Top Winter Tips
  |  First Published: August 2008

Having fished the freshwater for most of my life, I feel as though I have a fair understanding of fish and their habits. So when new techniques emerge, I strive to keep up with them. However, when I believe I have it pretty well sorted out, along comes something that blows my theories to pieces and leaves me scratching my head.

I was talking to Matthew Mott from Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy recently when he broke the news that he has been catching bass, and the odd golden perch, on surface lures up at Boondooma. It’s certainly never been considered impossible to do this but to do it on a regular basis is very strange. Bass anglers had developed the opinion that surface fishing in particular lakes wasn’t worth trying. Boondooma, which was one of these lakes, has certainly proved this belief wrong by producing good numbers of fish on topwater lures. How long this action will last, nobody knows.

This makes me realise that I need to heed my own advice to others, which is to keep an open mind when you are fishing. Just when you think you’ve got it all sorted out, something comes along to prove you wrong. It’s why fishing can be so addictive – it remains a challenge and the learning never stops.

I haven’t been hitting the water anywhere near as much as I used to of late. Other things have kept me busy, which can make it tough to keep my finger on the pulse. Therefore, if anyone has information or reports on any freshwater spots please send them through to --e-mail address hidden-- . I’d certainly like to hear where they’re biting. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Mixed results have been coming from Lake Cressbrook over the past month. The fishing has shown signs of improvement with better quality bass being caught. But some anglers seem to find them while others are missing out.

Cressbrook is a dam that you need to attack with an open mind. It’s no good planning to catch the fish on one specific technique as they may be responding to another. This makes the dam quite challenging. It’s a good place to practise all types of bass catching methods and refine those skills. When the fish do choose to cooperate, you can have great fun catching them on different styles of lures. Let’s take a look at some of the presentations that should produce fish over the coming month.

The surface action in Cressbrook can continue right through winter. The size of fish has been down on previous years but the visual aspect of this style of fishing makes it exciting. You can watch as bass repeatedly attack your lure floating on the surface. The mornings have been the best time to give topwater lures a go. The bite will usually extend well into the morning and it’s not uncommon to be still catching fish at 11am. You can also experience a topwater bite in the latter part of the afternoon. In winter the action dies off after dark so don’t leave this type of fishing to the last minute.

When the fish want to feed on top, there is no secret lure that catches them. Choose any surface offering around 5-8cm long. Some of the better performers that come to mind are Sammy 65’s, Zara Puppies, Rapala Skitterpops, Mazzy Poppers, Frenzy Poppers and Trollcraft fizzers. Work these lures close to the weed edge and allow them to pause for a few seconds every metre or so.

When surface fishing fails it might be necessary to probe a bit deeper, sometimes a bit is all it takes. The weed beds have been holding stacks of bass of mixed sizes. Most are tiny but there have been some reasonable ones mixed in. For the last few winter seasons, suspending lures have been one of the best options when targeting these fish. Choose a lure that is suited to the depth you are fishing. For shallow weed beds, run a shallow diving lure like a Rapala Husky Jerk or an SX40. For the deeper areas try using lures like Jackall Squirrels, Chubbies and C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows. Work the lure in a series of twitches followed by a decent pause. A lot of strikes come after the pause as soon as the lure makes the tiniest movement.

My nephew, Adrian Ehrlich, has been doing well by downsizing his offerings. He has been using 5cm Rapala Countdown lures to follow the contour of the weed beds and effectively catch a lot of bass. About four months ago he was upsizing his baits and catching quality bass on 6” lures. This perfectly demonstrates the need to be flexible and try different approaches if you want to consistently catch fish.

Schools of bass are still cruising around in the deeper water. They can be hard to locate but when they are found they should be fairly easy to catch. The lure of choice for these deepwater fish has been the Evergreen Little Max blade bait. These lures can be cast and retrieved or jigged through the schools to tempt a bite. Often the bites are finicky but the small sharp hooks are good for pinning fish that aren’t committed to swallowing the lure. The blade bait is a versatile lure that can also be used to fish around the weeded edges.

For anglers using live shrimp, the bass will soon decimate your supply as small bass seem to be everywhere. They’ll provide plenty of fun for the family but make sure they are over the 30cm minimum size. Small bass can be harder to handle than bigger ones. They are like a ball of spikes and can be painful if they manage to hit you. It’s a good idea to use a wet rag and pair of pliers to remove hooks.

The water level is very low but boats can still be launched easily from the gravel boat ramp. Take care when navigating as there are some shallow areas out from the banks. Speed restrictions of 8 knots in open water and 4 knots close to the shore are still in place. Don’t forget your $2 entry fee at the gate. This allows you to access the boat ramp and BBQ, picnic and playground facilities.

Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street can help you out with all of the required gear and tackle for fishing Cressbrook and Queensland’s many other lakes. The experienced staff there will help you out with the most up-to-date information.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset’s action remains way below standard for this usually awesome lake and all forms of fishing have been tough. Bearing this in mind, fewer people have been fishing the lake so I have had fewer reports than normal.

There are still bass spread out all over the lake that will eat lures cast to the edges. Places like Wyangi Creek, Bay 13 and the timber north of Kirkleigh are popular with anglers targeting these shallow fish. Jackalls and spinnerbaits are both effective but you can expect to make a lot of casts between fish. Some bass living in the shallow water have been massive so they are worth the effort.

There haven’t been many reports of schooled fish. Even if they do school up, it isn’t likely that they will fire up until September. It’s been tough for too long now so I’d certainly like to hear if someone breaks a fish catching pattern.

Closest Town: Boonah

Anglers will be taking full advantage of Lake Moogerah during August. The lake’s bass population will be easier to find and more active as they gorge themselves on spawning bony bream. Anyone willing to put in a little effort is sure to be rewarded with some good catches.

Bass and the odd golden perch will be found schooling in and around the original creek bed. Break-lines (bottom contour changes) will also hold concentrations of fish. Using a good quality sounder will aid in locating any active fish. Break-lines can be fished using a couple of popular techniques including slow rolling T-tail soft plastics and hopping lipless crankbaits.

On the 31st of August, Moogerah will host the third last Bass Electric event for 2008. For any enquiries regarding the tournament please contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- – Chris Galligan

Closest Town/s: Boonah, Rathdowney

Maroon’s fishing has been a little on and off throughout July. It seemed only finesse presentations could tempt any bass, making it difficult to use searching techniques to find the better concentrations of fish. This is a good indication that the fish are well and truly settled to the new water level and their habits will become a little easier to predict, as they follow their normal movements with the seasonal changes.

Moving closer to the spring bite the lake’s fishing is set to improve, with the water warming up and days becoming just a little longer. Jerkbaiting and fishing reaction baits will account for their share of fish. The warmer days may also produce a little surface action.

Quickly working edges with a lipless crankbait is a great way to find any active fish. Casting hard to the bank and following the bottom or weed bed contour with a slowly rolled lure is an effective way to work this type of lure.

Jerkbaiting or twitching Chubbies is also a technique working really well at the moment. Tournament anglers Harry Watson and Dave Young have really mastered these techniques and use both a floating and suspending Chubbie depending on the fishes’ mood. Jerkbaiting would have to be my favourite technique and lately I have been enjoying using the new Team Daiwa Namiki Produce 50mm Dr Minnow. Namiki is the Japanese Pro angler who designed these lures.

It is also advisable to keep an eye on the weather forecast as strong westerly winds can really chop up the lake making it difficult to launch, retrieve and, most importantly, fish. – Chris Galligan

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

The fishing action slowed down last month on the Hinze, but the dam had been fishing quite well until recently. It seems to be following the pattern of other lakes in the state’s southeast. After rising water levels, the fish bite well but then tend to be harder to tempt.

It may be a case of the fish preferring slower presentations. Sometimes anglers make the mistake of using the same offering all year round. The mood of fish changes with the seasons and so should your presentations. Play around with different lures. If the fish aren’t eating reaction lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits then try targeting them with jigs, soft plastics and deeply presented flies.

Last winter there were a lot of big bass on the prowl. It will be interesting to see if these big fish are still in the lake. The dam has run over on several occasions since last winter and it’s likely that many big fish escaped into the river below.

Only electric or paddle powered craft are allowed on the lake. No petrol motors can be left on the boat even if they aren’t being used. Parking is also a nightmare at the lake and once the boat’s in the water it’s a bit of a hike to get back to it from the car, so if you’re into kayak fishing, Maroon is the place to explore.

For all your fishing needs and the latest tips on fishing at Maroon, be sure to call in and see the staff at Tackleword in Nind Street Southport. Their range of lures always blows me away. They stock a lot of interesting bits and pieces that are hard to find elsewhere.

Special Report
Upper Noosa River

As lakes Borumba and MacDonald are fishing tough, diehard bass anglers might be looking for somewhere to target their quarry.

Chances are the lakes might fire up, but the river is always an option. The Everglades area is a beautiful stretch of river that holds some quality bass. Fish up to 45cm in length are common captures. The same lures as used in impoundments can be used on these wild fish. Spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, crankbaits and surface lures will all fool these fish.

The closest launching point is at Boreen Point and it is then around half an hour to the Everglades by boat.

There is a closed season in place for wild bass until the end of August, but even outside the closed season these fish in their natural habitat are too precious to kill at any time.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

The good news is that Cooby Dam is again open to fishing. The dam was closed for a month due to a breakout of blue-green algae. But unfortunately there isn’t much to report.

The dam has only just opened and the water looks very dirty. At the beginning of July, the water looked as though the dam has rolled over to cause its dirty appearance. It is also likely that as the level has dropped, the floating aerator pump that circulates the water has starting sucking mud from the bottom.

I think the fishing will remain pretty tough at Cooby for at least another month or two. There should be more to report next month.

If you are going to the dam, remember to take your $2 worth of coins to open the boom gate. Small to medium sized boats can be launched from the gravel ramp but keep in mind that no petrol outboards can be used. Vessels are restricted to the use of electric motors or paddles.

Closest Towns: Inglewood

The action at Coolmunda has slowed down. The winter period tends to shut the bite down until spring arrives, though there have been a few golden perch caught on live baits. There are plenty of shrimp in the lake and they can still be caught in the cooler water.

The lure fishing has been very steady. Golden perch tend to slow down over winter but there is the chance of a Murray cod. These fish are able to tolerate the colder water temperature and stay more active than goldens.

At around 70% capacity, boats can be launched from the concrete ramp. So there’s no need to get your feet wet on the cold days. If you’re feeling the urge to go fishing, Coolmunda could be a warm, quiet and pleasant place to spend the day.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway but 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. Although the swimming pool might be out when it’s cold, I think the warmth of the cabins would be inviting. To take advantage of this and the great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below, give the park a call on (07) 4652 4171.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

It brought a smile to my face to hear that the fishing has shown good signs of improvement over the last month. Matthew Mott from Bass to Barra Marine has heard reports of good fish being taken on lures.

Casting to the shallow water in the back reaches of the lake has been producing good numbers of bass. These fish are mostly in the 35-40cm size class and provide plenty of thrills for keen lure casting enthusiasts. Reaction baits seem to be doing the damage. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are both working well. The lake still has plenty of bigger bass left in so don’t be surprised if these become more common as the water cools down even more.

To check up on the fishing give Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy a phone call on (07) 4162 7555.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

There has been some great fishing on offer at Boondooma. It was a drawn out period of tough fishing after the dam rose but the fish seem to have found their comfort zone and are biting well.

The shallow water of the lake’s edges is holding plenty of bass. Shallow and steeper banks are holding fish especially in the upper half of the lake. The lures doing the trick have been TN60 Jackalls and the new Mini Coop spinnerbaits. The majority of fish have been 35-40cm in length with the exception of some big ones. The biggest bass have come from very shallow water and have been around the magic 50cm mark.

Just when you think you are starting to get a good understanding of fish and their habits, something comes along and blows all your theories. Boondooma has never been considered a lake that would consistently produce bass on surface lures. It has, however, become the case and plenty of quality bass are being taken on topwater lures. All small bass poppers are working. Try a Mazzy or Sammy 65 for a good chance at scoring a fish on the surface. What’s even stranger than the bass smashing surface lures is that there have been a few golden perch getting in on the act.

Despite the lure fishing action being pretty hot, the bait fishing is likely to be slow. The fish are holding in such shallow water that it makes bait presentation difficult. Still you’ll pick up some bass and goldens just outside the weed edges if you put in the time.

Keep track of the fish if you are heading to the dam by calling in at Bass to Barra Marine. The bass may migrate to deeper water and school up by the end of winter. Even if this happens, there should be sufficient fish left on the edges to have some fishing fun.

Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy can look after all of your fishing needs. The store is in Youngman Street and the guys can help you out and offer some useful advice. Bass to Barra Marine can also be found in Dalby. This shop stocks a great range of quality gear for bass and barra fishing. It’s located in Shop 2 Drayton Street so be sure to check it out.

For accommodation at the lake, give the managers a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins, powered sites and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable. Boats can be launched below the far boat ramp from a reasonably hard bank.

Closest Town/s: Wondai, Kingaroy

Gordonbrook has been taking a fair amount of pressure from anglers casting lures from the bank as there is no boating allowed on this lake. This means that the fish around the edges are quite pressured. Even so, the lake turns on some pretty good fishing for both bass and golden perch. The bass are most prolific at the moment but the golden action will pick up in spring.

The fish will take a range of lures at the moment, including lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastics and crankbaits. When they shut down, try using a silent model lipless crankbait. This more subtle approach tends to fool the wary fish.

Gordonbrook is also a good surface fishing lake and there are some monster bass willing to engulf a surface lure. This type of fishing is likely to improve next month but is still worth a shot right now.

For more information on Gordonbrook, call in and see the staff at Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. From there, it’s only a short drive to the dam.

Closest Town: Monto

Despite the fast fall in water level, the lake has been fishing well. The dam has dropped from around 12% back to only 4% in the past few months. This may sound low but Cania has fished well at this low level for a number of years now.

Saratoga can be tough to catch during winter but there have been reasonable numbers of these beautiful fish caught from the bank below the park area. Remember to handle them carefully and get a picture before letting them go as they are of very poor eating quality.

Bass have been schooling in the main basin of the lake. These fish have been of good quality with specimens up to 45cm not uncommon. Trolling medium diving lures will produce some fish, but casting lures into the schools once they are found is the way to rack up the numbers and really have some fun. Soft plastics like 3” T-tails rigged on 1/2oz jigheads are ideal for retrieving through the schools. Other options include lipless crankbaits and 1/2oz blade baits. Cania’s fish don’t seem to be as pressured as those in other lakes and therefore aren’t as fussy about the lure being used. Still they can be challenging when they choose to be so it pays to bring the right gear with you.

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. There are excellent facilities including campsites, cabins, a playground and a swimming pool. It’s worth a visit to the park just to see some of the rare and beautiful wildlife that regularly drop in and live in the area.

Capricornia Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Awoonga Dam will produce contrasting results this month, depending on what the weather brings. Any wind from the east will bring with it great barra catching conditions however it may be uncomfortable if you own a tinny or small boat.

Cold southwest winds are evil this time of year for resident barra, dramatically cooling water temperatures and clearing the water. These two variables alone can make for very hard fishing. However if we see quality onshore winds, the fishing will be sensational and metre plus fish will be on the prowl. Lures that work well in murky water and suspending lures will bring the most success.

Expect to be fishing mid depths and shallows, anywhere from 4-12ft, as many fish will hold just wide of the edges. Ensure stealth plays a big role in your approach; fish are very flighty at this time of year. Work the edges and just wide of them to see results; keeping your boat away from the shallows will prevent spooking the fish. Long casts will also increase your chances, so practise your casting skills before you get here.

Some great fish have been caught recently on Awoonga during charter; fish from 80-115cm are being seen regularly.

I am now guiding down at Lake Monduran as well. Clients have been having a ball on fish up to 120cm – impressive stuff. It’s just over three hours drive from Brisbane so you can drive up, do a charter and drive home on the same day.

Monduran dam is producing some insane fishing action at present; this upcoming month will be no different. Huge fish have been a regular occurrence. If you would like to learn some valuable info regarding battling big barra in the sticks, how to find them and why they are there, a day on the water with Barramadness is a great way to fast track your knowledge and skills.

I am guiding full time on Lake Awoonga and Lake Monduran so if you are interested in a charter check out my website www.barramadness.com or give me a call on 0420 846345. – Jason Wilhelm

Central Coast
Closest Town: Mackay

A good number of sooty grunter are still being caught around Kinchant. Most of these fish are caught in the early morning and late afternoon and are of small size.

The bigger sooties seem to be caught in the deeper water in the middle of the day. Using deep diving minnows or lightly weighted soft plastics, and slow rolling them along the deeper parts of the wall produces the goods. Small surface lures worked with long pauses around the weed beds early in the morning also produce good numbers of fish.

Barra fishing on the dam has been fairly slow over the last couple of months. Trolling lures has been tough and I doubt the action will pick up anytime soon. Most barra captures have been in the shallow water using suspending and weedless soft plastics or surface lures.

The southerly winds over the last couple of months have taken their toll on the water temperature. This means the best fishing is around dusk, as the water has been exposed to the most sunlight and is therefore warmer.

Due to the cooler water, the dam is not receiving as much attention from water-skiers, which greatly affects the water clarity, so the water in some parts of Kinchant is crystal clear. This means lighter leaders and quieter approaches need to be made in order not to spook the fish.

For any extra information on Kinchant Dam feel free to email me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

Closest Town/s: Pinnacle, Mackay

Persistence is the key to doing well at Teemburra over the winter months. While the size of the barra being caught seems to be going up, numbers of fish are going down, and this is deterring most anglers. Over the last month, the number of cars at the boat ramp barely makes double figures on a weekend.

As the water temp settles to around the 19-22ºC mark, the time of day you fish makes all the difference. Around 3pm every day, the dam starts to come alive with barra boofs and splashes that almost make you jump out of the boat with fright. Although some fish have been caught at dawn, early to late afternoon and night is when the fish are most active.

Trolling around Teemburra can produce some fish but due to the depth and the sloping tree studded banks, getting your lure at the right depth and zone is quite difficult. Casting seems to be the most productive type of fishing in the dam. In the cooler months, very slow retrieves with long pauses are essential.

Fish inhabit similar areas to the summer months. Freshly drowned gum tree saplings, lantana bushes, grassy banks and shallow bays should all be productive. They may require some going over until a fish will strike, so don’t be afraid to cast a lure in the same place five to ten times to provoke a fish to hit.

Shallow hardbodies are proving very useful. They can be worked slowly and kept shallow because they are very buoyant. Weedless and suspending soft plastics are also really effective as they can be fished tighter to the weed than other lures.

If you can hear a lot of action on the surface, try putting on a surface lure. Tango Dancers and River2Sea Bubblepops will do the job. For any extra information on Teemburra Dam feel free to email me at --e-mail address hidden-- – Daniel Grech

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