Dam fine winter fishing
  |  First Published: May 2009

During the cold months quite a few of the lakes will fish well in the shallow water. Bass, barra and even golden perch can be caught by luring these shallows. It is important to keep on the move and explore these waters by repeatedly casting. From a boat, an electric motor is the answer. Try to stay quiet, especially when chasing barra, as these fish will hold in water barely deep enough to cover their backs.

Turn the speed of the electric down and be sure to move quietly around the boat. Thumping footsteps and dropped hatch lids are sure ways to spook the fish. These types of sounds travel a long way through the water. Even trying to make big lures land without splashing down too much can increase your chances.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

This lake, so well known for its numerous undersized fish, has been producing quite a few decent bass. Some of these fish with their fat bellies are in good condition. Sounding through the deep water reveals quite a few bait clouds, most likely to be bony bream, which seem to be increasing in numbers. A few bonies have even been foul hooked on lures. Bonies make a great meal for predatory fish and lakes containing them usually produce big fish. Let’s hope the Cressbrook’s fish continue to improve in size.

The early morning has been the time to explore the thick weed edges with surface lures. On occasions, the bait can be seen skittering around on the surface. This agitated bait is usually a sign of bigger fish nearby. Place long casts into the area and work the lure slowly back through the zone allowing plenty of pauses. On a recent trip, I watched a number of bass rounding up the bait on the surface and feeding on them with their backs out of the water. It reminded me of fishing Cressbrook in the early days when the bass would work together to push bait into the backs of bays and then feast on them. I flicked a Mazzy Popper just past the commotion, ripped it along a couple of times and paused it in the rippled water. A hungry little bass jumped, with its whole body out of the water as it smacked the lure.

The surface action at Cressbrook does die down a bit during winter but bass can still be caught. Sometimes the action doesn’t start until later in the morning between 8-9am. Another good option is to throw jerkbait and crankbait style lures around the edges. Lures like Rapala Countdowns and Husky Jerks, Cultiva Rippin’ Minnows, Jackall Squirrels and Chubbies are good examples of the style of lures that produce.

In the deeper water, the bass have been of pretty good quality. The section straight across from the boat ramp and out to the buoys of the no fishing area has been holding quite a few fish. These bass can be caught on blade baits, soft lipless crank baits and soft plastics. A sounder is certainly helpful when locating these fish. Look in water between 4-8m deep.

The water level is very low but boats can still be launched safely. The council recently did some more work to ensure the gravel ramp was in good condition. Speed restrictions of 8 knots in open water and 4 knots close to the shore are still in place. Don’t forget your $2.50 entry fee at the gate, which allows you to access the boat ramp and BBQ, picnic and playground facilities.

Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street, Toowoomba can set you up with the necessary tackle and live shrimp. They’ll also provide a more up-to-date report to help you on your way to scoring some decent catches. If you’re out for an early morning start, don’t forget your warm jacket and beanie.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The water that ran in and out of Somerset about two months ago seems to have shut the fish down. It was shaping up to be one of those awesome winters before this happened. A few anglers have reported tough fishing on their last visits, though those prepared to sound around and find the schooled fish are still being rewarded.

The Pelican Point area is still holding the majority of schooled bass but they are mobile and can disappear from one day to the next. Once the bass are located try using lures like 1/2oz blade baits, soft lipless crank baits and jighead-rigged soft plastics. Early last month, gun bass angler David Green, showed it pays to be versatile. He located tough to tempt bass and switched to fishing deep flies. The result was about half a dozen bass. Once active, the school was happy to munch on blades and Mask Jackalls, so Greeny caught stacks of quality fish.

This just highlights the importance of locating fish and trying a range of presentations. If the fish can be found, they usually can be caught. Although Pelican Point is holding fish now, be prepared to look for schools between the wall and Bay 13. As we move further into winter, the quality of the fish will improve as they put on condition and get full of roe. There should be some real horses to tangle with.

Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

Mixed results have been coming from Lake Wivenhoe. This may be due to the water level increasing a couple of months ago when water from Somerset was released into Wivenhoe. Anglers launching at the Sailing Club near Hays Landing and Billies Bay will find themselves close to the fish.

The schools that generally hang out wide have been a bit hard to locate. Trolling lures will be a good option to find the fish. Deep divers like Blitz Bagas can be used or you might opt for a soft lipless crank bait or blade bait. The beauty of blades and soft lipless cranks is once fish are trolled up, the lure can be cast straight back into the area to try for more fish. Sounders will reveal if the fish are schooling and if they are spotted, give the area a thorough working over with cast lures.

Sometimes we set our sights for the horizon when the best fishing to be had is right under our noses. The banks around Billies Bay have been producing some excellent bass and the odd golden on spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. With these fish hanging around in the area, don’t be surprised to find schools of bass inside the bay as well. I heard of some awesome bass sessions on schooled fish inside the bay itself last winter.

For anglers not lucky enough to be able to launch at the Sailing Club, it’s a two hour run to the hot spot under electric power. Launching is at Logans Inlet. To access the Sailing Club, you need to be a member and have your own key. Anglers need to remember that this is an electric only lake and outboards can’t be used. Breaking the rules will result in anglers being barred from accessing the water so close to the action.

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

The fishing at Macdonald had been awesome with stacks of small to medium sized bass whacking a range of lures. After heaps of rain, the dam ran a metre high over the spillway. Many bass followed the running water just as they have in the past so it seemed the fishing was going to suffer once again.

The Lake Macdonald Fish Restocking Group went quickly into action, relocating fish from below the wall back up into the lake. Saratoga, golden perch and heaps of bass were transported back up to the dam. This activity was carried out under permit and it must be stressed we cannot fish inside the exclusion zone at any dam wall.

After the lake settled, the action was still quite good with stacks of bass being taken all over the lake. Around half the fish being caught are of at least legal size. Jackalls and Little Max blade baits are doing the job.

Some stores along the coast don’t carry a great assortment of freshwater lures, so be sure to check out the excellent range of lures at Davo’s Bait and Tackle in Noosaville. The guys there will help you to find the fish and give you an up to date report on the action.

Closest Town: Imbil

Borumba Dam is still fishing well for bass and saratoga. The toga might get a bit quieter during winter but they will still be a worthwhile option.

Megabass Anthrax lures are a favourite of many of the locals. Dave Pertot swears by these lures and his results on the toga speak for themselves. Dave and his mates have been pulling the better quality saratoga from the main basin of the lake. Try fishing the weedy bays and the bottlebrush trees for them. Move quietly under electric power and try to cast as accurately as possible.

There have been a few bass schools in the main basin but they can be hard to find. Further up the main arms of the lake, the bass can be found out in the deeper water. They have been following the masses of baitfish around and once located you should be able to get stuck into the action. Half ounce Little Max blades have been deadly on the bass. Be prepared for a good fight as Borumba bass would have to be one of the toughest I’ve ever encountered.

Local tackle stores are always a great help. Be sure to call in and see the guys at Davo’s if you are fishing Macdonald or Borumba. In fact call in if you are fishing anywhere in the area. They’ll help to set you up with the right gear and give you some valuable tips.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

A few fish were caught on both lures and bait last month. I heard of at least one legal Murray cod and some undersized one, as well as some golden perch.

Over the next month the lure fishing will be pretty tough. The occasional cod will fall for a lure but most anglers give up until spring. Fishing with live shrimp from the steep bank up towards the wall or around the drop-offs from a boat will give you the best chance of boating some fish.

There is a boom gate at the entrance to the lake that requires $2.50 in coins to open. Only electric or paddle powered craft are allowed on Cooby. Outboards can be left on the boat but must not be used. If you need an update on the fishing, give Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba a call. They are found in Alderly Street or can be reached on (07) 4636 6850. Give them a call if you need to book some live shrimp.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The Fishing at Coolmunda has been slow but it definitely picked up over the last month. As the water temperature drops even more, it will keep the fish tight-lipped. Fishing with live baits is usually the best approach. Shrimps and saltwater yabbies are the best baits. As a backup, use live worms or frozen prawns. The fish will tend to spread out all over the lake. Targeting the drop-off to the old creek channel is still a good idea but be prepared to move around in search of fish.

Lure trollers prepared to put in the time will still land the odd fish. Trolling lures will also increase the chance of hooking a nice Murray cod. Run medium diving models at a steady pace. Lures like Poltergeists, Oar-Gees and Little Rippas will do the trick

Camping is allowed near Lake Coolmunda itself but, for more comfort, the Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around one kilometre away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway on the way into the dam. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. To take advantage of this and the great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below, give the park a call on (07) 4652 4171.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Although some anglers struggled to produce good fish during the last ABT tournament at Boondooma, the dam is worth a visit. After the fishing pressure died down, the fish started to cooperate and good numbers of bass could be caught from the schools.

This will remain the case for the rest of the month and Boondooma could be considered a freshwater hotspot.

Casting blade baits and soft plastic lipless cranks into the schooled bass will draw the strikes. The size of fish varies from tiddlers to fish over 2kg. If small fish are a nuisance, make a move and look for a school holding better quality models. A good sounder will often reveal the difference in the size of fish to the trained eye.

The main basin of the lake will be holding most of the schooled fish. They can be found all over from the ramp right up past The Junction and up to Pelican Point.

For more information on the fishing scene and your supplies, call into Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy. The store is in Youngman Street and the guys can help you out and offer some useful advice. Bass to Barra Marine can also be found in Dalby. As the name suggests, this shop stocks a great range of quality gear for bass and barra fishing. It’s located in Shop 2 Drayton Street so be sure to check it out.

For accommodation at the lake, give the managers a call on (07) 4168 9694. Boondooma has excellent amenities, bunk houses, cabins, powered sites and camping facilities that will make your stay enjoyable.

Closest Town: Monto

With the cold weather two species will be standouts at Cania over the next couple of months. Bass and saratoga will be willing lure takers. Casting during winter becomes a better option than trolling as often the fish hold in quite shallow water.

Casting lures to the shallow and medium tapering banks will produce the desired results. Saratoga can be found around any form of structure or in the backs of shallow, sheltered bays. Both species will take spinnerbaits, beetle spins and lipless crankbaits. Use an electric motor to move the boat quietly about the edges, place casts close to the bank and work the lure back into deeper water.

Restocking was carried out in April so the future for this fantastic lake looks bright. The fish cleaning table at the caravan park has been busy so it seems those looking for a feed aren’t going empty handed. Just remember there are bag and size limits on our freshwater fish so make sure you check them out.

To find out more about the lake or to book some great accommodation nearby, call the Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park on (07) 4167 8188. There are excellent facilities including campsites, cabins, a playground, 9 hole par 3 golf course and a swimming pool. Each Saturday, the park offers wine tasting. On Saturday and Wednesday nights as well as all school holiday nights, there are outdoor movies on the big screen. It’s worth a visit to the park just to see some of the rare and beautiful wildlife that regularly drop in and live in the area.

Closest Town: Eidsvold

Bait fishing and locating fish become pretty tough at Wuruma this month due to the colder water conditions. In the deeper water there will be the odd golden perch for the lure trollers. The bass and small barra will have moved right up into the shallows. Here quietly moving around on an electric motor is the key to accessing the good water. Look for gently and medium tapering banks and fish lures right up to the edges.

If water levels allow, venture into any of the bays about halfway along the dam. These areas and the points at the mouths are sure to hold some good bass. Lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the best offerings for Wuruma bass. Chances of hooking a barra will be much lower now as the fish will be more dormant over the winter months.

The lake is still low at around 1%. Take care when launching bigger boats. This is a job more suited to 4WD vehicles. Smaller boats and car-toppers shouldn’t pose too many problems.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

Barra become easy to locate in the winter months. The big lazy fish move to shallower water and lay in the sun. Often the fish can be seen cruising or they will spook and leave bow waves and boils in the very shallow water. They can be a bit slower but are certainly worth targeting in the shallows. With little water to dive down deeper, they put up a good tussle, jumping and thrashing on top.

Slow down your approach this month. This should happen before you even think about casting. Take your time moving into an area and use the electric motor from wide of the spot. This ensures the fish aren’t spooked before you get to them. With lures use slower retrieves as the fish are likely to be lazy. The exception to this would be a frog skimmed across the surface, which will sometimes excite the fish.

Soft plastics dominate the barra scene these days but during winter it’s time to try the hardbodied lures once more. Shallow running lures like Laser Pros and Bombers are ideal. Use a jerky retrieve to impart action to the lure and allow a few pauses.

Soft plastics worth considering are Hollow Bellies rigged on a Jungle Hook to keep the presentation light or the Storm Wildeye 4” Suspending Swim Shads. Quite a few anglers are now modifying these lures by slicing off the tail and melting or gluing on a tail from a torn Hollow Belly plastic. These lures also need a treble upgrade.

I’m hoping to hit the lake over the next month or two and try some hard and soft offerings I’ve been collecting. Some of these are shallow running, jointed swimbaits that suspend during the pause. They look too good not to work!

For your best chance of scoring some barra, call into Foxies Barra Pro in Gin Gin. The store has all the gear you’ll need. The staff here will be able to give you a few tips and steer you in the right direction. It’s a huge dam so one of the detailed maps they sell would certainly be a bonus for both navigation and fish location.

Another option might be a charter with local guide Rob Wood. Rob runs a Skeeter bass boat and has plenty of knowledge to share having spent countless hours on the lake. He can be contacted on 0427 590 995 or check out his regular column in QFM.

Accommodation can be booked through Lake Monduran Kiosk and Tackle Shop. They look after all the cabins, houses, powered and unpowered campsites as well as the houseboats and boat hire. Bookings with Guide Lines, a guiding service specializing in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 41573881.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

The fishing at Awoonga has been really tough. Masses of weed have gown and in most areas they drop off vertically into deep water. These types of weed edges are my least favourite to fish. I look for weed that tapers off on an angle or submerged weed that is starting to grow towards the surface and hasn’t yet reached it. If you find patches like this, try throwing Squidgy Slick rigs or Berkley Hollow Bellies.

The water is extremely clear and the fish can be seen and spooked but they are refusing to eat. Due to their lack of cooperation, many anglers have resorted to trolling lures. Trolling keeps the lure in the water for longer periods and can increase the chances of boating fish. If the action isn’t happening explore the lake trying the basin and the river and creek arms.

In past years, the afternoons during winter have produced some exceptional fishing. The lead up to this great fishing has always been better than the way the dam is currently fishing. The fish are still in there and must eat at some point. A late afternoon winter session on the lake could just be the answer.

Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

The sooties have really fired up in Kinchant over the last few months with many barra anglers catching a few nice size sooties on larger barra lures. These welcome by-catches have been taken around the shallow weed beds with many fish being over the magic 50cm mark. Unlike the barra, cooler water doesn’t affect the sooties feeding habits too much. This makes them a good target for struggling barra anglers on cold winter days.

Sooties can be caught all around a lake like Kinchant, but the majority of the bigger fish can be found around the edges of the weed and lily pads. Sooties travel along the edge of weed beds searching for an easy meal and when one is found they use the cover of the weed to attack their target. Lily pads allow great shelter for all fish and sooties are no exception. They provide shelter from the heat of the sun, abundant food and safety from bigger, hungrier fish.

Barra anglers will have to look shallow to find their targets with most barra tucking right up in the thick weed searching for the warmest water during the cool winter days. Over the last few months, many anglers have found their fish on shallow edges of the weed beds. The size of fish varies from under 40cm right up to over 115cm. The barra will move shallower again and this makes surface and weedless lures a must. These lures are the only type that can be used in this situation.

It has come to my attention that some anglers are keeping barra from Kinchant dam and filleting them on or near the boat ramp, then leaving the carcasses on the guide poles on either side of the boat ramp. This is very disappointing because this dam is not frequently used on weekdays, meaning a carcass can be left in the sun for up to five days, allowing quite a stink to form. Now most anglers can handle a bit of a smell but since this dam is a popular waterskiing dam, anglers are not the only people using the ramp. The silly thing is that just 10m away there is a rubbish bin that is changed twice weekly. I ask all anglers who choose to keep their barra, to dispose of the carcass correctly, either in a bin or take them home. Please do not leave them out for display. Also, if any other anglers come across a carcass left on or near any boat ramp, please remove it by either placing it into a bin or just drive them out into deeper water and release them; the majority of the time, they will sink. It’s not a pleasant sight or smell for anyone, especially not kids trying to enjoy a family day out. – Daniel Grech

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