The tougher fishing hits home
  |  First Published: July 2017

The middle of winter in the freshwater makes things a bit more difficult. A lot of species slow down and this makes catching them much harder. Still, it’s not impossible. By changing our fishing approach to suit the fish, we can get into some hot action. Golden perch and barra will be lethargic due to the cold, but presentations that remain in their face can tempt a bite. Bass will be a little slower, but still easy to locate in schools.

It’s only another month or two and we will be starting to see some exceptional bass fishing across the lakes. With such big fish on offer in lakes like Somerset, North Pine, Wivenhoe and Borumba, we are bound to see some giants. Murray cod continue to bite and winter can be the best time to target this monster fish. Big cod can be found feeding up in the shallows and looking for nesting spots for the coming breeding season. In Queensland lakes, no closed season applies and these fish can be targeted. It’s a good time to release them though.

With so much focus shifted to the cod, stores are pushing the big bait trend hard. Throwing big lures isn’t new, but the craze has really taken off now we have the gear to do it. Most specialist tackle stores will now carry swimbait rods capable of tossing big, heavy lures. With some lures weighing in at over 5oz or 140g you need a dedicated rod to deliver them.

Big soft plastics, hardbodies, spinnerbaits, wakebaits and swimbaits are hitting our shores one after another. Most of these will turn the head of a hungry cod when placed in front of it. The bites don’t always come easy, so take the time to upgrade hooks and check knots and drags. Over a metre of rolling, thrashing greenfish will put your gear to the test. While they don’t have the powerful, fast runs of fish like barramundi, the cod has violent headshakes and surges with tractor-like torque. Be warned! Most of the stories about the one that got away involve really big fish.

Rug up, stay warm and enjoy the calm sunny days on the water. Basking like a lizard while flicking a few lures about is a great way to spend a winter’s day. Until next month, buckled rods from the Colonel!

South East Queensland
Closest Town: Crows Nest

Cressbrook turned on some sensational fishing last month. Big bass were landed on plastics, tail spinners and ice jigs. These schooling fish can be found around the lake in areas near the Eagles Nest rock wall, in front of the ramps and near the toilet point up Beams Creek.

Often the fish shut down quickly, but surprisingly they were more willing to keep biting last month. This may have been a last minute flurry prior to the coldest part of winter hitting, but hopefully they continue.

Over the winter months, Cressbrook bass can be found in very deep water. Sometimes they will be most responsive in depths over 10m. If this is the case, release fish quickly to give them a better chance of survival. As they come from this depth, they suffer barotrauma and bloat with gas.

If you have a floater it will need to be needled to release the air and ensure a healthy release. Please don’t leave fish floating to die of the elements. If you can’t needle them, take them home to eat or dispose of. Needling is a good skill to learn. It seems there aren’t many how-to videos online, so that’s something I will endeavour to do this year.

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, Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street have a great range of lures and fishing gear. At Highfields you will find Highfields Bait and Tackle at the Coles shopping centre. Doug has a top range of freshwater gear and plenty of hand-crafted timber lures. Support these tackle stores, because they will 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 are 7am-6pm over the winter months.

Closest Towns: Esk, Kilcoy

The lake has already been producing some huge fish. Around the tournaments last month, the fishing slowed and was extremely tough. When the boats cleared out the fishing fired up again. It’s as if the bass know when it’s safer to bite.

A mixture of lures has been working when the fish are biting. Spoons, tail spinners, vibes and soft plastics can all account for fish. Unfortunately they aren’t always easy. When this is the case, one of the best options is to hop ice jigs. When the fish do want to play the game, expect multiple double hook-ups.

Up in the timber will be the place to try your luck with live shrimp and small crays. Tie up to a tree in around 6-8m of water and drop the baits straight over the side. This should produce a mixed bag of golden perch, bass and eel-tailed catfish.

From 1 August a boating permit will no longer be required to fish the lake. Keep in mind you will still need a current Stocked Impoundment Permit.

For the latest reports, check out Somerset Fishing Tackle online and on Facebook. The store has now closed in Kilcoy and moved to the dam. The trailer can be located in the day use area at Kirkleagh. The opening days could change to include more weekdays, but you can expect them to be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. Somerset Tackle has a great range of lures and gear suited to fishing the dam.

They also have the knowledge and skills to help steer you in the right direction. Call in and see them or consider doing a phone or internet purchase, as 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.

Closest Towns: Fernvale, Esk

The action has already started. There was an increase in bass and golden perch numbers caught around the edges of the lake. These fish should still be catchable this month. Trolling hardbodies around the banks and targeting 5-10m of water will produce results. Fork-tail catfish numbers will be lower during winter and this gives the other fish a better chance of finding your lure. Casting blade baits and lipless crankbaits can also produce good numbers when schooling fish are found on particular banks.

Over the next month or so, these fish should transition away from the edges and school up together on the flats out from Billies Bay and Platypus Cliff. When this occurs, you can have a ball casting tail spinners and spoons. Keep an eye on the fish movements if you regularly fish this lake. When the fish make the move it will be game on. Sessions with dozens of big bass and golden perch won’t be too far away. In the meantime, keep persisting on the edges.

Closest Towns: Nerang, Gold Coast

The dam has fished quite well over the last month, but things look as though they are changing. The edge bite has slowed. Bass are still being caught on lipless baits and spinnerbaits. The water is still a tannin, dirty colour, which could explain the slower than normal surface bite.

The two main points down near the dam wall are starting to fish well. Bass have schooled thick here in around 10m of water. The bottom likes to eat and steal lures in this area, so most guys prefer to target them with soft plastics, which are more affordable to lose. In this depth, use 3/8 or 1/2oz jigheads dressed with soft plastics around 3” long.

Sporty’s Fishing at 32 Strathaird Road, Bundall has one of the best ranges of lures on the Gold Coast. The boys specialise in lure fishing, so they know all about the products they sell. Call in to see the cool stuff they stock and pump some fishing information and secrets out of them while you’re there.

Closest Towns: Boonah, Beaudesert

The action may be a bit slower at Maroon this month, so slow presentations down. Suspending lures are a good way to get the bites. Start with shallow offerings first and then go deeper as the day gets brighter.

Lightly weighted soft plastics can also perform well when wound and hopped through the weed beds. Don’t discount the reaction style lures like blades, spinnerbaits, spoons, tail spinners and mask vibes in the middle of the day. Have a play around and see what the fish really want. My tip is keep presentations subtle.

Closest Towns: Rathdowney, Boonah

The Palms area was holding schooling bass last month. These fish can be found in 10m of water. It was warmer last month and they were eating tail spinners, blades and vibes before scattering after several were caught. If they refuse to take the reaction style lures, switch to soft plastics rigged on 3/8 or 1/2oz jigheads and slow down the presentation.

Other spots worth searching will be the shallower flats inside the timber. These were holding bass a couple of months ago, but the cooling water may have forced the fish deeper.

Bait fishing with live shrimp will give you the best chance of landing bass and golden perch inside the timber. Worms can produce a few, but are more likely to tempt eel-tailed catfish.

Closest Towns: Gatton, Laidley

Lake Dyer is once again open to fishing. The level is low and the best action comes from the steeper bank to the left of the high and dry boat ramp. Walk around the small bay and start fishing out towards the first point. There is about 150m of fishable bank. It is an easy lake to walk and fish and has plenty of bass and golden perch in the last remaining deep water.

When open it can cop a flogging so the fish aren’t dumb. Nathan Palmer fished it last month with Jake Schwerin and they rotated through lures finding spoons were the most successful. Slow winding spoons is a great way to cover heaps of water. The 12g Gang Banger was the standout and being a cheaper lure they are good to use from the shore as you do get the occasional snag and risk losing the occasional lure.

Granite Belt
Closest Towns: Texas, Stanthorpe

With the water level more stable than last year, the cod have fired up. Last month, the action started with big fish being caught by anglers casting big baits up into the shallows. Much the same as the bite experienced on Copeton Dam, cod are being caught on big wakebaits and swimbaits.

There is no closed season on the lake and the cod have started their annual breeding behaviours. Big cod make their way into the prime locations and find suitable nesting sites. The bigger dominant fish take prime real estate first and are then visited by active males. While actually breeding, tempting a bite can be near impossible, but the fish feed up prior to and after breeding. Because the fish take it in turns to get the job done, they are never all breeding at once, so the chances of catching them are greatly increased due to the remaining cod being so active.

The cods’ breeding habits can be observed from the dam wall. This year it has already started and lasts for a few months. The stable water level is perfect to attract them to this area where they can be viewed in the shallows from above.

It is quite a spectacle to watch big fish jostling for position and then be visited by males. Over the years, Debbie Dare from the tourist park has witnessed fish getting into the action which are closer to 2m long than the 1m long fish we dream of. It’s a shame these giants never get caught. Maybe they are the ones responsible for the stories of the one that got away.

Casting the shallows early in the morning and late in the day with big topwater lures has managed to fool some really big cod. Switching to swimbaits as it gets brighter in the morning and just before it gets dark in the afternoon is another way to tempt the bites up in the shallows. If you prefer to fish with old school methods, spinnerbaits are worth a try and can be allowed to sink to various depths. In the deeper water stick with heavy spinnerbaits, big vibes and trolling Aussie-made hardbodies.

The kiosk at the lake has a great range of cod lures. They pride themselves in stocking quality Australian-made lures that work. If you’re staying at the lake, you can book a cabin (not self-contained), a powered or an unpowered site. There are BBQs, a playground, two boat ramps (depending on level) and ice, fuel, bait, and lunchtime food like wraps, pies, hotdogs and tea and coffee. No domestic pets are allowed at Glenlyon Tourist Park. Brian and Debbie can be contacted on (02) 6737 5266.

Sunshine Coast Region
Closest Towns: Tewantin, Noosa

The usual stuff has been happening in Macdonald. A few fish are being caught around the weed beds on plastics, blades and surface lures. These bass can be anywhere from undersized to the mid 40cm mark. The hot tip is good numbers of fish are schooling in the main basin. Try searching around the Botanical Gardens and any flats areas where the water is around 6-9m deep.

These fish were loving spoons slow wound and hopped. Slow winding is a good option for fishing spoons in the cooler months, so opt for those that have the best action on a straight retrieve. If you want to hop these spoons you can mix up your retrieves.

Davos in Noosaville is just a short drive away and they carry all the right lures to use on the toga and bass.

Closest Towns: Imbil, Noosa

The basin of the lake has been quiet for lure casters and most bass are being caught from the start of the timber. Hopping blades close to standing timber in up to 10m of water seems to produce reasonable numbers of fish. As long as the weather is kind and the lake doesn’t get too cold, the action should continue. Try using small blades like the Ecogear ZX40 or Evergreen Little Max 1/4oz.

Bait fishing with live shrimp in the same area should produce results. Tie up to trees in 7-10m of water and drop a lightly weighted shrimp to the bottom. There’s no need to cast it out; keep the presentation vertical and the line tighter to feel for any nibbles. Bait fishing can be steady at this time of year, so ensure you use the correct hook for the job. Wide Gape hook patterns are best for live shrimp. You can also fish saltwater yabbies on these or go for a baitholder style hook with extra barbs on the shank to help hold these soft baits in place.

The saratoga will be harder to tempt now we are in the middle of winter. Fish still need to feed, so if you put in the time you may be rewarded. Head up the arms of the lake and look for warm, sunny bays with structure nearby. Toga can still be seen boiling on the surface early on winter mornings. If you are seeing them, you know you are in the right area.

Davos at Noosaville has all the gear you’ll need to tackle the fish at Borumba and Lake MacDonald. The store caters well for fresh and saltwater anglers. They can be found in the Homemaker Centre on the corner of Mary and Thomas streets.

Darling Downs Granite Belt Region
Closest Towns: Highfields, Toowoomba

A few golden perch and eel-tailed catfish have been caught from the bank and boats. Over the winter months the bite on live shrimp seems to slow down and saltwater yabbies outperform them. The fish will be lethargic due to the cold, so let them suck the bait in and don’t strike early when you have a nibble.

Lures will be very slow on the golden perch and could produce a Murray cod. Trolling big cod lures or spinnerbaits just outside the weed edge will put you in with a chance of nailing one of Cooby’s green monsters.

Cooby Dam’s proximity to Highfields and Toowoomba makes it a very popular fishery. If you are looking for somewhere close to home to drop the boat or kayak in, Cooby is definitely worth a visit. The dam hours are 7am until 6pm during the winter months.

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. 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 at the Coles Circle Plaza Shopping Centre in Highfields. Call in and see Doug and check out the great range of fishing gear, kayaks and accessories he has on display.

Closest Town: Warwick

Last month, the fishing went quieter than it had previously been. I don’t think this is the end of the good fishing for winter though. Leslie is usually Queensland’s best golden perch fishery through the winter months. Add to the goldens some Murray cod and you have plenty on offer over the cold months. The cod have been in good numbers, but size is the issue with few over the legal size.

Bait fishing with frozen shrimp and saltwater yabbies will get bites from golden perch in the main basin. Some fish have also been caught on the same baits from the bank below the Washpool Reserve. Blades and spinnerbaits have landed some quality fish in the main basin’s deeper water over the last month.

Up the back of the dam, trolling in 3-5m of water has been the key to scoring goldens and small Murray cod. Assorted hardbodies have been working.

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 ten minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need.

Closest Town: Inglewood

There are still cod biting at Coolmunda and the best thing is they are receiving very little pressure. Casting spinnerbaits to the trees is the best way to get a bite. Fish can be caught throughout the day with the prime times being morning and afternoon. Find 8ft deep flats in the timber and cast to vertical and submerged trees. Normally I talk in metres for this magazine, but I am really a feet man when it comes to fishing. It’s a more specific measurement (the increments are closer) and in this case it’s vital to catching fish and finding the best water.

I like red and black but have seen them caught on all colours. A good mate, Adam Krautz, is a firm believer in coloured blades and has done well on bright orange blades, rather than the normal flashy gold or silver.

The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only around 1km away from the lake. The park is just off the Cunningham Highway and 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
Closest Towns: Proston, Kingaroy

The fishing has been pretty tough, but there are still fish to be caught. The rock walls in the main dam will be worth a troll with medium and deep diving lures. They’re also not a bad spot to drop a live shrimp. Doing this can produce both golden perch and bass.

Up in the timber, the edges of the lake have produced bass when anglers have been casting blades and chatterbaits. These bass may drop back into slightly deeper water as the water temperature drops even more. Explore the first drop-off to the creek beds or areas around 3-5m in the timber as well. If these fish fall back to deeper water, expect catches to increase when bait fishing as well.

Pelican Point has held reasonable numbers of schooling bass. If these fish can be found, try jigging blades through them. It’s cold for the fish too, so they can be on the move to find the most comfortable water where they can feed with the least effort. Be prepared to sound around to find them.

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 an excellent range of proven fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms, call (07) 4168 9694.

Closest Towns: Murgon, Goomeri

There have been reasonable numbers of bass and golden perch caught on lures fished close to the bottom. Casters have done well on hopped blades. Other presentations fished close to the bottom can also work well, so make sure you have ice jigs and soft plastics on board.

Trolling should pick up a few fish. They will take a bit to tempt, though. Spinnerbaits of 1/2oz are good. Troll these lures slowly and keep them close to the bottom.

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.

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
Closest Towns: Pinnacle, Mackay

Winter is a good time to downsize lures and enjoy the by-catch of sooty grunter while chasing barramundi. You could almost reverse that last statement – target sooties and expect barra as by-catch.

Ash Simms and his mates have been having quite a bit of success hopping Jackall Mask Vibes down the banks. Keeping the boat moving along the edges, they target the sections of bank leading into bays, rather than points. Look for slightly steeper edges instead of shallow tapering ones. That seems to be the key to finding more active fish.

Tossing crankbaits and beetle spin rigged plastics has also accounted for bites from both sooties and barra.

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, but also as a fishing guide on the lakes. Some firsthand information as to where they are biting always goes a long way. Nashy’s has a great range of tackle suited to the dams as well as all the other fishing options the Mackay area is blessed with. You can call the store for more information or to put some gear on hold on (07) 4957 2272.

Closest Towns: Eungella, Finch Hatton

The sooty grunter fish has been great up in the hills at Eungella. Pack some warm clothes as it can get cold up at the dam in winter and quite often you will have the place to yourself. This is exactly the way you want it as when sooties are less pressured, they bite better.

Fishing out from the banks in around 5-6m of water you will find remnants of an old weed bed. Prior to the cyclone raising the dam level, this edge of weed marked the perimeter of the lake. Now it is flooded and holding the majority of the fish.

Slow rolling TN70 Jackalls Hs been deadly on the sooty population and I am sure you could experiment with other presentations or even slow troll provided you are reaching the right depth to keep the lure in the face of the fish. Concentrations of sooties will be found on the sounder and if you have ever bass fished in lakes before call on that knowledge as both fish respond in a similar fashion.

Ash Simms has a secret weapon in the way of silent TN70 Jackalls, which he uses. They are hard to find but Harry Watson (Mr Jackall, Australia) supplied Compleat Angler Mackay with some and there are limited numbers left. That is because Ash has most in his tackle tray. Call in and see Ash or Bruce to learn more about the surrounding lakes and where to fish.

Peter faust
Closest Towns: Proserpine, Airlie Beach

The barra fishing has been all over the place. Fish are being caught from different areas of the dam without consistency.

Up in the main feeder river there are good numbers of barra. The fish have been moving through and refusing to bite. Later in the afternoons, a couple of hours before dark, there is a spike in activity and fish have been seen feeding on tiny bony bream on the surface. There are lots of smaller bonies about after the water inflow providing plenty of food for old ‘Barry Barramundi.’ A downsize in lures may be required to match the size of the bait on offer. Lindsay Dobe has put clients onto some fish using 100mm vibes (a small lure for a bucket mouthed barra).

Other areas worth fishing late in the afternoon will be shallow points being fed by the wind. These are often warmer and hold more baitfish, oxygen and of course, barra.

In the basin of the lake there are still some good concentrations of deeper holding barra at times. Dropping plastics and vibes in to these fish can be awesome when they are willing to bite. Some anglers had multiple double hook-ups last month and managed around 30 barra landed. Don’t expect this to be the norm. It will be harder work this month, but the deeper holding fish may respond better to lures throughout the day than those up in the shallows.

Kamp Kanga, the accommodation area below the dam wall, has been closed. At this stage it will remain closed until August at least. Stay tuned for more information on this. If you are looking for a place to stay, I highly recommend A&A Motel, which is directly opposite Barra World in Proserpine.

For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake, call Lindsay or Dane at Barra World on (07) 4945 4641. Barra World is right on the highway in Proserpine and specializes in barra fishing tackle as well as catering to the needs of anglers fishing the nearby estuaries and offshore.

Reads: 4124

Matched Content ... powered by Google

Latest Articles

Fishing Monthly Magazines On Instagram

Digital Editions

Read Digital Editions

Current Magazine - Editorial Content

Western Australia Fishing Monthly
Victoria Fishing Monthly
Queensland Fishing Monthly