There are plenty of weeded edges around the lake. Searching for some of the more prominent weed beds will ensure you are in prime fish holding territory as bass and golden perch actively feed around the weed edges throughout the day.
Reaction baits like Jackalls, beetlespins and spinnerbaits are drawing plenty of attention. Soft plastics and flies are also worth a try, although the results may not be as good as when using reaction lures. Quietly drifting or motoring along on an electric is the best approach. This allows you to stealthily cast your lures to the weed edge and fish them close to the taper.
Surface presentations in the mornings and afternoons can really turn on the action. Cressbrook’s bass population loves to feed from the surface. This is partly due to the introduction of gar as a food source for other predatory fish. Gar usually swim close to the top so any slender profile lures that pop and splash around on top will do the trick. Eddy’s Surface Busters and Rapala Skitterpops are two of my favourites.
Some bass are scattered throughout the deeper water. Casting Jackalls and retrieving them at the depth at which the fish are suspended is a good option. Soft plastics like Slider grubs and Berkley Bass Minnows, hopped vertically in the better concentrations will also do the trick.
The deep water is always a good spot for a troll or a baitfish. Deep running lures that reach 7-10m are successful. Fishing with live shrimp hanging vertically below the boat at a similar depth will also get the deep water bass interested.
The hard fished and popular Somerset Dam has been challenging anglers’ skills. The fish have been tough to catch but their quality makes the hard effort worthwhile.
The bestfishing is in the main basin. The upper end of the dam has a six-knot speed limit from Kirkleagh north. Bass can be caught trolling deep diving lures along the drop-off to the old creek bed between Beam and Wyangi creeks. The secret is to use dark coloured lures fished on light lines, which allows them to achieve their maximum depth.
Lure casters will find scatterings of bass from Beam Creek right through to Bay 13. Decent schools are hard to find at this time of year. This is due to the bass being so spread out. If you can locate fish in shallower water (3-6m), chances are they will be more active. Spinnerbaits are the choice of many anglers when targeting the spread out bass. On recent trips, I’ve found that when the fish aren’t hitting spinnerbaits, hopping TN60 and Mask Vibe 60 Jackalls close to the bottom will turn them on. It’s amazing how bass can be nowhere in sight, yet a change of lure and technique can result in a great day. The Mask Vibes have been the better lure, producing big bass to over 50cm.
Trolling with more unconventional lures has been scoring the better catches at Bjelke. Jackall lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics trolled at a steady pace are proving the most successful way to hook into both bass and yellowbelly.
Some of the best fishing to be had is across the flats at the back end of the dam. Medium to deep diving crankbaits trolled in the same areas will take their share, but they aren’t catching as many fish as other lures. Overall, the lure fishing has been a bit slower than normal. There’s a good chance that this will change for the better with the change in season this month.
If you’re baitfishing, it’s hard to go past live shrimp. Golden perch can be caught close to the steep banks, around the drop-off to the old creek bed and in The Quarry area. It seems the better catches are coming from the wall end of the lake.
Trolling deep diving lures such as Blitz Bagas in the deeper water at the wall end of the lake will produce bass. Slow trolled spinnerbaits will also do the trick. Moving in closer to the points and edges will increase the chance of catching golden perch. Bass tend to favour the deeper water, although both species can be taken from the deep and shallow water at times.
If schooled bass are located in the deeper water, they are suckers for soft plastics, lipless crankbaits and ice jigs. The majority of bass schools found at the wall end of the lake could start to move further up the lake towards the end of the month.
The Stuart timber is the place to try baiting up goldens and bass. Live shrimp are the pick of all baits. As there are fish in the timber, spinnerbaits cast in close around the structure are also a good option. If you’re game, a lipless crankbait will catch fish from the sticks but they snag up a lot if they brush against any structure.
For guided charters on Bjelke and Boondooma, get in touch with Matthew Mott. You can reach him at the kiosk at Bjelke-Petersen on (07) 4168 4811.
Hinze should fish reasonably well over the coming month, especially during the lower light periods of dusk and dawn. One of the more productive methods is trolling bibbed lures around the edges and concentrating efforts around the shallow points. Trolling deeper diving lures has also been doing well around steeper banks during the hotter parts of the day.
Casting lipless crankbaits, such as Jackalls, will score good numbers of bass. These lures are perfect for searching for active fish. Once found, you can target the fish with other methods such as soft plastics or suspending minnows.
Both arms of the lake should fish well during March. Often the western arm produces better quality fish while the eastern arm provides better numbers. Good places to try this month will be the points above the water tower and around Ian's Island.
As always, ensure you have a Hinze Dam fishing permit, as this is required to fish this scenic and productive impoundment. For all your fishing tackle needs and info on what’s happening, be sure to visit the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle. You’ll find them in Nind Street at Southport.
Travelling through Cania Gorge just north of Monto will lead you to a wonderfully quiet fishing destination. Cania Dam offers some great fishing throughout the year and has been well stocked with bass, golden perch and saratoga. The dam receives little angling pressure in comparison to the other lakes in South-East Queensland.
Casting lures to bass is one of the best ways to enjoy the fishing on offer – lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits are ideal for this work. Trolling lures will also produce fish. Two popular models for trolling are the 50mm RMG Poltergeist and the Tilsan Bass minnow.
Another major attraction of Cania is its healthy breeding population of saratoga. These acrobatic fish will turn up while fishing for bass in the shallow water around the edges. Saratoga feed on or near the surface, which makes them ideal targets for shallow and surface presentations made with a fly rod.
Lake Cania Fishing Classic will be held on the 19th and 20th March. For more information on the Classic or any advice on lures and techniques, call in at Creek 2 Coast Fishing Tackle at Biloela or give them a call on (07) 4992 1288.
Lenthalls will be closed until the middle to the end of April. Quite a bit of work is being done to improve facilities at the lake. There will be a new 6m wide boat ramp to make launching easier but only 8 car and boat trailer parking spots. The dirt road in will probably be graded but there are no set plans for future maintenance on it. Upgrades around the lake will include a play area, picnic facilities, a camping area and a jetty that has wheel chair access for land based fishing. After these works are finished, the wall will be raised by the use of metal gates.
There were 10,000 barra released into the dam on the 23rd of December last year. Keep your ears tuned for the official reopening date. I’m sure after it’s had a rest the fish will be waiting to play.
If you’re longing to catch some bass and can’t wait for Lenthalls to reopen, you could try the Isis Balancing Storage. This small lake is north of Childers, just off the highway. It is always kept at full capacity so it has substantial weed beds. Bass can be caught here around the weed using spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and beetlespins.
Guide Paul Dolan runs Fraser Coast Sportfishing and Eco Adventures (ph. 0407 674 350) and puts his clients onto fish in both the salt- and freshwater in the area. Now would be a good time to book a trip to experience some of the big barra action in Lake Monduran.
In recent times, barra to 1m have been caught in all areas of the dam, including off the bank near the old boat ramp. The weed beds and lily pads in Futter Creek should continue to yield barra around the 60-80cm mark. Most anglers have taken care to return these barra safely back into the water. This responsible attitude suggests that Awoonga will continue to hold its reputation as one of the best barra fishing lakes in the state.
The shallow inlets on the southern side of Iveragh Creek are worth a try. Eddie Studman has certainly got it right with the Koolabung fizzer which works so well in these shallow areas. Using short trolling runs along the drop offs with deeper diving Koolabung or the Predatek Viper 150s should yield some nice fish.
The water’s surface temperature may start to drop towards the end of the month. If your sounder has a temperature sensor, be sure to study the changes in water temperature as well as the bottom. Small increases in the water temperature can be enough to hold more fish that are more willing to bite. Such areas are likely to be found in the sheltered bays with shallower water. Winds, especially southeasters, tend to cool the water, rolling the top layer and mixing it with the cooler water below.
Keep a look out for details of the No Blokes Barra Bash to be held at Lake Awoonga on March 4-6. Entry forms are available at most tackle stores. Later in the year Lake Awoonga will be host to three fishing comps, so keep your eye on the mag.
For quality accommodation at Lake Awoonga contact Merv or Meg at Lake Awoonga Caravan Park (ph. (07) 4975 0155). They’ll be happy to tell you where the best action is happening. The kiosk also carries a range of proven barra catching lures. If you’re planning a trip to the lake, now is the time to go – before the water temperatures drop and the fish become tougher to catch.
In late January, the lake received some rain and rose around 2m. This influx of water has caused the fish to head away from the main basin where they have been in the build up to the wet. Casting for them in the trees should be more productive than it has been over the past couple of months. For example, during January most of the fish taken were caught on the troll in the open basin in depths from 5m to 22m. Only one week after the rain, good numbers of barra started biting in the timber. Prior to this, anglers were lucky to see a couple of fish. This action in the timber is sure to continue.
Many of the feeder creeks and the main river arm itself hold fish. Fishing the shallow edges, targeting clumps of spindly timber rather than the larger timber lining the creek channels, is another preferred option.
Killalure Barra Baits in 8 or 12 feet models are one of the best lures for casting while the 20 feet models work well on the troll. The best colours are the Bobby Dazzler, gold, green and blue. Halco RMG scorpions in the 125 size and the 120 Laser Pros are also good casting lures and the deeper models work well for trolling. My favourite colours in these are the new King Brown H70 and the green fluoro R7. The new Classic Pro with its super loud rattle is going well on the troll.
If the weather conditions suit, surface lures will be great at first light or late in the afternoon and into the night. Just choose days with little or no wind for the best action. Rapala Skitterpops in the 9-11cm models are great, as are Bill's Bugs Fizzers.
All of the lures mentioned need to have the hooks upgraded to the 6x extra-strong VMC or Owner trebles. Lake Proserpine’s big, hard fighting barra are sure to find and expose any weaknesses in your tackle so leave nothing to chance.
Lindsay Dobe can offer you some useful advice for fishing the lake. Call in and see him at Proserpine Bait and Tackle for all your tackle needs. He runs barra charters on the lake and has years of experience and knowledge when it comes to fishing there. You just can’t beat local knowledge. I’d recommend a day with his charter operation for anyone keen to experience the best the lake has to offer. To contact Lindsay and his team, give them a call at Proserpine Bait and Tackle on (07) 4945 4641.
Callide Dam is situated near the town of Biloela. It has a healthy population of barra, with the bigger fish well over a metre long. It has been less publicised than other barra lakes, though this certainly isn’t because it fishes poorly. Callide is one of the easiest barra lakes to fish. In addition to barra, the lake has been stocked with yellowbelly, sleepy cod and saratoga.
At the time of writing, the lake is at 15%, which means that there is far less water for the fish to hide in than when the lake is at full capacity. The barra haven’t been fussy about the lures they’ll take. Some popular models are the Predatek Viper, B52 (gold), RMG Crazy Deep, RMG Scorpion 150, Killalure Barra Bait, Barra Classic and Richo’s.
Overall, the dam has fished well this year. This action is likely to continue for the next couple of months before tapering off in winter. Some of the best action has been during the night as barra will feed right through the night and catches are common from midnight until the early hours of the morning. Personally, I’ve found that nights with some moon produce the best action. Of course, this theory has been proven wrong a number of times by anglers fishing the new moon at night. When fishing at night, B52s have been working well when cast to the shallows. Trolling lures such as the RMG Crazy Deep along the old creek bed will also produce the goods.
Callide has a healthy supply of redclaw crayfish. These freshwater delicacies can be caught in opera house traps placed in 5-7m of water. There are many possible bait variations such as boiled potatoes, rockmelon, watermelon, banana, tins of cat food or even pilchards.
If you plan to fish the lake, it could pay to call in and see the staff at Creek 2 Coast Fishing Tackle in Biloela. Norm and Marella sell a great range of tackle to suit Callide and Cania dams. Their range of goods also includes offshore tackle, marine chandlery, camping goods, outdoor clothing and watersport items.
1) The Jackall Mask Vibe 60 resembles a bony bream so closely, the fish can't resist. These lures will be one of the standout performers on this year’s ABT bass circuit.
2) Somerset Dam has been producing some big bass like this lean 48cm model caught by Jason Ehrlich. Jackalls and spinnerbaits have been catching the most fish. Although these fish are tough to entice, their size makes it all worthwhile.
3) Dark sooty grunter, such as this Lake Proserpine specimen, are often a bycatch when casting lures for barra. You can target them by fishing in tight cover with smaller crankbaits, spinnerbaits and surface lures.
4) Trolling lures at night produces some magnificent fish. This 118cm specimen caught by John Bryant at Lake Proserpine fell for a Barra Bait lure trolled on 60lb braid with 80lb leader. Barra of this size test gear to the limit – not to mention your blood pressure!Reads: 1170