The water temperature has reached its coldest now, so the best action will most likely be in the lake’s shallows. Well-conditioned bass and the occasional yellowbelly can be expected when casting lures to the edges.
Lures like spinnerbaits and beetlespins tend not to catch as many fish as they would have in the past months. Reaction baits will still work this month, but it’s best to stick to lipless crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits.
The most successful way to target the fish can be to cast soft plastics to the edges and any shallow holding schools. Slider Grubs in pumpkinseed colour rigged on a 1/4oz jigheads are my first choice. If these fail, I explore other options such as colour or even lure selection changes.
Bass can be found on most banks throughout the dam. Concentrate your efforts on the shallower tapering banks, points and smaller bays within the larger ones.
The best time to fish during this part of the year is when the mad westerlies aren’t blowing. These strong winds make fishing and catching fish difficult. If the winds look like they’ll be a problem you can normally sneak in a morning’s fishing until around ten o’clock before the wind drops in.
There are a few options to consider this month that will see mixed results on bass and golden perch.
Working the banks with lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits can produce quality goldens and bass. There are many edges to try, but you’ll increase your chances by looking for those with some or all of the following characteristics: a gentle taper; deeper water close by; on or near a point; areas sheltered from strong winds; or a recess (tiny bay) inside a bay, where you’ll find change in bottom contour.
The timber is another place worth using spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. If you plan to fish tight against the trees, spinnerbaits can be a better option than lipless crankbaits. The single upright hook reduces the chance of getting snagged up, making it easier to bang the lure against the structure and trigger a strike. If the fish are in the more open water, lipless crankbaits retrieved at the depth at which fish are holding can be a better alternative. This is because they are able to cover more water faster.
Baitfishing with live shrimp is also an option for those venturing up to the timber. Yellowbelly and bass will be the main species falling for helpless shrimp, though catching shrimp at the dam can be a bit hard as the water is still too cold. The kiosk at the lake has lures and bait for sale, with live shrimp being one of the most popular bait choices.
Schooling bass can be found in the open water. It’s important to use a quality sounder to locate schools, ascertain the depth at which they are holding and make a good judgement as to how to catch them. My Humminbird Matrix does the job well.
You’ll find schooled bass in areas like Pelican Point and the last bend before the timber in the Stuart quite regularly. Other areas can hold great schools one day and only a scattering of fish the next. For this reason, the fishing has been a little patchy and it can be necessary to spend time locating fish. Once found, these bass are suckers for soft plastics and deeply presented Clouser-style flies.
The Boyne timber is the place to look for a golden or bass on spinnerbaits and live shrimp. Search the tight cover offered by the timber for best results. Spinnerbaits have also been scoring a few bass around the banks, particularly at the wall end of the lake.
If you’d like to learn how to catch the fish at Bjelke and Boondooma in winter, a charter could be the right option. A guided trip can remove a lot of the guesswork and failed attempts involved in the learning process. To book a trip or make enquiries, call Matthew Mott on (07) 4168 4811.
Somerset is going through a phase where the fish are difficult to catch. This could possibly be due to weather and water conditions affecting the fish, constant angling pressure dished out by a number of recent tournaments and those anglers targeting the big bass on offer.
Schooled bass are concentrated in the Pelican Point area. Other smaller schools can be found from the flats south of Kirkleigh down to the wall. Many of these fish hold in shallow water of 4-7m on flats and around the lake’s banks. They’ve been hard to tempt for some time but hopefully they’ll start to feed more actively soon. Using deep fly techniques has been the most successful way to persuade these fish to bite. There has also been the odd one falling to soft plastics, ice jigs and Jackall lipless crankbaits.
Sparsely scattered around the edges of the lake are some big bass making the most of the warmer water and waiting for an easy feed. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits is the best way to get the attention of these bruisers. The exact pattern or colour of the lure doesn’t seem to matter all that much; the important factors are to cover plenty of water and be patient. The better banks to target are those between 3-5m deep when the boat is positioned a cast length from the edge.
This beautiful lake is one of my favourite freshwater fishing locations. It’s a quiet place that can offer some hot action throughout the year.
Lenthalls is a small lake that has a number of narrow feeder arms, making it more like a river system than an open impoundment. As its level is around full capacity all year, there are good weed beds and many lily pads lining the fringes. It’s a fisherman’s dream!
The turn to Lenthalls is north of Maryborough, around halfway between Aldershot and Torbanlea on the Bruce Highway. The gravel road takes you inland through forest for about 15 minutes before reaching the boat ramp. At the lake, there are no camping facilities. A 6hp outboard restriction also applies, but the lake is small so this isn’t an inconvenience. You can be fishing within minutes of launching using only your electric motor.
Paul Dolan, a guide who lives in the area and fishes the lake often, has provided an up-to-date report on what to expect this month.
Casting lures to the weeded edges is the best way to get into the action. Unlike some of the more southern bass lakes, the weed beds don’t die back much during winter so you don’t have to look too hard to locate good submerged vegetation. Working lures like spinnerbaits, beetlespins, lipless crankbaits and suspending or floating minnows around the weed and lily pads will turn the bass on.
A tip for this month is to try and avoid the windier parts of the lake when the westerlies are blowing. Sheltered bays offer some protection from the wind, and the fish there seem more willing to play the game in these areas.
Paul uses Terminator Snap Back plastics at this lake with great results. The skills he has refined here are sure to work on other bass waters as well. He uses 5-inch fluke-style Snap Backs, which differ from some of the popular plastics in that they don’t have a paddle- or curl-tail. Snap Backs are super-tough and super-stretchy, and can withstand the constant torture dished out by species such as mackerel. The material from which Snap Backs are made is also very buoyant, allowing them to float.
These flukes or jerkbaits can be fished in a number of ways. If the fish are suspending or holding in the tapered edge of the weed, it’s best to work a weedless presentation. Rig the lure weedless on a Mustad 5/0 worm hook. Add some weight to the hook by moulding some Sticky Weight to it, or to the line, so it can sink slowly into the zone you wish to fish. Once it’s the right depth, retrieve the lure in a series of twitches, making it dart from side to side with a walk the dog action. This creates a definite garfish appearance.
Another way to work these lures is to fish them on a jighead of around 1/4oz, which takes the lure to the bottom at the edge of the weed. Allow the lure to rest here. The buoyant tail will rise vertically off the bottom, making it the perfect target for bass to attack.
From here, bring the lure to life by shaking the rod tip. A few hops to move the lure only 30-40cm is all that’s needed. Allow it to rest, and repeat the process until the lure reaches the boat.
By the end of this month, a few barra might start to show up. A light leader tied to a lure that’s meant for bass could quickly become the weak link if a barra inhales your offering. There were some fish to around 58cm caught last February. Even through the slower growing period of winter, these fish should now be much bigger and even more fun to catch. The lake has been stocked with barra on a few occasions in the last couple of years, so it will be interesting to see how this fishery progresses.
If you’d like to fish Lenthalls with the experience of a guide, Paul Dolan is your man. He’s a dedicated fisherman with years of knowledge that he is willing to share. You can contact him at Fraser Coast Sportfishing and Eco Adventures on (07) 4128 4952 or 0407 674 350, or check out www.frasercoast.fishseq.com. He operates in the entire area, targeting pelagics, reefies and estuary fish using casting techniques like flyfishing and working soft plastics.
1) Fishing Somerset's schooled bass with deeply presented flies can be the best way to get these tight-lipped fish to bite.
2) Casting a spinnerbait on light line in the shallows resulted in this winter yellowbelly.
3) Jason Ehrlich with a well conditioned 46cm Somerset bass taken on fly.Reads: 542