If the fishing continues the way it has over the last month, things are looking great for May. There will be plenty of good bass crunching lures in the shallow water.
Weed growth should slow a little as the water cools, making more pockets for the fish to hide in. From here, they’ll launch their ambush on small baitfish like gar and gudgeon. The size of the bass being caught around the edges has been quite good of late. As the water gets cooler, the smaller fish usually slow down and the bigger ones come out to play.
Casting spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, suspending minnows and soft plastics around the broken weed will score you a bass or two. It’s just a matter of working out what presentation will work best on the day, so be prepared to experiment. Surface luring in the same area of a morning and afternoon will also tempt some quality fish. Eddy’s Surface Busters and the Rapala Skitter Pops are a couple of proven fish takers. Alternatively, you can try casting unweighted plastics like Sliders or Berkley 2" frogs on light tackle. When working these plastics, try to make them break the surface as you retrieve. This really gets the bass excited.
Baitfishing can be pretty slow at this time of year; the fish seem to feed more on baitfish rather than crustaceans or worms. It’s still worth a go with live shrimp close to the edges of the weed in the shallow water. Another option when fishing live shrimp is to target the bass in the deep water. In the deeper parts of the lake, bass can be found holding around the thermoclines. These fish will stay here almost until the end of winter. Soft plastics can work well on these fish, especially if they migrate upstream and suspend close above the bottom in water that’s about 18m deep.
The fish at Bjelke are currently scattered and can be hard to find at times, but there are a few options that will give you a good chance of catching a few. Hopefully, things will change – after all, the fish have to eat sometime. Casting spinnerbaits to the banks and timber is one of the best ways to lure a hungry bass or yellowbelly. Because of the rise in the water level a couple of months ago there should be quite a few fish patrolling the water around the edges. Try casting lipless crankbaits in the same water.
Out in the open, deeper water, there’ll be some schooled fish. Once you’ve located the fish – which may require some perseverance – try using soft plastic paddle-tails, such as Slider Grubs, or single-tails like Berkley Gulps.
It’s also worth dropping a bait around Pelican and Bass points, or even in the timber. If you’re using bait you’re most likely to catch yellowbelly and jew.
There are plenty of options to explore at Boondooma. Schooling bass in the main basin area are a good proposition. Start by locating schooled fish on your sounder. Look around The Islands and Pelican Point as there is a good chance the fish will move upstream of their current position at the wall end. When you’ve found some fish, try casting soft plastics. If this fails, try reaction style lures like spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits or tailspinners.
Due to the rise in the water level, there’s a big chance that the edges will be firing. Work along the edges casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits in search of fish. Both bass and yellowbelly can be caught doing this, and they can also be caught in both of the timbered arms using spinnerbaits. Work close to the trees, bumping as much structure as possible.
If you want to use bait, try the points in the main basin or up in the Boyne River timber. Live shrimp are best but can be hard to come by. If you can’t get your hands on any, try using live worms or frozen prawns.
With so many options available, it can be quite confusing. If you’d like to learn more about fishing lakes, you can learn from fishing guide Matthew Mott. Matt runs his fishing charters on both Bjelke and Boondooma. For bookings or enquiries, give him a call on (07) 4168 4811.
The yellowbelly can be pretty hard to persuade, but luckily the bass are biting. The best chance you have of catching yellowbelly is to work the timber with trolled lures or cast spinnerbaits. Baitfishing a couple of kilometres north and south of Kirkleigh is another option.
The area from Pelican Point to Bay 13 is holding good schools of bass. At the time of writing, they are taking cast spinnerbaits and soft plastics. This month, my guess is that they’ll be favouring the plastics more. Locate the better concentrations and cast plastics rigged on 1/2oz jigheads to keep them in the zone. If you like to wave the wand, flyfishing is also worth a shot. Use Clouser, Vampire or Bony Bream patterns on fast sinking lines, making sure you’re fishing the presentation at the right depth.
Plenty of ground has been flooded recently, providing many ideal spots to try for some of Somerset’s monster bass. As the water cools more, these fish should venture farther into the shallows. The main basin is sure to hold plenty of these fish, although I have always preferred the timber north of Kirkleigh. Cast spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges in search of your quarry. It can take quite a bit of work, but when you finally land a fish it makes it all worthwhile. Along with the big bass, there are always a few yellowbelly whacking your lures to keep you interested.
1) Esbert Ehrlich with a 2.5kg Somerset bass caught casting the edges with an AusSpin Baitfish spinnerbait north of Kirkleigh.
2) David Green and Peter Robinson working schooled bass with spinnerbaits on the flats at Pelican Point on Somerset Dam.Reads: 573