Topwater fishing time
  |  First Published: December 2004


The lake is still closed to all trailerboats, and will remain so until the water level rises, but boats and canoes can still be launched by hand.

Quite a few local anglers are still fishing the lake with good results. Cressbrook fishes best when there is less angling pressure. If you’re keen and able to carry your gear to the water, it could be worth your while. Not only will you have the fish almost to yourself, you’ll have some peace and quiet as well. Remember to bring your $2 to enter through the boom gate.

During the summer months the bass respond well to reaction baits around the edges. My nephew, Adrian Ehrlich, has had plenty of success working lipless crankbaits close to the edges. His method involves casting a 60-70mm lipless crankbait close to the edge of the weed drop-off. He then gives the rod a couple of good jerks while retrieving the slack line. This keeps the lure high in the water and breaks it free of the weed if it touches. When the lure is near the surface at the start of the retrieve, Cressbrook’s bass – which are very tuned into what’s happening on and near the surface – start to chase it down. Adrian then uses a slow wind for the rest of the retrieve. Bays on the northern side of the lake have been working best for him.

Other reaction baits like beetlespins and small spinnerbaits will also tempt bass. Soft plastics are usually slow in the shallows but they’re worth a try in the deeper water. In the mornings and afternoons, surface lures get the bass excited, and bigger fish often come out to play.

The new Berkley Blade Dancers are certainly worth a shot in Cressbrook. I’ve seen them catch bass in other lakes but haven’t had the chance to run them in Cressy.

The Blade Dancers offer several different actions all in the one lure. Two of these are most exciting for those fishing Cressbrook. Swim the lure along the surface and then let it sink before retrieving it with a steady swimming motion. The blade-shaped, weighted head is cupped so it catches water and makes the lure rise to the surface when retrieved. Here, it wiggles from side to side, giving the plastic tail an enhanced action.

One of the best ways to get the attention of Cressbrook bass is to make your lure break the surface and cause a disturbance on top. Once you have their attention, let the lure fall to the desired depth and continue using a slower retrieve.

These lures are only new and there’s still a lot of field testing to be done with them, but I’m already sure they’ll be winners.


It’s the time of year when the Burnett area often receives some decent storms and rain. With any luck, there’ll be enough to give some run-off into the lake. If this is the case and there is a noticeable rise, chances are this report won’t be all that accurate.

Trolling 5/8oz spinnerbaits will score plenty of fish. Trolled hard-bodied diving lures such as Blitz Bagas will also take their share. Both golden perch and bass respond well to the trolled lures.

Working around the old submerged creek beds seems to draw the most strikes. Lightning Ridge, Bass Point, The Narrows and the deep water between the ramps all hold good concentrations of fish.

For those fishing with bait, live shrimp are best. The mornings and afternoons are the peak bite times. Try fishing on or close to the bottom in 5-7m of water. Choose the steeper banks where the water is deep, close to the edge.

While you’re at Bjelke be sure to call in at the kiosk. They’ll look after you with top tucker and save you the hassle of having to cook for yourself. The kiosk also stocks a good range of useful tackle, from rods, reels and lines right down to the most proven freshwater lures. Livebait is also available there. If you call in and say hello, they’ll be sure to point you in the right direction when you head out on the water.


Schooled bass can be located at the wall end of the lake. These fish migrate here during the summer months. Look in the deep water for bass suspended 5-7m down, and once you’ve found them you can target them with a variety of lures. It’s a matter of switching between them to find out which ones work best. Casting Jackalls, soft plastics and spinnerbaits is a good way to start. Trolled lures like Brolgas, Ridgebacks and Blitz Bagas are also worth a shot. Trolling is a good way to cover plenty of water until you find the best concentrations of bass.

Trolling lures in the deeper water around The Islands and Leisegang’s Ledge is a good way to get a mixed bag of bass and golden perch. In the middle reaches of the dam, trolling points is another good way to target goldens. Baitfishing is also productive in this area, especially while using live shrimp.

Matthew Mott runs great charters on both Bjelke and Boondooma. If you’re keen to learn, hiring a guide is the fastest way to do it – you gain years of knowledge in one day. To talk to Matthew about a trip, give him a call on (07) 4168 4811.


Somerset can be so unpredictable at this time of year. Anglers fish it one day with great results, and the next day is totally different and tough.

You can increase your chances, however, by choosing the right lures and fishing in the right spots. A quality sounder will help you locate schooled or scattered fish. Bass can be found from The Spit to Pelican Point. The majority of fish are likely to be around the drop-offs in the Pelican Point area, where you’ll find the bigger schools of fish. If you look across flats of 5-6m in depth in the same area, chances are you’ll find some scattered bass. These fish are often more active than the bass that outnumber them in the deeper water.

Once you’ve found the fish, it’s time to select the right lure. Soft plastics are consistent scorers when it comes to fooling Somerset’s bass. A 3” smoke/yellow core Slider Grub rigged on a 1/2oz AusSpin jighead is always my first choice. I dip the tail in some chartreuse garlic scent to enhance the action and give it some smell and taste. When the fish are on, it’s hard to beat a paddle-tail plastic presentation like this one.

Sometimes plastics just don’t draw the interest anglers are looking for, however. In these instances, it’s necessary to look for reaction strikes. To make a bass strike instinctively requires a fast retrieve with a plastic or, better still, a change in lure selection.

Soft Jackall Mask Vib lipless crankbaits (in both the 60mm and 70mm sizes) and 5/8oz spinnerbaits are great reaction baits. Casting these on light braided line is the best way to keep them nice and deep – right in front of the fish. One of the newer braided lines is Berkley Fireline XDS. In 8lb it’s great for this type of work.

Run your light line on a spin outfit to allow maximum casting distance. Let the lure sink right to the bottom or well below suspended fish, then take six to 20 winds. The number of winds depends on the depth at which the fish are holding. If the fish are packed tight on the bottom, take only half a dozen winds. If they are all over the place and high in the water column, increase the number of winds to suit. Let the lure sink between each series of winds, to keep it in the strike zone for as long as possible.

Golden perch have been reasonably steady of late. Try trolling medium to deep running lures along the eastern side of the dam. Concentrate efforts on the steeper banks between the wall and The Spit.

Another option is to work around the old creek beds between The Spit and Bay 13. Fish as close to the drop-off as possible. Deep diving lures such as Blitz Bagas are ideal for this. If the lure is bumping the bottom too often, shorten the amount of line you have out to make the lure run shallower. While fishing these drop-offs it’s likely you’ll pull some goldens and a few bass as well.

Trolling paddle-tail grubs rigged on 1/2oz jigheads in the areas that are holding bass usually puts good numbers in the boat. Use your electric motor to pull the plastics along at a casual walking pace. I find that using my electric motor on 20-30% gets the lures down to 8-10m. Make sure you do an extra-long cast to have the lure running at its maximum depth. In most cases the bass suited to this style of fishing are those holding pretty deep around the drop-offs or suspending in deep, open water.


Just north of Maryborough is Lake Lenthalls. At the time of writing, the water level is down a little. The area around the lake receives quite a bit of rain over the summer storm season. If this water is to run into the lake, the fishing may vary from what I have written. Even if this happens, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of bass on the bite throughout the lake.

Fishing the surface and subsurface with lures like the Terminator Snapback jerkbaits in 4” and 5” is a great way to tempt the larger fish. Local guide Paul Dolan has mastered the art of weighting the lures to present them at different levels in the water column to suit the mood of the fish. Using a large worm hook, he adds Sticky Weight to make the lures sink slowly at the desired rate. Without the added weight, Snapback plastics float. Rigging Snapbacks on 1/4oz jigheads allows you to fish mid-water as well as right on the bottom, making them a very versatile lure.

Smaller soft plastics around 3” long, rigged on 1/4oz heads, can be fished around the weed and lily edges. Slow rolling and burn-and-kill retrieves out from the edge will produce the goods.

Reaction baits like spinnerbaits, beetlespins, suspending jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits will all get attention when fished close to the weed or around any schooling bass.

Surface fishing in the early morning and late afternoon is always a good rush. The bass in this lake like topwater lures and there’s plenty of structure from which to launch their ambush. Eddy’s Surface Busters and Rio’s Rubber Lips are proven fish takers.

Not many people have targeted the barra which have been stocked into this lake. Some barra may turn up over the next few warmer months for those chasing bass, but it won’t be until someone cracks the pattern using larger lures that good numbers are taken. So far, not many barra have been stocked, though there are sure to be some caught this year.

When travelling in to the lake, take care on the road. It is all dirt through the forest to the lake. Although the road is graded and reasonably well maintained, rain and traffic soon make it pretty rough and corrugated in places. There’s no point wrecking trailers or damaging boats by going too fast.

Paul Dolan runs a charter operation on Lenthalls and the Fraser Coast area. His years of experience and dedication to the sport of fishing have given him a wealth of knowledge. To book a charter and learn some of his tricks, call him at Fraser Coast Sportfishing and Eco Adventures on 0407 764 350.


Surface fishing has been spectacular. This is set to continue with the ongoing hot weather and plenty of insects hatching. Lures such as Teeny Torpedoes and River2Sea Buggi Pops, worked along the banks in both arms, have been catching plenty. Flyfishing the surface is also an option. Dahlberg Den is always a good spot to try when targeting fish on top.

Quite a few bigger fish are falling for lipless crankbaits worked around the edges. The edges of The Island tend to hold bigger fish. It’s hard to go past the TN60 and Mask Vibe from the Jackall range. These proven Japanese lures always seem to out-fish other lipless crankbaits.

It’s important to make lure changes to keep the fish coming into the boat all day. During the heat of the day, slow rolled plastics will account for some bass. Sliders rigged on 1/4oz or 1/8oz jigheads are a popular choice for these deeper fish.

Be sure to purchase a fishing permit from the dam kiosk or the Gold Coast City Council before trying your luck on this scenic impoundment.

For further information on what’s been happening in the area, call in and see the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle in Nind Street. You’ll find a great range of tackle here at competitive prices. After getting a few tips and inside info, you’ll be feeling more confident about heading out on your next trip.

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