent choice for exploring the shallows. Hard-bodied lures like Classic Barra 160s, Big B-52s and the gold Bomber 16As will also make you a serious contender in the barra stakes. When using deeper diving minnows in the shallows, work them slowly with upward lifts of the rod. This will keep them higher in the water column and away from weed and slime.

Lindsay Dobe runs charters on the lake and can help you in your search for that elusive big barramundi. Lindsay also owns Proserpine Bait and Tackle, which stocks all the gear to successfully target the lake’s big barra.

Northern Tropics and Tablelands
Koombooloomba and Tully River
Closest Town/s: Ravenshoe, Innisfail

James Coate has provided the information for a detailed report for both Koombooloomba and the Tully River.

Despite being so far north, the water temperature is quite low in Koombooloomba. It’s hard to find any water with a surface temperature above 18. As a result, the fish and bait have moved into the deeper water. When studying the sounder, the bait will show in large concentrations in over 15m of water. The target species can often be seen close to the bottom in the same areas.

At this time of year, cloud banks can descend onto the dam quickly, making visibility extremely poor. Within a matter of minutes, an angler can be left in a complete state of disorientation. A GPS and a map are essential to navigate the dam once the cloud settles. At the very least, make sure you have a compass so you can hold a straight course.

If boating in the dam, be aware of trees. Whilst the dam doesn’t have huge amounts of submerged timber like other lakes, it does have some mega-trees. These submerged rainforest giants have big stumps that are capable of wrecking propellers or peeling boats open.

With the dam’s level so high, the Tully River above the dam is navigable to the first set of rapids. Unfortunately this area is quiet at the moment but should fire up when the days get hotter. This running section of water reportedly supports a self-sustaining sooty grunter population within the dam.

There are a number of floating weed mats, particularly at the southern end of the dam. These grassy beds are growing in as much as 6m of water. If they stay intact until the warmer weather arrives, they will be a haven for baitfish, which will attract sooties and barra.

While the dam can be quiet during the winter months, the Tully River below is a different story. The river also suffers from the cold but the action is much better than that found in the dam. The Tully’s target species are the sooty grunter and the prized jungle perch.

Small cupped-face poppers like the River 2 Sea Pop 65 and C’ultiva Gobo Popper worked slowly and persistently in fishy areas will produce both species. Small spinnerbaits will also do the trick. The Squidgy spinnerbait that is rigged with a small plastic tail will often do the trick.

James Coate has been catching more jungle perch than sooties, which he finds surprising as it is normally the other way around. The JPs that have been on the bite have been of better quality than normal. James has a personal best of 42cm and regularly catches 30cm specimen.

There is no direct route from the dam to the Tully River. The best way to access the river is by driving into the town of Tully and following the signs into Tully Gorge. Along the way, you’ll notice large white numbers on the side of the road. These are evacuation points for white water rafters and also provide anglers with good access points to walk into the river. The river can also be accessed from the Tully Gorge recreation area.

Tully is 140km south of Cairns and 210km north of Townsville. This makes it within reach for day trippers heading out from either of these cities or anywhere in between.

New England Ranges (N.S.W.)
Closest Town/s: Inverell

Located on the western slopes of the New England Ranges, Copeton Dam is a great expanse of water that offers some great fishing. The species on offer include Murray cod, golden perch, catfish and the introduced redfin.

The fishing has been quite steady of late but this should pick up as we approach spring. Copeton is famous for its massive Murray cod that are quite abundant. Casting spinnerbaits and using big bibbed lures around the rocky granite areas will test your tackle and skills if you hook one of these big fish.

Copeton Waters State Park is around 40km from Inverell. The park offers some excellent facilities. Even though the fishing may be a little tough, it’s a great place for a family weekend away. The park has ensuite cabins, bunkhouses, on-site vans and grassed powered and un-powered camp sites. The Northcott Centre Café located within the park sells groceries, fuel, gas and most importantly, bait and lures.

Payment of an administration charge grants access to the park and the use of all facilities including flood-lit tennis courts, nine hole golf course, adventure playground, barbecue and picnic facilities. During summer months, there is a children’s wading pool near the waterslides. With so much on offer it would be a great place visit. For further information, contact the Copeton Waters State Park Administration Centre on (02) 6723 6269.

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