Fantastic Freshwater Fishing
  |  First Published: December 2006

Another year is almost over. When I think back, I haven’t fished as much as I normally would. I guess this is partly due to the depressingly low water levels across the lakes – but mostly because I don’t own a boat at the moment!

I plan to make up for this and get stuck into barra over the coming months. It will be interesting to see how lake stocked barra react to all the fishing pressure they receive next year. Will we have to change our techniques and explore new options as the fish get smarter?

It would be nice if Santa brought some rain for Christmas and dumped it in the catchments for all the low water level lakes. You’d think that less water and more confined fish would create the right conditions to catch a stack of fish. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this. Only occasionally do the fish turn it on in the low lakes. What they need is a good flush and rise. This would pump in the nutrients and the whole ecosystem would thrive.

I hope that I’ve helped everyone to learn what’s biting and given a few useful tips over the past year. As much as I’d like, I can’t fish all of the dams myself. Therefore I rely heavily on reports from other anglers. If anyone ever feels like dropping me a line at --e-mail address hidden-- I’d love to hear what you’ve been catching. It all helps me deliver the most accurate fishing forecasts I can. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

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

Toowoomba’s lakes continue to drop and Cressbrook will be at around 18% unless it gets some rain soon. There are some decent weed growths around the lake’s edges. These will hold bass and the odd golden perch for the lure tossers. Spinnerbaits, Jackall TN60s and soft plastics are all worth casting into the weed.

Some bass may start to school out from the points or on top of any flats in around 7m of water. In this depth, try soft plastics, beetlespins and Mask Vib Jackalls. The same lures can be used in the deeper water where the bass will sometimes be scattered. A quality sounder like a Humminbird Matrix is a must when locating bass and casting lures in the deeper water.

Trolling deep diving crankbaits through the deeper parts of the lake should also pull a few bass. The fish can be hard to fool due to the low water level. Slow trolling with an electric using Jackall TN60s or soft plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads are usually better options.

Closest Town/s: Esk, Kilcoy

It’s a good time to visit Lake Somerset. It receives less angling pressure just before Christmas than at other times of the year. Bass are pretty active and can be caught casting lures.

Schooled bass should be holding out from Beams Creek, around Pelican Point and near The Spit. The fish can be found along any of the drop-offs in between these areas in the lower reaches of the lake.

Paddle–tailed grubs rigged on 1/2oz jigheads and Jackall Mask Vibs were the standout lures last month. 3” grubs like Sliders or Gulp Minnow Grubs can be slow rolled over the fish for several turns before letting them fall back to the bottom. The process is repeated all the way back to the boat. Occasionally, bass will school below the boat in the sounder beam. When this happens drop your plastic through them and use a slow retrieve to bring the lure back up past the school. Drop it back down and repeat until the school disperses.

My favourite way of catching schooled bass is to hop Mask Vib Jackalls. This is an easy technique to learn. Simply cast your lure over schooled bass and let it sink to the bottom. Wind the slack out of the line with the rod tip pointing at the lure. Lift the rod tip sharply to an almost vertical position. After this, drop it back until it is pointing at the lure, while retrieving a few turns of slack line. You can do this all the way back to the boat. Most strikes will occur while the lure is falling back to the bottom so pay attention to your slack line.

Closest Town/s: Boonah

Chris Galligan has good news to report for anglers thinking about fishing Lake Moogerah. Chris’ reports have already put quite a few anglers onto some good fish.

With the warmer weather well and truly upon us, the consistent fishing should continue well into December. Reaction baits will be the best choice. Spinnerbaits are the perfect example and Moogerah bass seem to hit these lures harder than any other type. Lipless crankbaits can also produce the goods. Both bass and golden perch will be found in the deep-water areas of the dam and up on the edges of the deeper flats. Concentrating your efforts in and around the old creek bed will put you in the most productive zone.

Smaller bass are very active this time of year and it can take some work to score a better quality fish. Slow trolling spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits is a good way to cover a lot of ground searching for bigger bass.

Plenty of school sized golden perch have been caught recently. Moogerah regular Luke Clark managed 15 legal fish in under an hour on TN50 Jackalls. This action should continue all the way through to the end of the year. If goldens are your quarry, concentrate on the small ledges and rock piles located in the main basin. This type of structure can be picked up quite easily on a good quality sounder. If the fish aren’t responding to Jackalls, try slow rolling or slow twitching 2-3" soft plastics.

Bait fishing from the bank at Haigh Park produced good results last month and should continue to do so. The best method is to use unweighted or lightly weighted live shrimps on wide gape hooks. This presentation ensures a good hook-up and prevents fish from swallowing the bait into the gut.

Launching boats on the gravel ramp is still quite safe in 2WD vehicles if care is taken.

Closest Town/s: Boonah, Rathdowney

Hot December weather at Maroon equals hot fishing. Chris Galligan reports that Maroon will fire this month with surface presentations the most exciting option. As we approach the end of the year, surface luring for bass gets better. The sessions become longer and there are more fish to be caught. Try using cupped faced poppers, stickbaits or even surface fly presentations. Different lures can produce more effective results on different days, so it pays to experiment.

When the surface fishing slows down, try sub-surface lures like shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Fish these slowly across the top of the broken weed beds adding plenty of pauses as the bass sit in ambush, striking from underneath. It’s not uncommon to see the strike when fishing this way. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will aid in finding the best weed areas.

Golden perch will be very active in the lead up to Christmas. Trolling brightly coloured lures close to the bottom will produce the best results. The goldens will be found on the shallow flats towards The Nursery area.

There is thick weed covering the lake’s edge so bait fishing is best done from a boat. Try positioning on gentle sloping points or any areas with structure nearby. Live shrimp or freshly caught crickets will catch good numbers of bass, golden perch and silver perch.

Take care if launching from the flat area beside the boat ramp as the edge can be quite soft and boggy. It’s a much safer option to launch from the concrete boat ramp.

Closest Town/s: Gold Coast

The fishing at Hinze Dam will pick up in December. Warmer water temperatures and long humid days will create the perfect scenario for great fishing sessions. Good numbers of bass should be holding around Ians Island and Bass Bay. Slow presentations of soft plastics or deeply presented flies will entice the scattered fish. These bass should be holding in 8-12ft of water. 1/8oz jigheads rigged with Berkley Gulp 3" minnows and minnow grubs have been doing the trick. Another option is a slow rolled spinnerbait. Try natural skirt colours.

Working the edges early and later in the day should also be effective. 3” (75mm) surface lures cast right up to the lake’s edge will draw some smashing strikes. Jackalls and the new Chatterbaits will also get plenty of fish around the grassy fringes of the dam. Chatterbaits are the latest lure to come from America and have proven to be quite effective on Hinze bass. The vibration and flash created by a large blade draws a lot of reaction bites on the skirt with a plastic trailer.

A licence is needed to fish this electric motor only dam. Licences are available from the council office in Davenport Street, the Kiosk at the lake or the ranger. Note that all outboards must be removed from boats that are fishing this lake.

For all your tackle needs, call in and see the guys at Tackle World Southport in Nind Street. The guys can help you with all the right gear for your next fishing trip. Their up-to-date report on the area should help you land a few more fish.

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

The hot spring bite at Cooby Dam has slowed down. The excellent fishing and the new gravel boat ramp attracted plenty of boats. All the activity and fishing pressure would most likely have contributed to the fishing getting tougher.

With fewer boats now on the water, it should again pick up for reasonable catches to be made. Golden perch and Murray cod are the most common capture at Cooby. Big silver perch are occasionally taken as well as jew and spangled perch when fishing with baits.

Trolling the flats and creek channels covers plenty of water and gives you a good chance of hooking some quality fish. TN60 Jackalls have been a popular choice and last month the bluegill colours were one of the hot favourites. When the fish are pressured and see a lot of Jackalls, it can pay to try something different. Shallow running crankbaits will score plenty of fish. I find that black with white stripes is an excellent colour. The best lure that I’ve found for this lake is the small Stump Jumper with the bigger bib attached. Since the days are now hotter and the water is only shallow, the best time to be on the water will be late in the afternoon. There is usually a hot bite period just as it gets dark.

There is a boom gate at the dam, which takes $2 in coins to open. The gates close at 8 o’clock at night, so there’s plenty of time for a late afternoon fish.

Closest Town/s: Inglewood

The action at Coolmunda has been furious in the past month. It’s likely that the fish will continue to bite well right through the warmer months. Both baits and lures are producing fish.

Stacks of golden perch can be located in the deeper water along the drop-off to the old creek bed. Out from the dam wall is one of the most popular spots. Live shrimp are the number one bait and at times will only last a few seconds when you’re positioned in the right spot. If you struggle finding a supply of live shrimp try using worms or frozen prawns. Remember the bag limit of 10 golden perch per person and the minimum size limit of 30cm.

Some anglers have been landing golden perch on ice jigs. These lures are usually used to target schooled bass. Because goldens are so thick in places, the ice jigs are working well when vertically jigged on top of them. They are fished with a similar action to that used when bobbing a crayfish. Ice jigs can be purchased at any bigger specialized fishing tackle outlet.

Lure trolling along the drop-off of the old creek bed can also produce plenty of fish. Golden perch are the main species caught, although trolling increases the chances of hooking a nice Murray cod. There were several cod hooked and boated last month with the biggest I heard of being around 40lb. Cod are a magnificent fish and with goldens so easy to catch, it’s good to release them. Big cod take years to grow and it saddens me to see them dead. I couldn’t bring myself to kill a fish that’s possibly older than me. If we kill all these big breeders, I fear that my kids may never have the chance to catch them.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only 1-2km from the lake. The park is off the Cunningham Highway and far enough away from the noise of trucks to get a good night’s sleep. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. Take advantage of some great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below and give them a call on (07) 4652 4171.

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

The level at the lake has remained quite stable, with water being recycled from the Tarong Power Station and being fed back into the dam. In fact there has actually been a slight rise in the water level in the past couple of months. This means that launching boats is still okay. The area below the far boat ramp is hard enough for 2WDs to launch boats. When on the lake, take care and be courteous to others because there’s not very much water with the lake at around 3%.

The fishing around the edges has been good. Bait fisherman can enjoy catching mixed bags of bass, golden perch and jew. Baits like shrimp, frozen prawns and worms seem to do the trick. Another option when fishing from the bank is casting lures. Walking the edges and flicking spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits into the deeper water should produce quite a few bass and the odd golden. Try working your lures at different depths by letting them sink for various lengths of time before commencing a retrieve.

Closest Town/s: Proston, Kingaroy

Despite falling water levels, the weed beds around the lake’s edges are still holding on. These areas have been one of the most reliable places to find both bass and golden perch for the past few months. The low levels have made the fish a bit shy and a subtle approach can help to boost catches.

Casting silent Jackalls right up into the weed and ripping them out before slow rolling them back to the boat seems to work well. The best places to try are where there is any broken weed. These types of weed formations can often be found in any small bays running into the dam.

In the main basin around the boat ramp area, hopping Jackall Masks down the steeper banks will also score some nice bass and golden. Schooled and scattered bass may also hold on the deeper flats in the lower reaches of the dam. Masks can be used on these fish or try ice jigs when they are holding close to the bottom.

Trolling in the deeper water around the points should also produce a mixed bag. Lures that dive 7-10 metres deep will draw most attention. The purple Ridgeback has been one particular lure doing the damage.

Both the Boyne and Stuart timbered reaches will fish quite well for goldens and the odd jew and bass. Bait is a good option here. Shrimp, frozen prawns and worms are all worth a try.

Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy can look after all of your fishing needs. Call in and see the guys. The store is in Youngman Street and the guys 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.

Capricornia Region
Closest Town/s: Biloela

Callide is a small dam only a 12km drive from Biloela. Although the lake is small in size, the fish are big. Barra and golden perch are the main species targeted.

Windy days and cold nights saw the water temperature bounce up and down over the last month. When the temperature does warm, it will force the barra into deeper water. It’s likely that December will be a transition time when the fish are holding all over the lake. This will suit most anglers with barra to be caught in the shallows, out on the flats and close to the drop-offs in deeper water.

Although fishing from a boat gives you plenty of options, quality barra can be caught from the shore. Most of the lake can be accessed by car and walking the banks while casting lures will give you a chance at landing some nice barra.

Before you head to the lake, make sure you take a range of lures. Soft plastics and shallow divers work well in the lake’s shallows. Then you’ll need a mix of medium and deep running crankbaits for the open water. These lures can be used both for casting and trolling.

Creek to Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela stock a great range of tackle. The guys at the store can stock you up with the right gear, give you some local advice and point you in the right direction. Biloela has all the essentials: groceries, fuel, pubs and accommodation.

Closest Town/s: Monto

Cania continues to fire. It must be the best bass lake in the state for consistently good fishing. The beauty of this lake is that you can catch fish with so many different techniques. This makes it a good place to practise your techniques. Cania is around an hour’s drive from Callide which is home to huge golden perch and barra. Both lakes are on the Bass to Barra Trail and can be visited while you’re in the area.

The lake’s bass have been taking trolled and cast lures. Trolling the deeper banks in the main dam with medium running lures will soon pull the kinks out of your line.

Bass can be caught casting throughout the dam. The area up the dam that narrows into what looks like a river is definitely worth a look. Early in the mornings or late in the afternoons, try surface lures. Small cupped-face poppers like the Berkley Frenzy Popper or stickbaits like Eddy’s Surface Busters should draw some attention. Work these lures for a couple of metres before giving them a pause of 1-5 seconds. Repeat this all the way back to the boat.

When the sun is brighter and the surface action slows opt for a suspending minnow. Squirrels, Rapala Shad Raps or C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows are some that come to mind. If you have a suspender that can probe down to ten feet it should be in the zone.

If suspending lures fail or the action is slow, switch between spinnerbaits, Jackall TN60s and soft plastics until you find what works best.

When casting lures around the edges, the occasional golden, spangled or silver will take a liking to your offering. One of the more sought after sportsfish species is saratoga. When hooked these hard-mouthed beauties turn on the acrobatics, leaping out of the water. They are poor eating but great catching so be sure to let them go.

Creek to Coast at Biloela stock a great range of lures that can be used at Cania. They can be contacted on (07) 4992 1288. For accommodation at the lake, contact the Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park. This lovely park is only a short drive from the lake and offers camping, caravan sites and cabins. You can enquire about the fishing or book your stay by giving them a call on (07) 4167 8188.

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

Unstable water temperatures caused by gusty winds have made the fishing tough over the past month. Even in December, the water temperature can drop overnight when the strong winds blow. Not only does this make the fishing tough but also uncomfortable.

Quality barra that grow well over a metre long will lure anglers to the lake. When the wind is kind, the fishing can change and be awesome. The weed beds around the lake’s edges are the best place to cast lures. Soft plastics are the hot favourite but fish will also fall for big surface fizzers and shallow diving hard bodies. The X-Rap range are one of the better lures used in this lake. When casting to the weed, look for gutters and broken weed. A pair of polarized sunglasses certainly helps, cutting down the surface glare and defining the weed edge more clearly.

Lindsay Dobe runs charters on Lake Proserpine. Lindsay also owns Proserpine Bait and Tackle which stocks all the gear to successfully target the lake’s big barra. You can call in to the store on the highway in Proserpine when you are on your way to the dam, or give them a call on (07) 4945 4641.

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

James Coate has compiled a report that contains good news for anglers heading to Koombooloomba.

The dam will continue to fire this month, with sooty grunter grabbing anything that moves. Any lure will work well, including small spinnerbaits, surface lures, hard bodies and soft plastics.

Barra will also be hungry and should respond to most lures presented before them. Areas containing horizontal timber and boulders up along the dam edges continue to be prime places to target. The Tully arm is also a great spot. Take care as it’s generally pretty shallow and contains a lot of structure which could wreck your outboard prop and your trip.

The road condition into the dam continues to be haphazard at best, so take care.

Central Queensland
Lake Moondarra
Closest Town/s: Mt Isa

Many readers may not realise that our awesome barra impoundment fisheries aren’t only located just along the state’s east coast. There are several dams around Mt Isa and further north that also hold big barra. George Fortune has provided a report on the fishing that was enjoyed during October’s fishing competition and a brief rundown on the year-round fishing on offer.

The water level in the lake for the Mount Isa Water Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic, held on the 27-29 October, was 65%. Favourable weather conditions were welcomed the two weeks prior to the Classic weekend. Hot humid conditions raised the water temperature from 24-27. A change of weather on the Friday night cooled the water considerably with limited numbers of fish being caught until the Sunday. All four concrete boat ramps were accessible to the 510 competitors over the weekend. A great weekend was had by all with entertainment in the form of crayfish races and casting competitions throughout the day and a live band at night.

The annual Fishing Classic is held on the last weekend of October every year with anglers from Mackay, Townsville, Innisfail, Ingham, Cairns and Port Douglas competing for up to $60 000 in prizes and money. Camping is only available on the Fishing Classic weekend for nominated competitors. Caravan parks, motels and holiday units are available by looking up the Mount Isa City Council website for information.

No permit is required to fish Lake Moondarra. It is stocked with sooty grunter and barra by the Mount Isa Fish Stocking Group (MIFSG) who are a dedicated group of community volunteers.

Lake Moondarra is located 16km north of Mount Isa. A two lane sealed access road leads to the lake and two of the main boat ramps. An unsealed road is used to access the other two ramps with a scenic drive past contrasting semi-desert and life giving water.

The lake also contains sleepy cod, long tom, archerfish, redclaw crayfish, spangled perch and the ever-present eel-tailed catfish.

Sooty grunter can be caught on bullock heart, prawn, cheese, mutton chops, small hard-bodied lures, spinnerbait lures and flies. Sooty grunter, sleepy cod and long tom can be caught on all types of lures and baits throughout the year with most being caught in summer.

Barra take hard-bodied lures like gold Bombers. Soft plastic lures also work well. Transport Bay, in front of the Canoe Club is an easily accessible site for barra fishing and is frequented at night and early morning by keen anglers. Barra can be caught all year round. It can take a lot of hard work in winter with experienced anglers only averaging around one fish. In summer, you can expect to catch up to six fish a night even if you’re new to the barra scene.

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

The action at Copeton has picked up. Golden perch are a common capture on trolled lures. Yabbies will catch their share of these fish as well.

Murray cod have been active. Be sure to release these fish as the cod season is closed in NSW.

The algae that has fouled the water over the last few months has abated. Let’s hope it stays this way and the fish continue to bite. To find out what’s biting and book accommodation or a camp site at Copeton Dam, contact the Copeton Waters State Park Administration Centre on (02) 6723 6269.

Closest Town/s: Ashford

The fishing has been good at Pindari. It can shut down however, when there has been a big release of water.

Pindari is very quiet at the moment, possibly because quite a lot of water has been released over the past fortnight. Prior to then a few reasonable perch & cod were caught. Once the level is stable, the fish should again start to bite.

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