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The action just gets better in the fresh
  |  First Published: October 2016



Last month did not disappoint. The impoundment bass population fired up as expected in most lakes around Queensland. Somerset was the standout for monster fish and I spent quite a few sessions chasing the elusive bass over 3kg. We managed plenty of 50cm+ fish over these trips with my biggest being a massive 56cm bass, which was as fat as they come.

Unfortunately, the digital scale batteries were flat and I couldn’t weigh her, so I let her swim free after a thousand photos. Bass of this calibre will still be around this month. Usually they’re at their fattest, full of roe and tucker, at the beginning of the month. They’ll start to lose condition as the weeks wear on. If you want a record sized fish, now is the time to do it.

Monster bass are available at most lakes but Somerset and Wivenhoe have the reputation for producing the biggest and best numbers. Word is Wivenhoe bass have schooled up, so hopefully there’ll still be a few around this month to get stuck into. Last year the schools there broke up quickly after the fishing pressure.

While I devoted every spare minute to chasing monster bass last month, another fish will steal my attention this month. Impoundment barramundi really fire up mid-spring. It’s been many years since I’ve been lucky enough to tangle with these fish at this peak time. I’ve had a trip planned for months and to say I’m excited about banging a few big barra is an understatement. I have a good mate Tim Carter from Halco flying in from Western Australia to join me for a week of sliming up the boat.

Most of the northern barra lakes will be turning on the action this month, Monduran and even Awoonga will be good options for those wanting a taste of barra action further south. We don’t hear as much about Callide and Lenthalls, but they’re also closer options for southerners chasing barra.

In the southeast corner and west of the range, golden perch will fire up with the warming water. A bit of water ran into the western lakes so read on to see how this will influence the fishing. Murray cod are protected in the closed season, but you can still target them in stocked lakes. Cod fishing should be excellent, but the water that’s run in may have some influence on catch rates.

I’ve only touched on a portion of what the freshwater has to offer. Every fish including silver perch, sooty grunter, saratoga and catfish will be more active. There isn’t a better time to get out on the water and have a go. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Town: Crows Nest

With a lot of bass fishers setting their sights on the big fish elsewhere and so many other lakes firing up all together, Cressbrook has been out of the spotlight. The bass have had a bit of a rest from the fishing pressure they experienced over winter, and we all know how beneficial this can be.

Bass are schooling around some of the major points in the lake’s basin. These fish have fallen for trolled lures as well as tail-spinners and blades over the past month. The bigger fish have been elusive with most of the action coming from fish that are either undersized or below 40cm.

The big girls are bound to be schooled up somewhere together and if you can locate them in the fishing area of the lake, expect great catch rates. Last year at this time, the fish schooled on the first point, which extends out to the north of the campground. There’s no guarantee they’ll be there again, but it would be my first port of call. Sound around this area, the point out in front of the shallow boat ramp, Deer Island and Bass Bay. Other places worth closer investigation are the points and banks up around the Eagles Nest rock wall and the toilet point at the opposite end of the dam.

For all your fishing supplies and the latest reports on Cressbrook and the surrounding dams, call in to see the specialist tackle stores in Toowoomba. Tackle World Toowoomba in Ruthven Street on the north side and Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street closer to the south side have a great range of lures and fishing gear. Support these tackle stores, because they’ll be able to direct you to where the fish are biting and offer invaluable advice.

Remember, there’s a speed limit of 8 knots and a restricted area at Cressbrook Dam. Check out the signage to ensure you stay out of trouble and abide by the rules. The gate hours for the boat ramps and day use area will be extended this month – 6am to 8pm.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Insane action has taken place at Somerset over the past month. We managed to crack a pattern, which has produced fish on every outing. The results have varied from 13-50 fish per day with some of them absolute rippers. Slow winding the Jets 18g tail-spinners has been the best approach for casters. You can score even more fish by trolling them. We trolled at around 2km/h to keep the lures close to the bottom and in the schooling bass.

When a bite was detected, we immediately focused on going for multiple hook-ups, as it was a sign the lures are travelling through active fish. Once a bass was hooked, we were able to cast up several more in the area before things went quiet. We tried the same approach with various lures, but the tail-spinners shone above all else and even certain colours stood out. The maggot and pink eye colour Jets were the best, although every other colour also caught fish.

Not all the action has taken place on tail-spinners. When the fish are more cooperative, they can be caught on blade baits, soft plastics and spoons. Spoon fishing has taken off again and some of the better quality fish are falling for them. My biggest this season ate a gold 20g Halco Twisty jigged across the bottom. I see a lot of anglers jigging their spoons and it produces, but when the fish aren’t in the mood, just like tail-spinners, slow winding spoons can outperform jigging them.

Certain spoons are better for this style of fishing as they have a swimming action, not a spinning action. The Nories Wasaby spoon is ideal and this month, Hot Bite Fishing is releasing a spoon which is suited to jigging, slow rolling and even trolling. Ideal for catching schooling fish, the lure is aptly named the Gang Banger. Keep an eye out for it.

The beauty of Somerset this year has been the number of bass schools. When an area is fishing tough, it’s a matter of moving on to try another area. There have been schools opposite Kirkleigh on the flats to the southeast, out from Queen Street, opposite the Eagles Nest, Pelican Point, Red Rock and The Spit. The fish were moving around a bit last month, so it was a case of sounding them up. Some schools handle fishing pressure better than others, so let their actions dictate your next move. If there aren’t too many boats on the lake, you can usually rotate spots and rest the fish to catch more.

Golden perch have been whacking lures on the bass spots. We nailed quite a few on tail spinners last month so they are really starting to fire. To target them, troll deep divers around the drop offs in the main basin or run medium divers up in the timber above Kirkleigh. The rock walls around the Spit are also worth a troll, but were still quiet last month. October is when they usually start to produce best. If a big, fat golden is in your sights, have a little troll.

A great concept is about to be reintroduced to Somerset this month. The Golden Lure National Freshwater Trolling Championship is set to take place on October 22-23. More information is available from Somerset Tackle and Smak Lures. Spots are limited, so get in as early as possible. It should be a great family event.

For the latest reports, check out Somerset Fishing Tackle online and on Facebook. The store is in Kilcoy, but they mail order fishing gear all over the place. For some of the most competitive prices around, visit the website atwww.somersetfishing.com.au .

Moogerah
Closest Towns: Boonah, Aratula

Moogerah has been a little slower to fire than some of the other lakes. Early last month, baitfishers were whacking quite a few bass and the occasional golden perch inside the timber. Live shrimp were the gun bait with very little attention paid to other offerings.

Lurefishers managed to find some good fish as well, but these were located in the dam’s basin across the deeper flats. Look for these schooling fish out from the Palms just before the timber, and across The Spit, which extends towards the dam wall from the closest boat ramp. Use these areas as a guide to start your search and explore any nearby areas of similar depth.

The bass are taking soft plastics, blade baits, tail-spinners and Jackall Mask Vibes. Try to mix it up with these lures and alter the presentation to see what the fish prefer. The action should only get better as we move deeper into spring.

Maroon
Closet Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The bass have been a little tougher at Maroon but if you work you can rack up a good tally for the day. Reaction lures around the weed edges are doing quite well already. Blade baits hopped down the weed face following the contour into deeper water have accounted for a lot of bites. Spinnerbaits around the weed will also be ideal.

Try to fish the deeper holes in the weed or where the edges of the weed formations drop into deep water. With spinnerbaits, use downsized offerings rather than big bulky baits. Lures around 3/8-1/2oz are ideal. Beetle spin rigged soft plastics are a favourite for fishing the weed here. They have a small profile and the vibration of the blade lets you know if they’re fouled with any weed. A few hard rips will usually free them up.

For the early birds who are able to hit the dam before sunup, surface luring will definitely be worth a try. The calmer mornings should see an increase in surface activity this month. The bites will keep coming until the sun hits the water so you can prolong the action by looking for shaded areas, once the sun is belting onto the more productive spots. Late afternoons can produce similar action. Small topwater lures around 5-8cm in length are the perfect size to attract the bites. Stickbaits, poppers and even old school fizzers will get the job done.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Cooby
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

Positive signs of an increase in fish started to occur last month. Both lure and baitfishers were experiencing more action and we can only expect this to get better until it peaks around the end of the year. Cooby always seems to be a slower lake to fire than some of the others.

Baitfishers have had success on both live shrimp and saltwater yabbies. Try positioning the boat outside the weed edges in around 6m of water and fish the baits directly below the boat. Unlike fishing from the shore where you need to cast the bait out to reach the fish, in a boat you can simply drop it straight to the bottom and keep it vertically below the rod tip. The advantage of this presentation is an almost tight line, which will help detect the most subtle of bites. When using soft baits like yabbies and shrimps, you can’t afford to miss the smallest of enquiries.

Lurefishers may start to pick up more fish trolling around the edges of the weed. Lures like the Jackall TN60 or medium diving hardbodies that reach 3-5m will be ideal. Take note of the action the lure produces in the rod tip as this will be your guide to when the lures stop working and are fouled with weed.

If you’re lucky enough to run a quality sounder, schools of goldens should be revealed in anything over 6m of water. These tighter concentrations of fish can be a lot of fun on lures. The Jackall TN60 and small blades are great lures for hopping through them. The most popular coloured dark night ZX40 blade has been hard to get a hold of at times and a few anglers have had success on a hopped tail-spinner.

Cooby Dam’s proximity to Highfields and Toowoomba makes it a very popular fishery. If you’re looking for somewhere close to home to drop the boat or kayak in, Cooby is definitely worth a visit. The dam hours are now 6am to 8pm, perfect to fish into the dark for a late arvo cod. Just remember, no outboard motors are allowed to be used on the dam.

The concrete boat ramp is on a shallow angle when the dam is full and can be slippery in places, but a big electric powered boat can still be launched with care. Outboard motors can be left on the boat but must not be used. Tackle, lures and saltwater yabbies can be purchased from Highfields Bait and Tackle. Highfields Bait and Tackle has changed location to the Coles shopping centre, just off the highway on the north side of Highfields. Call in and see Doug and check out the great range of fishing gear, kayaks and accessories on display.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

There was a bit of rain around early last month, which dumped some water into the lake. The water is still clear enough for lures, making Leslie a good option for those looking for golden perch or even Murray cod action.

Baitfishing with shrimp and saltwater yabbies has been a good way to produce a mixed bag. Golden perch, silver perch and eel-tailed catfish will make up the majority of the catch, but you also stand a chance of hooking a cod.

Lurefishers will have fun trolling lures like Jackall TN60s and medium diving hardbodies. The action was steady last month, but those who persisted saw some quality fish. Golden perch may wake up a little more this month making the trolling an even better option. Trolling is also a great way to hook a big Murray cod. Remember, these fish are protected during the closed season in the rivers, but you can still catch them in Leslie. The cod can breed in the lake so it’s a good idea to return them to the water at this time of year.

Jigging small blades and lipless crankbaits will be a good way to entice the golden perch around any structure near the old creek bed drop off. The new Kamikaze 80S stickbait is also a good jigging option. These lures can be fished like a vibe, but have a different action. The lure darts up off the bottom in a swimming motion when jigged and then remains horizontal and swims back to the bottom as it falls. It’s a very enticing action and proving deadly on all fish species. Now things are warming up, goldens will have their chance to have a crack at them.

Along with getting a fishing report, stock up on all your gear at Warwick Outdoor and Sports at 115 Palmerin Street, Warwick. For a small store, it carries a great range at a very competitive price. Warwick is only a ten minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

After rising in level last month, the dam has been very quiet. The water is discoloured and will take a couple of months to clear to the point that lurefishing will again be successful. Even baitfishing was very slow last month with few bites on proven baits like shrimp and yabbies.

Lurefishers will find the water at the top of the creeks clearer than the floodwater, which pushed well into the dam basin. After the initial flood last month, the slower running water cleared up to a point where you could lure fish it, but the fish just didn’t want to play the game. Find the clearer water and see if things have settled down enough for the fish to be in a biting mood. Cast spinnerbaits to any structure for a surefire way to entice the Murray cod.

Goldens will take smaller spinnerbaits, hardbodies and lipless crankbaits.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only 1km away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway, but far enough away from the noise of trucks to get a good night’s sleep. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen.

The park now has an extra two new wheelchair friendly cabins to add to their older ones. Camping is also available near the boat ramp with toilets and hot showers to make your stay more comfortable. To take advantage of this and the great fishing opportunities in the lake and the river below, give the park a call on 0746 524 171.

Sunshine Coast
Borumba

The fishing at Borumba has been quite good so far this spring. Plenty of bass have schooled in the main basin of the lake. You can still expect to pull some from the shallow edges with spinnerbaits, plastics and lipless crankbaits, but most of the action will be out wider in deep water. Schools will easily be found on the sounder. There are plenty of points that extend well out into the dam, so run the boat over these while sounding.

Soft plastics have been one of the best lures to get bites, but fish are also falling to tail-spinners and blades. Borumba can turn on some sensational bass fishing at this time of year, so if you’re in the area be sure to check it out. Baitfishing with live shrimp on the points in the basin will also produce ridiculous numbers of bass. If you’re doing it for a feed, remember the bag limit and take care to release the unwanted fish in good health.

Saratoga numbers picked up last month. These fish mouth brood their young around this time of year so can be tough to entice, but there must still be plenty that aren’t carrying fingerlings based on the results. Toga like structure in the form of weed, lilies and snags. They spend a lot of their time feeding shallow, so look for overhanging trees, which could harbour bugs and other creatures likely to fall in the water. Toga will take surface lures and are also fond of soft plastics, especially if you add a bit of flash like a beetle spin frame.

MacDonald

The bass numbers picked up in the lower part of the dam. The deeper water tends to attract good numbers of fish at this spawning time of the year. Look around the bay at the Botanical Gardens and keep an eye on the sounder while cruising outside the weed edges anywhere in the lower half of the dam. Schooling fish will be quick to snatch a tail-spinner or blade.

Closer to the weed, bass have been taking blades and spinnerbaits. If you get on the water early, expect some surface action. The Cultive Zipin’ Ziggy and 60mm Halco Roosta Popper are perfect for this dam. I like to walk the Zipin’ Ziggy fast over the tops of weed and pause it every metre or two. The Roosta Popper comes into play in the smaller pockets in the weed. Use short pops to keep the lure in these pockets longer. Give the bass a chance to come screaming out to strike it.

Make sure you head in to see the guys at Davo’s Tackle World at the Homemaker Centre on Mary Street, Noosaville. The store has a huge range of gear suited to the fresh and salt. They can point you in the right direction and set you up with the proven tackle to catch some of the Sunshine Coast’s freshwater species.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Boondooma
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

It’s a great time of year to visit Boondooma and take advantage of the bass and golden perch action. Schooling fish will be found throughout the dam’s second basin. These fish tend to move around, so look out from the banks in 7-10m of water. Popular haunts are Pelican Point, the Barbers Pole, the Junction and the western bank opposite the Junction.

These fish will be suckers for tail-spinners, blades and soft plastics. If they’re having a bad day and don’t want to play the game, perch on top of them and try to entice a bite by jigging an ice jig.

In the timbered arms, spinnerbaits cast to the edges and through the trees will produce both golden perch and bass. Cover plenty of water and look for concentrations of fish. Freshwater fish get a bit frisky in spring and they tend to bunch up into tighter schools.

Baitfishers will find fish all over the lake when using live shrimp. The timber is always a popular spot, but a big run for the smaller boats. If you’re looking for somewhere closer to home for a morning or arvo session, try the rocky points in about 7m of water.

Boondooma is a great place to camp right near the water, sit by the fire and enjoy the view. You could also stay in more style and comfort by booking a cabin overlooking the dam. The kiosk at the main office does hot food and other basic items including tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms, call Corey and Niki on 0741 689 694.

Bjelke
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The luring action was quite slow over the winter months but then somebody flicked a switch that turned the fish on. Bass in particular went nuts last month. The fish moved up onto the edges of the lake and could be caught all over the dam. Some of the better results were coming from between the campground and the timbered area on the medium tapering banks. Soft plastics and blade baits accounted for plenty of fish and we can expect the action to continue this month.

As things heat up, the fish may retreat from the shallows throughout the middle of the day, but they won’t be far away. Try motoring along the edges under electric power in 4-6m of water and flick lure right up into the shallows. Paddle-tail 3” plastics or grubs rigged on 1/4oz jigheads will be a good option. When the fish move out deeper, another good method will be to hop a 1/4oz blade down the contour of the bank. There’s a bit of slimy weed around the shallows, so keep the lure off the bottom until you work out how far this comes out. Once clear of it, you can drop the lure to the bottom and fish it back from there.

Lure trollers will also get into the action this month. As the fish move further out from the shallows and into 3-5m of water, trolling spinnerbaits, blades or even soft plastics with an electric motor will score good numbers. Work out how far back to run the lure to keep it just off the bottom in your chosen depth. If the lure weighs around a 1/4oz and the boat is travelling at 2.5km/h, you should be able to fish the lure 30m behind the boat and get it down about 4m as a rough guide.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into Bass to Barra. The store stocks an awesome range of gear suited to chasing our freshwater fish. They boys have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it. You’ll find the store at 119 Youngman Street, Kingaroy. Matthew Mott also runs fishing charters on the dams and you can reach him through the store for bookings and enquiries on 0741 627 555.

The Yallakool kiosk is all set up with a great range of tackle if you don’t have the right lure or lose one. Be sure to call in and check it out. Give them a call for accommodation and camping bookings on 0741 684 746.

Cania
Closest Towns: Monto, Mundubbera

Cania Dam has continued to fire with ridiculous amounts of bass caught. Mixed in has been a handful of silver perch, golden perch and saratoga, but when the bass are so active, the other fish are having a tough time beating them to the lures. With multiple stories of 50+ fish sessions last month, Cania has made a sensational comeback over the last few years. Some of the bass are stonkers too with several measuring around 50cm, and plenty of others at 40cm+.

Reaction lures seem to be getting the job done best. Tail-spinners and blades are ideal to tempt the bites. These small profile lures have plenty of flash and are the perfect size for schooling bass, which spend a lot of time feeding on bony bream. Jigging spoons are a good option on this lake and not a lot of the fish have seen them. Try the Nories Wasaby spoon or the new Hot Bite Fishing 20g Gang Banger.

A lot of the action will be taking place in the lower half of the lake. The deeper water areas are a good place to start your search. Sounding in 10-15m should reveal some schooling fish. In the deeper parts, the fish will often suspend, so try fishing the lure at the depth they’re at. Better numbers of fish will usually hold around the points or any submerged flats.

Trolling lures out from the edges and in open water will also be very effective. Lure selection will depend on the depth the fish are holding. If they’re deep, try deep diving hardbodies or slow trolling tail-spinners with the electric. When shallow, slow trolling lipless crankbaits can be very effective.

You’ll find all the tackle you need in Mundubbera at Country2Coast Bait and Tackle, at Shop 1, 34 Strathdee Street. The store is currently open Thursday to Saturday but will extend to Tuesday to Saturday this month. The number is on the store so if you’re desperate for supplies outside these hours, they’re willing to help out. Country2Coast also hires out kayaks and can put you on to some great spots in the Boyne and Burnett rivers. The fishing between Eidsvold and Gayndah has been sensational for golden perch and bass. The rivers are almost too clear for fishing so you won’t have a problem hooking a few quality fish on lures.

Mackay Region
Kinchant/Teemburra
Closest Towns: Mackay, Mirani

The barra lakes west of Mackay are due to fire. Last month, Teemburra was turning on some good fishing late in the afternoon. Fishing the points with the boat positioned in around 5m of water and tossing plastics in towards the edges was the key to getting bites. Fishing throughout the day was tougher. Around the full moon, you can also expect the fish to turn on the action during the night.

Kinchant dam received more fishing pressure than Teemburra, but the fish were tougher. You can only expect this action to step up another notch this month with warming water temperatures. The boat activity can make landing fish harder, so be smart in your approach. A lot of boats hit the water right on dark to fish well into the night. Often the enthusiasm dies around midnight and only the hard-core anglers stay out. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to hit the water early in the morning and fish as the sun comes up. At the first hint of light, fish will often give away their location.

If you’re planning on fishing Kinchant, Teemburra or Eungella, be sure to call in and see Bruce and Ash at Nashy Compleat Angler on Harbour Road, North Mackay. Ash works in the store and as a fishing guide on the lakes. Some firsthand information as to where they’re biting always goes a long way. There’s a great range of tackle suited to the dams as well as the other fishing options Mackay area is blessed with. You can call the store for more information or to put gear on hold, on 0749 572 272.

Whitsunday Region
Proserpine
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

I’m excited because this will be the first time I’ve ever fished Lake Proserpine in October. The big barra get more active around this time every year. Casting lures at the back end of the dam accounts for plenty of fish and there will also be a few taken, trolling in the basin out from the dam wall.

Look for points in the timber that are close to deeper water. If you can mix in some weed and timber across these points, you’ll increase your chances even more. It pays to watch the sounder while moving around in the sticks, as there are plenty of submerged humps which will become islands and new points as the dam drops. These submerged shallows can be feeding stations for barra. They move up from the deeper creeks and onto the platforms to chase baitfish. Casting soft plastics across these shallower areas can be very effective this month. If it fails and the fish are showing on the sounder, mix it up by hopping soft vibes and working sinking or suspending crankbaits.

Surface luring early and late in the day can produce explosive strikes. Lures like the Cultiva Tango Dancer and Rapala Skitterpop are perfect for the open water. Soft plastic frogs rigged in a weedless fashion can be used in pockets of weedy areas.

In the deeper creeks that run through the trees, barra will be staying around treetops, waiting to move off on their next feeding excursion. Crank 3-5m diving hardbodies, like the Halco Scorpion, down into the tree and float it back up slowly, before twitching it down again to pull these fish up. A few casts in the same spot might be necessary to wake the barra and get the strike. This is fun fishing – hooked to a rampaging metre long fish surrounded by trees – it’s heart in mouth stuff. Use 50lb braid and at least 60lb leader when trying to extract these big girls.

For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake, call Lindsay or Dane at Barra World, formerly Proserpine Bait and Tackle, on 0749 454 641. The store is right on the highway in Proserpine and specializes in barra fishing tackle.

1

This Kinchant barra slid out of the weed to inhale a weedless rigged PowerBait Rib Shad and then played up while the author posed.

2

Blake Ehrlich knows how to light up the bass in the late afternoon sun. The early mornings and late afternoons will see better bite windows with most freshwater species this month.

3

Golden perch numbers are on the rise as the water warms this month. You can tell they want to eat a lure when they swallow it whole. Down the hatch is a Jets tail-spinner.

4

Every now and then a beast of a bass comes along. This 56cm fork length bass is the biggest and fattest I’ve ever caught and one of the heaviest I’ve ever laid eyes on. It ate a hopped 20g Halco Twisty on the flats at Kirkleigh, Somerset Dam.

5

Double hook-ups are not uncommon when you find the active bass this month. This Somerset pair fell to the ever-popular Jets 18g tail-spinners.

6

Trent Mauloni whacked plenty of Cania bass last month. He found most of his fish in the lower half of the dam in deeper water.

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