Cressbrook’s fishing can be a bit hard to predict at times. Although bass and yellowbelly can usually be caught throughout the year by casting lures to the weeded and open edges, last month the edge bite was pretty ordinary. Many of these fish seem to have retreated from the lake’s shallows to hold in the deep thermoclines in the middle of the lake. These thermoclines stay around well into winter so I’d expect quite a few fish will stay there until they dissipate.
Some schools of smaller bass can be found in around 7m of water. The more prominent points protruding well into the lake tend to hold bigger numbers of fish. With the water temperature cooling more this month and shorter days in force, chances are that these points will start yielding some legal sized bass.
When fishing around the small, schooled bass, it pays to target the shallower water close to the school and even run lures above the school to target the bigger ones.
The weed edges may start to produce again in the near future. It doesn’t take long to figure out if the fish are on the bite in this location. Vary your lures, trying soft plastics, lipless crankbaits, suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and surface lures. If you’ve spent an hour working the edges and had no results, the fishing is likely to be better in the deep schools.
If you choose to look for schooled bass in the deep water, sound around in the middle of the lake’s main basin. Look in water over 14m deep for fish that will suspend 7-14m down. Once a concentration is found, they will respond to a number of methods, though trolling deep diving lures will usually account for a quite a few fish. Lures such as the Blitz Baga and Little Macs are worth a try. Bait fishing with live shrimp is another option. Ensure your bait is positioned at the right depth and try to keep the line’s angle into the water as close to vertical as possible by restricting wind drift.
Casting to the schools can be a hit-and-miss affair, as lures need to be in the right zone to get the strikes. Offerings like soft plastics, TN50 and TN60 Jackalls and Clouser style flies have been doing most of the damage. On some days, the fish prefer a steady rolling retrieve where the lure moves slowly past them. On other days, they respond better to a faster moving lure. In this case, they’ll hit it as it burns past them on the way up from deeper water or as it is allowed to freefall back past them.
With the lake’s level down a bit, the weed beds will be few and far between. Still, cooler water temperatures will draw plenty of bass and golden perch to the lake’s edges and casting reaction lures like spinnerbaits and Jackalls to the edges should produce a mixed bag. The fish feeding in this water are most likely gorging themselves on bony bream. The lures mentioned do a good job of imitating bonies so therefore work quite well.
Schooled bass will also hold in the deeper water between the boat ramps. Here, they can be caught casting lures like 3” soft plastics, spinnerbaits and Jackalls. If the fish are hard to find on the sounder, pay particular attention to the drop-offs, as this is usually prime bass territory.
The morning and afternoon are the best times to try for golden perch using bait. The Quarry and Bass Point are reliable golden perch haunts and live shrimp is by far the number one bait for the job. These critters can be purchased from the kiosk at the lake.
Apart from selling food, drinks and some grocery items, the kiosk stocks a great range of fishing gear. Be sure to call in, check it out and ask for some advice on fishing the lake.
At this time of year, most of the lake’s bass suspend in the deep water. Around the outside of The Islands is a good place to locate them, though they can be found anywhere between the wall and the second round marker.
It’s in such situations that a good sounder - and some knowledge of how to read it - come into play. Once you locate fish, you can catch them by casting Jackalls, spinnerbaits and soft plastics.
Casting spinnerbaits and Jackalls around the rocks on the western side of the Boyne Arm is a good way to tangle with some yellowbelly. Further into the Boyne, the timber is the place to try for golden perch on live shrimp.
Fishing guide Matthew Mott runs charters on Bjelke and Boondooma dams. You can reach him on (07) 4168 4811. He has also opened his new store - Bass to Barra Marine, in Youngman Street, Kingaroy. Bass to Barra Marine carries a great range of fishing tackle and you can be sure of getting all the right advice when you visit the store.
Lake Somerset is pretty hard to predict at this time of year. For the last couple of years, there has been some influx of water, raising the capacity prior to the month of May. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen this year. May signals cooler water temperatures and changes in the fish’s behaviour. The schooled bass that have been holding in the Bay 13 and Pelican Point area tend to move more towards the wall end of the lake. Places like the bay opposite The Hump, wide of The Spit, Dead Tree Point and Brad’s Bank are worth close investigation.
If the bass schools aren’t responding well to soft plastics or trolled lures, give spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits a go. Spinnerbaits continued to produce the better quality bass throughout last year. The secret to fishing spinnerbaits in Somerset is to use the downsized 5/8oz models. These lures, when fished on spin gear spooled with braided or fused line of up to 8lb, are able to stay down deep where the schooled fish are.
Trolling the steep rock walls at the wall end of the lake will yield a golden perch or two. Running medium to deep diving lures will achieve the desired depth and give you the best chance.
Yellowbelly are also an option in the bay opposite The Hump. There is a rise in the bottom that can be located by lining up a fence line on the western bank. The fence line runs from the road right down to the water’s edge. I normally motor from the middle of the lake toward the western bank, keeping the fence line pointing directly at me. You’ll notice the bottom starts to rise and the hump reaches its peak about 400 metres from the western shore. Trolling, casting Jackalls and fishing the top of the hump with live shrimp will produce both golden perch and bass.
Cruising along the edges and watching your sounder will reveal some good shows of schooled bass. Once located, these fish are suckers for most presentations and varying between soft plastics, Jackalls and spinnerbaits will ensure you stand the best chance of success. The size of the fish has been outstanding. Keen basser Barry Oxford reported catching nine bass over 50cm in one session, working the schools north of Logans Inlet.
With the weather being a little cooler this month, casting to the edges, particularly when schooled fish are in the area, will produce the better quality specimens. The army of forktailed catfish has been unusually quiet. This is always a bonus, allowing the angler the chance to concentrate his efforts on his trophy-sized bass.
Break out the beanies at Hinze Dam this month. The increasingly cold weather will see fish schooling off most of the major points within the dam. Soft plastics will be an effective choice when targeting these deeper fish. Long casts and slow presentations with soft plastics or lipless crankbaits should get plenty of fish. The Jackall Mask Vib60 is an excellent choice as it can be retrieved in numerous ways. Using a slow bottom hopping retrieve is an effective way to target schooled bass during the cooler months. Vertically jigging small metal lures and ice jigs like Nilsmasters will be effective.
Mary River cod are also a prospect during May. Big spinnerbaits such as the Ausspin Twin Spin and Quad Spin are proven performers on these powerful fish and rocky areas in the dam are usually a good place to start looking for them. A slow steady retrieve with the occasional pause to let the spinnerbait flutter back to the bottom may see you rewarded. Plenty of big bass can be caught on this technique as well.
Overall, May is a great month to get out on Hinze with calmer, cooler days being kind to both angler and fish. If you need to know more about fishing Hinze and the types of lures and techniques that are best suited to it, call in and see Brandon and the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle. They have a large store that stocks a vast array of tackle suitable for fishing both fresh and saltwater in the area. You’ll find the store in Nind Street at Southport.
It gets a little bit tricky to second-guess what's going to happen over the next month as things really will depend on when the weather starts to cool. The Proserpine area is normally lucky, as often the days don't cool off too much until late May. You can expect fewer fish to get caught on the troll, and although the timber and shallow water will fish better, wind strength will be critical.
Fishing guide Lindsay Dobe says that this year, the fish have definitely been different to past years, so he’s really just guessing the movements of the fish. One thing is for sure – whenever it cools off, the average size of the fish willing to feed are larger, with fish under 1m rare during the cooler months. Unfortunately, the quantity of fish decreases.
Until the weather and water temperature cool down, it’s worthwhile fishing both deep and shallow areas by casting and trolling. A new technique that seems to be effective is trolling large soft plastics. Using 9” models from the Storm or Tsunami brands in both white and blue has proven successful over the past month.
For the best and most accurate report of how the lake’s fishing, be sure to call in and see Lindsay Dobe at his store in the town of Proserpine. Proserpine Bait and Tackle sell all the right gear for the area at the right prices.
With the action experienced over the last month, this place has truly earned the status of ‘barra heaven’. It’s been a great season and such action looks set to continue as the Gladstone Area Water Board continue to stock the lake.
Weed beds are starting to establish in New Zealand Gully and Kens Bay. Both of these areas are shaping up as the nurseries for the lake, with large numbers of smaller barra being caught and released. With the cover of water lilies appearing, Futter Creek is also producing good catches. Eddie Studman’s Koolabung Lures are working well in the shallows, as is the Predatek Sand Viper.
As winter sets in and the water cools, focus your attention on the shallow water and timber areas of the lake. Last year, small barra were still being caught by this method in June. With little rain and no increase in water levels, you can expect to see the same pattern emerge this year. Searching for patches of warmer water can be the key to finding the more active fish. Local Meg LaHogue won the No Blokes Barra Bash in March. Meg’s fish came from the drop-off to the original riverbed in the middle of the lake. Meg weighed in a 17.5kg (104.5cm) barra on the Friday night. The other girls spent the rest of the weekend trying to better Meg’s catch – to no avail. Following the success of the No Blokes Barra Bash, it will be held again in March 2006.
The Lake Awoonga Pro-Am will be held from the 20th to the 23rd October. This will be followed the next weekend by the Lion’s Lake Awoonga Family Fishing Festival. On top of this, don’t forget the Boyne Tannum Hook-up on the long weekend in June, with over $120,000 in prizes. For the past two years the barramundi section of this competition has been won by fish caught at Awoonga.
For details on any of the competitions or accommodation bookings, contact Merv or Meg at Lake Awoonga Caravan Park on (07) 4975 0155. Watch out for their new website currently under construction.
Callide Dam is around 14% in volume. The water temperature has started to cool down and because of this, the barramundi have gone a little quiet in the cooler weather.
The RMG Halco Crazy Deeps, the Predatek Viper and Classic Barra lures 120+ are the lures of choice in the winter months. The Flats at the back of the Dam have been fishing well and trolling from the entrance of the Quarry directly across to the Power Station side of the dam has proven quite productive. Barramundi over 1m seem to hang in this area. Keep in mind when you hook a fish that this area is very heavily snagged.
It would be worthwhile trying your luck in the shallower, warmer bays, especially when the water temperature gets colder throughout the lake. Afternoons with no wind are a good time to find this type of water. It’s not uncommon to encounter lazy barramundi sunning themselves in less than a metre of water.
Although the barra will be tougher to catch, the yellowbelly and sleepy cod come into their own. Yellowbelly and sleepy cod can be caught using baits such as prawns, worms and live shrimp. Yellowbelly will take lures such as RMG Poltergeist and the Ridgeback Lures 2-3m model. With an abundance of food in the dam, the yellowbelly and sleepy cod are growing at a rapid rate.
For all your fishing needs and the latest on what’s happening, call in and see Marella and Norm at Creek 2 Coast in Biloela. From there, it’s only a short drive to the dam.
1) Barry Oxford caught this 50cm-plus bass on a Jackall while fishing Cressbrook recently.
2) Meg LaHogue won the Awoonga No Blokes Barra Bash with this 104.5 specimen, caught from the drop-off to the original river bed in the middle of the lake.Reads: 747