All signs point to heavenly goldens
  |  First Published: November 2015

Last month was a cracking month for bass fishing. Things started a little slow at the start of spring but once the fish schooled up and started to eat, there was some insane fishing in several locations. Social media was littered with plenty of pictures of big chunky fish.

The bass may get a little tougher over the coming months and some lakes will continue to produce better fishing than others. The fish will lose their winter condition –big fat female fish fill with roe over winter but these eggs are reabsorbed and the fish will weigh considerably less by the end of this month.

The golden perch have already made their presence felt and are being caught in the lakes and rivers. These fish are likely to step it up a notch with the warmer water conditions. They will chase trolled lures and other faster presentations so triggering a reaction bite will be the best method of capture. Murray cod season isn’t due to open until the 1st December so leave the fish alone in the rivers. There are plenty of big models to catch in the dams where there aren’t any restrictions. The fish are still breeding at this time of year so if you do whack a cod in the dam, it’s a good idea to release it as the right conditions will enable them to breed.

Barramundi! Already the fishing in the northern impoundments has fired up. We should also see the fish in the lakes and rivers from Gladstone southwards willing to take a lure from now onward. The warmer water will have them more active and seeking a good feed. I’ve got an itch that needs to be scratched – I dare say I’ll be squeezing in a barra session or two over the coming months.

South East Queensland
Closest Town: Crows Nest

There have been a few good schools of bass getting around over the past month. The fish can be flighty and when there are a few boats fishing them, they tend to disperse and become difficult to find. Look around the points near the boat ramp and on the northern bank heading up Cressbrook Creek. The bass have been holding in around 10m of water but can be found shallower or deeper than this so regard this as a guide only while sounding around. Some bass have also been caught up the back of Cressbrook Creek but I’m not sure of the exact location and if these fish will hang around in the area.

Once the bass schools are found, try rolling spinnerbaits, plastics or hopping a tail spinner through them. They can be extremely fussy fish and turn their nose up at most presentations but if you hit them when they are in the right mood, you’ll score enough to keep you happy. A good way to ensure you catch fish more easily is to hit the water as soon as the gates to the ramp open. An early start will hopefully see you first to the fish when they are in a more active state.

Lure trolling may also start to pick up. Deep diving hardbodies like the Blitz Bagga, Little Rippa, Smak 18, Kezza Freak and Golden Child would be my first pick. Try running a selection of lures in different colours. Usually browns and purples work well but the fish can surprise you. I know there is a lot of talk about lure colour and its importance - for some reason, successful lure trolling can be dependent on colour. Watching the same lure out of a spread of three or four be eaten over and over again while the others go untouched is quite a common occurrence. For this reason, grab a good selection of colours and lure styles if you are trolling.

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. Tackleworld 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 as they offer invaluable advice – especially for finding fish!

Just remember there is a speed limit of 8knots 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 are 6am-8pm.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

This month has proven tough on most days for a lot of anglers. However, Somerset Dam turned on some good sessions for the lucky few last month. Big bass were hitting the decks with several fish over the magic 3kg mark. These fish are absolute beasts and weigh 3x as much as the average sized fish. While tough, the reward of landing one of these big models was enough to keep anglers trying their luck.

A few changes have taken place over the last month. The schooling bass have started to move around and take up residence in new areas. The scattered schools may actually be forming into larger schools across the flats in the middle of the dam. This makes finding the fish and staying on them much easier. The areas most likely to house schools are The Spit, Pelican Point and Bay 13. The bass that were holding further north seem to have moved to join the rest in the lower reaches of the dam. These bass are still likely to be congregated into nice schools over the next month or two. As we get close to the end of the year the schools can break up so if you are a lure caster, now is the time to try your luck.

Somerset bass can be tricky but tend to bite in windows throughout the day. Early morning and late afternoon are my favourite times but sometimes the fish will surprise you and bite well throughout the day as well. Just when you think you have them worked out and have a stellar session, you’ll come back to find the same fish near impossible to tempt. This is the nature of Somerset Dam and the lucky dip you take each time you visit. I’ve been fishing the place for years and can’t work out why they bite one day and not the next.

The schools are likely to be holding in around 10m of water. Fish will often be found suspending off the bottom in slightly deeper water as well. Once found, try rolling soft plastics through them. Rigging plastics on ½oz jigheads will see you capable of fishing the depths effectively. Good plastics have a nice tail action at slow speed and measure around 70mm long. Blade baits are a good option if the fish are holding close to the bottom. Use small hops with a ¼oz blade to tempt the big models who often sit right on the bottom. If the fish are showing higher off the bottom on the sounder, switch to a heavier blade (up to ½oz) and combine the hopping with some winding to bring it up through the fish.

Tail spinners have still been one of the most reliable producers. I still can’t believe we gave up on these lures years ago because they are just so effective and easy to use. The Jets 18g has been scoring well on the cast and troll. You can troll a lot of area using a tail spinner and it will place the lure in front of more active fish than simple stationary casting. For tips on tail spinner trolling, check out my YouTube video ‘How to Troll Tail Spinners.’

Golden perch will be well and truly fired up. There have been quite a few taking lures meant for bass so targeting them will score even more. Goldens love structure. If you find a submerged tree in the main basin of the lake on the sounder make sure you mark it on the GPS as a jigged blade will often score on these features. Up in the timber north of Kirkleigh, trolling hard bodies through the trees near the old river course will give you a good chance of nailing some goldens. Try medium to deep diving hard bodies. The Blitz Baga and Golden Child are excellent lures for this style of fishing. There have been some whopper goldens caught in Somerset over the last couple of years. Big fat fish weighing up to 5kg are possible if you put in the time and luck is on your side.

Closest Towns: Aratula, Boonah

With the warmer water temperatures, the fish will be scattered through the dam. Often the bass will suspend higher in the water column at this time of year so remember to pack some lipless crankbaits. Look for schooling fish around the trees. Use your sounder to pinpoint the depth the fish are holding and let this help you make the decision on which presentation to use. If the fish are less than 5m down, stick with lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. If they are deeper, switch to soft plastics, blades and tail spinners.

The Jackall Mask Vibe is a versatile lure at this time of year. It can be hopped and wound through deeper schooling fish or fished like a standard hardbodied lipless crankbait up higher in the water column. Fished this way, it probes slightly deeper than your standard 60mm lipless bait and is often the answer to reaching fish around the 5m depth.

Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The weed edge and weed pockets at Maroon are producing plenty of bass. These fish will feed best in the mornings and afternoons. Soft plastics will score fish but I prefer reaction style baits at this time of year. Spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and a soft plastic rigged on a beetle spin frame are great lures to work down the weed faces. During the lower light periods the bass will be more willing to leave the cover of the weed. Surface luring will be a great option when there is no sun on the water.

In the middle of the day the action can be slower. You have a couple of options to continue producing in this tougher period. Fish tighter to the weed on the deeper edges or in shaded areas where the weed casts a good shadow. Blade baits around 1/4oz can be fished effectively in 3-7m of water hard up against the weed edge. If the blade fouls in the weed you will feel the action change and you can free it up by giving it a good hard rip. Small hops around the weed face should see a few midday bass biting. Locating schooling fish outside the weed edge can also keep the bites coming throughout the day. These bass will take plastics, but again try reaction style lures for better results. Tail spinners and blade baits are perfect for chasing these open water fish. Sit off the school and deliver a long cast over them to prevent them from schooling up under your boat where they won’t want to eat.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closet Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

The action at Cooby has been slow but this is the time of year when things usually pick up. There were a few golden perch being caught around the edges of the lake on hopped blades and live shrimp last month. Even land-based fishing from the rock wall was pulling a few fish. With the warmer water temperature, the action should pick up in the deeper parts from now onward.

A lot of anglers have been trying their luck in the mornings. Cooby is often a better fishery in the afternoon just before dark. With the open hours being 6am-8pm, you can fish until the sun goes down!

Lure trolling with 3-5m divers will start to get some results this month. Lures like the Stump Jumper and 50mm Poltergeist in natural and dark colours work well. Fishing will also pick up on bait in the 6-10m depth. This is also a good depth to try jigging blades like the ZX40.

Cooby is an electric motor only dam. Outboard can be left on boats but must not be used. Being relatively small, it is also well suited to kayaks and canoes. You can pick up all your supplies including bait and live shrimp near the dam at Highfields Bait and Tackle. Call in and see Doug just behind Subway on the New England Highway.

Closest Town: Warwick

The dam level is still low so take care when launching and motoring around the lake. The fishing should be well and truly on fire this month. Last month the golden perch action picked up and fish were being caught on cast and trolled lures. Bait fishermen were also whacking their share as well.

Things should only get better from now on. Lure trollers should try their luck in the main basin of the lake in around 7m of water. Medium running lures will get the job done and one of the best all-rounders for golden perch and Murray cod is the Kezza Mudmouse. These lures have a strong action and a flashy metal bib – two characteristics that the fish seem to love.

Lure casters have had a lot of success hopping blades on the bottom. Interestingly, tail spinners are also finding their way onto the golden perch fishing scene. You tend to get a lot of by-catch of golden perch when targeting bass in some lakes. These lures are great for prospecting. Long casts cover plenty of water and the lure can be hopped back to the boat. Now the fish are willing to chase a feed, the tail spinner hop will score plenty.

Bait fishermen will do well with live baits. Shrimp or saltwater yabbies are the preferred bait for golden perch while catfish and silver perch don’t mind sucking on the old garden worm. Bait will produce all over the dam but if you can find some submerged structure or position yourself on the old creek bed drop off, you’ll improve your chances.

For all your supplies, and advice on catching fish in the area, call in to Warwick Outdoor and Sports. The store is in Palmerin Street Warwick and has a great range of quality gear for chasing freshwater fish.

Closest Town: Inglewood

The golden perch action is set to explode this month. We have been treated to some awesome cod fishing for the last few months but now the goldens will dominate catches.

Some of the better cod fishing has been taking place in less than 2m of water. Casting spinnerbaits and swimbaits was a great way to lure these fish out of their hideouts in the standing trees and lay downs. I’m predicting the warmer water will force these fish into deeper areas. This should mean they are more concentrated around the old creek beds and the main river course. Finding structure on these pathways will almost guarantee cod are nearby. To fish these deeper areas you could try positioning the boat a cast away and sinking a spinnerbait into the zone. Another option is to contour troll. Use the sounder to follow a specific depth and have your lure almost bumping the bottom. Good lures to use are the Kezza Mudmouse and 80mm Halco Poltergeist. You can vary the amount of line behind the boat to have the lures swimming at your desired depth.

Hopping lures around the deep drop offs to the old river and creek bed will produce plenty of goldens. When schooling fish are located, it is possible to whack dozens of fish. Blade baits and soft vibes like the Mask Vibe 60 are the preferred offerings although it will be interesting to see if tail spinners catch on as they have in some of the other golden perch fisheries. I’ve been busting to try the 12g Willy Willy but just haven’t had the chance yet. It has a very similar vibration signature to a small blade bait. If the goldens are active they should go nuts on them.

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 sleep. Offering all the comforts of home including 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
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

There have been plenty of bass and golden perch action over the last month. The fish are responding well to cast and trolled lures with plenty responding to bait as well.

Pelican Point area to the Barbers Pole has been a great spot to locate bass. These fish are in 7-10m of water and are responding well to tail spinners. Corey from Boondooma Kiosk is now stocking the Jets tail spinners so it’s easy to get your hands on some if you don’t yet have any and quiz him about a secret spot while you’re at it. Other reaction lures will also perform well and blade baits always worth a try.

Trolling in around 10m of water with a lure that dives at least 6m will also put you in with a good chance. The schooling fish are likely to scatter over the next couple of months which make trolling and covering water more effective. Bass can be caught out wider of the banks while golden perch tend to hold in closer to the edges and love to congregate on rocky points.

In the timber, bait fishermen will pull a mixed bag. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless vibes will pull a few fish too but you may have to venture off the edges into at least 3m of water to get the bites.

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

Last month, Bjelke fired up and fished the best it has for years. The quality of active bass has really picked up and there were plenty of 40cm fish caught as well as some even bigger ones around 50cm in length. Golden perch have also fired up nicely.

Casting lipless crankbaits around the edges was the best way to tangle with the fish last month. If they stay around the edges in up to 5m of water, the same method will perform well again. If the fish move slightly deeper, switch to Mask Vibes, blades and tail spinners to get the bites.

Bait fishermen should try targeting fish in 5-8m of water. Live shrimp and yabbies will be the best baits to pick up a mix of goldens and bass.

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

At the time of writing the dam is still closed but has to be very close to opening. The fish have now had a good rest from boats and fishing pressure. There should be plenty of bass and barra wanting to munch a lure. I’m keen to hit it when it reopens. For more information check out the Wide Bay Water Corporations website.

Capricorn Region
Awoonga Dam
Closest Towns: Benaraby, Gladstone

Hard fishing last month didn’t deter a few anglers from trying their luck. There were a few missed barra and heaps of catties but that’s all I have to report. The water was still cool at around 22°C but that is set to change from now until the end of the year as the temperature continues to creep up. As it rises, the barra will be more mobile and we will see more fish caught.

Casting hard bodies to the trees around Gold Mine Point and working soft plastics and hard bodies up the back of New Zealand Gully should produce the right kind of action. The Iveragh arm has also been reported to be holding quite a few fish as well. Once you find these fish and the conditions are right, the good sessions will come. There is likely to be a lot of barren water between the fish so use your sounder to locate them. Once found, you’ve done the hard yards and the bites will come. Don’t leave fish to find fish just stick with them and keep trying different presentations. There were some good sessions on the lake towards the end of last year with multiple barra landed and hooked up. This year should be even better and the fish even bigger. You just have to find them.

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.

Whitsunday Region
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

Proserpine and the lakes further south around Mackay have been fishing well for barra. Proserpine water level continues to drop giving the barra far less water to hide in. The lower level has allowed weed islands to form in the timbered area. Often these islands will have deeper edges where gullies or old creeks once ran. These deep spots allow barra to slip in and out from the weed and find a comfortable home without moving too far.

Heading towards the timber from the boat ramp, the long point on the left is again exposed and sticks well out into the lake. A very prominent feature - it’s a good safe spot to head in the dark for a surface session or even a soft plastic rolling stint.

The weed islands in the timber will fish well throughout the day when using soft plastics. Hardbodies will also score fish in the mornings and afternoons. Anglers braving the dark will experience some of the best action catching barra on both plastics and hard bodies. In still conditions, surface lures are definitely worth a try.

If you are heading out to the dam make sure you call in at Proserpine Bait and Tackle. The store is on to send you in the right direction and help with nailing 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 464. Located on the highway through Proserpine the shop stocks all the barra gear you could possibly need. The guys will be able to hook you up!

Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!

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