A Guide in the Right Direction
  |  First Published: October 2009

When you are new to a particular type of fishing or fishing in a new area, the experience can be confusing and frustrating. To be able to rock up and start catching fish would be great but it just doesn’t work that way.

Sure, plenty of homework and study will get you off to a good start but sometimes it still takes hours, days or even a number of trips to start working things out.

One of the best solutions is to use a fishing guide. These guides specialise in catching fish and the time they spend on the water can be used to your advantage to speed up the learning process. Whether you’re out for a day of fun or to load your memory with all their useful tips, using a guide will greatly improve your fishing experience.

On the freshwater scene there are a number of charter operations around. I can personally vouch for several of these operators as I know them well or have received positive feedback from anglers who have used their services.

The guided option may seem expensive or unnecessary to some but when you factor in money spent on hours of fruitless fishing on your own, it soon seems the way to go. I consider a lot of the listed operators to be my mates and I’d hate to have to pick one over the other. Therefore, I’ll let you make your choice and remember no matter which way you go, you can’t go wrong (See Fig.1.).

It’s a warm time of year again and something that I’m always on the lookout for are snakes. I guess it’s because I’m so scared of them they’re always in the back of my mind. Of course you’ll see snakes around the water’s edge but they are also quite common out on the water too. Every year I’d see at least three or four snakes while I’m fishing. So far this year I’ve already seen three. Sometimes they are right out in the middle of the dam too.

When you are in a boat and there is a snake around, quite often they will head for you to try and get out of the water. I’m yet to have one in the boat but I’ve had plenty of them try. Motoring away is all it takes to avoid them. If I ever did have one in the boat I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe you could toss a jumper over it and try to get it out using the landing net? It would be a dangerous situation to come across so watch out for them.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

There are a few options to explore at Cressbrook. There will be bass holding around the weedy edges of the lake as well as in the deeper water. These fish will respond to totally different presentations. If you want to brush up on some of your bass fishing techniques, Cressbrook could be worth a try.

Most of the bass will be small tackers that fail to reach the legal size limit of 30cm. There have been reports of some better quality fish hanging around the weedy areas; it just seems to be a matter of sorting through little ones until a bigger fish comes along.

Casting surface lures around the edges in the morning and afternoon is a fun way to catch Cressbrook’s bass. The feisty fish will often hit a surface lure several times before hooking up. When a fish hits, resist the urge to strike because if the fish misses, it will pull the lure well out of the zone. The sharp trebles on a surface lure will find the mark on their own if you just keep twitching the lure in the hot spot.

When the bass fail to whack surface lures, probe a little deeper using a soft plastic. Plastics like Powerbait T-tails, Sliders and Atomic Paddle Tails rigged on a 1/4oz Dam Deep jighead will do the trick. Experiment with colours by using both bright and natural offerings. Twitch the plastic out past the weed edge after casting. Once in more open water slow down the retrieve and even pause to let the plastic sink to deeper water a couple of times.

Plastics aren’t the only subsurface lures that will score fish. Small jerkbaits, tiny blades, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits will all have their day.

In the deeper water across from the ramp and out in front of the pump tower, bass schools will be easy to spot on a sounder. If you manage to locate these fish, try using lures like 1/2oz blades, vibes, heavily rigged plastics and ice jigs. Mix up the presentations until you see if they fancy one over another.

You’ll be sure to encounter plenty of small bass on most visits. The mix of presentations that can produce should help to make the day more exciting. There are still some good sized fish in the lake and you’ll need to be on the water to tempt one.

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 will still be a great option this month if you’re looking to catch some big bass and golden perch. The activity around the weekends will make the fishing tough as the fish seem to be getting more and more wary of boats.

Bass should be found closer to the drop-offs this month. Try sounding around The Spit, out from Beams Creek, Pelican Point, Bay 13 and Queen Street. Spending a couple of hours with your eyes glued to the sounder is sometimes necessary if you want to catch good numbers of fish. The rewards will come once the schools of fish are found. Casting 1/2oz blades, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics into the school should draw the strikes. If the fish are stubborn, try sitting over the top of the school and bouncing an ice jig in them.

Golden perch can be caught right around the lake even in the bass schools. The better areas to try will be The Hump, the steep banks in the lower part of the dam and the river and creek bed edges north of Pelican Point. Trolling lures to suit the depth you are targeting the golden will help to get more strikes. Try to run your lures close to the bottom and even let them touch it occasionally so you know you are right in the zone.

Bait fishing with live shrimp along the drop-offs, submerged humps and in the timber will produce golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and the occasional bass.

Shrimp can be caught by setting a trap in the dam overnight as there are still plenty of redclaw crayfish in the lake. An opera house trap baited with rock melon and set off a rocky point in about 8m of water should do the trick.

Closest Town: Boonah

Maroon was officially the last stop round of qualifiers for the Bass Electric series this year and not surprisingly, the tournament was won using topwater baits.

November will continue to provide some great surface fishing. The water should stay clear and as the water temperature warms up, weed bed formations will become defined and dense.

Try to cover as much area as possible in search of active fish this month and keep a close eye on any insect or baitfish activity that bass may be feeding on. Pencil baits and poppers will produce the best results.

Knowledge of underwater rocky structure will be an advantage when targeting the lake’s better quality resident fish. Two approaches can be used, reaction and finesse. Reaction baits include lipless cranks and spinnerbaits. Finesse baits like bass minnows and hawgs can account for the better fish on any given day.

When using spinnerbaits try to use tuned, compact models for more bites and natural appeal. – Chris Galligan

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

McDonald is still producing quite a few smaller bass. These fish are averaging between 30cm and 35cm. There is still the occasional bigger fish to be caught if you put in the time.

Beetle spins and blades have been the gun lures. The Three Ways stretch and The Botanical Gardens run are both good areas and worth a look as they have been holding plenty of fish in the past month.

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

Bass have been schooling in the main basin. These fish should take offerings like lipless crankbaits, vibes and blade baits. Make sure you sound around to find the fish. A good starting point is the left-hand bank about halfway up the main basin, right up to where the creek branches off on your left.

In the timbered areas, the steeper banks have been holding some good bass. Try casting blade baits and silent lipless crankbaits into the edges and retrieving them slowly back out. Flicking a surface lure can also be a good option around any shady overhanging trees.

Saratoga should become more common this month. There have already been quite a few caught on flies and Anthrax poppers. The upper reaches of the Yabba arm have been working well so would be a good starting point.

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 have been a bit hit and miss at Cooby. Golden perch and the occasional cod are being caught on bait and cast and trolled lures.

When trolling, follow the drop-off to the creek channel or work the edges of the weed beds. Shallow running hardbodies or lipless crankbaits are ideal. The middle of the day seems to produce most of the cod but the golden perch will start to get most active right on dusk.

If casting is more up your alley, try tossing spinnerbaits into the well formed weed edges. Spinnerbaits seem to be outperforming lipless cranks and other offerings at the moment. The downsized models will account for golden perch but if it is Murray cod you are after, choose a bigger lure like a Bassmann CodSpin or AusSpin TwinSpin.

Bait fishing along the drop-off to the creek channel will produce golden perch, eel-tailed catfish and the odd cod and silver perch. From the bank, try down towards the rock wall. On my last visit, I sounded most of the fish in the area just as the bank starts to get steeper after the bay area.

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.

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

Trolling shallow diving lures will be one of the best ways to lure fish his month. Lures that dive around 3m deep are ideal with Smak 12’s and Poltergeist 50’s at the top of the list. Although hardbodied lures are effective, spinnerbaits can work even better when trolled slowly.

Try trolling in and out of the creek bed in the lower part of the dam. Due to the low water level, the section from below the campgrounds through to the dam wall usually holds the most fish.

Not all the fishing needs to be done from a Boat at Bjelke. The low water level means shore-based anglers are close to the deeper water found in the channels. At this time of year, many fish are prepared to move around in the shallows that are easily accessed from the bank.

Fishing from the shore between the campgrounds and The Quarry will see you in with a good chance. Both casting lures and fishing bait will perform well. If lure casting, try lures like spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits and keep moving along until you find fish. If bait fishing is your scene try a mix of live shrimp and worms or frozen prawns. The best times to try fishing from the bank will be morning and afternoon when the fish are more likely to be moving around.

Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Trolling lures in the deeper water will be the gun method at Lake Boondooma. Trolling lures covers plenty of water and in turn allows plenty of fish to have a go at your offering. Deep lures like the Golden Child, Blitz Baga and Brolga are all good selections.

Bass have been the most common fish caught but over the coming month, the golden perch will fire up even more and make their presence felt. Trolling lures around the banks and points in the main basin of the lake will draw the strikes. Fish can even be caught by working up either arm right to the start of the timbered areas.

The weed beds have flourished over the past months and are now prime fish habitat. Casting lures to these weedy patches in the middle to upper reaches will tempt golden perch and bass. Blades, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits will all pull their share of fish. One lure that is a standout at times is the little Mini Coop Spinnerbait. These downsized offerings are great for casting and can be trolled too.

In the timbered areas of the Boyne and Stuart, bass and golden perch can be caught from the trees or surrounding banks. Lipless crankbaits and 1/2oz spinnerbaits are a good option in this water. Don’t be afraid to cast right into the guts of the thickest snags as sometimes this is what it takes to get a bite. Keep a lure retriever handy to get back any snagged lures.

Bait should produce golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish. Live shrimp will be the best to use if you can catch a supply. Alternatively, use frozen prawns or live worms. Tying up in the timber or positioning the boat in 5-7m of water outside a healthy weed bed should see you in a productive zone.

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

Bait anglers have been catching plenty of fish at Cania. Live shrimp are the secret to success. These great baits can be caught from the dam using a shrimp trap set overnight and checked regularly. Rig shrimp on a size 1 wide gape hook with either a running ball sinker to the hook or with the sinker on the bottom and a dropper loop for the hook about 30cm above.

On the lure fishing scene, bass have been taking soft plastics, blades, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits as well as trolled medium diving lures.

Everyone who has ever visited the Cania Gorge Tourist Park knows just how great it is. From 20 November to 6 December, the park is running a talent week. There will be entertainers/competitors including line dancers, camp oven cookers, bush poets and comedians. With $6000 prize money to give away it’s sure to attract a big crowd of both entertainers and onlookers.

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 camp sites, 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: Biloela

The restocking of Callide after the big barra kill some years ago is starting to draw more visitors back to the dam. The main basin area of the lake has been yielding barra in the 65-70cm size range. These barra will take lures like Bombers, B52’s and Laser Pros.

As the fish activity increases this month, try soft plastics to search the shallow banks of the basin. Smaller plastics like 90mm Slick Rigs and 4” Hollow Bellies will suit these smaller sized barra. Sessions in the early morning and late afternoon when there is little boat activity will see the most action.

Golden perch are still common in the lake with some exceptional specimens on offer. Trolling hardbodies or fishing some live shrimp will tempt these big bruisers. Heaps of red claw are back in the lake and can be caught from the deeper water in opera house traps.

If you are in the area and need some tips or supplies, call in and see Norm at Creek to Coast tackle store in Biloela. Norm has lived in the area for years and can give you some good tips for catching fish in the lake.

Closest Town: Gin Gin

November will provide several fishing options for those venturing to Monduran. Barra will take both trolled and cast lures. Fish will be a possibility all over the lake so it may take a little bit to find them.

Warmer water temperatures will start to disperse the fish, spreading them into more areas of the dam. Trolling lures in the main basin’s deep water could be one of the easiest ways to score a monster barra. If the barra move to the open water of the lake in the basin, they become easy targets.

Trolling hardbodied lures in this area is pretty popular at this time of year and sometimes dozens of boats can be seen just out from the ramps when the fish are on. If the barra fail to turn up this year in the basin, it may be a case of trolling the deep water in runs between the timber further up the lake.

Casting lures will produce fish all over the lake. There have been reports of barra from the basin, Bird Bay and all the major arms in the timber. To help narrow down a spot, try to combine some key elements. Locate a shallow point or hump that is surrounded by deeper water and has weed or timber to help hold the fish and bait.

Hardbodied lures have been working well but soft plastics will become a better option as you will need to search for your fish. Plastics are ideal for covering lots of water. Try both shallow and deep areas and fish the best looking spots thoroughly.

To increase your chance of scoring some barra, call in to 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 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) 41573881.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Awoonga Dam has been fishing well for barra. The patchy weed in the main basin, behind Dingo Island and up Iveragh Creek is holding good numbers of barramundi.

Sinking lures right to the base of the weed before retrieving them is often crucial. There are a lot of tall patchy stands of weed and if you can run your lure deep between these you are likely to score a fish.

Both day and night sessions are scoring fish. Soft plastics are great for day time use and hardbodies have been scoring fish during the night. The Berkley 5” Mullet has been a standout for fishing some of the deeper water that holds fish outside the weed edges.

If you want to tangle with a fish on a hardbody, downsize and fish a Tilsan Barra on some light spinning tackle and hold on.

Proserpine (Peter Faust)
Closest Town: Proserpine

Although the fishing has been tough at times, the rewards are there for those willing to put in the time on the water.

Barra are being caught by casting a range of lures and trolling deep divers in the basin of the lake. Last month the afternoons were the most productive. Cooler nights zapped the surface of the lake making it cooler by morning.

Over the next month, the temperature should become more stable and morning and night sessions will then improve. Topwater lures, such as Cultiva Tango Dancers, are certainly worth a try in the early hours of the day. There’s nothing like seeing a barra boofing your lure from the surface to wake you up.

Plastics will work a treat when casting around fish holding habitat. Reports from a local guide have revealed Squidgy Slick rigs to be drawing plenty of strikes but an added stinger hook seems to be needed to improve the hook-up rate.

Hollow Bellies have also been great and their ultra-soft bodies seem to allow the barra to scoff them down more easily, producing a better hook-up ratio.

Casting hardbodied lures will also produce fish. One of the favourites at Proserpine Bait and Tackle is the 125 Scorpion in the 3m or 5m diver. Work these lures down and then use a jerky retrieve by smacking the rod tip downwards hard.

When casting lures, be prepared to move around in your search for fish. This is important as there is so much fishy looking habitat. Usually when you find a barra there will be others in the surrounding area so give it a thorough working over. Try the defined creek edges among the trees. These creek courses are bordered by rows of trees making winding channels through the dead forest.

Towards the back of the dam, you will find plenty of productive points and banks that are littered with fallen timber. Tea trees are also prime barra habitat. These partly submerged trees can be found on the banks at the back of the dam. Tea trees are easy to spot as they still have green leaves. A mass of tea trees can produce, but a single tree away from all the others is almost guaranteed to hold a barramundi.

The main basin of the lake is worth a troll. Looking around the open water for bait schools can be a good way to locate the big deep water barra. Often birds or pelicans will reveal the location of the bait. The buoys across the dam wall are also a prime barra area.

Choose a lure to suit the depth the fish are holding. Last month, ultra-deep divers were taking the fish. Lures like the 30+ Magnum Rapala and 125 Scorpion Crazy Deep were drawing the strikes. If the fish are still holding deep, try scaling back your line to 20lb braid or less and run a shorter leader to cut the resistance and send your lures even deeper.

A while ago, some lucky anglers spotted sooty grunter boiling all over the place as they fed off the surface. The fish were thick and the action was fast. If you experience such an event try casting small surface poppers or plastics into the frenzy.

Proserpine has some mega-sized sooties. An early morning session under the trees the shags are roosting in could be worth a shot.

Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

The barra fishing has been second-to-none in Kinchant Dam over the last few months with steamy hot, calm days making the fish bite like crazy. The dropping water level means generally shallower water so with plenty of sunlight, the weed beds are spreading quickly from week to week. This has created new areas to fish as the barra have to keep moving around the dam making the fishing interesting and a challenge.

The best performer out of all the lures over the last few months would have to be the Berkley range of Hollow Bellies. These long paddled-tailed lures have an amazing action straight out of the packet and can be worked both fast over the top of weed beds or slow in deeper areas.

If it’s surface action you’re after then you can’t go past the old faithful Tango Dancer. Make sure when using this lure you add many variants to your retrieve and allow for as many as six pauses in one retrieve.

For November, these weed beds should continue to grow and as the water temperature rises, finding the deeper ledges around these weed beds becomes really important. Water temperature should spike at around the 29°C, making it pretty uncomfortable for a barra to hang out in the shallows for long periods. Deep areas allow good vantage points for hungry active fish willing to feed.

Trollers should be well entertained on Kinchant over the next month with a lot of the bigger fish patrolling the wall and waiting for a noisy hardbody to wiggle past. Over the last few years, a lot of Kinchant’s 120cm+ fish have come from trolling the wall and this summer, I predict a lot more fish of this size to be caught.

When handling such big fish, respect must be given to their sheer size and weight. This means giving the fish proper support and the shortest possible time out of the water to ensure they survive and allow another lucky angler to catch them again.

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

Teemburra Dam
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

The good news about Teemburra is the size of barramundi is finally improving with many of the fish being caught now well above 70cm. This is a big change from last year where the average sized fish were no greater than 60cm.

This also means that the fish will be a lot feistier. Fish around this size in the Teemburra environment will have you stitched up before you know it. Be prepared for some fun close-range timber action as summer heats up the shallows in November.

Teemburra did not fish overly well during the last few months but should really start to pick up coming into November. Hopefully, a lot more bigger fish should be caught around the main basin area. Teemburra is a relatively deep dam and this can be really useful as it means the fish will generally be easy to find in the shallow areas with a mix of lily pads, timber and lantana bushes.

When fishing in these areas, try using surface lures in the morning and afternoons and either hardbodies or plastic lures in between. Berkley Gulp Jerk Shads are perfect for fishing Teemburra’s mixed up structure. These plastics rigged on weedless hooks can be used in areas other lures wouldn’t dream of going.

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


Fig. 1.

Guide ServiceLocationSpeciesContact
Barra MadnessAwoonga, MonduranBarra0420 846 345
Fraser Coast SportfishingMonduran, LenthallsBass, barra0407 674 350
Lake Awoonga Guided Barra Fishing ChartersAwoongaBarra0429 723 757
Lake Monduran Barra Fishing ToursMonduranBarra0427 590 995
Lake Proserpine Fishing ChartersProserpineBarra(07) 4945 4641
Matthew Mott SportfishingAwoonga, Monduran, BoondoomaBass, golden perch, barra(07) 4162 7555

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