Fresh is best
  |  First Published: October 2015

Last month, we saw the impoundment bass fishing pick up with some cracking fat bass being caught. Now the water has warmed up a bit we can expect the golden perch to jump on that bandwagon. These fish are known to be lazy, however they will be fired up and willing to chase faster presentations this spring.

Trolling lures will become more effective in all the lakes and you can expect a mixed bag of goldens and bass for your efforts. In the same neck of the woods, you will also start to encounter more saratoga, silver perch and Murray cod. Remember Murray cod are protected by a closed season in the rivers until the 30th of November.

The barra closed season is also just around the corner starting at midday on the 1st of November. The good news is that you can continue to catch them in the dams as the closed season doesn’t apply there. This year the lakes will be a far more popular place to wet a line with the barra fishing improving.

Lake Monduran fished quite well even over the cooler months so it will be exciting to see how it goes once it warms up. Awoonga has already produced a few barra and there are sure to be plenty more caught once anglers click on to the fish biting there once more. Lenthalls Dam, which is the closest barra lake to Brisbane, may also be an option. There are also reliable barra lakes further north around Mackay.

After spending quite a bit of time chasing fish in the salt, I’m feeling the urge to get stuck into some of the great freshwater fish on offer. I have a feeling the end of this year is going to be a cracker for chasing these fish.

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!

South East Queensland
Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

Somerset Dam has definitely fired up with good numbers of bass caught in the middle reaches of the basin. There are a few golden perch mixed in here but better numbers are coming from inside the timber north of Kirkleigh.

Bass fishermen have been flocking to the lake to chase Somerset’s elusive monster bass. These fish have been turning up on the deep flats and drop offs in the middle reaches of the lake. The Queen Street flats are a good place to start sounding in search of schooling fish. These bass may move around but should stay in schools so try the regular places like Bay 13, Pelican Point, and The Spit. The lake is still at close to full capacity so depths across the flats areas won’t have changes much in the past few years. The bass tend to stick to the same old spots and love to find a home in around ten metres of water at this time of year.

Once these schooling fish have been found, try your luck with the usual bass lures. Soft plastic rigged on ½oz jigheads, blade baits, vibes, and tail spinners dragged past the bass will see you in with a good chance. The tail spinner was a good choice last month but the fish will change their minds, sometimes on a daily basis, so be prepared to experiment.

Golden perch will be getting into the action. Bass fishermen will start to encounter more of these fish as by-catch in the middle reaches of the lake. The place to concentrate on catching goldens is up the top of the dam in the timbered area past Kirkleigh. Try to find the old river bed or feeder creeks which run into it and troll along the drop off edge. Deeper lures like the Blitz Baga and Golden Child are ideal for this.

For the latest reports or best tackle to pull the Somerset fish, call into Somerset Fishing Tackle. This is a new store at 5/43 Mary Street, Kilcoy. It’s only a short drive away from Kirkleigh if you need to restock the tackle box. Andrew and the guys have all the right gear to chase freshwater fish – from hooks and lures through to lines, rods and reels. With the right lure or setup, you’ll be ready to take on the freshwater fish.

Closest Towns: Aratula, Boonah

The bass are still chewing at Moogerah and the deep water flats seem to be holding the best numbers of fish. Try looking in 10-12m of water just outside the timber. Fish can also be found around The Spit, which runs from the campground boat ramp towards the dam wall.

Reaction lures have been producing good fish with two of the best being the Jackall Mask Vibe 60 and 16 and 18g Jets tail spinner. Both lures can be cast over the fish and hopped back across the bottom. They are ideal for targeting these deep water bass as they allow you to maintain contact with the bottom between hops. Every now and then, throw in a few winds to swim the vibe or tail spinner as well. Mixing it up will often out-fish just a standard hopping retrieve.

Closest Towns:
Boonah, Beaudesert

There have been some quality bass landed on live shrimp in Maroon Dam around the entrance to the creek as well as along the southern bank. Bass fishing on lures should also be picking up. The warming water will trigger a better response to reaction style lures. Lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, beetle spins and blade baits will be good options around the weed edge. Try using small profile lures in Maroon as they tend to get a better response.

The surface action started to pick up last month. First and last light will be the times to try top water offerings. Walk the dog lures like the Cultiva Zip’n Zigy and 60mm poppers like the Frenzy Popper or Roosta Popper are ideal. Fish these lures slowly with plenty of pauses around the weedy edges of the lake. Still water out of the wind usually fishes best and keep an eye out for any surface boils from bass keyed in on feeding from the top.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

The action at Cooby Dam is still very slow. There have been some golden perch caught on bait from the banks and boats but the luring has been very steady. There was the occasional report of fish pulled on lures trolling around the edges.

The dam hours are now 6am-8pm. Cooby is an electric motor only dam and is well suited to kayaks and canoes. 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. The action could pick up suddenly so drop in to any of the local tackle stores in the area to check how the fishing is going.

Closest Town: Warwick

The golden perch action seems to have picked up early this year. Last month they fired up and were taking trolled lures. Trolling usually proves tough at this time of the year only to become more successful later – but it seems the goldens don’t want to wait. These fish are chewing trolled hard bodies and lipless crankbaits. Try running lures that run 3-5m deep and work around the drop offs to the old creek bed and any submerged structure.

Last month, there were quite a few cod mixed in with the golden perch. If you plan on targeting these fish on the troll, it is hard to beat some of the Australian made timber hard bodies. One lucky angler managed to score a 112cm cod while trolling the dam wall area in his kayak.

Casting lures will also be a good option if you’re running a good fish finder. Look for drop offs and structure in deeper water and the fish won’t be too far away. Hopping the ZX blades or similar bladed lures fitted with assist hooks on the rear rather than trebles will see you getting into the action. Goldens love these small blades. You can switch to a bigger profile vibe like the Jackall Mask, Transam 95 or Shads 17g and you will have a much better chance of scoring a Murray cod. Some switched on anglers fish this way and score dozens of goldens and the occasional cod or two each session.

Bait fishing with live shrimp and saltwater yabbies in the deeper water will pull a mixed bag. Goldens will be most common but there is also the chance of boating some eel-tailed catfish, silver perch and Murray cod.

Launching bigger boats may be a mission with the low water level. Take care when launching and choose your launch site wisely. If the lake has dropped recently the banks can be muddy. A hard cap on top of soft mud is a trap that catches people. Look for wheel tracks going out into the water on solid ground and you should be fine. It can also pay to walk out and check if the ground is solid under the water if you need to back your trailer any distance out into the water. If there are a couple of guys retrieving the boat, a push from gunning the outboard forward as the car moves off can make a bit of difference. Just be careful not to hit your prop on rocks or mud.

For the latest information and hottest fishing reports, call in to the local tackle store –Warwick Outdoor and Sports at 115 Palmerin St, Warwick. I was amazed at this shop when I visited for the first time last month. They only have a small space to display but a sliding wall of lures ensures there is plenty to choose from. For what I previously consider an out of the way shop, it is definitely worth the drive. A huge range of quality lures at a very competitive price would get just about every freshwater angler drooling.

Closest Town: Inglewood

Insane! That is the only way to describe how this lake has fished over the past couple of months. It’s hard to say why the place has been going so well but I have never seen it fish better for Murray cod and deep schooling golden perch. Anglers will need to target a particular species to have the best success.

The golden perch have been schooling in deeper water areas around 10m. Here they are taking hopped vibes and small blades. Try looking out from the dam wall near the drop off to the old river bed and from here follow the drop off back to the boat ramp. Make sure to fish any schools or bottom structure. When bouncing lures on the structure be prepared to get snagged. A tackle back is a good way to get lures back and save yourself a fistful of dollars. Around the snags, consider using bigger profile lures like Mask Vibes or similar hard vibration baits as Murray cod will also love to crunch these.

When targeting cod, the best action has been on trolled lures. Australian made timber hard bodies are hard to beat for their thumping action which cod just love. Local lure maker Kerry Ehrlich has heard of plenty of cod falling to his Kezza lures. The bigger profile lures around 100mm long or bigger are scoring well. One of the best approaches has been to troll just outside the creeks on the flats around 3m deep. Many of these bigger cod lures dive way too deep for this water so guys have been trolling them on a very short line with only a few metres trailing behind the boat. The idea is to have the lure just skim the bottom and touch only occasionally. Using an electric motor to pull these lures will ensure the rattle of an outboard doesn’t scare the fish off before the lures run over them.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is around one kilometre 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.

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Imbil, Gympie

Bass and saratoga are chewing well at Borumba. The bass are schooling around the start of the timber –Borumba Flats and The Junction are holding plenty of schooling bass. These fish are responding well to soft plastics and blade baits.

Up the back of the Kingham and Yabba arms, the saratoga have been going crazy. At times anglers are encountering over 10 fish per session. This doesn’t mean they are all landed. Toga have bony mouths and are good at spitting out hooks. One of the most successful lures has been the Cultiva Zip’n Ziggy. Try working these across the surface around overhanging trees and lush weed edges. Saratoga move quite a bit of water as they swirl on these and power off. This is the time you want to lean back on the rod and set the hooks into their hard mouths.

Closest Towns: Cooroy, Noosa

The bass have fired up in the basin at MacDonald. Schooling fish are being caught around The Bubbler and inside the Botanical Gardens bay. These fish are hammering tail spinners and blade baits. Try lighter lures on these fish like ¼oz blades and 12g tail spinners.

The weed edges are still producing the goods as well. Casting finesse plastics, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits to the weed throughout the dam has resulted in some quality bass. Saratoga numbers are likely to pick up next month before they go quiet through mouth brooding time. These fish will take the lures tossed at bass around the weed edges.

Surface luring improved last month and will only get better as it warms up further. Walk the dog lures are ideal over the top of weed and in the more open areas. For tighter areas in weed pockets and around lilies, try using a surface popper with a cupped face. These lures can be fished slower with small twitches in the clear patches between the weed. Up your leader size to over 10lb for these fish as if you hook a good one, it will bury you deep in the weed.

For all the inside information on chasing bass in the area call in to see Dane Radosevic who now works a few days each week at Davos Tackle in Noosa. Dane is currently ranked #1 on the Australian bass circuit so he’s the man to answer your questions. Davos Tackle has been expanding its range of bass and freshwater tackle so call in to check it out.

Wide Bay and Burnett Region
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

Last month Boondooma produced good numbers of bass on ice jigs, soft vibes and tail spinners around Pelican Point and The Junction. This action should continue for the next couple of months before the schools start to break up and scatter. Finding schooling fish on the sounder is the key to getting the bites.

Trolled hardbodies will pick up a few fish in the same areas and through The Narrows. Try trolling deeper lures like the Golden Child, Smak 18 and Blitz Baga. If you are into your trolling and have an electric motor, try towing some spinnerbaits, tail spinners and soft plastics at around 2.5km/h. Sometimes these lures will perform better than hard bodies and when you find a fish, you can pull up and cast to it.

Golden perch will be mixed in with the bass. If you want to specifically chase them try trolling the rocky points in the dam’s main basin. Bait fishing with live shrimp inside the timber is also a good way to tangle with the goldens and a mixed bag of bass and catfish.

Boondooma is a great place to camp right near the water and sit by the fire while enjoying 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 fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms call Corey and Niki on (07) 4168 9694.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

Bass and golden perch have fired up at Bjelke Petersen Dam. These fish are coming from between the dam wall and the middle reaches of the lake. There will also be fish holding around the lake’s edges as well as the creek bed drop off.

Nearly all of these fish will be in over 3m of water, so stick with casting lures like blade baits, tail spinners and Mask Vibes. Ice jigs will also be a good option when fish are directly below the boat.

Trolling the edges in around 5m of water or following the drop off to the old creek bed will produce golden perch and bass. Lures should suit the depth you are fishing. If you are hitting the bottom too much, shorten up some line until your lure is tracking just above the bottom.

For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into your local ‘Bass 2 Barra’ store. You can see Matthew at Kingaroy or Dylan in Dalby and the boys will have you all geared up and ready for action in no time. ‘Bass 2 Barra’ stores stock an awesome range of gear suited to chasing our freshwater fish and the boys have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it.

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.

Closest Towns; Maryborough, Hervey Bay

Lenthalls Dam has remained closed over September. For updates on an exact date of re-opening keep an eye out on the Wide Bay Water Corporation website.

Rob the ranger at the dam reports water levels at around 70% full. The water is clear and the weed beds and lilies are re-establishing. After such a long rest, the bass and barra should be ready to chew the second it re-opens.

Capricorn Region
Awoonga Dam
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

As the water continues to warm up this month, the barra will stir and start to become more active. Before winter, there were quality fish being caught and the action will likely be well and truly underway this month once more.

Look for barra in areas like the back on New Zealand Gully, the southern side of Osprey Island up Iveragh arm and the trees near Gold Mine Point. Suspending hard bodies is usually effective but soft plastics will work as well. Hopping vibes through schooling barra can also tempt the fish to bite. Most of the barra are around 80cm in length but there is also the chance of occasional bigger one up to a metre in length.

If you are keen to try to tackle some fish in the river or dam, give Lyn and Mark from Awoonga Gateway a call on (07) 4975 0033. At Awoonga Gateway you’ll find clean, modern cabins and your hosts will be full of useful advice to help you try to land that barra of a lifetime. Make sure you tell Mark I sent you and pump him for the secret spot.

Mackay Region
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

Barra have been caught in the shallow water of bays over the past month. Move about trying new areas until you find good spots. Once you nail one, there will often be others in the area if you work it over thoroughly. If you are able to find several good areas, rotate between spots and rest an area for a while. Anglers who are putting in the time to find several fish holding areas are reaping the rewards.

The water level has dropped a few metres which has thinned out the weed and lilies making fish harder to find. However, the lack of vegetation makes casting all the way in to the edges much easier. Pre-rigged soft plastics like 100-130mm Slick Rigs work well and weedless rigged paddle tails are ideal for the thicker weed areas. While plastics are very popular, if the fish are only bumping them, switch to a hard body sporting trebles for some good results.

Paul Butler reports the dam fished well over the past few months. Putting in a bit of effort is all it takes to hook some quality barra. There are plenty of smaller specimens around 50-60cm at the moment but metre plus fish are also becoming more common.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

Barramundi have been on the move at Proserpine Dam. The lake has dropped in level which has created some great weed humps up in the timbered areas. These weedy edges often have deeper creeks and gullies running alongside them. If you find an area like this it is definitely worth a flick with soft plastics and shallow diving hard bodies. The new 3 hook Laser Pro will be ideal for this. In the plastic department try the Keitech or Gladstone made Happy Rock soft plastics.

In the deeper creeks try using diving hard bodies like the BTD Lures Judge or 5m Scorpion and Barra Bait. Crank these down into structure the pause to allow them to float up before cranking down again.

More fish will venture into the basin of the lake where they will start to take trolled lures over the next month. The full moon is usually a prime time for some basin trolling.

If you are heading out to the dam make sure you call in at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. The guys at this store will send you in the right direction and help you to nail the lake’s big fish. The store owner Lindsay Dobe runs charters on the lake and bookings can be made through the store on (07) 4945 4641. You can find the shop off the highway through Proserpine stocking all the barra gear you could possibly need.

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