WATER temperatures in both Boondooma and Bjelke-Petersen dams are rising considerably during the day, which makes for some pretty intense South Burnett fishing.
This is one of my favourite times of year to fish for Australian bass and yellowbelly in our impoundments because they can be caught thick and fast. The bigger models are more likely to eat on those hot afternoons too.
The flavour of the month is bass, and big ones at that. It pays to move around to find where these larger fish are holding. Productive areas have been the dam wall, the shallower flats and the spindly timber in the Stuart and the Boyne arms. Sound around the flats in search of the schools and cast 1/2oz-rigged soft plastics, tailspinners and blades.
I would head to the timber first but be aware the fish here hit hard and it’s a real challenge to get them out with your gear still in one piece. For this type of fishing I always use a stiff spin rod with some guts, a 2500-size spin reel for extra torque and 12lb braid with 14-20lb leader. This may sound heavy but just imagine a 50cm bass hitting your lure as it’s rolled between two big clumps of spindly timber. This really is exciting fishing.
The lure of choice for this type of fishing is a spinnerbait. I like to throw a Bassman Compact in 3/8oz or 5/8oz.
Once you get a bite, give it everything you’ve got to pull the fish away from any structure, otherwise the fight will be short and you’ll be left wondering what happened. Trollers have been starting to pick up bigger golden perch and bass by trolling the arms of the dam as well as the main lake points and edges with deep-diving hard-bodies.
Make sure you have a lure retriever handy because you’re bound to get caught up in the timber eventually and this device will save you money. Bait fishers have been bringing in consistent catches of yellowbelly, bass and eel-tailed catfish in the timbered arms. The best baits have been live shrimp, saltwater yabbies and worms jigged off the bottom. Red claw have just started to pick up around the rocky edges thanks to the consistent warm weather.
The fishing at BP Dam has been spectacular, with lots of fish caught on everything from cast lures to jigged baits and trolled hard-bodies. The key is moving around to find the fish. Over the past month the fish have moved around considerably.
I’ve found that the fish will be on one flat or bank one day and then the next they will have moved a few hundred metres. This is not uncommon during the warmer months because the fish are active and moving around the dam chasing the bait they are feeding on. I always love fishing BP and I like to start on the banks of a morning, commonly casting lipless cranks or spinnerbaits to get an early reaction bite.
The banks I fish are generally fairly steep with a bit of rock or structure. Make sure you keep an eye on the sounder while fishing a bank. You want to see bait and/or fish sporadically coming through on the sounder to guarantee you’re in the right spot. Later in the day when the sun climbs higher I move out to the flats and often target areas in the 4.5-6m range.
The fish seem to enjoy holding in this depth and it pays to visit multiple areas until you find a good school. Another thing to note is during summer the fish like to sit higher in the thermocline (or comfortable water). If you’re on the water and you see fish sitting high in the water column, slow roll any smaller bait such as a blade through these suspended fish.
It’s not uncommon to have a great session in this type of situation. Trollers are having the same good luck by trolling the edges of the dam and the 4.5-6m flats with deep-diving hard-bodies. Most trollers won’t have to go far before hooking up with a fish or two. For those using bait, fish are coming from most locations close to the bank on live shrimp, saltwater yabbies and worms fished hard on the bottom. Red claw are also on the comeback as the water warms.
Make sure you book your campsite for the Boondooma Dam Yellowbelly Fishing Competition being held on February 11 and 12. Entry costs $20 for adults and $5 for juniors (16 years and under). There are live and dead weight divisions with prizes for bass, yellowbelly and silver and spangled perch. Thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes are up for grabs and food and drinks are available at the event.
It’s one comp you don’t want to miss. Call the Lake Boondooma kiosk to make a campsite booking on 07 4168 9694 and for more information search ‘2017 Boondooma Dam Family Yellowbelly Fishing Competition’ on Facebook or visit prostononline.info/fishing.html
Finally, this year’s New Year’s Eve party at Lake Boondooma is shaping up to be the biggest and best we’ve seen, so write it down in your calendar and book a site for this year’s fireworks spectacular. If you’d like to keep in regular contact with what’s happening on the dams, please like the Yallakool and Boondooma Facebook pages.
Until next time, tight lines and bent rods.