SPRING is here, bringing changes to our dams. As the water temperatures rise and the days get longer, the fish change their behaviour to suit. It’s useful to make a written or mental note of how the fishing changes from year to year between the seasons. Quite often you’ll find that a general pattern emerges for all the lakes, although no two impoundments are exactly the same.
Even though the water level is lower than last year, the fishing at Cressbrook has been much the same. With the lake at a lower level and dropping over winter, many of the weed beds have died back. With the cold weather abating, there may be some significant weed growth in some areas.
Look for the best weed growth as that is where you will be almost guaranteed success. Casting lures to the weed and edges is the best approach, with both bass and yellowbelly being suckers for them. Suspending jerkbaits and ripping lures have been working well. Start in the morning or at the end the day by fishing shallow with a jerkbait that dives less than a metre. Rapala Husky Jerks are great for this. In the middle parts of the day, a deeper diving suspending lure will produce better results. Rapala Shad Raps, C’ultiva Rippin’ Minnows and Lake Police Squirrels are some of the brands that come to mind. These lures work because their action and slender profiles closely resemble a garfish, and gar are one of the main bait species found in the lake.
As the month progresses, reaction baits will become more successful. Lures like beetlespins, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will start to catch more fish. By the end of the month, these faster moving lures may even start to outfish the suspending ones I have mentioned.
Don’t forget the soft plastics, as these too will score results. Bass like these more than yellowbelly do. Rigging a 3” Slider Grub onto a 1/4oz jighead and casting to the schools and edges is how to get them interested. You can also opt to dip the lure in a catch scent, such as Spike It.
Surface fishing has been slow for the past couple of months but this is sure to change. Casting a surface lure is one of the most reliable ways to get connected to quality fish in the mornings and afternoons. Most topwater lures work at Cressbrook. Poppers, fizzers and stickbaits all get molested when placed in the right zone. I’ve even heard of big bass taking 20cm cup-faced poppers designed to catch big saltwater species. Lures in the 4-10cm size range tend to work best. My all-time favourite is the Eddy’s Surface Buster.
Livebaiting with shrimp is also an option. Bass and yellowbelly have been caught in reasonable numbers around the entrance to Bull Creek. If you plan to keep a feed, watch the size and bag limits. Bass have a limit of two per person, and yellowbelly have a limit of 10 per person, and both species must be at least 30cm long. To measure bass, which have a forked tail, take the measurement from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to an imaginary line between the tips of the tail fin. When doing this, the tail must not be manipulated to increase the length.
Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges is one way to catch this lake’s yellowbelly and bass. The dam’s water level has been pretty stable for some time and this has allowed the growth of some decent weed beds. These are sure to flourish, as all other plants do, in spring. Look for the better weed clumps, particularly those in the main basin, and concentrate on these areas.
Chasing schooled bass is another good option this month. The fish can be found in their usual haunts; Bass Point and Lightning Ridge are a couple of fish-holding areas worth investigation. When you’ve located bass on the sounder, they can be caught using soft plastics and spinnerbaits. Both trolling and casting these lures will get the fish interested. When trolling, an electric motor moves you along more slowly and quietly which is a definite advantage. I prefer to cast my lures, however, because I find this more rewarding and the results are usually better. This is because the depth of the lure and the way it is presented are easier to control when casting.
Sounding for the deeper water of the creek beds and trolling lures in this area will give you a good chance of catching some big yellowbelly. Concentrate on the drop-offs where the water gets deeper around the submerged creek banks. This area tends to hold more fish and often bigger ones. There should also be fish in the general area, either suspended or holding near the bottom.
Like many other lakes at the moment, Boondooma has some substantial weed growth. Locate the best weed beds and cast spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to tempt both bass and yellowbelly.
Casting spinnerbaits around the timber in the Boyne River is another good option. Put your lure right into the thickest structure and let it bump through the submerged trees. This area can be worth a shot with live shrimp. I’ve seen many boats haul in a feed of fish when tied to clumps of big trees.
Trolling lures around the points in the main basin of the dam will give you a good chance of catching yellowbelly. Try lures that dive to different depths and fish them close to the bottom. The yellowbelly are active in spring and can be found at different depths, so try to work out the best approach.
Bass schools can be found in the upper parts of the dam. The winter fish that school in the upper half of the dam will slowly start to move back towards the wall. This migration will most likely take months. Some of the more successful places to locate fish are areas at and around Pelican Point, The Islands and the last two bends in the Stuart before the timber.
If you’re interested in learning to fish Bjelke or Boondooma, professional guide Matthew Mott can show you how – everything from the basics to the newest casting techniques. Matthew Mott runs tours on both lakes, and you can contact him on (07) 4168 4811 to make bookings or enquiries.
Hopefully, the warmer spring weather will wake the fish up and make them more active. The fishing at Somerset has been pretty tough for the last few months. Bass have been taken from schools at Pelican Point on flies and the odd one on plastics. There have been some monster bass and yellowbelly taken by fishing the lake’s shallow edges with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits, but it’s been hard work.
It’s a fair assumption that the fishing will improve this month. We can expect the bass on the edges to become even less common but there will be a big increase in the number of yellowbelly caught. Yellowbelly can be caught in the same manner as when targeting bass. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges will have some huge goldens crunching your lures.
Trolling is another option. You can troll water less than 4m deep with the electric motor using small divers. Try black or chrome gold lures like Mini Busters or Stump Jumpers.
If you have no electric motor, you can still get into some action by trolling with your outboard motor. When using the noisier outboard, fish in deeper water. Try the steep rocky banks around The Spit and Pelican Point area or the drop-off to the old creek bed from Bay 13 to Kirkleagh. Use deeper divers for this style of fishing. Lures that dive from 5-8m are a good start. Some colours to use are black with gold (or white) stripes, purple over white and chartreuse with black.
The other dams in Southeast Queensland seem to be following a similar pattern to the way they fished last year. If this is the case for Somerset, we can expect the schooled bass to get more active. The main bass schools have been holding on the northern side of Pelican Point. I’ve found that these fish move towards the wall end of the lake right from the beginning of spring. Smaller schools of bass will start popping up along the drop-offs to the old creek bed and across flats in 6-8m of water. Soft plastics will be a good option again after being quiet for so long. It would also be worth pulling some lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits through the fish as speculators. There’s a chance that the bass will start taking these lures early in the season as they were working well before winter.
Trolling deep-diving lures in the same areas should produce some nice bass. Expect to encounter the odd yellowbelly as well. Spooling your reel with a light braided line will give your trolled lures better action and allow them to swim deeper. Berkley Fireline in 4-8lb is a good choice for this type of work. Add a 1.5m mono or fluorocarbon leader of around 6kg to the end of the braid and you’re ready for action.
The schools of bigger fish will start breaking up and moving back into the shallows this month, so targeting the weed and lily edges and snags will be the go to get connected to them. There will still be schools of smaller fish at depths of around 3-4m. Generally these fish are 25-35cm long and are easily caught on small plastics and fly.
The edges should really start fishing well with surface lures in the early morning and late afternoon. Good lures for the surface in Lenthalls are Eddies Surface Busters, Terminator Pitchin tubes and the ever-reliable Torpedos. As the sun rises, try beetlespins and spinnerbaits.
For those wishing to troll, Lively Lures Micro Mullets trolled along the weed edges and the lilies should produce some good fish, as will deeper diving lures trolled through the old creek beds.
The Stocking Association takes possession of 6000 more barra in early September. They will grow them at their hatchery to 55-60mm before stocking them into the dam. It will take about a month to get them from around 15mm to the release size. This will give the barra population a boost and add yet another attraction to the lake over the next couple of years.
Local fishing guide Paul Dolan operates charters on Lenthalls and in the Hervey Bay / Fraser Island area. He has years of experience to share with his clients, so if you’re interested in a charter give him a call at Fraser Coast Sportfish and Eco Adventures on (07) 4128 4952 or 0407 674 350. You can also check out the website at www.frasercoast.fishseq.com.
1) The author with a 40cm Cressbrook bass taken on a smoke/yellowcore Slider and 5/16oz AusSpin jighead combination.
2) Bass, like this specimen displayed by Kerry Ehrlich, will feed on reaction baits like this lipless crankbait when cast around the lake's edges.
3) The TN60 Jackall. This lipless crankbait is proving to be an asset in any basser’s arsenal.Reads: 445