Wild weather, fantastic fishing
  |  First Published: January 2010

It’s hard to believe the peaceful lakes we consider to be so safe can turn so nasty. I witnessed some wild weather that has urged me to warn everyone to stay on the lookout; sometimes we are reminded just how powerful Mother Nature can be.

Over the last few months, there have been some serious storm cells around. A while ago we were at Awoonga and witnessed a beauty. Staying at Benaraby, only 10mins from the dam, we decided to check out the storm rumbling over the lake.

As we arrived at the dam so did the destructive winds. It was scary driving past the big trees losing their leaves and branches and the safest place to sit it out was actually at the cleared area of the boat ramp. The wind had whipped the water up into waves that stood at least 4ft tall.

The breakers hitting the ramp were amazing. The water was at our feet and then disappeared before the next one hit. Unlike the ocean, the waves were really close together and the dam was a sea of white rolling caps.

A couple of boats had been caught out. One was still out on the water and the other was being pounded at the ramp. Luckily we helped provide the man power to get it away from the water’s edge.

These bad storms don’t happen often but when they do make sure you take precautions. If you can’t safely make it back to the ramp in time, you may have to sit it out.

Find a sheltered area without trees as the wind can carry a branch a fair distance. Dead trees in the dam can also be dangerous, as years of being in the water have weakened them with rot. Something to stick over your head might also be handy if it decides to hail.

The weather man doesn’t always get it right but it pays to play it safe and watch the weather when there are storm warnings. His job is a bit like mine only I’m trying to predict the fishing for the month ahead.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The low water level at Cressbrook has concentrated the fish. They can be found in a number of areas but usually don’t take too much to find as there is little fishable water to explore.

The shallow weedy areas can hold good numbers of bass though on most occasions these fish will be undersized models. The odd bigger fish can turn up but they are usually few and far between.

Spinnerbaits are a great lure to throw around the weed because they can produce fish all day long. Other lures like lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits and soft plastics can also produce the goods.

The most exciting and effective way to fish for the bass living in and around the weed is to use surface lures. Small poppers between 50-80mm are the ideal size. Most topwater lures that are the right size will draw some interest.

Regardless of the style of lure being used, a topwater lure should be paused every metre or two that it moves. These pauses can vary from a half a second to up to 10 seconds. The mood of the fish and their reaction to the retrieve will help determine the length of the pauses.

Moving out into deeper water, bass schools can be located on the sounder. These fish can be found out from the boat ramp and towards the pumping tower.

There are some submerged humps in this area that often hold good numbers of bass and also golden perch at times.

These fish can be targeted by casting lures like soft lipless crankbaits, blade baits, soft plastics and beetle spins. Trolling lipless crankbaits can also produce fish. Heavier baits with small profiles are best, making the TN60 Jackall an ideal selection.

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 has been receiving a lot less fishing pressure, (apart from the holiday period,) which has made the bass and golden perch far more willing to bite. Both trolled and cast lures will produce fish.

Many of the fish will be scattered over the lake and be found suspending in deeper water. These suspended fish are easily targeted with trolled lures. Choosing a lure that dives close to the depth of the suspended fish will see you in with a good chance.

Use the sounder to help make your lure selection. Once you’ve done this it’s just a matter of time and experimentation with different lures before you’ll start getting strikes. Some of the better areas have been The Spit, the mouth of Beams Creek, Pelican Point, Bay 13 and One Tree Point.

Although the bass schools usually break up at this time of year, there has been a good school packed across the Bay 13 area. Trolling across this area will help to locate the best concentration of fish.

Once they are located, try casting 1/2oz blade baits or soft lipless crankbaits. Retrieve types will depend on the depth the fish are holding.

Use 6-10 winds or continuous hops if the fish are holding close to the bottom and make sure the lure falls right back to the bottom before repeating. When the fish are high off the bottom, use enough winds to pull the lure through them. At times this can be as many as 20 cranks of a 2000 size reel’s handle.

Golden perch have been around in good numbers for both trollers and casters. Trolling the drop-offs and keeping the lure close to the bottom seems to be successful. When casting, blades have been scoring their share of goldens when anglers are targeting bass. The drop-off on the southwestern corner of Pelican Point has been holding stacks of goldens.

Redclaw are still around in good numbers. The prime bait seems to be pieces of rockmelon. Place traps in 5-8m of water and check them every half hour. If they aren’t producing move them to a new area. Rocky banks, points and bays are good areas. Look for less pressured areas to produce more crayfish.

Closest Town: Boonah

With some decent rainfall this season Maroon’s fishing is expected to fire up for February. Fish will be really active especially towards the end of the month as the water temperature becomes a little more moderate. Anglers can expect to see the lake’s topwater fishing improve as fish move around before the colder parts of the year.

The lake’s water is expected to remain clear with visibility of about 10ft. With these conditions, the fish will be found anywhere up to 20ft deep especially around some of the better weed bed outcrops.

Casting parallel to the weed face or working through weed alleyways and pockets gets the lure to a greater depth without fouling up.

My choice bait for this type of work is a spinnerbait. Choose a compact and natural coloured model. A spinnerbait fouls up less than other lure styles and draws out any nearby fish.

Anyone looking for bigger bass will find them holding hard in the weed. Working lures over weed beds that are submerged only 1-2ft below the surface is a great way to draw them out. Shallow diving crankbaits, like the Jackall Cherry 1 Footer, or topwater baits work well. Fishing over the weed is best done early or late or if there is heavy cloud cover around.

If you’re planning a trip to Maroon don’t forget there are plenty of ski and wake boats also enjoying the lake. My recommendation is to try early, late or have a mid week session to avoid the busy boat ramp and waterway. – Chris Galligan

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Callum Munro from Davo’s in Noosa has had some great action at Lake Macdonald. The young gun has been smashing the lake’s bass and recently had a 70+ fish session.

Macdonald has been producing stacks of bass. There are plenty of small ones getting in on the action but if you persist and sort through them, there are some better quality ones to be caught. The best lures have been soft lipless crankbaits and bladebaits. Hopping and retrieving these lures close to the bottom has been scoring the fish.

The bass have been holding in schools in a number of areas around the dam and don’t look like moving anywhere soon if the lake level remains stable.

The Bubble Trail, Three Ways, Gazebo Bay and the main weed point have all been holding their share of bass. In some locations the fish will be found in 5-6m of water while in others it will pay to check out any drop-offs to deeper water.

There have been a few bass taken on surface lures. Early morning and late afternoon are the key times to use topwater lures. Poppers and stickbaits around 60mm will draw the strikes.

Look for any signs of surface feeding bass and try those areas. If there are no visible signs, pick an area that has a decent weed bed and is close to the schooling fish to toss your surface lures into. Weed holds plenty of baitfish and provides the bass with an ideal ambush point from which to launch their attack.

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 find the fish and give you an up to date report on the action. Macdonald is an electric motor only dam so you won’t have to contend with other noisy anglers or water skiers.

Closest Town: Imbil

The first and second yellow buoy areas have been holding some decent schooled bass.

Further up the lake in the junction of the Yabba and Kingham arm, the deep timber has also been holding good numbers of fish. This timbered area can be the best spot to fish when there is a lot of boat traffic on the lake. It’s not too often that you see skiers trying a bit of slalom through the trees.

Bass have been the main target although a lot of golden perch have been getting in on the action. Three inch paddle tailed plastics rigged on 1/4 to 1/2oz jigheads have been doing the damage. Plastics like Sliders, Powerbait T-tails and Guzzler Paddle Tails are all top picks and have the right action to attract fish.

Using a finesse approach has been helping to get more strikes. Fine braided line around 3-4lb with 6-8lb leader will see more lures lost but more fish in the boat. Luckily, soft plastics are cheap enough that it doesn’t hurt the wallet too much to lose a few.

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. Catch up with the local bass gurus Callum Munro and Mark Pertot. The guys will 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 action at Cooby has been hot and cold. Sometimes anglers will score a mixed bag of golden and silver perch or even the odd cod while at other times it can be almost impossible to draw a strike. This on and off type of fishing is part of the gamble you take when fishing Cooby. The lake’s regulars are still catching enough fish to keep them coming back, even with the bad trips in between.

Part of the attraction to Cooby is the monster cod that live in its waters. These Murray cod grow well over 1m long and will test your knots and ability if they are hooked.

There are also plenty of smaller specimens in the lake so ensure they are released carefully if they are undersized.

Cod will take a range of lures when they are on the bite but the most consistent performing lures are cast and retrieved Bassman Codman spinnerbaits and Jackall Mask Vib 60s. Lipless crankbaits and trolled diving lures will also score the odd cod.

Cooby Dam regular, Ashley from Fish’n’Bits, had a great session on silver perch at the end of last year. His approach may help others if they encounter similar conditions. Ash worked his lures through dirty water whipped up by wind generated wave action along the bank. By targeting the dirty to clear water line, he was able to boat nine good silvers for the session.

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 so take battery power into consideration on windy days. 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: Warwick

The fishing at Leslie has been excellent. Golden perch are smashing lures and have been quite easy to catch. There has been the odd big bust-off and anglers are putting these down to Murray cod.

Trolling 5m diving lures has been accounting for most fish. Blacks and purples have been the gun colours. Some anglers are also finding success when casting Jackall TN60 lipless crankbaits. The drop-off straight out in front of the caravan park has been one of the best spots.

This hot action should continue provided the water level remains stable. If the dam falls, the fishing may be tougher and it might be necessary to look for other spots.

Boat launching off the bank can be tricky if there has been a drop in water level. Some sections of bank are boggy so check out your chosen spot before you back in.

Closest Town: Inglewood

There has been the odd good report from Coolmunda but overall the action has been extremely slow, which seems to have been the case for the last few months. There are still fish being caught but by the lake’s usually high standards, the fishing is tough. Fast falling water levels are most likely having a big impact on the fish. When the dam becomes more stable and water release slows down, the action should pick up.

Golden perch and eel-tailed catfish can be targeted around the drop-off to the creek bed and inside the creek channel. Now the water is so low, the fish will be relying more heavily on this deeper water for comfort. Bait fishing with live shrimp caught in the dam or trolling medium diving lures should score a few fish.

The Murray cod have been quiet but a day trolling the drop-offs outside the dam wall exclusion zone will put you in with a good chance. Smaller lures are popular with Coolmunda cod. Take advantage of this and you will be able to catch golden perch on the same offering.

Camping is allowed near Lake Coolmunda itself but, for more comfort, 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
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Even with all the water based activities taking place over the last couple of months, the dam has continued to fish well. Switched on anglers have been able to make the right decisions and get stuck into the action.

Trolling lures is an excellent way to target the fish at the moment. They are scattered throughout the lake and trolling keeps the lure at the desired depth while covering plenty of water.

Don’t rule out casting up fish if tighter schools are found. When the sounder reveals a decent concentration, pull out some plastics, blades and soft vibes and go to work.

Golden perch can be targeted by working lures closer to the bottom around the rocky banks and points. Deeper diving lures like the Golden Child, Blitz Baga and Smak 19 will ensure the lure is running close to the bottom at the right depth.

If you can feel your lure bumping into the bottom on the odd occasion you know you are in the zone. Continuous bumping off the bottom will lead to excessive snagging. To prevent this, troll slightly deeper water or shorten the amount of line trailing. Keep a lure retriever handy as it will save you plenty of dollars when it comes to getting back snagged lures.

The bass can be trolled up but a different approach needs to be taken when specifically targeting them.

Scattered bass will be found through the lower parts of the dam. Trolling the open water between the buoy line at the wall down to The Islands should reveal the location of some suspended bass on the sounder.

If you are not confident in your fish finder reading ability, put in the time and miles until a fish is caught. On catching a bass, give the area a thorough working over.

The bass will be found suspended in the deep water in the middle of the lake. Sometimes points that extend well into the dam can concentrate the fish but they are still likely to be sitting high in the water column.

Some anglers have had good results using Halco Combat and McGrath lures. This indicates the fish were sitting at around 3m below the surface. To work the depth the bass should be targeted at study your sounder or run lures at different depths until you get some action.

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

Cania Dam’s level is still hovering around the 5% mark. At this low but stable level, the dam still fishes well. There are bass, golden perch, silver perch, saratoga and eel-tailed catfish on offer. Fishing from a boat certainly has its advantages but fish can also be caught on lures and bait from the shore.

Bass will be the most active fish and will make their presence felt when casting, trolling and bait fishing. Try the main basin of the lake where the water is deeper if you are chasing numbers of bass. Here they can be caught casting spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, soft plastics, blades and even surface lures.

If you find schooled fish on your sounder, you are more likely to catch good numbers of bass. Mixed in will be the odd golden and silver perch.

Trolling the deeper water of the basin will also score plenty of bass. Small profile, medium diving hardbodied lures or the same lures as used for casting can be trolled effectively. When trolling stick to working at least 20m out from the shore or even in the middle of the dam when out from the boat ramps.

Casting surface lures, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits further up the lake or into any of the shallower bays can produce some of the better quality bass and saratoga. These areas will usually fish better in the morning and afternoon rather than during the middle of the day.

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: Gin Gin

Monduran has been fishing quite well for barra. Fish are falling to cast and trolled lures. Spending plenty of time on the water will ensure you encounter one of the hot bite times. All you have to do is make sure you are fishing an area holding fish.

The most reliable action has been happening in the lower half of the dam before White Rock. Look for fish in more open water rather than up against the banks. Inside the timbered areas, you will find shallow flats that hold fish. The best of these will be 2-3m deep and surrounded by deeper water.

The more active fish will laze around and hunt across these flats. Venture out of the main channel and into the tree line to find such areas. A good starting point is either side of the first cut through.

The barra on these shallow flats respond best when you use a stealthy approach and cast lures. Soft plastics are popular because they cast so well and you can cover a lot of water. Use long casts and wind the lure back quickly.

Of course, it pays to mix it up. If fast isn’t working, try a slower retrieve with a lighter weighted plastic. Plastics like Hollow Bellies, Powerbait Mullets and Slick Rigs work well. The lorikeet or firetiger colours have been a standout. Transam vibration plastics are another good option. These lures are similar to a Jackal Mask but slightly bigger in profile.

Hardbodied lures can also be cast across the flats. Try to cast past the trees and wind the lure back closely to them. Allow the lure to pause right beside the trees.

Suspending lures are best for this style of fishing and you need to choose one that tracks at the right depth. I love the small profile of the Tilsan barra. By upgrading the hooks to heavier ones, these lures suspend beautifully.

Further back in the main basin, barra are being caught around the islands and long points that extend hundreds of metres into the dam. Here the fish can be caught by casting into the shallower water at night.

During the day look for fish on the sounder and fish to them with heavier soft plastics or medium to deep running trolled lures. These areas have received a lot of pressure over the last few months but they continue to produce fish. The deeper water that surrounds them provides a good turnover of fresh fish.

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 there 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

The barra are still fired up at Awoonga. They won’t jump into your boat but if you put some thought and preparation into your approach you should be rewarded with some quality fish. Anglers are still returning to the ramp with tales of woe so it pays to have a game plan.

During the day is the time to move around and search for fish and prime bite time spots. The barra are less likely to prowl around during the day but a lure placed close enough to them should get a response.

The weed beds in the main basin and up behind Dingo Island are a good starting point. Use an electric motor or take advantage of any breeze to move the boat quietly and parallel to the weed beds. The better weed beds will have broken weed or some growth below the surface.

Flick soft plastics like Slick Rigs, Powerbait 5” Mullets and Hollow Bellies close to the weed and let the lure sink to the base before retrieving. Covering the water and putting in the time will see you greatly increase your chances.

If you score a fish, note the area and also remember the lure used, the retrieve and the type of area the fish came from. These factors will help you to work out a fish catching pattern and repeatedly catch fish.

The day time action on surface frogs has also been pretty good. Be sure when using these weedless rigged plastics to punch them right over the top of thick weed beds. The ideal spot has weed that is just below the surface or right up to it with the odd broken patch. The nature of these lures allows them to be buzzed along the surface right through it without fouling up.

For night time sessions try concentrating on productive looking pieces of water. Points in the main basin, weed islands and wind blown bays are prime feeding areas. Hold the boat in place with an electric motor or an anchor and keep casting in hope that active fish will move through the area.

Soft plastics are a great option but there are plenty of fish taking hardbodied lures as well. Hardbodies that dive to around 1m are ideal. The Scorpion, Rapala X-Rap and Laser Pro 120 are all good options. Rather than using a jerky retrieve just slowly wind the lure all the way back to the boat.

Closest Towns: Mirani, Mackay

Kinchant has been fishing consistently all summer with many of the local anglers having unbelievable nights catching as many as 10 fish all over 1m.

Dropping water levels, clear blue skies and weeks of hot northerlys have heated up the water, which has been pushing a barra into deeper water during the day. This doesn’t bother most Kinchant anglers because most their fishing is done at night when all the water skiers have gone and the water temperature begins to drop.

Over the last few months a lot of fish have been caught over the 120cm mark and the biggest I have heard caught is a 126cm monster.

February’s fishing is much dependent on the rain and water levels. If rain is still not sufficient in the area then no doubt the water level will continue to drop and new areas around the dam will begin to develop making the fishing extremely exciting.

As the water level drops around Kinchant, it exposes structures that are normally covered in weed or just too deep to fish effectively. Structures like rocks bars, drop-offs, fallen timber and fence lines all hold fish when submerged, especially in Kinchant due to the bare cleared landscape on which the dam was built.

If rain does fall and water is then pumped back into Kinchant, this could make fishing tough until the dam becomes more stable. This could take a few weeks but the fish will turn on once the aquatic plants begin to grow.

Trollers have had, and should continue to get, good results around the full moon in the coming months. Many anglers have been trolling from the boat ramp to the corner of the wall with good results.

Try using a sounder to find the correct depth fish are sitting at then choose a lure the targets that depth. Also look out for points; this is where a majority of barra will school up in deeper water making trolling them up easy and fun.

Casters should be looking for weedy points and gullies. I expect the size of the fish to decrease, which means good number of fish should be caught. Although these fish aren’t huge their hunger to smash lures makes catching them just as fun. Try downsizing lures to around the 10cm mark.

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

Northern New South Wales
Closest Towns: Ashford, Inverell

Pindari Dam is certainly worth a mention this month. There has been plenty of fish activity coming from all over the lake. The golden perch have really fired up with some exceptional specimens being caught. There have also been quite a few cod encounters.

Lipless crankbaits have been scoring plenty of goldens. If you wanted to specifically target cod try tossing some Bassman Codman spinnerbaits. The big profile doesn’t seem to put the determined golden perch off as they will often take these lures.

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