Winter barra fishing isn’t for the faint-hearted but you can get good results from perseverance. By early September the weather should have warmed and heated up the water, indicating good fishing for the month.
Not that you need warm water if you talk to some of the gurus who catch fish in winter water temperatures. But what they fail to tell you is that they go on warm days and find the warm water.
The thing I have noticed with barra fishing is that you usually find barra right up in the shallows as the water temperature rises during the day, or when the temperature turns colder. Just 1ºC decrease in temperature and your fish catching chances deteriorates.
On one recent trip, water temperatures were down as low as 17ºC in the main basin, but temperatures in the shallows rose to 20ºC. And there were pockets of deep water, over 20m, that where as high as 19.5ºC. We managed to hook a lot of fish in the shallows casting on this particular day, and I’m sure that dedicated trollers could catch fish around these warmer pockets.
Trolling is not everybody’s cup of tea but it does produce results, especially for novice anglers who just want to catch their first barra. Just make sure your gear is up to scratch and that you learn how to tie your knots properly.
Surprisingly, surface type lures, such as poppers and soft plastic lures, also account for fish captures. This is a great alternative for those kids who haven’t mastered the art of casting yet. Just last year my mate’s 5yr old son hooked onto his first barra using a small bream popper, the fish was around 80cm. Unfortunately it didn’t last too long on the bream gear, but he hooked it all the same.
For casting, look for nice shallow bays with low sloping banks. Apart from temperature and dissolved oxygen content, look for bait working – often your eyes are your best fishing sense as you can see barra moving through the shallow water. If you don’t see the bait, look for the birds along the bank. They’re usually stalking bait in the shallows that have been pushed up by larger fish on the hunt for a meal.
A great percentage of the fish that I have caught in the shallows I have first seen boofing in the water or producing large wakes in the water hunting their prey. It is a great feeling to see action of this type as it creates some confidence; the mood on the boat seems to increase the casts per minute and produce lots of fish.
Often you will encounter weed in close to the bank and I like to use my frogs (with a weedless hook set-up) to skip across the water. These soft plastics account for some exciting hook-ups. You will definitely need shallow running lures for this type of fishing, I like the Shimano Stiffy but they have a horrible hook up rate; I also like the soft plastics. My suggestion is try everything as most reputable barra lures work, you just have to put the lure under the fish’s nose and the rest is up to the fish. The best thing to remember is what lure worked on what occasion and where. Take a mental picture of the location and look for more of the same. Over time, water depth changes in impoundments so always be on the lookout for new ground.
I have fished Lake Monduran for around seven years now, and the fish have definitely increased in size, with regular captures between 1-1.3m. The winter fishing has also improved, thanks to more knowledge and better techniques. I predict that this year will be a great year at the lake, especially with the growth of the recently released fish from the MASA stocking group.
The best fishing happens in September, before the crowds arrive. Big shallow bays bring some of the best impoundment barra fishing you will see, with double digit catches caught in afternoon sessions on the dam.
This year we have stepped up our charter operation on the dam with a new Skeeter boat and are taking bookings for September. We are offering QFM readers a weekend’s charter with accommodation and all meals for $495 per person per day. Accommodation will be at the Gin Gin Hotel and all meals will be prepared by our own in-house chef.
The fuel prices have really kicked us where it hurts and this has prevented lots of the boats from fishing wide on a regular basis. However, the gamefishing has been awesome with sailfish and small black marlin haunting the area. It will be a tough call this September, whether to fish Lake Monduran or go offshore!
No doubt I will continue to chose offshore, chasing the sails and blacks. It is great fishing, with as many as 20 fish wolf packing the back of the boat chasing the teasers over the transom. Our best days have included as many as 30 bill fish per day, with equal numbers of losses.
On the local front, a few small blacks are moving in around 1770 and the reefs off Bundaberg. Large schools of bait are haunting these reefs and seem to bring the small black marlin in on their annual migration from the Coral Sea.
The Hervey Bay Game Fishing Clubs annual tournament is on the weekend of the 16/17 November, and this is a weekend not to miss. The overnight anchoring at the northern end of Fraser Island, with mother-shipping and fuel barge on hand, makes for one of the great game tournaments on the east coast of Australia.
The reef fishing has been brilliant with plenty of large fish being caught during this winter.
Like game fishers, reef anglers have been hit by the increase in fuel prices and so have also had to watch their wallets. Bundaberg has some great reef fishing but as always the best spots are further out.
During the recent VMR fishing tournament, we saw some great reef fish being weighed in for the weekend. The stand out fish was a large cobia, with plenty of good reds and trout making the scales as well. Snapper are still on all the inshore reefs, with soft plastics producing some great catches.
Don’t forget all QFM readers get half priced accommodation at the Gin Gin Hotel, just bring the most recent edition with you. You can call me on 0427 590995 for bookings.Reads: 1035