Fertile Fresh
  |  First Published: July 2009

The freshwater fishing this month can really be influenced by the weather. Stable weather patterns are likely to produce the best results. If mad, westerly winds are blowing; the fishing can be extremely tough and uncomfortable.

Usually the westerlies don’t start howling until later in the day so if you are out on the water and can see the clouds whipping past overhead, expect the wind to drop lower as the day progresses.

Take advantage of the lull in the wind as this is when the fish will be most active. I’ve spent a lot of winter days out on the water and it’s amazing how the fish switch off soon after the wind arrives. This phenomenon may affect different lakes in different ways but those in the South East corner certainly suffer.

If possible, try to time your freshwater outing around a run of pleasant days. In winter, the fish take longer to acclimatize to changes in the weather. If you strike a run of several days of the same weather, regardless of wind direction, the fishing is likely to get better each day. Stability is the key, especially if you are talking about steady winter feeders like barramundi.

Each year, the cold catches out some barra in the stocked lakes. A snap of cold weather that runs for too many days kills some of the fish that can’t handle the low temperatures. Let’s hope that this year the weather is kind and spares these prize fish. Even though some fish can die or be in pretty rough shape, it doesn’t take the others long to recover as soon as the warmer weather arrives. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The cold weather has stirred the bass up at Cressbrook. There are quite a few fish to be caught around the edges of the lake. Casting a mix of lures will draw the strikes. Bass have been falling for small Chatterbaits, suspending lures and T-tail plastics.

Out in the deeper water, there are plenty of schooled fish out from the boat ramp and across into the bay on the opposite side of the dam. When these fish are located, they can be caught on bladebaits.

Regardless of where you fish, there are plenty of undersized specimens mixed in with the legal ones. If you plan to keep a feed make sure you stick to the legal size limit of over 30cm.

If I had to pick a handful of lures to cover all the options this month, I’d take a deep running Cultiva Rippin’ Minnow, 1/4oz jighead rigged smoke/yellow core Slider Grub and 1/2oz Little Max bladebait. Fished using 4-6lb Fireline on some light spinning tackle, these lures should do the job.

Ash from Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba took Chris Arnold’s boys out, around the start of July. Young Matt cast out a spinnerbait and it was swallowed when a fish boiled on the surface. The fish turned out to be a 25lb Mary River cod.

The water level is very low but boats can still be launched safely. 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

Somerset fish are going through a tight-lipped phase at the moment. A few bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish are being caught on bait at the Kirkleigh end of the lake but lures have been quiet.

On my last visit, we spent a whole day looking for schools of bass to target without success. When we finally found a stack of fish on the second day, they refused to look at anything we offered them. I wished I had my fly rod in the boat as there have been some winters when fishing deep flies is the best way to tempt them.

The major schools seem to be holding in the Bay 13 area. A sound around between Pelican Point and One Tree Point over the Bay 13 flats should reveal some decent schools. If these fish refuse all of your offerings, it might be a time to consider flyfishing. Clousers and Bass Vampires fished on fast sinking lines might be just what the fish are looking for.

The colder weather should have drawn more fish to the shallow water. Casting big spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges will catch bass and the odd golden perch. Try exploring different areas of the lake. The upper reaches are now much clearer so you can fish anywhere between the timber and the dam wall. Each winter, a lot of quality bass are caught from the timbered area north of Kirkleigh. Casting around some of these banks may do the trick.

Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

The fish haven’t been jumping into the boat at Wivenhoe but quite a few are still being caught. Boaters are taking advantage of the higher water levels and launching at Logan’s inlet. Quality bass have been caught from the banks on spinnerbaits and TN60 Jackalls while the boat launching area is still in sight.

Schooled fish are showing on the sounder in the same area but are tough to catch. It is possible that these fish are mainly fork-tailed catfish. If you don’t tempt any bass from the schools, try fishing the nearby banks, as the fish are more likely to be active there.

Further down the lake in the Billies Bay and Logan’s Inlet area, schools are a bit more common. Trolling lures is a great way to locate fish. Either slow trolling blades and soft lipless crankbaits or a faster trolling with a deep diving lure like a Blitz Baga will score some good fish. When fish are located, try casting into them with soft plastics, bladebaits, soft lipless crankbaits and the new soft vibes.

Wivenhoe is an electric motor only dam. Trailer boats can be launched at Logan’s Inlet provided you have a boating permit. On a calm day, the dam is well suited to kayaking. With so many anglers now owning kayaks, the chance to easily access and tangle with big, hard pulling fish is right at your doorstep.

Samsonvale (North Pine)
Closest Town: Samford

The Boating Access Scheme that allows boats on Lake Samsonvale when it is above 50% is again underway. The scheme is managed by Pine Rivers Fish Management Association. Permits to launch boats on the dam are limited and the 2009/10 Boating Access Scheme is already fully subscribed.

Only electric motors can be used on the lake. Due to this, fish locating can be a steady process. Trolling while you are moving about in search of fish seems like a common sense approach and anglers doing this are usually rewarded. Try running deep diving lures like 1/4oz Hot Lips, Blitz Bagas, Smak 19s and Brolgas. If you manage to locate some fish, they will respond well to casting techniques.

North Pine’s bass will be fairly uneducated so plenty of lures should fool them. Try using bladebaits, soft lipless crankbaits, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics. Anglers using live shrimp have been catching quite a few fish as well.

Closest Town: Boonah

As I have been transitioning to my new boat, it has been difficult to fish Maroon Dam as much as I would like to. It’s good to have some great mates fill in the gaps and put me on the water to get stuck into a couple of bass.

Maroon is showing signs of good health and is currently sitting at around 84% capacity. Fishing in August can be very consistent if you can brave the westerly winds. Jerkbaiting around the weeded fringes and pockets is a good way to probe for fish early and late in the day.

Take a good note of your favourite jerkbait’s action as some baits require a subtle twitch and others a good rip. A good guide is if you rip the bait too hard, it will roll over. It’s also worth checking whether the bait suspends at its running depth, as some higher end models have an optimum operating temperature range.

Another technique to pick up some good quality fish is to roll a T-tail soft plastic. Pick areas that look like they hold warmer temperatures like smaller bays and weed bed flats. Some fish in these areas are also quite willing to hold hard on the edge making it fun negotiating them out of cover. Don’t forget your SIP, until next month. – Chris Galligan

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Lake Macdonald continues to produce the goods and there have been enough bass around to keep anglers interested. Casting lures around the weed beds has been scoring bass from 25-40cm in length. The gun lures have been Little Max bladebaits, Jackall TN60s and Jackall Masks.

There are a few key locations to try. The airport corner to The Gazebo, the main weed point inside Bass Bay and The Botanical Gardens reach all seem to hold more than their fair share of fish.

If you’re fishing Macdonald or the Noosa area, 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

Probably the most interesting news coming from Borumba over the last month has been the number of big silver perch taken on surface lures. Small poppers tweaked around The Eagles Nest area have been fooling the silvers, which are ranging from 42-48cm.

Targeting silvers on the surface is a sport for the keenest freshwater enthusiast. The fish bite in a small window on first light, which means reaching the spot in the darkness and cold. If you are keen to give surface luring for Borumba’s silvers a go, try around fishing where the shags are sitting in trees or feeding on bait.

Lure fishing for other species has been very quiet. A few bass are turning up on trolled lures in the main basin and at the start of the timber. Try running lures that dive between 3-5m for these fish. Keeping lures to a small profile can be a big help. The Halco Poltergeist 50 would be perfect for the job.

Anglers using bait are still having good results on bass, eel-tailed catfish and the occasional golden. The middle reaches to the top of the Kingham arm seems to be quite productive.

Be sure to call in and see the guys at Davo’s in Noosaville if you are fishing at Borumba or anywhere in the surrounding 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

The cold weather will have slowed the golden perch right down. The odd golden will still fall for a live shrimp but don’t expect reliable catches on lures.

The cod have been reasonably active. The average angler wouldn’t expect to troll up a fish every trip but if you persist you are sure to tangle with some. Trolling big spinnerbaits, soft lipless crankbaits and medium sized hardbodied lures will account for these fish. When the cod are active they aren’t too fussy about the lure type.

At the end of June Alan Cawkwell landed an impressive cod of 1.2m. The monster was estimated at 75lb before being released. I’m lead to believe that this cod fell for a trolled big purple spinnerbait.

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 or to renew your SIP, give Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba a visit. They are found in Alderly Street or can be reached on (07) 4636 6850.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The lake has been pretty quiet but word from the caravan park is: some people are still catching fish. Both lures and bait have scored fish over the last month. If any extreme cold weather hits, the lure fishing may steady up a bit.

Golden perch have been making up most of the catches. Cod are quite common in this lake as well and are best targeted by trolling lures. Another option is to cast big plugs and spinnerbaits in the timbered parts of the dam. There have been plenty of shrimps in the dam and even with the cold weather you should be able to get some in a trap.

Camping is allowed near Lake Coolmunda itself but, for more comfort and warmth, the Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km 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
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

In early July Bjelke was hovering at about 6% capacity. There has been a rapid drop in the water level as the controlling body, Sunwater, has been releasing water for irrigation. Once the dam reaches 3.8% or allocations are met, these releases will stop. The remaining water will then be used to supply the surrounding communities.

It’s hard to predict when further water will be released but until the dam stops dropping, the fishing will be pretty poor. Most impoundment fishers will understand just how much the fish can shut down when water levels are falling.

Once at a stable level, the action should pick up within weeks. Last time the water levels fell in the dam it provided some excellent fishing for both boaties and shore-based anglers. When the level drops fish are forced to move to the deeper water between the two boat ramps, which concentrates the fish, making them much easier to catch.

At 4% the dam is easily fished from the edge in heaps of locations. Baits and lures can be tossed out into deep water because the creek bed is much closer to the dam edges. Expect good catches of bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish over the coming months at Bjelke.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Last month, Boondooma had yet another rise in level. This small rise won’t dirty the lake’s arms too much. If the fish did shut down straight after this event they should already be chewing their heads off once more.

Boondooma has been going through one of its best seasons in years. Plenty of visiting and local anglers have been scoring dozens of bass. The schools have been found in deeper water in the upper parts of the lake. Start your search using your sounder from The Islands upstream. Other spots worth exploring are the Junction, Pelican Point and the bends in The Stuart arm. It pays to explore, as often the fish will be found in a lesser-known location. Once located, the bass can be caught on Jackall Masks, bladebaits, plastics and deep flies.

If you’re looking for a reliable place to fish give Boondooma a try. It has been one of the top performing lakes this year.

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: Kingaroy

Just north of Kingaroy, you’ll find this gem of a lake. Gordonbrook Dam has been stocked for many years so has plenty of mature fish willing to smack a lure. The dam has been opened to the public but no boats are allowed. Walking around the edges, you should be able to find some likely looking spots.

Despite being winter, Gondonbrook produces some great surface action on big bass. Surface lures are a good option when casting from the bank as you don’t have to worry about snagging up on weed or underwater structure. Other lures will work well too.

Try casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits as these reaction baits are ideal for covering the water. When you don’t have a sounder to do the fish locating you need to rely on lures and repeated casting to do the job.

Central Queensland
Closest Town: Monto

Cania has been fishing consistently over the past few months. Plenty of small bass are making their way to the boats visiting this dam. Live shrimp have been the best bait to use and will always outfish worms and frozen prawns.

Soft plastics are scoring good bass in the main basin of the lake. Try using 3” shads and T-tails rigged on 1/4oz to 1/2oz jigheads. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the edges will also tempt some bass and saratoga.

The fish are looking quite lean for this time of year. The dam would certainly benefit from a good rise in level to get the bait species multiplying more. At 6% capacity, boats can be launched from the bank or ramp. The launching area is located off to the right of the old concrete ramp that hasn’t seen water for years now.

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

Wuruma dam had been fishing quite poorly up until the cold weather arrived. Big bass have been patrolling the shallower tapering banks. Casting lipless crankbaits up into the shallows and working them back to the boat should see some smashing strikes.

Be prepared to electric motor around the banks until good numbers of bass are found. On a good winter’s day, Wuruma is capable of fishing better than just about any bass lake in Queensland. The bass are of exceptional quality and the lack of fishing pressure makes them easier targets.

Boats can be launched from the gravel boat ramp. Take care as it is quite steep and bigger boats will require a 4WD. The dam is only small at its current level so is well suited to smaller vessels like car toppers and kayaks.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

Despite being in the middle of winter, barra are still being caught by the switched on anglers. The barra are feeling the effects of the cold and are very lethargic. They have moved to the shallower water where they can soak up some warmth from the sun. The main key to catching winter barra is to target them when the weather patterns are favourable. A run of warmer days will almost certainly make them keener for a feed.

Because the barra are in shallow water, stealth is important. Sneak into the area you intend to fish. If it is a bay use the electric motor sparingly. If you are working a shallow point try anchoring or tying up to a tree. Even trying to make your lures splash down quietly can improve catches.

The northern arms of B and Two Mile have plenty of shallow water for the barra to rest. These are the well-publicised spots and at this time of year it’s easy to find your own. If you start spooking barra in an area you’re exploring, put it in the memory bank and return later after it has had time to settle.

Lures to consider using are lightly weighted plastics, frogs, suspending shallow runners and the Stiffy Bony Bream.

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 this magazine.

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 house boats and boat hire. Bookings with Guide Lines, a guiding service specialising in Lake Monduran, can also be made through the store. The kiosk’s number is (07) 41573881.

Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Over the last couple of months, the fishing at Awoonga has stared to improve. Fewer boats on the water could be part of the reason Awoonga’s barra are more responsive.

Areas around the main basin will be worth a look, casting soft plastics and shallow diving hardbodied lures. Try inside any of the bays that are close to the main basin. These allow the warmer surface water to blow into them and hopefully motivate the barra into feeding.

The afternoons are the most productive time with the action generally picking up from 3pm until after dark. Stable weather patterns are an important part of the equation. Steady winds from the same direction seem to get the barra more active. A sudden change can turn them right off the bite.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

The Kinchant fish have well and truly moved into shallower water. They roam around the warm weed flats on the southwest side of the dam searching for their next feed. The barra have remained quite active over the last few months making surface and weedless plastic fishing quite exciting. Big bow waves and massive explosions in shallow water have been a regular sight, leaving many anglers’ hearts racing.

Barra actions in August will be determined by the weather. If the calm sunny days continue like the last few months then the fishing will stay just as exciting, as the fish’s activity levels will remain high. If the weather turns nasty and cool, then the fishing will become very difficult and painstaking almost to the stage where you will doubt there are any fish in the dam. When the fishing is like this a level head is important; keep the mindset that a fish somewhere will be willing to feed.

For inactive barra, suspending or slow moving lures are a must. This means that the lure is in front of the fish for a longer period of time, teasing a barra to do its most natural act: eat. Lures like Stiffy Bony Breams, Storm Suspending Shads, X Raps and soft plastics like Hollow Bellies and Slick Rigs could all entice a sleepy barra to strike.

Most of these lures can also be used in weedy areas, which in the cooler times of the year become a hot spot for barra chasing a bit of warmth.

In Kinchant, the shallow bays to the left of the boat ramps all hold sloping weedy bays and points with lily pads around the edge. This where a majority of the fish will be when the water temperature is low. Finding warmer patches of water is very important as this is where the fish will be most active.

A good place to start is finding a bay that is wind free. This is where the warmer surface water is pushed into one area and draws both bait and barra in from the deeper areas of the dam. For any extra information on Kinchant Dam just email me at --e-mail address hidden-- – By Daniel Grech

Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

There have been reports of some very active fish moving around the edges of Teemburra over the last couple of months making fishing quite good for the colder time of the year.

If the warmer winter weather continues and the water temperatures stay around the low 20 to late teens, this great fishing will continue throughout August. But if the weather turns ugly for a period of time, it won’t take long until the water temps plummet and fishing becomes very tough.

The submerged weed has died off, leaving a well-defined lily pad edge allowing a great vantage point for barra as they can sit and bathe in warmer water while keeping an eye out for any unsuspecting baitfish. The best fishing will be around the lily pad covered timbered points or shallow weedy bays.

Water temperatures and bite times will be the most important factors when fishing during August. Combining warmer water temperature and bite times like dusk will give you the best chance of landing some good fish.

The size range of fish has increased with some good fish being caught well into the 80cm range. Try slow rolling plastics around the weed ledges and lily pads and be prepared to put in the hours, as it could be many casts before the fish will strike.

For the sooty enthusiast keep a keen eye out for the shags in the early morning. They have been spotted in the last few months grouping together on timber in the mouth of Teemburra Creek. Try using surface lures underneath these birds and hold on as these fish pull hard. For any extra on Teemburra Dam just email me at --e-mail address hidden-- – Daniel Grech

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