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Freshwater continues to impress
  |  First Published: November 2017



It may be closed barra season this month in the salt, but that doesn’t stop us chasing the big girls in the freshwater impoundments. Barra activity should peak this month across most of the dams and with powerful fish over 120cm long on offer, you’d be mad to miss it.

On the bass scene, things will slow a bit in some of the dams, but you can still expect good numbers on a range of techniques. Those lakes well known for their surface fishing will start to produce more fish too. You can’t beat watching fish eat your lures.

Golden perch will fire right up. A few lakes may be dirty due to heavy rain over the last couple of months, but most will be clear enough for luring heaps of goldens. The Murray cod season is still closed but there are a few lakes where you can successfully target them. Leslie and Glenlyon will be two of the best in Queensland. Check out closed seasons for the cod on the Qld Fisheries website to ensure you don’t break the rules and risk a fine.

I’ve only touched on a few species so far and with others like sooty grunter and saratoga also firing up, it’s the right time to try your luck on the freshwater scene. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!

South East Queensland
Cressbrook
Closest Town: Crows Nest

There have been quite a few bass about with some quality ones amongst them. The point right in front of the shallow boat ramp and the first point out from the campground are good starting points. Being so close, they are perfect for paddle craft, as you don’t need to travel too far. Bass have also been reported up past the pump tower at the end of the Bull (Beams) Creek arm.

Some fish can be caught earlier in the day by casting towards the lake’s edges. These fish will eat spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. The action usually doesn’t last long and with the days heating up faster, the fish will retreat back to cooler temperatures.

Deeper schools will be found in over 7m of water with quite a bit of action taking place in 10m. In this depth, casting heavier lures like 18g Jets tail-spinners, 20g spoons, Jackall Mask Vibes, medium sized blade baits and 1/2oz jighead rigged soft plastics can attract the bites. Like all bass, these fish are fussy and will refuse your best efforts, so play around with different lures and techniques to work out what they want to eat most.

Lure trollers will be in with a shot this month. Deep diving lures worked around the points and through the deep water of the main basin are definitely the go. Trolling a smaller bodied lure that is capable of reaching 10m will get the bite. Models like the Little Rippa, Blitz Baga, Golden Child and RMG Poltergeist Crazy Deep are all worth a run.

Bait fishers can experience some hot action when fishing on top of the bass schools. Live shrimp are the number one bait and will be taken before most others. Worms and yabbies tend to pick up a few catfish, but the bass don’t find them anywhere near as interesting as a succulent shrimp. The only other bait I know that’s rarely used but comes close is mudeyes (dragonfly larvae) and brown grasshoppers.

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.

Just remember there is 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 to 6am-8pm.

Somerset
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The bass quality will start to taper off noticeably this month. The big, long 50cm+ fish will still be caught, but their fat bellies containing roe will start to disappear. Those 3kg plus whoppers will soon be coming in at under 3kg, but don’t underestimate their pulling power. Schooling bass will be holding in several areas around the lake.

It’s been an awesome year for this so far with several schools to choose from. At times, one spot may be tougher to entice a bite, while at another the fish are more willing. Rotate between them throughout the day to keep the fish coming over the side of the boat.

The schools of bass can be found wide of the Spit, Pelican Point, Bay 13 and out on the flats below Queen Street. Look in 7-10m of water for signs of fish near the bottom. When they’re harder to find, they can be hugging the bottom hard or may even venture out into the nearby riverbed where they will suspend. Regardless of location, they can usually be caught when using the right approach.

Over the last few months, the bass have been quick to shut down when you sit stationary. By frequently moving, they stay a little more active. Keep this in mind if you are casting lures to them. If trolling, you won’t have the same problem.

Slow trolling lures at around 2km/h with the electric motor has been the undoing of many big bass. Trolling hardbodies using the outboard will also achieve the desired goal. When the boat is constantly on the move, the bass don’t school up below it. If you strike a good day, they may chew below the boat, but on most occasions they just get harder to tempt the longer you try.

Reaction lures like tail-spinners and heavier spoons have been deadly on the fish. Slow winding these or trolling them through the schools has been most effective this year. Occasionally, hopping may outperform a slow wound lure, but usually it’s the other way around. Soft plastics rigged on 1/2oz or 5/8oz jigheads have also taken their share of fish over the past month. Keep one rigged up at all times just to compare its performance over the reaction style lures.

The golden perch action should now be in full swing. These golden lure munchers will be patrolling the steeper rock walls around the Spit. Trolling medium diving lures along these walls can result in good numbers when they’re on the chew.

The ledges to the old creek and riverbed in the dam’s middle reaches can also produce well when chasing the yellas. Look for old stumps right on the drop off, as the goldens hold close to these in better numbers. In the timber north of Kirkleigh, trolling between the trees and around the old river bed edges will also tempt plenty of strikes.

Lure tossers will pick up more goldens this month when targeting bass. You can specifically chase the golden perch by hopping small blades around submerged structure. The old stumps on the creek beds can perform well, but usually the submerged trees in the mouth of Wyangi Creek, Queen Street and up north of Kirkleigh are better. Any old trees lying on the bottom on flats in 6-8m of water can be a gold mine.

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 at www.somersetfishing.com.au.

Wivenhoe
Closest Towns: Esk, Fernvale

The bass and golden perch fishing at Wivenhoe has been red hot for the past two months. Finding the schooling fish is necessary to achieve good catch rates. Otherwise, fork-tailed catfish will be all that slimes up your boat. The bass were kept secret for a while, but now the word is out about their location. These fish may start to move around, so be prepared to search for them.

The schools were holding around the deep flats between Billies Bay and Platypus Cliffs. These fish were on the flats and old creek ledges in up to 15m of water. Catching the bass and dodging the catfish was a problem that will only worsen, as the whiskery catties get even more active in the warmer water.

The most successful method is slow winding the new Hot Bite Gang Banger Spoon. These lures weigh 20g and stay down nice and deep where the fish are. The ability to cast a lure over 60m away from the boat is also a big help when the fish are spread out across the flats. Sink these lures to the bottom and then start winding them back at a slow to medium pace.

If you watch the lure beside the boat at slower speeds, or in a swimming pool, you’ll see it actually swims side to side. If you wind too fast, like all spoons, the lure starts to spin. Get the feel for how fast to wind and the speed range at which they can be presented. As the lure is wound 10-20 winds off the bottom, open the bail of the reel, drop it back to the bottom and repeat. Some fishers like the feel of fishing their spoons on baitcast tackle, but I prefer to get the extra distance and maintain lure depth by using a light spinning outfit spooled with 6-8lb braid.

Trolling deep diving lures in the same area has also been very successful. Lures will need to crash dive to at least 10m to reliably catch fish all day long. The secret to getting this deep is using 4-8lb braided line and a lot of line out (50m+) behind the boat. Lures like Little Rippas, Blitz Bagas and Poltergeist Crazy Deeps can achieve these depths.

Golden perch have been taking spoons and occasionally a trolled lure intended for bass. These fish can be specifically targeted on some of the rocky, steep banks in the main dam body by trolling medium diving lures. The upper reaches of the dam below Somerset and around O’Sheas Crossing are home to heaps of golden perch. This water is best accessed from the O’Sheas Crossing day access area below the bridge. Trolling 3m divers or a slow trolled TN60 Jackall will catch plenty of fish in these waters.

Moogerah
Closest Towns: Boonah, Aratula

The bass have had a bit of a spell over the last couple of months with less fishing pressure than normal. This can get them a bit more responsive to eating lures and make the bite times last longer. Schooling bass have been holding around the point extending out from the campground boat ramp towards the dam wall. Other areas worth a look will be the eastern banks and points in the same area, the flats out from the Palms and any flats inside the timber.

Casting Jets tail-spinners, Gang Banger Spoons and Jackall Mask Vibes caught quite a few fish last month. If the schooling fish start to scatter early, trolling may become a good option too. Trolling tends to be effective through the warmer months when the schools break up, so it won’t be long before they start eating lures towed behind the boat.

The depth at which trolled lures should be presented will be determined by the fish. At times they will be deeper and require deep diving hardbodies to reach them. Often they’ll suspend, especially when lake temperatures warm up, and here they can be targeted by slow trolling TN60 Jackalls.

Maroon
Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The warmer months are a great time to chase Maroon’s bass population. The quality fish hold tight to the weed and can be caught using several methods. Surface luring is visually the most exciting way to fool them. Casting topwater lures over the top of weed beds in the early hours of the morning before sunrise, and even later in the afternoon as the light fades, is the best to try this approach. Lures like the Cultiva Zip’n’Ziggy, 60mm Roosta Popper and OSP Bent Minnows are all different in their working actions, but effective nonetheless.

As the light increases, the fish will drop deeper. You can often pull a few fish on suspending lures as they slow down on the surface. Spinnerbaits and beetle spin rigged plastics are a good option when the bites stop on the other lures. These wire baits can be used to search the edges of the weed where it drops away into deeper water.

A good pair of polarised sunglasses is ideal to distinguish the colour change where the weed beds finish or have deeper pockets in them. Roll these bladed offerings close to the shadows and pockets created by the weed beds. Big bass like to dart from the cover to smash their food in a violent ambush.
Sunshine Coast Region
MacDonald
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

There have been bass schooling in the deeper parts of the dam’s lower reaches outside the weed edges. These fish will take vibes and tail-spinners. The warmer water will increase surface activity so an early morning session with poppers around weed will see some quality bass landed. As the day wears on, switch to soft plastics and blade baits and pop them out of the weed as you retrieve them back to the boat.

There should be a few golden perch around the outside of the weed beds for the lure trollers to target. The bubbler can also hold heaps of goldens at this time of year. Be sure to call in and see the staff at Davo’s Tackle World Noosa. They have a great range of tackle to target fish in the fresh and the salt. They’ll be able to steer you in the right direction and get you hooked-up before you know it.

Borumba
Closest Towns: Imbil, Noosa

The bass have been active at Borumba on the deep water points in the basin and at the start of the timber around the Junction. These fish may venture further up into the arms and the points and deeper timber inside the Yabba arm will be well worth a look. Sound around to find these fish, as there can be a lot of barren water between the schools.

When the fish are holding down deep, in the open water away from the trees, use long casts with blade baits, mask vibes and tail-spinners. In the tighter country, soft plastics are a cheaper alternative and you are bound to lose a few. Rig plastics like Gulp Minnow Grubs and Slider Grubs on 3/8 or 1/2oz jigheads and work them through any schooling fish.

In the upper parts of the feeder arms, saratoga should be willing to play the game. Casting spinnerbaits to likely looking structure is the way to easily entice these fish. Keep quietly motoring along the banks and flicking into overhanging trees, lilies, weed and drowned timber in search of these amazing creatures. Spinnerbaits aren’t the only offering they’ll take.

Lure casters can experiment with topwater lures, soft plastics and shallow diving hardbodies. Flyfishers also love to chase these fish and can find success on the surface and subsurface. When they’re actively feeding on top, you’ll see them roll on the surface and give away their location.
Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Cooby
Closest towns: highfields, toowoomba

As predicted, it’s been a slow start to the golden perch action at Cooby. The fish usually step it up a notch this month and much better numbers can be caught. Bait fishers, trollers and lure casters will be rewarded on a more regular basis.

The weed edge is looking healthy and working medium diving lures 3-5m inside its perimeter will see you in with a good chance. Slow trolling a TN60 Jackall is a proven method and you can also run small hardbodies like the 50mm Poltergeist or size 3 JJ’s StumpJumper. Dark colours are often more successful and it usually pays to try just before the sun sets when the fish feed more.

Lure casters can try to locate schooling golden perch on the weed edge and deeper water. Catch these fish by hopping lures through them or vertical jigging. Small blades like the ZX40 are perfect for both presentations. Use a sharp hop to make the blade vibrate and then sink it back to the bottom before the next hop. Most bites will come as the lure sinks back down, so stay switched on and ready to strike.

For hopping around the boat, the ZX40 will do the job, but it also pays to try with a lipless crankbait. The TN60 Jackall standard rattling model is perfect for this. You can sink these lures to the bottom and hop them back or slowly wind them before dropping them back to the bottom.

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-8pm, which is 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 on the New England Highway in Highfields. Call in and see Doug and check out the great range of fishing gear, kayaks and accessories he has on display.

Leslie
Closest Town: Warwick

After a rise in level with rain over the past couple of months, Leslie Dam has continued to produce fish. The shallow banks have fished well with land-based anglers scoring fish on worms and shrimp. Golden perch and silver perch have been the most common and can be caught from the eastern shoreline.

Trolling was taking its share last month with quite a few caught along the Washpool bank on medium diving lures. The Kezza Mudmouse and Oar Gees produce the goods. Things should only get better for trolling this month.

Along with getting a fishing report, stock up on all your gear while 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 10-minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need.

Coolmunda
Closest Town: Inglewood

The fishing at Coolmunda has been very slow since the rises in level over the past couple months. This has dirtied the water and made lure fishing difficult. If you’re planning a trip there, compare the clarity in the basin to the rivers that run into the dam, to see where lures will be most effective.

Bait fishing with live shrimp would be my suggestion. The smell and movement of these critters should be enough to entice a few bites. Golden perch will be most common, with a few catfish. Try fishing the flooded banks as well as the drop offs to the old creek bed in around 5-7m of water.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 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 (07) 4652 4171.

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

Schooling fish in the deeper water will provide most of the action this month with a few around the edges earlier in the mornings. Cast spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits to the rocky points, healthier weed beds and banks in the timbered arm. Early in the day, this should produce bass and golden perch. The action may not last long, but as the day brightens up, the fish will retreat to deeper water.

Look for schooling bass in the lake’s second basin. Sound out from the banks in the Junction to Pelican Point area and wander from 6-11m to pinpoint where the fish are. Once found, these bass should be quite responsive and will take a range of offerings. Jets tail-spinners were working well last month and should continue to produce. These bass can also take spoons, blade baits, soft vibes and 75mm soft plastic paddle-tails or curl-tails rigged on 1/2oz jigheads.

Trolling was steady last month, but things will pick up by the end of this month and leading into December. If you want to give trolling a go, locate fish first and then troll a tail-spinner or soft plastic at about 2km/h through them.

Bait fishers can pick up a supply of shrimp from the dam. Shrimp traps left in overnight should produce enough bait to have some fun. Shrimp will produce fish from all over the dam, but it’s best to locate the better schools on the flats between Pelican Point and the Junction. If you’re able to do this, the fish should be taking a new shrimp bait within seconds of it reaching them.

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 into one of the cabins overlooking the dam. The kiosk at the main office does hot food and other basic items including an excellent range of proven fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms, call (07) 4168 9694.

Bjelke
Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

The bass and golden perch are still firing at Bjelke. Bait fishers are having fun on the goldens fishing live shrimp up in the timber. You can expect some thumping big fish with them. The edges of the dam are still holding good numbers of bass. These fish can be taken on cast lures.

Soft plastics, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and blade baits are all effective. Keep moving along the banks in the upper half of the dam before the timber and sooner or later, you’ll come across an active bunch of fish. Rotate through the above lures to work out what the fish prefer. Along with the bass, golden perch will also make an appearance when using these methods.

As the dam continues to warm, the fish may move out from the edges and suspend in deeper water. Keep an eye on your sounder as it tells the whole story. Even in deeper water, they should keep eating cast lures. Lure trolling with medium divers, which run 4-6m deep, will become an option.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into Bass 2 Barra. The store stocks an awesome range of gear suited to chasing our freshwater fish and the staff have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it. You’ll find the stores 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 (07) 4162 7555.

The Yallakool kiosk is all set up with a great range of tackle if you don’t happen to 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 (07) 4168 4746.

Mackay Region
Kinchant
Closest Towns: Mackay, Mirani

Despite being the right time of year for catching lots of barra, the fish have been a bit stubborn over the last month. The full moon may see this change and the barra might leave the comfort of the weedy shallows to feed in more open areas where they are more accessible. A lack of fish close to the outside edge of the weed has seen switched on anglers locating deeper fish in up to 7m of water. These fish can then be targeted on hard or soft vibes.

The dam level is up and the weed is a bit different. In the shallows, a rigid stemmed weed grows through the water and has leafs protruding above it. It has taken hold covering acres of water. This weed is dense and finding an opening big enough to work a lure is hard. The barra are in there and the next challenge after hooking them is to extract them from such tight and unforgiving cover.

I haven’t had a go at them yet, but will try to take them on in the coming weeks. I’ve been thinking hard about the best presentations and ways to go about extracting them. So far I think the best offerings would be weedless rigged plastics.

You could try frogging the top or slow winding paddle-tails just under the surface. Once these fish are hooked, I’d be fighting them on a loose drag when I’m in trouble and tightening up if I get them into a clearing. Even on a loose drag, the line will bite into the vegetation as they wrap around it creating more than enough pressure.

If you’re planning on fishing Kinchant, Teemburra or Eungella, be sure to call in and see Bruce and Ash at Nashy’s Compleat Angler on Harbour Road, North Mackay. Ash works in the store and as a fishing guide on the lakes. Some firsthand information for where they’re biting always goes a long way. Nashy’s has a great range of tackle suited to the dams, as well as all the fishing options around the Mackay area. You can call the store for more information or to put some gear on hold, on (07) 49572272.

Teemburra
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

Teemburra has fished a bit better than Kinchant, but you still need to work for the bites. As the water warms up a bit more, things should improve across both lakes. Changing wind directions and cool nights have contributed to the tougher fishing conditions.

Deeper holding fish seem to cope with these changes better. Locating barra in 4-7m of water close to drop offs or other deep water access seems to be the best option. These deeper fish can then be targeted on vibration lures. The FLT Transam is still one of the best. These soft bodied lures crunch up when the fish grab them, which helps prevent the straightening of hooks.

The deeper fish have also been the better quality ones with plenty well over a metre in length. When fish are located in the shallows, they are often smaller soft plastic munching models.

The deep trees in Teemburra Creek have held some suspended barra, which hold around 3m deep. Trolling diving lures at this depth is worth a go if the fish are still present. The best bite times have occurred throughout the day often coinciding with high tide on the coast. The sunset bite has also been good, but bites have been few and far between after dark.

Ash Simms from Nashy’s Compleat angler has been guiding on the dam recently. You can reach him through the store or on Facebook at Fishin’ Magician to make a booking.

Proserpine
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Ai
rlie Beach

Changing wind conditions made the fishing unpredictable last month. One day’s hotspot could be barren the next as the fish moved around. Fishing in deeper areas seemed to be more productive and reliable. Hopping vibes to schooling barra located on the sounder is a proven way to get the bites when things are tough. Once they’re found, it can be harder to stop them before they stitch you up than hooking them.

As the core temperature of the dam rises and becomes more stable, the fish should be more predictable. The deeper fish will rise to shallower areas around weed beds and submerged humps and points to feed. Night sessions around the full moon will be very popular and productive. There should also be an increase in daytime activity around the shallows and out in the deep water where fish will take cast vibes and trolled deep divers.

For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake, call Lindsay or Dane at Barra World on (07) 4945 4641. The store has just ordered in heaps of new tackle and will stock a bigger range of gear from this month. Barra World is right on the highway in Proserpine and specializes in barra fishing tackle. They also cater to the needs of anglers fishing nearby estuaries and offshore.

1

Kinchant barra should be found in more areas of the dam once the water warms throughout the lake. This fish came from deeper water, so always keep an eye out for fish holding in 5-7m of water. Sometimes they’ll be found near the bottom, other times suspended.

2

Blake's lunch break was broken by a double hook-up on Somerset bass. Both fish ate tail-spinners trolled through deep suspending schools.

3

Golden perch will be more active this month with the water warming even more. Jigging and hopping lures across the bottom is a good way to entice them. Tail-spinners like the Jets 18g are perfect when they fire up and prepared to chase after faster offerings like trolled lures.

4

Trolled hardbodies are going to start performing better this month. Pick lures which can reach the depth the bass and golden perch are holding.

5

Lee Parkhouse swipes the net under a quality Wivenhoe bass. These fish will be around this month but fork-tailed numbers are on the rise. Forget slow presentations. Trolled hardbodies, spoons and tail-spinners will tempt the bass and help keep the catfish at bay.

6

It's not only bass that respond well to jigging spoons. This golden and many others have fallen to the new Hot Bite Gang Banger spoon.

7

Kinchant barra have refused to bite after dark, but this should all change around the full moon periods. Try casting soft plastics and rolling them back over wind blown points and flats. This fish came from a hot session with bite after bite for 10 minutes. Around that time, fish were there, but the action was non-existent.

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