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Increased action on the freshwater scene
  |  First Published: August 2009



I haven’t owned my own boat for the past two years. While this has been annoying at times, I have fished with a lot of great guys and top anglers from their boats, and I have always had the option of borrowing the Berkley Stratos bass boat too. This has kept me fishing pretty regularly, with the opportunity to fish from a range of vessels.

As fast and flash as some of these rigs have been, there is one type that really caught my attention. I loved the Polycraft 4.1 Challenger so much that I just had to have one. I looked around for a while and when the opportunity came to buy one, I bought Berkley Pro team member Nigel Webster’s old 4.1 with a 50hp Yamaha four-stroke.

I had fished with Jason Medcalf in his 4.1 Poly a stack of times and was always impressed by the way it could fit all of our tackle, rods, cameras and daily rations of food. I certainly don’t travel lightly when I go fishing! These trips with Jason were my introduction to fishing from plastic boats.

The next time I boarded a Polycraft was on Hamilton Island, and again I was impressed. The real turning point though was when I fished at Weipa from Mark Ward’s Poly. Mark was kind enough to let me borrow his boat for several days while he was stuck at work. His 4.1m rig was fitted with a 30hp tiller steer outboard, electric motor, casting decks and sounder. It was a basic rig but fitted out to be a fish catching machine. Even with a bit of wind about, the small boat was still able to safely fish the big rivers, the shipping markers outside, shallow flats and the smaller creeks.

That was it. The versatility of these boats and cheap running costs won me over and I had to have one of my own.

So why not get a 4.1m tinny rather than a piece of floating plastic? I hear you say. Well, the Polycrafts have many advantages over tinnies. The boats are double skinned which creates an air pocket for floatation. This makes the hull a bit on the heavy side, but with this weight comes stability at rest. They would have to be one of the most stable 4m boats around. The smooth rounded shape of the Poly hull allows easy planing and a 4.1 can be fitted with a 30hp tiller steer for the budget-conscious or a 50hp motor with side console and steering wheel if you want more comfort, speed and grunt.

The poly in the boats is very easy to work with. Cutting and drilling is easy, even with my blunt tools. If you whack a hole in the wrong spot it is easy to repair – I used a soldering iron to melt scraps of poly into the holes I didn’t want. There’s also no need to worry about corrosion or electrolysis as the UV stabilized material will last forever. The flex in the material and lack of joining welds or seams means that there is no chance of the hull cracking on rough water or roads. If the boats do take a hard knock on something sharp, the scratches don’t stand out as the colour is solid through the whole boat. Any serious damage can easily be welded.

The serious clincher for me though is the stealth of these craft, as there is no hull-slapping noise from the water outside. The boats sound as quiet as a foam-filled fibreglass hull. This stealth aspect will certainly help me sneak up on more fish as they seem to be getting more wary of boats all the time.

I stripped down the timber casting decks and installed new waterproof hatches and a rod locker. For a 4.1m boat it certainly has plenty of storage and fishing deck space. I’ll see you on the water as soon as the new carpet goes in!

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

SouthEast Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Scattered schools of bass can be found in the deep water throughout Cressbrook Dam. When sounding for these fish don’t confuse the big bait schools, which look more like blobs, for the schooled bass.

The schooling fish have been a bit temperamental, eating one day and not the next. If the fish are in the mood to eat, you can tempt them by working 1.2oz blade lures, soft lipless crankbaits (such as Jackall Masks or Berkley MFs), or soft plastics through them. There are plenty of small fish mixed in with the bigger ones, though the condition of the bass does seem to be improving. Even the smaller fish have had a bit more bulk of late.

There are stacks of well developed weed beds around the lake, which are ideal to work lures around. Shallow running lures work well in the early parts of the day. After that the fish move slightly deeper before returning to the shallows later in the afternoon. A typical day of casting to the weeds at Cressbrook would start with surface lures before moving on to shallow and deep suspending lures.

When the action slows, try a 1/4oz jighead-rigged soft plastic, lipless crankbait (bibless minnow) or small spinnerbait. As the afternoon approaches, start trying the shallower offerings again. Just remember there are no rules when it comes to fishing this lake. At times surface lures and suspenders can be the best choice right through the middle of the day. Be sure to experiment with a wide range of offerings.

The water level is very low at the moment but boats can still be launched safely. There are currently speed restrictions of 8 knots in open water and 4 knots close to the shore. 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 an up-to-the-minute report to help you on your way to scoring some decent catches.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Lake Somerset fished poorly during most of winter but in August it started to show signs of making a fast comeback. Several anglers experienced some hot bass fishing at the start of the month, and the schooling fish looked to be starting to regroup and bite again.

Still, during August the fish were quite pressured due to a number of fishing competitions, which often slow down the action and break up the schools of bass for a little while. Comps pose only a temporary problem though, as the fishing generally fires up again after all the tournament activity has settled down.

The majority of bass seem to be holding together just north of Pelican Point, patrolling the flats in about 10m of water. It may take quite a bit of sounding around to locate fish but once this is done, your chances of bagging good numbers will greatly increase.

Ice jigs have been producing plenty of fish. Other lures to try hopping in the same fashion are the River2Sea Glassie Vib and the new Berkley MF40. The MF40s are small, soft vibes which seem to have a better hook-up rate than ice jigs.

Plenty of quality fish are also falling for soft plastics, Jackall Mask Vib 60s and 1/2oz blade lures. Try different presentations until you work out what the fish are looking for.

If it is big fish you are after, use your sounder to locate the better quality arches. Often these fish will be in slightly shallower water at this time of year. They shouldn’t be too far from the main schools of fish – sometimes they are even mixed in.

Late September will be the time to try for some golden perch (yellowbelly). Trolling medium and deep diving lures will account for some big goldens. Try areas like the steep banks at the wall end of the lake, the drop-offs from Pelican Point through to the timber north of Kirkleagh and the timber itself once up past Kirkleagh.

Baitfish should also start to improve as the weather warms up. The chance of catching a mixed bag of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish will be much better. Live shrimp fished in the timber or on the creek bed drop-offs of the main dam will produce.

Redclaw have been on the scarce side but their numbers will increase with the warmer weather. Try in the deeper water around 7m away from areas that have been hammered by others.

Wivenhoe
Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

The schooled bass have been tough to catch this year, though there are still enough fish patrolling the shallow edges to keep anglers interested. These big bass will take spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Try the points on the way out of Logan’s Inlet for these fish. Anglers who have a key for the Sailing Club area will be able to access less pressured water. The far side of Billies Bay is worth a shot. The fish on the edges are likely to thin out next month as they move off to deeper water.

Trolling deep diving lures around the drop-offs is a great way to locate any schooling bass. They have been pretty spread out but if you manage to locate them, you can score big numbers of fish. Hardbody lures like Blitz Bagas and Smak 19s are ideal for trolling, as are casting lures like lipless crankbaits and blade vibration lures.

Sunshine Coast Region
MAcDonald
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

A mix of schooled bass and edge-dwelling fish have been caught at the lake. When the schools are around, they will hold in areas of the main basin like The Bubble Trail, The Runway and The Botanical Gardens. They have been responding well to soft plastics, soft lipless crankbaits and blade lures. Most of these bass have been from just undersized to around 40cm. Catches have varied from day to day but a good session can see a dozen or more landed.

When the schools are hard to find, the edges are a good fallback option. Casting lipless crankbaits and blades to the weeded edges will produce bass of a similar size to those in the schools. The section from the scout camp up to Borer Creek seems to hold plenty of bass. The edges out from The Runway are also productive at times.

In previous years, September has been a good time to work spinnerbaits around the mouth of Borer Creek. Slow rolling spinnerbaits through this section can produce some decent cod.

If you’re fishing McDonald 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.

Borumba
Closest Town: Imbil

Winter is usually a tough time to fish lures at Borumba. Last month, however, the fish were showing signs of improvement. With this early improvement, the action should be well and truly underway for the rest of this month. Bass will be the main target. Saratoga will remain quiet until late in the year when they have finished breeding.

The bass have been found in schools in 3-7m of water. The best shows have been around the start of the trees at The Eagles Nest and further up the Yabba arm at Eagles Bay. The standout lures have been blade baits and the new Berkley MF40 soft vibes.

Up past the island in the middle reaches of the Kingham arm, bass are likely to be found on the steeper banks. These fish will take small blades and lipless crankbaits.

Bait fishermen have been doing well on the bass around the Clumps in the Yabba arm. The redclaw action should also start to improve by the end of the month. There were excellent numbers around in the warmer months earlier this year.

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
Cooby
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

The fishing at Cooby has been pretty good considering the water temperature is still so cold. This early action indicates it will be a good spring. Golden perch and cod have been taken by casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the shallow edges. Try fishing the shallow banks where the water is 2-5m deep under the boat. The drop-offs across from the boat ramp are also worth casting to or trolling.

Trolling shallow running lures like the small RMG Poltergeist and Halco Combat should account for some beautiful golden perch. The eating quality of the goldens from Cooby is quite good in comparison to some of the other lakes.

There is a boom gate at the entrance to the lake which requires $2.50 in coins to open. Only electric-powered or paddle-powered craft are allowed on Cooby. Outboards can be left on the boat but must not be used.

If you would like an update on the fishing or need to renew your SIP, give Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba a visit. Ash is a regular at the dam and will be able to give you some good tips. Fish’n’Bits is found in Alderly Street or can be contacted on (07) 4636 6850.

Coolmunda
Closest Towns: Inglewood

Bait fishing with live shrimp has been producing reasonable catches of golden perch and these numbers always seem to increase by the end of September.

The other thing that gets better as the month progresses is the lure fishing. Trolling lures around the drop-offs and out from the dam wall will tempt more golden perch. Murray cod are always high on the list of targets in this lake. Lure trolling is one of the most reliable ways to produce these big fish. If you do manage to catch one of these fish it’s a good idea to release them. In my view they are far too old and precious to kill.

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 has 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

Bjelke-Petersen is once again a mere puddle. The level should now become more stable as all irrigation allocations have ceased and only the local towns are drawing on the water supply. With this stability, the fishing will become more consistent.

Trolling shallow diving lures in and out of the creek in the lower part of the dam will produce bass and golden perch. Lures like the Smak 12 and 3m RMG 50mm Poltergeist are ideal for this work as they will track at the desired depth. Trolling spinnerbaits can also be quite effective. The 3/8 and 1/2oz Smak Mini Coops are a popular choice.

The action from the banks will also improve, giving lure casters and bait fishers the chance to score some fish. Prawns and live worms are the easiest baits to get your hands on. They have been taking bass, golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and some nice silver perch. The Quarry area is always popular with the bait fishers. If you are familiar with the dam, any other areas you know that drop away into deeper water can be productive too.

Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma is holding plenty of water and will provide many options for those looking to catch a fish this month. Trolling will fire up in September. Towing deep diving lures around the drop-offs in the main basin will produce bass and golden perch. Lures like Smak Blitz Bagas, Golden Childs and Brolgas will do the damage. One of the most productive colours in Boondooma is purple, and the fish are also fond of green and most dark colours.

For those trolling lures, a 5/8oz spinnerbait is also a good option. When using spinnerbaits, slow the troll down to allow the lure to run deeper.

Increased numbers of fish will be found around the banks this month. The banks in the middle reaches of the dam will be worth exploring with spinnerbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits. There will also be some schooled fish around so keep an eye on the sounder; the fish that held out in the deeper water over winter may still be there, or may have migrated to shallower areas.

Golden perch can be targeted up in the timbered arms by casting lures or using bait, and the odd bass will also turn up in these areas. Try mixing it up by fishing the timber itself and the weeded edges in the vicinity.

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. This shop stocks a great range of quality gear for bass and barramundi fishing and it’s located in Shop 2 Drayton Street.

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.

Gordonbrook
Closest Town: Kingaroy

The fishing off at Gordonbrook has been a bit on the quiet side over the winter months. With warmer weather on the way, more fish should move in towards the banks. This will suit shore-based anglers at this lake as no boats are allowed. With more fish within casting range, lures such as lipless crankbaits, soft plastics and blades will produce some big bass as the action improves.

September will be the perfect time to throw some surface lures. Gordonbrook has fished very well on topwater lures like the Viva Mazzy Popper and Megabass Anthrax in the past. A slow retrieve with long pauses is usually the key. The prime times for surface fishing will be in the mornings and afternoons.

Cania
Closest Town: Monto

The fish in Cania are holding throughout the lake. The bass have been a little on the quiet side but I expect the action to pick up now that spring has arrived.

When the bass are holding in schools and are easy to find they can be caught on a range of lures, including soft plastics, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blade baits. If they are holding tight to the bottom and are shut down, soft plastics are the best choice. Try rolling the soft plastics slowly along the bottom. Heavier jigheads of around 1/2oz t are best suited to this type of fishing.

To find out more about the lake or to book some accommodation nearby, call the Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist Park on (07) 4167 8188. There are excellent facilities including camp sites, cabins, a playground, 9 hole par 3 golf course and swimming pools. Each Saturday the park offers wine tasting. On Saturday and Wednesday nights as well as 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 frequent the area.

Wuruma
Closest Towns: Eidsvold

The fishing at Wuruma was excellent until our visit back in July. The water was quite dirty and the dam may have rolled prior to our arrival as the water clarity was very poor. We struggled to find fish on the sounder and didn’t have any hits for our morning session.

The water should be back to normal by now though, and the fishing should also have improved. I plan to hit the lake for barra when the warm weather arrives. The barra in the lake are now a bit over 60cm in length. At that size, they’re great fun to catch and can be quite stupid. I believe it’s a good idea to release the barra in this lake as they really haven’t been restocked in good numbers since the big fish kill some years ago.

Bass are also a good possibility. Both bass and barra will fall for the same lures, so soft plastics and lipless crankbaits are good options. For some exciting and visual action, try working a medium-sized surface lure.

Boat launching at the dam is still OK. Bigger boats can be launched by 4WD and medium-sized tinnies should be all right to get in and out with a car.

Monduran
Closest Town: Gin Gin

The barra action at Lake Monduran will all depend on what the weather dishes out. Just because we are officially in spring doesn’t always mean the weather will be perfect and warm. Warmth is the key. A run of cold days can shut the barra right down at this time of year as the water temperature is still on the cool side.

Finding fish will depend on the conditions. If the water is still cold the fish are likely to be right up in the shallow water. If it has warmed up you can expect to catch them out a little wider in the more open water. A day of fishing on Monduran should include fishing in both these areas. If you can stir up some action, try to form a game plan based on the scenario where the fish were disturbed or interested in your lure.

Try a mix of presentations. Frogs fished on the surface and subsurface can be awesome at this time of year. Other lures worth trying are soft plastics, big lipless crankbaits such as Stiffy Boney Breams, and shallow-diving crankbaits.

A date to put in the diary is the annual fishing comp to be held on the October 10-11. There should be some great fish caught and plenty of prizes up for grabs (see the Tournament Calendar in this issue).

For your best chance of scoring some barra, call into Foxie’s Barra Havoc 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 has a regular column in this magazine and can be contacted on 0427 590 995.

Accommodation can be booked through Lake Monduran Kiosk and Tackle Shop. They look after all the cabins, houses, powered and unpowered camp sites 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) 4157 3881.

Capricorn Region
Kinchant
Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

Strong cool winds have hindered anglers in Kinchant over the last few months. These winds have lowered the water temperature across the whole dam and made fishing very challenging. If September has a couple of warmer days the fishing will dramatically change as the whole dam starts to warm up for summer. Many anglers prefer September for their impoundment barra as this is when they really start to come out of their winter ‘hibernation’ and start to feed on a more regular basis.

Over the last few months most of the barra caught have come from the shallows. If this September is a warm one, this should change and the fish should move around the edges of the weed beds where the water is deeper. This allows the fish to move into the shallows when they are hungry and into the deep when they need to rest and recover. It makes targeting and landing fish easier because as you fish the edges you are casting at both the fish feeding and the fish resting.

The general structure of Kinchant will change with the slightly warmer weather, with an increase in weed bed growth and the ups and downs of the water level. This can make finding the fish difficult from week to week and even from day to day.

The most productive time of day to fish in September will still be the afternoons, particularly dusk. Trolling will be another good option towards the end of September, and the most popular period to troll is leading up to and including the full moon. This could be because many anglers believe that the full moon makes the fish more active while others just think it’s more comfortable to fish at night with some extra light.

If there is a calm, sunny day in September get out there because the barra will be biting. If you would like any extra information on Kinchant Dam you can email me at --e-mail address hidden-- - by Daniel Grech

Awoonga
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

So far this year the fishing at Awoonga has been pretty poor when compared to standards set in previous years. It does look more promising for the latter part of the year though as the number of barra being caught has been increasing over the winter months.

As we move into spring the water temperature will rise and the fish should become more active. September has been a favourite month with anglers for the past few years, producing big numbers of fish. The fact that more and more fish are being caught indicates that the fishing will improve even more over the next month. Peak times will be around the full moon but fish can be caught right through the middle of the day.

Casting soft plastics to the weed edges in the afternoon and right into the night should score some fish. Even though the fish have been big, there was a report of some falling for smaller lures. One angler bagged a number of barra over a metre long on 4” Berkley Hollowbelly Swim Baits.

Call in and see the guys at the camping grounds at the dam to see which areas have been producing the best.

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