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Dams on the rise
  |  First Published: March 2004



Cressbrook

Plenty of small bass are still on the move at Lake Cressbrook. These fish are best targeted by casting lures, although they will also take trolled lures and livebaits.

The weeded edges are holding plenty of bass that are quite keen to chase down a small spinnerbait. By small, I don’t necessarily mean light; 1/2oz downsized spinnerbaits with silver blades work best. I prefer natural, dark and white skirts rather than bright colours like yellow, pink or red. Try the AusSpin ProSpin range; they’re quality Australian made lures that are suitable for the job. Other lures worth casting to the edges are beetlespins (no. 1 or no. 2 silver Bett’s Spin) rigged with paddle-tailed plastics, lipless crankbaits, suspending lures, plastics and of course surface lures.

If you’re looking for a bigger than average fish, two techniques should stand out this month – surface fishing and casting suspending lures. For surface fishing, try lures like Eddy’s Surface Buster or the Rapala Skitter Pop. Cast these around the weed where there are good concentrations of garfish cruising around on the surface. The best time is half an hour before the sun sets until dark, although the odd big fish can turn up throughout the day. When casting suspending lures, use small, narrow profiled offerings that are able to get down out of your sight. This means that the lure should dive to at least 2m or 1m if it’s getting dark. C’ultiva’s Rippin’ Minnow is the ideal choice for this style of fishing. If you don’t already have some, I suggest you track them down because I predict that they’ll be deadly throughout winter – and therefore hard to find.

Schooled bass of 30-40cm in length are suspending in the deep parts of the lake, where they find comfort in the thermoclines. They can be stubborn to catch, which I put down to their main diet which, in this location, is daphnia (water flea). Still, they will fall for several approaches. Deepwater fly, tailspinners, ice jigs, scented plastics, trolled and downrigged lures and live shrimp will all work. Quite often these bass will follow your boat – possibly due to sounder noise under the water. Because of this, vertical presentations seem to work well.

If you want to try bait, get hold of some live shrimp. If you can’t catch your own, try the local tackle stores to see if they have any. Shrimp can be fished suspended in the deep water, or near or on the bottom, in water up to 10m deep. The Bull Creek arm is one of the better places to try livebaiting as I believe there are more schooling fish close to the bottom in 6-10m of water.

Bjelke Petersen

Bjelke has risen around three metres, taking the level to over 40%. With this rise, and any others that may follow, it will be worthwhile casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the submerged grass and weed around the edges. Most times you’ll find bass, yellowbelly and baitfish foraging around the edges after a significant rise in the water level.

Trolling and casting spinnerbaits have been taking fish for the last few months and should continue to do so. Ensure your spinnerbait reaches a running depth of 3-4m. Working open water will produce good sized bass while concentrating efforts on the old creek bed drop-offs will pull a majority of yellowbelly. Dark coloured, medium diving lures capable of reaching similar depths are also worth a shot.

Baitfishing has been quite steady. Unless the rise from the rain changes the situation, it is near impossible to catch enough shrimp at the dam for bait. In the mornings and afternoons, jew are being caught on worms.

Boondooma

Lake Boondooma has received several rises in the water level, with the extra water taking the dam to over 40%. Much of the water has come from the Stuart River arm. In the catchment feeding this arm, there is plenty of red soil so the water is very stained. Because of the volume of water entering the dam and the low level prior to the rise, the dirty water has covered the entire lake.

Judging by previous rises of this nature, the fishing will be tough for some time to come. Chances are that it won’t be until the end of March that the water will clear enough for successful luring. If you plan to fish the lake, target fish in the main basin where the water will clear first. Casting lures to the edges will be the best bet. Lures that make flash and vibration, like big spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits, would be at the top of my list. Remember that as a general rule, chrome gold works best in dirty water conditions.

If you are interested in fishing either Bjelke or Boondooma, Matthew Mott operates a guiding business and his experience and knowledge will put you onto the fish. You can contact him at the kiosk at Bjelke Petersen to make enquiries or bookings on (07) 4168 4811.

Somerset

Over the past two months there’s been some exciting bass action at Somerset for those who have worked out the pattern. For lure casting anglers, Somerset usually produces the best results on heavily weighted soft plastics. Occasionally, you’ll pick bass up on tailspinners and the odd one will fall for a spinnerbait.

The deep schooling fish have been holding a bit shallower than normal. They are sitting at the top of a thermocline at about 7m. I have also had reports of good numbers of bass holding on flats in as little as 5m of water. In the Pelican Point area, sound around to locate fish near the bottom. This will most likely mean looking in water between 5m and 8m deep. Finding flats areas close to the old river bed is the key. Once found, use light gear such as a spin outfit spooled with 4lb Fireline and cast a heavy spinnerbait over the fish. I have used the 5/8oz AusSpin ProSpin in various colours and blade configurations with success.

Other downsized spinnerbaits would certainly do the job. Depending on the mood of the fish, they can be taken by slow rolling the bottom or burning the lure through suspended fish and allowing it to sink before repeating the retrieve. Burning lures has been fun for those lucky enough to experience it. Anglers cranking as fast as they can with their light spin gear, then pause and feel the lure being smashed before the fish peels line from the tiny reels. The quality of bass being produced using this technique has been great. Fingers crossed, this pattern will continue to work until the water cools down in a couple of months. Failing this, it’s back to the heavily weighted soft plastics like Sliders.

From Bay 13 to a kilometre north of Kirkleagh is the ideal place to try for golden perch. Trolling medium and deep diving, brightly coloured lures close to the old creek and river bed drop-offs will put you in the right zone. Choose a suitable lure by matching its depth to the top of the drop-off you’re working. Try to get as close to the bottom as possible with your lure – just watch out for snags. A Tackleback is a handy item to have on board. It will certainly save you some dollars in retrieving snagged lures.

It has been nice to have some run-off into the dams. At the time of writing the impoundments mentioned have only risen a metre at the most, and it would be lovely if, by the time you’re reading this, they have all received plenty more.

1) Mark Dearling with a Somerset bass caught while drifting with the wind while slow rolling an AusSpin spinnerbait.

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