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Hungry Bass and Tight-Lipped Barra
  |  First Published: June 2005



With winter here the bass are starting to come on the bite and the barra are unfortunately starting to slow down. There are still a few barra around but you’ll have to work much harder for them. The goldens have slowed a little but are still available for lure trollers and bait anglers. Overall winter is a great time to fish the fresh in Queensland, with mild days and good fishing.

Cressbrook

We’ve reached the time of year that Cressbrook’s bassers get excited about. The cooler winter months trigger a run of bigger bass in the lake’s shallows and casting lures to the lake’s edges is the way to target these bulkier bass.

If the lake doesn’t drop too much, there should still be some weed beds around the edges, and they are good places to start looking for bass. My other favourite spots are minor contour changes in the lake’s bottom when the water is less than 7m deep, and small bays such as those found where a gully or washout enters the lake. You’re likely to encounter the odd golden perch while fishing these areas using the same techniques as you would for bass.

During winter, the bass feed on baitfish that are smaller than the garfish they normally feed on. Due to the good weed growth over the past few years, the lake has an abundance of other small fish like guppies and gudgeons. Together these fish will make up the bass’s diet over the next few months.

Casting lures is the most effective way to hook Cressbrook’s wily bass. The water is very clear and this means the fish are easily spooked, but there are plenty of lures that will do the job. Jighead rigged soft plastics, spinnerbaits, beetlespins and Jackalls are all worth a try. Some of the best winter performers are jerkbaits and rippin’ minnows. Try running shallow diving models in the mornings and afternoons, and deeper diving suspending models in the middle of the day and sometimes even early and late in the day.

There will still be a few smaller bass holding in the deep water in the middle of the lake where the thermoclines are the strongest. A good place to look for them is in the deep water out from the boat ramps and the start of the fishing area in the Bull Creek Arm. Soft plastics, TN50 and TN60 Jackalls and deep fly presentations have all worked well on these fish in the past.

Bjelke-Petersen

As the level of the lake is low, the main concentrations of fish will stay close to the deeper water, which means that the majority of fish will be in the lower half of the lake.

There are sure to be schools of bass in the deeper water, so have a look around the drop-off to the old creek bed. A good starting point is the water between the two boat ramps. Casting 3” soft plastics like Slider Grubs is a good way to find out if these fish are on the bite, while another option is slowly rolling TN60 and Mask Vib 60 Jackalls through the fish. Play around and change between lure types to find which ones are working best.

Trolling the schools in the deep water is yet another option. Using conventional hard-bodied trolling lures is not the best way to go, as results on these lures at this time of year can be pretty ordinary. Instead, try trolling lures that are commonly used for casting such as soft plastics (rigged on 1/2oz jigheads), small profile 5/8oz spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

When trolling, concentrate on varying the speed of the lure. Slow right down or stop to let the lure sink close to the bottom before moving it along at a walking pace. Continue this stop-start trolling method to ensure you are working the lure up and down through the water column. A petrol outboard will do the job but an electric motor is perfect for this type of work because it is quiet and the speed can be controlled more easily.

Some good-sized bass and golden perch will be cruising the shallow edges. Casting lures to these fish is the best approach, with lures that produce plenty of vibration and noise in the water working well in the shallows during winter. Try medium to large spinnerbaits in the 1/2oz to 5/8oz weight range. Lipless crankbaits of around 60-70mm are also a good option for these active fish.

Bait fishing seems to improve around this time of year. The food supply of shrimp and crayfish in the lake is low so the fish are pleasantly surprised when they see one presented on a hook. The best areas to try bait are off the points and up near the dam wall in places like The Quarry, with yellowbelly and jew the most common catches. Every now and again, a few smaller bass will show up. Live shrimp are a number one bait all year round and can be purchased from the kiosk at the lake. They sell the best tackle to catch fish and can also point you in the right direction when you head out to wet a line.

Boondooma

Most of the best action in Boondooma can be found in the middle to lower reaches of the lake. There will be good fish hanging around The Islands and also the areas around the second and third marker buoys. It may also be worth a look in the Boyne Arm for schooled bass: if they are there, you’ll find them before you reach Pelican Point. Casting soft plastics is a good way to tempt these open water fish, as is using spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Bass will be the main species caught although golden perch may turn up on the odd occasion.

On the banks, there will be good scatterings of bass and golden perch for lure casters, with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are best lures to try here. Motoring along under the power of an electric motor will ensure you cover plenty of banks in search of the active fish in the shallow water. Again, try fishing the middle and lower reaches of the lake, as the lower water levels will force most of the fish to stay there, closer to the deeper water.

Live baits are worth a try, particularly around the rocky outcrops half way up the lake. The start of the Boyne timber can produce some decent catches on bait and spinnerbaits at times. Golden perch will make up the majority of fish caught on bait, but expect a few bass as well.

If you’re chasing any gear or need any information on fishing the lake, call in at Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. The store is owned by local fishing guide Matthew Mott, so the guys always know what’s working best because of Matthew’s hands on experience.

Somerset

The cold winter months signal the start of the big bass run at Somerset. Somerset is known for its year round supply of big bass and over winter, these fish put on plenty of condition. A 2kg, 50cm summer specimen can weigh 1kg more by the end of winter.

These big fish can be found in two defined areas – in schools or cruising the shallows on their own. You should find schools of bass across flats that are close to the old river drop-off. Look between The Spit and Pelican Point in water that is 4-8m deep and if you find schooled fish, you can then cast lures to them. Mask Vib Jackalls are a favourite as they are very close to bony bream in size, action and colour, and bony bream make up a large part of a Somerset bass’s diet. The TN60 Jackall is another good option, as are spinnerbaits. Soft plastics don’t seem to be as successful during winter, however the slow presentation of a deeply presented fly can do the trick.

On the banks, you’ll find fish scattered all over the lake. Bass and yellowbelly will frequent quite shallow water in search of food or warmth. Lures that are able to cover plenty of water are best suited to hunting down these fish. There aren’t big numbers of fish on the edges so it’s necessary to put in plenty of casts and cover a lot of water; spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are the best lures for this job. If using spinnerbaits, use big blades that pump out plenty of flash and vibration. The Somerset fish that are found on the edges are generally big models that make the effort worthwhile.

Trolling lures will be pretty quiet until the early spring run of golden perch starts, though you may still pick up a few goldens on bait. Places to try are around The Hump, the submerged hills in the bay west of The Hump, Red Rock and along the many creek and riverbed drop-offs.

Hinze

The dam has fished reasonably well with most catches coming in the early morning or late afternoon. The surface fishing that Hinze is known for is very steady and during the lower light periods, anglers will find success on slow trolled lures around the front of gently sloping points. When the sun is higher, a lot of larger fish can be caught along steeper shaded banks.

Lipless crankbaits are the lures of choice for those casting and retrieving. A faster retrieve with plenty of pauses helps to locate the active fish. Once located, they can be targeted by a number of other methods including soft plastics, jigs and flies.

The eastern arm of the dam should fish well for big numbers of smaller fish, while the larger fish have been elusive in this part of the dam and seem to be favouring the western arm. Only last month, there were reports of some bass to 50cm caught around The Island.

Bait fishing has also been catching a lot of bass and the water tower is a popular place to soak a live shrimp. Always ensure you have a Hinze dam fishing permit, as it is required to fish this scenic and ski-boat free waterway.

For an up-to-date report on Hinze or anywhere on the Gold Coast, you can call in and see the guys at Gold Coast Fishing Tackle. They’ll be happy to help you choose the best gear and point you in the right direction.

Peter Faust (Lake Proserpine)

Though the lower water temperatures are taking their toll, good fishing can still be experienced throughout winter by picking the right day. The best days to fish the lake are those with little wind. Combine a day with light winds with a couple of days either side of the new and full moons and you’re in with the best chance.

There should still be plenty of weed edges around the dam, however if these die from the cold or falling water levels, look for the best stands of living weed. Around the weed and the trees outlining the edges of the creeks will be the preferred locations. The ever-popular Barra Bait is a good lure to try, while the new Reidy’s Big B52 is sure to be a hit right through winter, at least until the temperatures start to rise again.

Sooty grunter can be targeted around the big dead standing trees. Soft plastics are a great lure to entice these fat and healthy bruisers and proven lures are the Tsunami swim baits and the Terminator Snap-Back jerkbaits.

For the latest information about what’s biting at the lake and in the surrounding area, call in and see Lindsay Dobe and the boys at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. The store is easy to find on the highway at Proserpine.

Awoonga

It’s certainly harder work catching barra from the impoundments at this time of year. Although this is the case, Awoonga will produce some quality fish over the coldest months and there are a couple of things I’ve heard to convince me of this.

In the last two years, the Boyne-Tannum Hookup competition has been won with fish from Lake Awoonga. This competition is held in winter so surely this reflects the lake’s potential for producing big barra at this time of year.

The months leading up to June have produced the best barra fishing that the lake has ever offered. Hordes of big barra have been caught, mainly by anglers trolling lures throughout the day in the deeper water. This pattern will continue into June, though the action will slow down and strikes may be hard to get. Slowing the troll speed may help encourage the big lazy fish to make the effort to eat your lure and the Predatek Viper is one of the best lures for trolling judged on its past performance on this lake.

The other option for winter barra is to locate them in the shallow, warmer water. Futter Creek and other parts at the back of the dam that offer protection from the wind will have pockets of warmer water. Try fishing the shallows with shallow diving lures like B52s on a warm day when the sun hits the water early.

For any information on the lake and accommodation details, you can call Merv at the Lake Awoonga Caravan Park on (07) 4975 0155. For the interest of all anglers travelling to the lake, Merv has informed me of a couple of changes. The lake has been deregulated, which means the gate system no longer operates and you can therefore launch your boat at any time of day or night. The other change now in place is that a Stocked Impoundment Permit is no longer needed to fish the lake.

Lenthalls

Lenthalls just north of Maryborough was due to reopen last month, however the upgrades at the lake aren’t expected to be finished until some time in June. It would pay to check if the work has been completed before you venture off to the lake. I’m sure a lot of people will be keen to get their boats back onto the water of this magnificent lake.

Callide

With winter taking its toll on the water temperatures the barramundi have become few and far between. There is still the odd big one to be caught lurking around and sunbaking in the shallows. Casting with B52s and trolling with Richo’s or Koolabung Barra Bait lures will yield the odd fish.

Quality golden perch are being caught on lures like the Killalure River Ratz 20+ and Cotton Cordel Rattling Spots. Over the winter months, Callide Dam’s big yellowbelly will be the most reliable target for anglers, and they are big fish too with fish up to 5kg not uncommon.

If you need an update on the way the dam is fishing, get in touch with Creek 2 Coast at Biloela. They can put you onto the best spots to try for the golden perch and let you know when the barra fishing picks up.

Cania

Cania will continue to fish well over the coming month. Saratoga, bass and golden perch can all be caught in good numbers. The preferred lures for these three species of fish are the Team Daiwa Woofers, the River 2 Sea Twin Vibe and spinnerbaits. For more information on fishing Callide, call in and see Norm or Marella at Creek 2 Coast tackle store in Biloela. They stock a wide range of lures that are suited to the local area.

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