Freshwater Rewards for the Persistent
  |  First Published: September 2009

It’s been a steady start to warm weather barra season.

The run of hot weather at the end of winter certainly got the ball rolling. Water temperatures soared with the hot days and nights ensuring the barra were protected from freezing and offering the best chance of survival. This has certainly set the stage for what should be a great end to the year as far as barra fishing goes. I write this with some excitement as the action has been sporadic for the last twelve months when judged by past standards. This hot and cold action can be associated with water levels fluctuating and angling pressure. Even though I’m over four hours away from the closest barra lake, I can hear those big girls calling and I’ll be spending quite a few of my days off chasing them.

At the same time, I can feel some Murray cod sessions coming on. It’s a tough decision to head north or south in search of big fish. All the travelling isn’t the best but the rewards are well worth it.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Cressbrook has been producing plenty of small bass. The bigger fish have been harder to find. Bass can be caught from the weeded edges and in the deeper water of the main basin.

There are plenty of well formed weed beds around the lake. Fishing tight into these with spinnerbaits, silent lipless crankbaits and soft plastics can score some good fish. Be sure to move around and try lots of banks until good numbers of fish are found. Often the best weed beds will have schooled bass holding in the clear water just outside them. These fish can be harder to catch than those up in the weed. Another great lure for Cressbrook is the Rapala Countdown. These sinking minnow lures in the 5cm size can be cast with reasonable ease due to their weighty bodies. Countdowns can be fished straight out from the weed edges and paused to let them fall down the face into deeper water. The small profile of the lure attracts plenty of strikes. It’s just a matter of sorting through small fish to get to the bigger ones.

Topwater action should continue to improve. Fishing surface lures in the mornings and afternoons will draw the strikes. Both periods will fish well for the rest of the month until the afternoons become the prime surface fishing time. Cressbrook’s bass aren’t fussy about presentation or lure choice when it comes to surface lures. Cupped face poppers like Frenzy Poppers or Rapala Skitterpops are great for a noisier retrieve. Stickbait style lures like the Zara Puppy are also worth a try if you are familiar with the walk the dog retrieve used to get the most from them. Allow a good pause for every metre or so of movement. Pauses are crucial to drawing strikes when surface luring bass.

With the dam so low, the fish in the deeper water should be easy to find. It is quite possible that a lot of these fish will wander into the no fishing area and up towards the dam wall. Try looking straight across from the boat ramp. Follow the deeper water and crisscross the drop off on the way up to the wall. The big bay opposite the pump tower should hold good numbers of schooling bass. If the schools are found, try rolling soft plastics and blade baits through them.

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.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset would have to be one of the hottest bass locations this month. There should still be quite a few well conditioned bass getting around with their schooled up mates. The action will pick up on the trolling scene for golden perch and bait fishing will improve too. With all these fishing options and the popularity of the lake with water sport enthusiasts, the lake is sure to be busy. This makes the best time to fish the weekdays when there is a lot less activity. Unfortunately, we can’t all fish on weekdays and need to make the most of the time we have.

Plenty of bass have been schooling around The Spit. Try sounding out wide on the point and work your way around towards the dam wall following the contour of the bottom. By keeping the boat in 6-10m of water you should be able to locate fish on the sounder. I’d try doing a couple of runs around this area. Do a shallow pass and if the fish aren’t showing, move wider into the deeper water for the next run.

Once you find some fish, try a mix of lures to tempt them. Ice jigs had been working well a couple of months ago but now things have warmed up try soft plastics, blade baits and soft lipless crankbaits. If the fish are showing on the sounder but are hard to catch, try trolling these same lures through them.

Some schooled bass are still holding between Pelican Point and Queen Street. There are a lot of drop offs to explore in this section of water and it can take a long time to locate fish but once found, you will often be rewarded with good catches. Although the area is popular with fishers, you can sometimes find a school of bass all to yourself. Small numbers of boats sitting over them usually means they’ll be far more active.

Trolling medium to deep diving lures around the steep banks in the lower part of the lake will account for some nice golden perch. In the Kirkleagh area and further north, deep diving lures can be trolled along the drop offs to the river and creek channels. Follow the channels using a sounder and keep an eye out for any structure or fish as you wander along. Towing lures through the trees to the north can also pay off at times.

The same trolling areas in the upper part of the lake are also worth targeting with bait. Live shrimps will produce the best action on a range of species. Bass, golden perch and eel-tailed catfish will be quick to take the bait if they are in the area. If the action isn’t happening, be prepared to move around and try different spots every twenty minutes.

The redclaw crayfish will be well and truly back on the menu. While some people manage to catch them all year round, others struggle during the cooler months. Try baiting opera house traps with rock melon and setting them in 7-10m of water. Check them fairly regularly and move them if they aren’t producing.

Closest Town: Boonah

The fishing in Maroon has been hot of late. The lake finally seems to have settled down and the fish are patterning in a similar way to years gone by. Reports of anglers catching double figures in a few hours have been common and the best news is that the fishing is set to continue to fire.

Fish have been susceptible to jerkbaits, tubes and the top water bite is improving with the warming weather. A Basstastic event was held on the lake a while ago with anglers also doing well on fly presentations. Heading into October anglers can look forward to a consistent top water bite. For something a little different try dabbling the weed bed pockets and on top of flooded weed. A couple of presentations that suit these areas are 3” tube baits and hawgs lightly jighead rigged. Fish will hold in on the edges of the weeded pockets and sit in the undulations of the weed, striking the lure on a slow lift drop retrieve.

Some bass in the open areas can be targeted with a faster falling presentation like jighead rigged Bass Minnows. Fish these baits with a hopping retrieve and maintain a tight line for sensitivity, as fish are likely to tap the rear of the bait tentatively and continuously until striking. Simply rolling the bait away can be enough to entice a strike on occasions. Areas to look in throughout October include the Nursery, Grassy Knoll and The Quarry. - Chris Galligan

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Schools of bass should be found in the Bass Bay area and also near the Pump House up near the Bubble Trail. These fish should be pretty active and will respond well to blade baits, soft lipless crankbaits and soft plastics. It will be worth tossing lures around the weed edges as well. Lipless crankbaits, blades and small spinnerbaits will draw the strikes. In the late afternoon, a surface lure tweaked around the weed edges might draw some of the better quality bass. Around half of the bass being caught are undersized with the rest 30-40cm long.

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 find the fish and give you an up to date report on the action.

Closest Town: Imbil

Borumba Dam has been fishing well over the past month and this great action should continue while the water level remains stable.

A few early season saratoga are being taken on flies in the mornings. The upper reaches of the Yabba Arm are holding a good population of these beautiful fish. Trout flies have been drawing the strikes for some anglers, indicating that fish are feeding on small prey.

Bass are schooling in at least four areas around the lake. They can be found near the second yellow buoy in the main basin, Horseshoe Bay in the basin, The Eagles Nest at the start of the timber and The Clumps up the Yabba Arm. When the fish are found, they are taking vibration lures like Jackall Masks, Powerbait MF40s and 1/4-1/2oz blades. Lure size and weight don’t seem to be an issue, with the bass finding the vibrating action of the lure attractive.

While you’re having a fish, it’s worthwhile throwing in some redclaw traps. There have been good numbers of these freshwater delicacies in the timbered sections of the dam.

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 fish became active around the full moon that coincided with the change of season. Murray cod and goldens were taking lures and baits fished from boats and the bank, though this action didn’t last long before the fishing became tough.

Now the weather is more stable and the days are warmer, the action should start to improve. Trolling and casting lures like spinnerbaits and Jackall TN60s will produce silver perch, golden perch and cod. Murray cod are often most active through the middle of the day in Cooby. As the afternoon wears on, the chance of catching a cod is reduced, but the golden perch and silvers come onto the bite. Some top lures to try on the goldens as the sun is setting are the 3m RMG Poltergeist and Halco Combat in the H65 blood nut colour.

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. Fish’n’Bits is found in Alderly Street or can be reached on 07 4636 6850.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Over winter, the water temperature at Coolmunda plummeted, making the fishing very tough. Now the warm days have had a good chance to warm things up, the fishing action should be red hot.

Lure trollers have been taking reasonable numbers of fish for some time now. Working the water out from the boat ramp and in front of the dam wall will see you in with a good chance. Work in and out of the drop off and also explore the flats at this time of year. Golden perch will be the most common fish caught but don’t be surprised if you hook a nice Murray cod. When cod are on the move, it’s not uncommon to land several in a session.

Camping is allowed near Lake Coolmunda itself. Just up the road, Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km 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.

Closest town: Warwick

Connolly Dam is a new destination for my fishing reports. It is the first time that I have covered this great lake that offers opportunities for land based and boat fishers. Connolly does have some restrictions in place so make sure you stick to them. Boats must have a permit to fish the lake and can only do so on Sundays.

Permits can be acquired from the house near the dam or Reibelts Store in Albion Street Warwick. Shore based anglers experience good results when fishing Connolly and can fish any day of the week. All anglers require a current Stocked Impoundment Permit.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

There will be plenty of options for anglers chasing a few fish at Bjelke this month. The lake level should now be stable at about 5%, which will increase fish activity. Fishing with worms, shrimp and frozen prawns from the banks will tempt a wide range of fish including bass, golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish. The Quarry is a good spot to try your luck but it is quite popular. The steeper section about halfway between the boat ramps is also worth a try.

Trolling lures along the drop off in the lower part of the dam can score both bass and golden perch. Medium divers that run at around 3m are ideal. Trolled 5/8oz spinnerbaits and Jackall TN60s and TN70s will run at a similar depth and also perform well.

To mix things up, you can also try for a fish by casting to the banks with spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. Here you’ll encounter bass and golden perch.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

This month will see the action on trolled lures pick up. Lures like the Golden Child, Brolga and Blitz Baga will all produce bass and golden perch. Try trolling the middle stretch of the main basin of the lake. Golden perch will be encountered on the steeper rocky banks and points; bass can also be caught here or along the open, more featureless banks. Above The Junction, lures can be trolled along the drop off to the river channels.

Excellent weed beds are developing around the lake. With the water level likely to remain stable, these will become home to quality bass and golden perch. Reaction lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will get these fish to strike. Make sure you cover plenty of water by casting in to the weed while moving slowly around using an electric motor.

At this time of year, a congregation of bass usually forms up toward the wall in the deep water. If these fish are in the area, they are easily found using a sounder as they suspend well off the bottom. The bass will generally hang at about 7m. If located, you can aim to catch these fish by using soft plastics, blade baits, soft lipless crankbaits and ice jigs.

At the opposite end of the lake, the timber will be worth a try. Toss some reaction lures or settle down and have a fish with bait. The edges of any well formed weed beds will also be worth a shot with live bait.

The dam will be popular with skiers over the next few months so keep this in mind when planning your trip. 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

The fishing at Gordonbrook has been on the slow side but should pick up with the change of season. The bass that have been caught from the lake have been in excellent condition. Tossing metal blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits from the bank will pick up the odd quality fish. Surface lures worked late in the afternoon can produce some explosive strikes from big bass. Gordonbrook can also be fished successfully with live bait. Expect to pick up some golden perch and eel-tailed catfish.

Access to the lake is at the recreational area. No boats are allowed on the dam but there is a couple of hundred metres of water either side of the recreation area that can be fished on foot.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

Big barra should be starting to make a move to deeper water. Trolling diving lures here will start to produce some of the lake’s monsters. The full moon will be a key time for many anglers who will use the extra light to fish well after sunset. The barra can turn up in the main basin just out from the boat ramp or anywhere in the channel as you head up the lake. Something to keep in mind is the lake has many feeder arms branching off and targeting the junction of these with the main channel can be fruitful. Near the house boat anchorage there is a section from White Rocks to the second cut through that fishes well with trolled lures. Running lures like 3 metre RMG Scorpions and Vipers will score the hits if the fish are there.

With the water level lower than last year, there is the increasing need to find new spots. As the level recedes, the fish will move to find new, comfortable territory. Shallow points, islands and submerged humps can be fishy areas at this time of year. There are some islands in the northern end of Bird Bay worth a look. There is also a submerged hump that will hold fish on the north-west side of Bass Straight. Use these as a starting point and find other similar areas until you locate the barra.

When the warm northerly winds are blowing, try your luck along the southern banks of B, C and D areas. The weed growth may start to take over the shallower water this month making it difficult to retrieve a lure without it fouling. A solution to this is to fish a weedless frog over the tops of the weed. This technique is likely to work better in the mornings and afternoons rather than the middle of the day. A spin outfit rigged with 20lb braid is ideal for this. Long casts are necessary and using heavier braid reduces casting distance when using these lures.

To increase your 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 houseboat 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.

Central Coast and Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Unpredictable! This one word really sums up the fishing at Awoonga. There have been periods in the past month when barra weren’t a problem to catch and others when they were near impossible. With this month bringing more warm weather, it will be interesting to see how the barra react.

In the past month, there have been some excellent sessions reported. Some anglers enjoyed catching good numbers of fish on Hollowbellies after darkness fell. There were also stacks of smaller models landed by fishing surface lures dead slow in the darkness. The same anglers who shared these reports also experienced tough fishing just days either side of the event.

It really is a case of being on the water and putting in the time to catch these fish. A never say die attitude can see you fishing through the window of time the big fish turn on and decide to bite. I certainly hope the fish prove me wrong and bite all day.

Casting soft plastic lures like Hollowbellies rigged on the Backbone Jigheads will give you a great chance of scoring a fish. These plastics can be rolled dead slow or burned fast to suit the fish and the water depth. The Backbone Jigheads have the strongest swimbait hook around. At least if you pin a fish you know the hook won’t bend or break and let you down.

Lure trollers can also try their luck. A quiet approach using an electric motor to follow the edge of weed beds is ideal. Manoeuvre the boat around the weed under the cover of darkness with a shallow running hard bodied lure. Control the speed so the lure is just working to tempt any lazy fish. Choose a lure to suit the depth you are fishing. Contenders for the job are Halco Scorpion 125s in the 0.75m and 3m models, Classic Barras and Halco Laser Pros.

The main basin is a good starting point. Fish the bank all the way from the boat ramp to Dingo Island. Staying in the basin makes night navigation much safer and easier. Just remember to use your navigation lights as it can be busy on the water after dark.

Kinchant Dam
Closest Towns: Mirany Mackay

Leaving winter behind Kinchant should be well on the way to some summer action. Hot, still days will bring the water temperature up and promote healthy weed growth making for some great early morning and late afternoon sessions. The cane farmers will be using large amounts of water that will drop the dam level quite quickly. This will also make the weed edge much more defined, easier to distinguish and to fish.

During the late morning and around noon, the fish will patrol the weed edge and should bite a passing lure. Around dawn and dusk, the barra will move up on to the weed beds to feed so have your surface lures ready as there could be a mad surface bite ready to happen. Try lures like Rapala X-Walks, C’ultiva Tango Dancers and Rapala Skitter Pops.

The trolling action should really start to pick up in October, as the fish spread out across the dam. A very slow troll with lures like Classic Barras, Killalure Barra Baits and even soft plastics like Squidgy Slick Rigs will tempt some of Kinchant’s biggest fish to latch on. The banks around the boat ramp and along the wall are a few of the favourite spots. Night time is the best for trolling once all the skiers have left.

For any extra information on the Mackay area feel free to email me at --e-mail address hidden-- . – Daniel Grech

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