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Freswater Fish making it tough
  |  First Published: June 2010



The freshwater scene has been pretty tough, as rising water levels earlier in the year have brought on some difficult fishing conditions.

Fish should have had plenty of time to adapt by the end of the year and we should start to see some excellent fishing across the lakes.

Keep an eye on water levels in the impoundments using sites like www.sunwater.com.au and www.seqwater.com.au. Now the lakes are high, expect water to be released to meet the demands of irrigators and towns below the impoundments. Falling lakes can be much less productive as the fish shut down due to their changing environment.

When the lake action is tough, diehard freshwater anglers can put their skills to use and target plenty of saltwater species in the estuaries, bay and inshore. We can be blessed with some great weather at this time of year – the conditions on the salty stuff can be just like that of a big calm lake.

Best of luck on your next fishing adventure – I hope you find them biting. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel.

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Towns: Crows Nest, Toowoomba

Cressbrook unexpectedly turned on some great fishing about a month ago. Quality bass were holding in the deeper water between the boat ramp and the pumping tower.

These fish were mostly over legal size with quite a few more than 40cm in fork length. When the fishing can be so great, it makes you wonder where they have been hiding for so long. These bass schools have shut down after quite a bit of fishing pressure. Similar schools may be found that haven’t been pressured as much and they are more likely to bite.

Look for schooling bass in more than 5m of water. In many places around the lake, there is a shallow weed edge that stops in around 2m of water before a second weed edge forms in between 4-5m of water.

This second weed edge is made up of thick reed beds. These reeds occasionally hold fish suspended over the top of them but on most occasions, the bass will school in the deeper water outside them.

Casting 1/2oz jighead rigged plastics like Powerbait T-tails, Sliders, Rippers or Squidgy Fish will draw the strikes. The activity level of the fish will dictate the way the bait should be fished. When the fish are close to the bottom, use a slower retrieve with fewer winds. If the fish are sitting higher in the water column wind the lure higher off the bottom at a faster pace. Bottom hugging bass can also be fooled with a hopped Jackall Mask Vib.

Trolling plastics around the deeper water of the main basin is an effective way to score some better quality fish. Troll at around 2.5km/h using an electric motor with the plastic trailing about 40m behind the boat.

The reed beds may produce some interesting fishing. They are an uncommon feature in a lake and will be interesting to fish. Try casting sinking lures like TN60 and TN50 Jackalls, Mini Coop Spinnerbaits and 1/4-1/2oz blades across the flooded reeds. Counting the lure down into the zone will ensure it doesn’t foul with the weed but at the same time is very close to it.

Deeper diving suspending lures like the DD Squirrel may also produce the goods when fished around the reed beds. Suspending lures have been accounting for plenty of small fish around the shallow edges so the deeper water may be holding the bigger fish.

The quality of bass being caught has really picked up in recent times. The amount of baitfish cruising around the deeper water is amazing. Big schools of bony bream can be seen flicking across the surface and often black out the sounder.

These fish provide plenty of nourishment for predators and will see them grow more quickly. I have never seen so much bait in the lake so let’s hope it helps the growth rate of Cressbrook’s fish, which have been stunted for some time now.

The water level is still low but boats can be easily launched from the solid gravel ramp. 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.

Sunshine Coast Region
MacDonald
Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

Lipless crankbaits like the TN60 Jackall have been scoring plenty of fish at Macdonald. The weedy area around the Three Ways and up to Borer Creek has been holding good numbers of bass. Small schools of bass can also be found around the bubble trail.

Most of the bass have been small but a few fish over 40cm are being caught. The fish are in excellent condition and Callum Munroe landed a 1.6kg specimen there recently.

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.

Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

Borumba Dam has been producing quite a few bass in different areas around the lake. The steeper banks in the timber between the Yabba and Kingham arms are holding reasonable numbers of fish.

These bass are falling to spinnerbaits with the Smak Mini Coop being a standout lure. Fishing blades to the same areas is also a good option and they can be worked deeper when schooling fish are seen on the sounder. The deeper water around the Clumps in the upper Yabba arm has been holding some schooling bass.

These fish may become mobile with the changing conditions over winter. Sound around in the deeper areas concentrating on the bends and points and you may come across good schools of fish.

The saratoga will be a bit quieter over winter but are not uncatchable. Reasonable numbers of golden perch can be caught on the steeper banks. The main basin has been producing good numbers on spinnerbaits and MF50 vibes.

Silver perch were a big draw card last winter. These big fish schooled up under the deep trees holding shags. An early morning start is necessary to get to the area before sunrise. Cast small surface poppers under the trees and you’ll soon know if the silvers are present. The 35mm River2Sea Bubble pops are great lures for this approach.

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, who will help to set you up with the right gear and give you some valuable tips.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Cooby
Closest Towns: Meringandan, Toowoomba

Cooby Dam has been really quiet over the last month. The lure fishing has slowed right down and only a few fish are falling to baits. Live shrimp are the best option and these can be purchased from Fish’n’Bits in Toowoomba.

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.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

The action on lures has slowed right down, which seems to have taken place before the cold weather even arrived. Bait is still producing some quality fish and some hot action. Golden perch are making up the majority of catches along with the odd silver perch and catfish. Worms can do the trick but it is hard to beat live shrimp or saltwater yabbies on this lake.

Lure anglers will continue to struggle for the rest of the cooler months but the action should pick up sometime in spring.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Isis Balancing Storage
Closest Town: Bundaberg

On most occasions the Isis has fished well over the last month. Like other lakes, the bass go quiet when they experience excessive fishing pressure.

This was the case back in May during the Bass Electric Competition. The bass had been biting well and after being heavily pressured on the prefish day, the fish shut down. When there are no competitions being held on the little impoundment, the fish receive very little pressure and should be more willing to cooperate.

Bass can be caught right around the weed edge of the lake, though the middle and timbered reaches seem to be holding the better numbers of fish. Casting lures like blades, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits to the edge of the weed should draw out some of the bigger fish. Expect the biggest specimens to be in winter condition and weigh more than 2kg.

Schooling fish have been hard to find, which could mean the fish are more concentrated in the weeded areas. The shallower areas on top of the weed are holding a few fish. Surface lures cast right up in the shallows can fool these fish even right through winter.

For more information on this awesome little lake call in and see the guys at Salty’s Tackleworld in Bundaberg. The store is located at 22 Quay Street and can be contacted on (07) 4153 4747. Access is gained from Voss Road about 20km south of Bundaberg on the Isis Highway.

Cania
Closest Town: Monto

Since the dam rolled, the action has started to improve. By the end of the month, the fishing should be starting to return to more normal patterns.

After the initial roll over, the main basin of the dam shut down and the fishing was very tough. The upper reaches were less affected and the fish continued to bite. In early June surface poppers and ultra shallow minnows were producing the best results but the fish should start to turn up in deeper water.

Look for schooling bass across the flats and out from the points past the Quarry area. These fish will respond best to a slow rolled soft plastic rigged on a 1/4-1/2oz jighead. If the fish make an early recovery and are really cooperating, try lures like soft lipless crankbaits and 1/2oz blade baits.

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.

Bjelke Petersen
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The water in Bjelke has cleared up and the fish are again starting to take lures. In the basin of the lake, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits cast to the steeper banks will produce a few bass and golden perch.

While the dam is at this higher level schooling fish will concentrate in areas like Bass Point and Lightning Ridge. If you find these fish on the sounder, try targeting them with soft plastics, blades and ice jigs. The start of the timbered area is also worth a shot. Lures like spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and blades can be effective here.

For more pointers and up to date information on fishing Bjelke, call in and see the guys at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy or Dalby.

Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Boondooma has experienced very tough fishing lately. After a big rise earlier in the year, the dirty waters have been proving difficult to fish. It is expected the fishing will start to fire up later this month as colder winter conditions start to take effect, helping to clear the water right up and relocate the fish into tighter schools.

Scattered bass and golden perch can be found in areas like the timber and the shallow edges between The Islands and the start of the timber. The numbers of these fish may be low so plenty of searching will need to be done. Cast to these areas and mix up lure selection varying between lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, blades and soft plastics.

As the fish start to school towards the end of the month, the main basin will be quite barren of fish life. Boats will need to travel to the Islands and further to successfully find good numbers of fish.

The Islands can be a productive spot but may fire one day and produce nothing the next. The more reliable areas are found around the Junction, Pelican Point and the bend before the timber in the Stuart arm.

Once schooled the bass fishing action should be very good. Quality fish will fall for a range of lures with water clarity determining colour and lure selection. Dirty water will call for flashy or more brightly coloured, stronger action lures like blades and lipless crankbaits.

If the water clears up, try running more natural colours in soft plastics and ice jigs.

Matthew Mott and the guys at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy can direct you to the action and help you select the right gear for the job. Bass to Barra also has a store in Dalby. As the name suggests, they carry a great range of freshwater tackle and the boys really know their stuff.

Gordonbrook
Closest Town: Kingaroy

As of early June all access has been closed to Gordonbrook as a result of an algae outbreak after the dam levels rose. Water quality is being monitored on a regular basis. To check if the dam is open give the guys at Bass to Barra in Kingaroy a call on (07) 4162 7555.

When the dam opens, only electric powered craft can be used. Under no circumstances should outboard motors be used. Boat use is still in trial stages on this lake and breaking the rules could spoil access for everyone.

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