Bass and Barra going strong
  |  First Published: February 2010

It may officially be the start of autumn but the fishing is not likely to change too much for at least another month.

The water temperature may cool a bit in the lakes now that the days are shorter. This should tempt fish like barramundi and Murray cod into shallower water especially when the daylight starts to fade.

A trip to a less pressured location could produce some excellent fishing. Lakes like Cania, Wuruma, Callide, Isis and Lenthalls are all worth a visit at this time of year. Bass and barra have been quite active and are usually more willing to bite when there are fewer boats around.

Some of the creeks and rivers are fishing well for bass. The Tweed, Noosa River, Mary River, Brisbane River and many of their tributaries hold some excellent bass. Most of these fish venture upstream during the warmer months and will migrate towards the lower end of the systems in winter. Using this as a guide will help you locate a fishy piece of water.

I recently fished a favourite section of creek. I had spelled the spot for over six months and after the rest, the fish went crazy. Beetle spins were a top choice as the bass weren’t missing them when they were tossed deep into the shadows of the bottlebrush and oak trees.

Another top performer was the 3.5” Powerbait T-tail rigged on a 1/8oz weighted worm hook. This bait was excellent for skim casting right into the thickest snags. The weedless rig allowed it to be worked back out into the open provided it wasn’t eaten first.

This was one of the few times I have had a 100% hookup rate on a weedless rigged plastic. It just goes to show sometimes you strike it lucky and the fish are hungry.

I’m keen to hear any reports on the lakes and freshwater areas around Queensland and northern New South Wales. If you have anything you want to share please don’t hesitate to contact me at --e-mail address hidden--

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

The Wivenhoe to Cressbrook pipeline is now pumping water. Cressbrook has suffered from low water levels for years now and the added water will be a blessing to consumers with access to the Toowoomba Water Grid and of course fishers.

In early February the dam was around 8% capacity but the level should be taken to 20% over the next 12 months. This process will be steady and it will be interesting to see how the fish respond.

The slow rise should encourage the growth of waterweed and prevent it dying off quickly creating poor quality water. There are also a few features worth taking note of around the edges.

Structure like rocks, drop-offs and small trees and bushes will be flooded if they are reasonably close to the water’s edge. These features will create a haven for the bigger bass.

Spinnerbaits are scoring plenty of small bass at the moment. The odd bigger fish is also coming from the schools in the middle of the lake when they can be found. Soft plastics and occasionally blade baits are scoring these better quality bass.

It seems these bigger fish tend to bite together as you can score several nice bass in one session and struggle to find a legal sized fish in following trips.

There have been a few golden perch in the deeper water between the boat ramp and the buoys of the no fishing area. These have been falling to live shrimp and lures on the odd occasion.

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

The fishing at Somerset has been consistent. The size of the fish has been changing from day to day. The smaller bass are willing to play most of the time and on occasions anglers are experiencing hot bites on schools of big bass. The number of golden perch nailing lures intended for bass is quite surprising.

Blade baits and soft lipless cranks are catching their share but it is paddle tailed plastics that are performing best. The bass seem to prefer the subtle tail beat of the soft plastic.

These 3” lures should be rigged on a 1/2oz jighead to be effectively fished through the deep water. Look for schooled fish in 8-10m of water. There have been fish holding from Bay 13 to One Tree Point. The bank opposite Bay 13 has also been holding its share of bass.

Casting spinnerbaits in the timber has been accounting for quite a few big golden perch. Try fishing the banks early and late and the deeper standing timber during the day. Trolling the creek bed will also pick up some goldens in the timbered areas north of Kirkleagh.

Trolling lures around Bay 13 flats and drop-offs has been tempting plenty of bass and golden perch. Keep an eye on the sounder as sometimes the bass will suspend making a medium diving lure the better option.

Deep divers that run down to at least 8m deep will pull fish on most occasions. The Halco Crazy Deep Poltergeist is an exceptional lure. It has a tiny bite sized body but is still capable of pulling down to over 10m deep when fished on light braid.

The redclaw crayfish have been thick. Opera house traps placed in 5-7m of water seem to do the trick. If one area fails be prepared to move the traps about until you find success.

Closest Town: Boonah

If you’re wondering what to throw on Maroon this month, the answer is topwater baits.

Fishing surface lures through February has been rewarding for persistent anglers and as history shows, stable weather in March really turns the lake on. Days of catching 50 bass on Maroon seems to be a thing of the past however anglers willing to work hard can still manage to put 15-20 fish into the boat on a good day.

I recently hooked up with Charles West, a Bass Electric Series nut, with a plan to fish surface presentations and break a pattern to reveal the best approach on the lake’s bass.

I fished Jackall Mask Frogs tight in the weed bed pockets while Charles used an aggressive approach with a Megabass Pop X plug.

While we both attracted our fair share of bites, in the end, it was Charlie’s aggressive walk the dog approach that got the fishes’ attention with bass exploding on his bait. Most hits were missed as the fish moved at speed and pushed the bait away with their pressure wave.

It really opened my eyes up to a technique that’s been around for a while but one I had hung the spurs up on. This technique can be used around the whole lake but it pays to fish areas close to structure like weed beds.

The clear water on Maroon allows the weed beds to grow up from 20ft deep. Using long casts and working the lure continuously back to the boat calls in the most fish and strikes. If a fish hits and misses leave the bait sit until the ripples disappear then continue the retrieve.

Other techniques that will work on moving fish during March are deep presentations like hopping blades off the bottom, fishing rubber jigs and working soft plastic presentations.

The weed beds and weed points are great areas to fish deep with parallel casts. For a change of scenery and a challenge, fish weedless rigged baits like Sliders, bass grubs and hawgs hard into weed pockets (dabbling) with pegged bullet weights heavy enough to push the presentation down but prevent hanging up. Fish will hit these baits on the drop and need to be pulled out hard and fast.

Well done to the top five place getters at the Maroon Bass Electric held last month. It was a pleasure running the event for such a great bunch of bass anglers and special thanks to Matty Sharpe for helping out on the day.

Don’t forget to listen in to my monthly live radio report on 1116AM 4BC, Weekends 5-7am. Or if you are interested in how the lake’s fishing or have any photos and stories you would like to share, drop me an email --e-mail address hidden-- – By Chris Galligan

Closest Town: Boonah

I thought I would incorporate Lake Moogerah in this month’s reports as a few anglers have been a catching some great fish throughout February and the reliable fishing should continue into March.

Bass and golden perch will be found in areas close to the original creek drop-offs. Some bays and points may also hold moving fish, which can really help narrow down where to start looking.

Searching with reaction baits like Jackall TN60s and 3/8 or 1/2oz spinnerbaits is the quickest way to get a couple of fish in the boat. Searching is done by fishing reasonably quickly to cover a lot of ground while keeping the boat constantly moving.

For maximum efficiency, cast towards the target at a 45 degree angle in front of the boat. This will give your bait more time in the water. Due to the moving boat, the retrieved lure will return at 90 degrees when nearing the boat. Working lures close to the bottom while searching also helps.

Keep a close eye on the sounder as occasionally bass can be drawn in by lures or excited by fish that have been caught. When the bass are below the boat, try dropping some vertical baits. – Chris Galligan

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Macdonald has been producing plenty of bass. Smaller fish have dominated catches in the past but there are quite a few nice bass starting to show up.

Callum Munro has scored some bass around 40cm with the biggest measuring 45cm to the fork of the tail. The Borer Creek area has been holding plenty of nice bass in the weed beds. Extracting them is a case of punching out casts and winding the lure back close to the weed structure.

Blade baits have been very effective but do tend to weed up a bit. A sharp rip of the rod will often tear them free of the weed. The beauty of the blade is when fished on braided lines, the vibration they put out can be felt when they are working and weed free.

Spinnerbaiting the weed beds in this area is also producing its share of bass. There was even a report of a nice Mary River cod taken on spinnerbait in the area.

There are still quite a few bass holding in the deeper water around the Bubble Trail. The three ways has also been a good spot to look for deeper holding bass. Here the creek bed drop-offs hold plenty of bass that can be lured on plastics or blade baits.

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

There have been plenty of bass around in the main basin of Lake Borumba. This section of the dam also sees plenty of ski boats so anglers either need to be prepared to share it or fish when there is likely to be less boat activity.

Schools of bass have been holding around the first and second yellow buoys. The start of the timber at the junction of the Yabba and Kingham arms is also holding its share of bass.

Soft plastics have been working well. Try plastics like Slider grubs, Powerbait T-tails and Atomic Guzzler paddle tails rigged on 1/4-1/2oz jigheads.

There have been quite a few toga up the Yabba arm. These fish are taking poppers and Anthrax Megabass lures. Toga will also fall for beetle spins, spinnerbaits and lightly weighted plastics. Structure is often the key to success. Saratoga will feed around trees, bushes, lilies, steep banks and up in shallow bays.

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 fishing at Cooby has been tough. There are only a few reports of fish being caught. Anglers prepared to put in the hours are still scoring some golden perch and the occasional Murray cod.

Hopping mask Vibes in the deeper water has been scoring some golden perch. Occasionally the big silver perch and Murray cod are willing to play as well. Even bait fishing has been pretty quiet. The low water level certainly doesn’t help the poor fishing and the dam needs a good rise.

There is a boom gate at the entrance to the lake which 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

Leslie has been one of the best lakes to fish in the Toowoomba area so far this year. The golden perch have been active and are willing to smash lures.

Trolling has been the best approach to scoring goldens and there has also been the odd Murray cod falling for trolled lures. Medium diving lures can work well but the standout performer has been the TN60 Jackall. Trolling these lures in the darker colours seems to really excite the golden perch.

The area across the other side of the dam wall has been fishing well. The Black Boys have also been producing some good goldens.

For a change of approach, try casting some lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits up in the creek. There are some decent weed beds right up the creek that are holding golden perch as well.

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.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Plenty of action has been taking place at Boondooma with bass and golden perch responding well to lures. The bait fishing has been rather slow so be sure to bring some lures along.

Spinnerbaits like the Smak range have been scoring plenty of fish around the lake edges. The steeper banks seem to be producing better than the shallower ones.

Trolling a dark coloured lure like a purple or black Brolga or Golden Child will almost certainly tempt some bass. The bass can be found in the deep open water of the main basin. They tend to be spread out at this time of year and trolling covers plenty of water and will therefore work well.

The key is to use a lure that dives between 5-7m deep. This style of trolling may seem like you are trying to pull fish from the middle of nowhere but they should be suspended throughout the main body of the lake in different areas. Once you locate some fish, give the area a thorough working over.

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 should provide plenty of great lure fishing opportunities this month. Bass and saratoga will be the main target although species like golden and silver perch will turn up. Luring the banks in the mornings and afternoons will draw strikes from bass and toga. They will both fall for spinnerbaits, lipless cranks and surface lures. Small suspending hardbodies can be deadly on the toga when fished steadily around any prominent form of structure.

Schooled bass will be an option throughout the day. These fish can be found in the main basin of the lake by using a sounder or trolling medium diving lures. Once located, try casting soft plastics and blade baits into the school.

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

The barra fishing has been fairly consistent over the past month. They are falling to both trolled and cast offerings provided you put in the time and effort.

Lure trollers are finding success with 3-5m divers fished in the main basin during the day. Scorpions and Classics are popular for targeting fish in this depth of water. The action can happen at any time of the day but the mornings and afternoons are most popular. During the dark, try trolling shallower lures like 1m Scorpions or Laser Pro 120s. These lures are better suited to shallower water and a steady, quiet troll using an electric motor. If you put the time in doing this, there’s a good chance the silence will be broken by a jumping, rampaging barra.

Lure casters are scoring most of their fish close to the creek channels. The deeper water provides the fish with comfort during the day. Any drop-offs that fall away into over 4m of water are worth looking at. I like to target fish on top of 2-3m deep flats that have some deeper water near them.

Tossing lures into this water will entice the more active fish that are up there hunting. It is still important to have a deep retreat nearby. Soft plastics like 5” Powerbait Mullets, 4” and 5” Hollow Bellies and 110mm Slick Rigs are all worth throwing. Another top lure is the Transam. These lures are a soft lipless crankbait that work exceptionally well with a faster retrieve.

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.

Closest Town: Biloela

Callide is starting to make a great recovery after losing most of its barra some years ago.

The restocking of the lake has paid off and there are now plenty of barra to be caught. Some of the locals have been riding their bikes down to the lake and fishing from the edges.

Hardbodied lures have been doing the damage for them. Lures like B52s Laser Pro 120s and similar shallow divers are drawing the strikes from shallow bay areas closer to the dam wall. With reports of 3-5 fish per session, things are really looking bright for the future.

The barra have been over legal size with most fish coming in at 62cm. They are big, fat, healthy silver fish that provide plenty of fun.

There has been the odd saratoga caught as well. Heaps of toga have gone into the dam to help boost the breeding population. If you catch one of these fish, let it go as they are poor eating and will help boost the numbers of these fish. As the barra grow in size, they might take their share of the small toga so give them a good head start by treating them with care when caught.

Big golden perch are still being caught in the deeper water. Trolling deep diving lures or bait fishing with live shrimp will score some monster goldens. The redclaw have also been about in numbers. Traps set in 5-7m of water seem to do the best.

If you need a few tips on the lake or need to pick up some supplies, call in at Creek to Coast at Biloela. Norm will be able to help you out and give you a few local tips.

Closest Town: Eidsvold

The algae have really taken over the dam. It has turned the water a murky colour which doesn’t look too good for fishing. This has kept anglers away but those that have visited are scoring the odd fish.

There are some huge bass and golden perch in the lake. These fish respond well to lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The deeper parts of the dam up towards the wall might be worth a troll if the fish are showing on the sounder.

There hasn’t been much talk about the barra in the lake. This is mainly due to the lack of people fishing the area. One camper woke in the early hours of the morning to hear barra busting up on the surface. After working a popper, he soon managed to score one of the culprits making all the noise on top. Specifically targeting the barra should produce some reasonable numbers.

The boat launching at Wuruma is pretty poor as the dam is very low. A 4WD will ensure you can safely carry out the job. Boats on roller trailers shouldn’t pose any problems but big boats that need to be floated off the trailer would require more care.

Capricorn Region
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

At the beginning of February, a low pressure system dumped plenty of flooding rain in the Awoonga area. An educated guess would say the dam will have risen by about 10% capacity.

The fishing prior to the rise had been quite good around the last full moon. Barra were being caught on soft plastic swim baits, surface frog plastics and trolled shallow divers.

The rise in water will be enough to cover many of the existing weed beds and create new areas of open shoreline for the barra to explore.

Fishing for the next month or two will depend a lot on how long it takes vegetation to die off and reduce the water quality. This process will occur at different times in different areas. This calls for plenty of exploring when you visit the lake. Be prepared to move about in search of the better water as this will concentrate the fish and produce the best action.

Explore the water quickly by using soft plastics like Hollow Bellies or Slick Rigs cast right at the edges and worked back to the boat. Shallow flats and points can produce plenty of fish. The wind blown bank will often have a dirty water line that will hold big barra and bait fish in the oxygenated water.

Trolling shallow diving lures like Bombers, Laser Pro 120s and B52s using the stealth of an electric motor can also produce plenty of action. When trolling, try the hours of darkness and work in 2-4m of water.

Northern New South Wales
Closest Towns: Ashford, Inverell

The fishing at Pindari has been hit and miss. The action has been hot when the weather has been hot and stable but otherwise the fishing has been on the tough side. Big golden perch are making up the majority of captures. Tossing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits up into the trees has been drawing the big brutes out.

There are plenty of cod in the lake and they will quite often take a lure intended for golden perch. To target the cod, work shallower points and bays with plenty of timber or rock structure.

Bigger lures like Bassman Codman spinnerbaits are proven on this lake. Big hard bodies tossed right up close to the steeper banks surrounded by trees can also lure the bigger Murray cod out of hiding.

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